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All tigh fe.:fVW
PrimM in ,h( Unital of Amnia
Th .. 1"1"" in ,hi. publ ic .. i"n d,e minimum "'qui",m .. mf
of Am .. N,t ional for Informar;.;m Sci. "c.:_I"',ml" .. " u of
fOf I'rilllN Lib, uy . ..... Sl ZJ9. 48-L')g4.
-
Wippd. John F.
Th. me"ph)"jnl thought of Thoma, Aqui nas : from fini t.lxing 10
1I"".m'd being I John F. Wippd.
p_ em. _ (Moll..,., .. ph. of rh .. Society (0' "Ied ;ev.1 and R .. u is,;anco
Phil<w>phy: v. I)
Indudes .&rcnccs and ioo;('O,
I. Thom. s. Saini. !Hj?-I! 74- C"IIuibu';<l"s in
mCIJphy! io. 2. I. TIrie. II. Xries.
""487 1O00
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' 5" '" o-8I jZ-09h -x (d . : .1Ik. papa)
ISQN (phI<. : . 11e. P' P"' )




Contents
______________________________________________
__________________________________________________ -"xi
lor [(){t IIel jon
I. Aquinas on the Nature of Metaphysics
I. Division of .he: Theoretical ScienCes and .he Place of Melaphysio, oJ
l. The Subjccl of MClaphysio . II
I I. Our Discover):, of the Subject of Metaphysics
I. Our Knowledge of &; ng as Rcal, lJ
2. Our Discovery of Being as Being, 41
PA RT ON E. Aquinas and the Probl em of the One and
the Many in the Order of Being
II I. The Problem of Parmcnidcs and Analogy of Being
I. The Problem of P;lrmenidC$ as by Aquinas. 66
1. Thomas's Views coneero;n!; the AnalogY. of Sting. 73
IV. Pan icipalion and the Problem of t he One and the Many
I. The MC:l.Il ing of " anicip.uion. 96
1. in Em-. Jl O
j . Pan icipadon. Composilion, Limi lal ion, 114
v. Esscncc-Eslt'Composil ion and ,he One and the Many
I. The I"ulkuus wr11lill( Argument. tJ?
T..b..1...& one
Illi
J
94
1)2
vi Contents
2. Arguments Based on the Impossibility of More Than One
in Which Essence and Arc Identical, 150
j . The "Genus
M
Argument , I ):]
; . Arguments Based on i'arti,ipation, 161
S. Argumental ion Insed on Ihe Limited Characler of Individual Beings. 170
VI . Rel at ive Nonbeing and the One and the Many
I . Relalive Nonbeing, 177
1. Distinction of Any Finite Being from Other Beings, 18}
J. Essence as Relative Nonbeing, 186
4. A YWilt. 190
s. Derivation of the Transcendemals. 191
PA RT TWO. The Essential Structure of Finite Being
VII . Substance-Accident Composition
I. General Undemanding of Substance and Acddent, 198
1. Derivation of the Predia ments. 108
]. of SubSlan'e and AQ:idenl , 1U1
VII I. Substance. Accidents. and Es.se
I . and the Individual Subje<:t (Sup'p"!!!'irum)1 1 ]8
l.. Accidents md Accidental Being, 1S3
}. The Guul Relationship bctwn Suhstance and Aceidenu. 166
; . The Relationship bclwet'n the Soul and Its Powen, In
IX. Prime Matter and Substantial Form
I. The Distinction between Maner and Form, 296
2. The Nature of Prime Matt er, 312
PA RT THREE. From Finite Being to Uncreated Being
1. Aqui nas md the: Ansc:lmian Argumentation. 391
XI . Argumentation for God's Existence in Earlier Wri tings
I . In I &nt.. d. }, 4 00
2. Dr mu rI c. 4. 404
,. f), vt' rilau. q. 5. a. 2. 4iO
4 Summa contra Gmtiln I. ce. 13. 15. 4ll
5. Compmdium I. c. ,. 440
177
197

295
400
Comems
XII . The Five Ways
I. The FirSI Way, 4+1
2. The Stcond Way, 459
The Thi rd W"y, 161
. Tht FOUHh W"y, . 69
5. Tht Fifth W"y, . Ro
6. The of God. 48S
7. The Unity of (he Fivc Ways, 197
441
XI II . Quiddira[ ive Knowledge of God and Analogical Knowledge 50 1
I. Q uidditativt Knowlt dge of God, 502
1. Analogical Knowl tdge of God, 541
3. Conclusions on Our Knowlt dgt of God, 572
XIV. Concludi ng Remarks
J. God !O Cttaturts Argumentation for Composition
and Disti nction. S8S
1. From Unpanicipaced co Parcicipaled Being, S90
3. Quiddila(ivc Knowledge of God l nd the Subjc(f of Metaphysics, 59)
4 Epil ogue, 194
Bibl iography
Indt x ofN"mes
Index of Topic.s
57
6
):97
6tZ
6"
. .
VII

Acknowledgments
Initial work on t his volume btgan a number of years ago, but the lime: required
fo r completing it was extended subSl:ill lti ally by my acceptance in January 1989 of
a full -time position in the central aciminisn-alion of my University. Only in Sep-
tember 1997 after having fu lfill ed my administrative responsibi lities was 1 able to
retu rn to this manuscript. 11 is now my pleasant obligat ion 10 t hank ;111 of those
who have assisted me in this undert aking, J would like co begin by expressi ng my
gratitude to the Nati on:!l Endowment for the Huma nities for a Fellowship for In-
dependent Study and Research which, joi ned with a sabbatical leav(' from The
Ca tholic Uni versity of Arm' rica, fim enabl ed me to take up t hi s project. I must
thank the Universi ty nOE only for That leave but for another which allowed me to
devote full time [0 it duri ng the [997- 1998 aCldemic rear. I am grateful to The
CaTholic Universi Ty. of AIl u; riCJ Press and to The Socicty for Medieval and Renais-
sa nce Phi losophy for jointl y accepTing Th is book:ls the firSt in the Society's mono-
graph series, and again 10 The Society wgtther wit h the Billy Rose Foundat ion for
a subsidy which has assisted in defraying the publication cOsts.
My special thall ks afe owing to the OUtSi de readers selected by the Sociery and by
The CaTholi c University of America Press for Their careful reading of and valuahle
commell l$ on the text. Although I am nOt at liberty to disclose all of their names
here, I can aT least ment ion Professor Stephen Brown, Chairman of the Society's
Comminee on Publiclfions. J am deeply grateful [0 him for the all Ihe time and
altemion he devoted to my text. I must also thank Dr. David McGonagle, Din.ctor
of The CaTholic University of America Press, for his ever generous cooperation,
and Mrs. Susan Needham, also of the Press, for her careful reading and skill ful
copy edi ting of the manuscript . I am grat eful to a number of profess ional colleagues
who have read one or ot her part of it over the years. or who have called to my
atTention cert ain releva nt items in the secondary literature. Although I will nOI
attempt to mention all of tltem by name, les t I inadvert ent ly omit some, ! do wish
"


x Acknowledgments
to single Out two who carefully examined
Thomas Prufer and Dr. Bonnie Kent.
pam of an earlier draft. Dr.
My special lhanks are also owing to my fonner research assistant , JO$eph Brink,)"
and my preSt'1H one, Stan Grove, for their generous hel p in many different ways,
and to various staff members of The Catholi c University of America's John K. Mul-
len Library, especially Bruce Miller. for their ever willing cooperation in my seem-
ingly unending search for sources.
Finally. I wish to thank the Journal of tilt History of Philosophy. the American
Catholi c Philosophical Association, The C:.uholic University of America Press,
and Professor Georg Wieland, Vice-Rector of the Eberhard-Karls-Universitat Tti-
bingen in his capacity as an editor together with the Felix Mei ner Verlag for permis-
sion to use in adapted form art icles or portions of articles whi ch had originally
appea red in their respective publica.tions: "Thomas Aquinas's Derivation of the
Ariswtelian Catcgorics," journal of J./islOry of Philosophy 25 (1987). pp. lJ- J4;
"Presidential Address: Substance in Aquinas's Metaphysics," in Procu dings oJthe
Amnican Cltholic Philosophical Associtltion 61 (1987), pp. 1- 12. (Copyright by The
Ameri can Calholi c Ph il osophical Association), Aquinas and Partici pa-
(ion," in in Mulievnl Pbilosophy, J. F. Wippel, cd. (Washingwn. D.c'; The
Ca tholic Universiry of America Press, 1987), PI" 117-58; "Thomas Aquinas on Sub-
stance as a Cause of Proper Accidents," in Pbi/osopbit im MitttlniuT. Emwick/ullgs-
/illim und Pilradigmm, J. r. Beckmann, L. Honnefclder. G. Schrimpf. G. Wieland,
cds. (Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, 1987), pp. 201-12 .

"
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Abbreviations
AHDLMA
CCSL
CSEl.
PC
PL
ST
SCC
,
d'Hiuoire Doctrinal" ef Litteraiu du Moynt Age
Corpus Chriuif{1l0rum. Srries '-'uina
Corpus ScriptOrum Ecdtiiasticoru/n l.minor/lm
P{lfr%giu(' r UrJw {omplmlJ. SaiN CTlUC{{, ed. J. P. Migne
Palr%giat ClIIJUJ (ompk lw, Sfr;rs Lm;,ul, cd. J. Migne
Summa theologiar. Thomas Aquinas
Summa contra Gmti/rl, Thomas Aquinas
.
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Introduction
In order to SCt the stage for this study of Thomas Aquinas's metaphysical
thought, 1 would like 10 recall briefly the esSt'mial moments of his life and career.
He was born:H hi s family's castle in Roccasecca, hal y in 122411225. I-I c. received his
c!cmclHary education at the Benedi ctine abbey of Mont e Cass ino, located only a
few miles from his fiunily horne. In 12J9 he lx:gan the $Iudy of the liberal am :u
the newl y founded Studium gnlf'rtllr J.t Naples and remained there until about 1244.
II was undoubtcdly there that he received his first formal instruction in philosophy,
and it was also there that in 1144 he joined the recently esrabli shcd Dominican
O rder. This step did not fit in wiTh hi s filtllily's plans for him. A careeT wilh the
more prestigious Benedictine Order woul d have been much more ro their liking.
$0 Strong was his fami ly's resistance to Thomas's entering the Dominican Ordet
that , upon learning that the Dominicans were sending him to Paris for further
hi s mother arranged 10 have him intercepted by his brother (or brothers)
and some other soldiers in the Emperor's service and detained at the family castle
for a year or more. hnall y. however. since hi s resolve remained unb roken. he was
permiHcd to rejoin hi s Dominica n confreres and made hi s way to Paris in t:Z.45. '
At Paris he first came into contact with Albert the Creat during the period t:Z.45-
1248, and in 11.48 he accompanied Alben [Q Cologne in order to continue his theo-
logical formation there. In Il.jl. he was scnt hack to l'aris to begin working for the
hi ghest degree offered by the University there, that of Magister in Theology, and
pursued the rigorous academi c progra m required for thi s until 1256. Not least
I, On J.A, Friar ThonulJ d"Aq"in". His Lift. TIJo"giJl
ami Wi r*. 1J rev. ni. (Wa.>hiu!;lOn, D,C.. I,}S,). 11,,= more by Torrell./nitiatiDII
a winl Tht!l"tJs d'AIl";" Sa /'fI"fOlU" rI SO" ",""If" (Frioourg. 199'). English StUnt ThomnJ
AquimlS. VoluIll" I. TlK Prrnln ami His U''t>rk D. C., ' 996). the daring of
v>r;ous wrirings I will follow rhose in srudy Qlhnwisc: ;ndicm"(l,
On rhis urly p<:riod i" SC'C' pp, j - j(,; l Orrdl. pp. J- 17
ciu'd hef(: rh rougho" r). and for nenu surroundi IIg inrervemioll of his film Hy. Afb" 1 0-
ThomllJ; y/,{'/(d U"lrili'lgs, S. ' 1i,!;wdL ed. (New Ynrk_Mlhwah. [988). pp. 104-7 ,
..
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xiv Introduction
among hi s duties during this period was his responsibi li ty 10 comment on the &,,-
tnlcel of Peler ,he Lombard, and this resuhed in the eventual publication of his
first major cheologic21 writing, hi s Commentary Oil the &mmw. By 1256 he had
completed Ihe rcquiremellls for becoming a of T heology and in Ihe spring
of Ih31 year deli vered his inaugural lectUre as a Regenl MaSler. However, owing 10
Ihe hostili ty of a number of secular Masters in the theology faculty the twO
recently founded mendicant orders, t he Franciscans and Ihe Dominicans, neit her
Thomas fl or his Franciscan counterpart , Bonaventure, was formally admil1ed imo
the assembly of Masters until August Ill 7. They had, howc\'er, been lecturi ng as
Masters in (heir respecti\'e reli gious houses. During thi s period of preparation at
Paris (12-52-12j6) Thomas also produeed (wo important philosophi cal (real ises, De
principiis naturae and De nlte n tHtntia. !
l:rom 12j6 until 1259 Thomas carri ed OUI the li.lllcrions of a Master (Professor)
of Theology at the University of Paris. These duti es included conducting formal
disput ed questions (result ing in hi s Quamio"N diIpllfatat Dt writau) and quodlib-
etal disputations (where any appropriate question could be raised by any member
in the audience, and would ultimately have 10 be answered by the presiding Mas-
ter). His Quodli bets 7-11 and hi s Commentary on the De Tnnirate of Boethius
resulted from this period.'
Thomas returned 10 Ital y in 1259 and ser.ed there at various Domini can houses
of study as ucturcr or as Regen! Masrcr, continuing to lcach and 10 wrile at a
rapid pace. Duri ng Ihis period he compl eted hi s Commentary on the De anima,
thereby commencing a series of illlensive studi es of AriSlOti e whi ch would evemu
ally rt'Suh in panial or IOtal commentaries 0 11 twelve works by the Siagiri te. He
completed his Summll COl/ fra Gt1Itila (12.59-1265) and the Prima Parr of the Summa
dltologillt (1266-1268). Also dat ing from Ihis period are his Exposition on tbt DilJine
Namer(of P:reudo-Dionysi us), DiJPured Qut$liom on tIlt POUHr olGod (De pountia),
Disputed Qumiom on Spiritttlll CrMtll"S, Displlted QUNtiom 011 till! Soul, and many
olher works of a theological or reli gious nature."
in laIC 12.68 or early 12.69 he returned to Paris to resume his function there as
Regent Master of T heology a1 the Uni versity. Various controversies dcmanded hi s
attention during t hi s period. Certain more conservati\'e t heologians, heavily in-
l. On Thomas's rime al Puis (1l"U- 1l -4S) IoC":C" Wc-ishd pL pp. S6--4I ; Torrell, pp. 1?-4. On rhe
p"rioo at Cologn" s Torrd\. pp. 4 - 35.0" Thomas'! hu t ruching ye-<lrs ar P:..ris as a Bach"lor of
rhe Sentcnces (11P- I1.j6) IoC":C" Wcishcipl, pp. 67-80; Torrell, PI'. J6-so. On Thomas', inaugur.IIl lcc.
l ure sec TorrelL pp. SO- H. On the for Thomas and Bonaventure IQulr ing rrom the
quarrel bet""ccn rhe sccubrs and mendian{s IoC":C" Torrdl. pp. 76- 79; pp. 80-96. u3-tS.
}. On IhiJ peri! sec W"isheipl, pp. 116- j9; Torrell. Pl" For full",. di$Cusion of d;spul".j
quorions lind quodlibcl31 di spuruions.KC" B. Bann. J.F. Wippel, G. Fr.lln'K"n. D. JKquan. Ln qWl-
ti01l1 dUP"lffl" In ,/umi(nlI qutHilibhiqut;S Jam In focuft fi tk IlKelogit, tk dro;t tt tk mhi, nt {Turn
hout . 1985). PI. I , "l.cs d3ns ks fKulia dc thrologic' (Bazan):
Pt. II : Qua tions. ChieHy in Theology rnuhi es" (Wippel).
-t. On {his period in [l3ly SCC" Wci.u. eipl . cc. IV_V: Torrell. cc. VI_IX.

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Introducti on xv
spired by the mdidon of 51. August ine (ahhough also fumiliar wit h ArislOtle's
thought). were challenging the mOle Aristotelian versiOIl of Chri stian wisdom
Thomas had becn developing. To cite but one hotly contested issue, against the
prevai ling view defended by this group maintained, as he had th roughout
his caret r, that unaided human reason had not proved that the world began 10 be
and, indeed, could nOt proVt this poinl. Finally, writing in 11.70 in his Drnrumilt1tf
mundi, he went so fa r as to hold that an etcrnall y created world is possible. Like all
of his Chri stian contemporaries. of course, he believed on the grounds of r{'velation
that the world began 10 be, but for him this was and could be only a mailer of
religious belief.'
During the 12605 and earl y 11. 705 a radical form of Ari stotelian ism was bei ng
developed by certain Masters in the Faculty of ArtS ar Paris (by now really a faculty
of philosophy) , such as Siger of Brabant. Iloe.thius of Dacia, and ot hers. Ofren if
not accu rat ely referred 10 as Lat in this movement was marh-d by the
tot"J.1 dedication of irs leaders 10 the pursui t of the purely philosophical life. At least
in some instances, ini tiall y they were not particularly concerned if some of their
philosophical conclusions happened 10 be at odds wi th orthodox Christian belief.
So nue was thi s that in De<:ember 1270. Scephen Tempier, Bishop oeParis. singled
out thirteen propositions for special condemnation, includi ng at least four which
Siger had already defended. Aquinas himself, whil e sharing wi th these thin keT$
considcr;lble respect for rhe thought of ArisTOtic and for philosophi cal reasoni ng,
opposed the views of this movement all Vlrious poinrs.
6
Pcrhaps mOSt nOTOrious was the defense by some. members of the Arts Faculty
such as Siger himself, at least prior 10 December 127 0. of the Averroisti c view of
unici ry of the possible int ell ect. According TO thi s position there is only one pos-
s. FQr diS(:uniQn and of a blc Seplember 116S datc f", Thom:tS's ,eturn , 5 Torrell, pr.
r81- 81. who follows R.-A. Camhie. on Ihis. On ,he oppOJirion of ,he theologians to
Thomas's views during this p<'riod (126811l69- U71), eSpially rhose whQ might be (":mgolized as
Ixolonging 10 Ihe Nco-Augustinian IlI o,cment inspired by but rca!!y founded by John
!'.:cham. 5CC E Van I-IJ phillJJllph" a" XII I, Ii"". l d rev . ...t. (l.ou;.in_la_Ncuve. 1991j.
pp. 0 .. Thomass d ...... clopmcnt of his pOjilion ill his [.H lurt, niratr ",,,,,d; c. VI! in Illy
Mrtaphpi,"/ TMmrs in A'f"inal (Washington. D.C . 198 .. ). For rcfcrcncc:s 10 more { ("Cern
di.scuS.lions views on thi s gcne,altopic sec Stcenbcrghcn, p. 40S, n. 101 . Cf. lorrcll,
pp. 184- 87. Al we will Stt below in Ch. IX. defense of un id ry of sub!il<lntial form in hurnan
beings anothel hody COnte$tro issue.
6. On the ,is(: of JUdical Atis{Otdi:l.ll rr,O,cmcm sec Van Slccnberghcn. La
iJu XIII"iklr, pp. 321- )s. On Sille ,'., PI'. l )S- 6<:>; : .1..., hi l Mai,.. Sip , d, 8,.,.ba'll ( Lou ..... i n-Par i.,
1977): Thoma, Aq,,;'I4J l1>1d RAdical Aristol(/il1nism (Washington. D.C.. 1980): Wipp<'!. Mrdiaro.tl
Rtaetion! to 1M f,uoumrr bftwrrn Faith and Rtl1JOl1 ( Mi lwauk,. 1995), PI'. jJ- S9; and mOSt r emly,
E-X. I'ulall a:r. and R. Profmion: I'hifiJ1ophe Sit" it B'olilimt (I'nis, 1997) . On Soc,hiu! or
Daci a sec Van Stccnb.."ghen, '-" phi/morhir au XlII iih". PI" J61-70; Wippel. &mhiUl of Doteia.
On 'lit S"P""" (,,,,,,d. 0" tI" /:,1,.n;ry flf thr U?or/d. On Dm,m! (lOrOnlo. (987). PI'. 1-2). On the
Condemnation of 1170 $' Van Slccn!xrghcn, Mail" Sign-, PI'. 74- 79: Wippel. "The Condemna-
tions of !l70 and 1:77 at joumal of MrdirLliJ/ and Rm;1;WI>I" Studirs 7 (977). PI'. 16,)- 201,
'51'. pp. 179-85.



xvi lmroduclion
sible. i.e., ail e receiving and spiritual int ellect for all human beings. a separaIe and
immaterial substance, which is ultimately responsible for the t hin king that each
one of us apparently does. Unli ke the defense of one separate agent or abmact ing
intel lect for the human race, a view espoused not only by Siger but by various
perfectly orthodox thinkers of the time. thi s Averroisric posi t ion undercut the pos-
sibility of individual immortal ity of the human soul and hence of personal reward
or punishment in the life to come. In 1270 Thomas directed a wel l-crafted treatise
against thi s position. hi s Dr: unitalt' imrlltCtllJ COntr4 Avrrroi$laJ. In this work
Thomas cha ll enged Siget's interpretation bOlh on histOrical grounds (it was not
the correct readi ng of Aristode's Dr 4I1ima), and on philosophical grounds (i t was
not good philosophy). This tightl y reasoned work is a lasting tcstimony to Thom-
as's phi losophical skill and power.1
On sti ll another front, the mendicants, including both Franci5Cans and Domini-
cans. were again under atlack by cert ain secular Masters in Theology at Paris. In-
deed, the very vi abili ty of the mendi cant way of life was being challenged. Against
these di ssenting voices Thomas direct<..-d the concl uding chapters of his Dr prrftcti-
olle spiritun/is villlt' and his Comrd doerrinam rrmilmltillTn {l rr/igionf.
8
Also dating
from Ihis period (1269-1272) arc many of hi s commentaries on ArislOtie, Supfr
Librul/I tit fdmis, soml' scriptural commentaries (on Matthew and John). major
portions of lhe Summa tbf% giar. hi s Disputed Quesfions Dr virturibm, Quodli-
bets t- 6 and t2, and mos! likd y, hi s Disputed Questions Dr maio and Of IllJiOIJ(
IJtrbi incnmati." In the spring of il7l hc was r('1:alled by his rel igious superiors to
Iral y and charged with establishing a studillm gmfmlro f theology for hi s order in
Naples. Hi s tcaching and writ ing activit ies continued until ncar the end of il7}.
Early in 1274 he departed !O take pan in a general council of the Church at Lyons,
but di ed whi le a ll the way at t he Cisterci:m Abbey al FOSS:1nova on March 7. 1174.
10
Even this brief survey of Thomas's life leaves one with the impression of a vast
amount of teaching and writing compressed into a relativdy short professional
career (a lillie morc than lwenry years if we begin with hi s lectures on the Srmmrrs
in 12 51). At the same time. it is also clear , hat, so far as hi s professional teaching
7. On uniciry of the in Siger and st'e Van StUnbcTghcn,
Thcmas Aquinas Imd Radirl1./ AriItOlllill'lism. "Monop.)'Chism." pp. 29-'7" ; u. philoU/phil. pp.
i 87...,7.
8. cr Weisheip1. pp. Torrt ll. pp. t8z- 84.
9. For mote cunccming "Ill umas's writ iugs during th is pt'riod set Torrell. pp. 196--lt l . Sec
pp. ll1- l} for a seriC'S of ,hulle, wril i ngJ; al:lO Jaling ('Olll thi s ti me. $/,c pp. 114- }6 on tl"" Ari$!ot".
lian commenTaries. For lala t pm:isioos conc"roing ,he rci a,i vt dalings of Quodlibets
se" 5.:'Il'ti Thcmlu dt Aquino Opml omnia. cd. (Rome. ISh- ), Vol. lj. 1,
p. ix' (rdume) = Leon . .!.s. Lix' , :.L\ wtll :l,\ discussion of particular dalings in the te<p', i,'c lntroduc-
,ions to various
10. FO! details hi5 Icaching and wri li ng activitia during this finall"' riod!ott Torrdl.
pp. 147- 66. These indudrd on Paul's Leifer to ,he and nlnrinuing his ""<)N< on
the Trrlia '''m of the Summa ,/N%giat and on some of the Ari51(l(dian C(lmmemaria (s.ec p. 266).
On Thorn:L'l'slas! and dt ath 5 Wd;hdpl,,, VII: Tomll , I'p. z89-9j.



In[roducri on

XVII
obligations were concerned, he was a teacher, a professor of theology. And if his
writ ings may be divided into various categories, the majority of them may be de-
scribed as theological or religious rather than as purely philosophical in character.
In shorf, Thomas Aquinas was a profess ional theologian. !!
This poi nt has been especially emphasil.ed by various twentieth-century iOleT-
preters of his thought. owing in no small measure to the graduall y evolving views
developed by Etienne Gilson concerning what he called Phi losophy"
and his application of the same to Thomas's philosophical thought. Indeed, Gil-
son's position concerning this eventually went beyond his eadier claim lhat we
should nOt study Aquinas's phil osophy as a purt philosophy but as a Christia n
Philosophy. and thereby take into account certain positive infl uences titat it re-
ceived from Thomas's religious faith. I n later writings Gilson emphasized tht point
that Thomas's ori ginal philosophical thought is contained in his theological wri t-
ings, not in hi s philosophical opuscula and cornmtntar ies. Because it is found in
theological writings. it has been transformed into theology and fa lls under the for-
mal object of theology. Hence we should srudy it from that perspectivt, i.e., as
tran$formed into lheology, and should not aHempt to eXlract il from it s theological
home so as to prest'11I it as a pure philosophy By doing this we will thereby gai n
knowledge of all the philosophy his theology contains. 1:
On other occasions I have examined and critically eV<lluated this G ilsonian posi-
tion, and need not repeal that critique here. Suffi ce it to say thaI. while I recognize
with Gilson thai Aquinas never wrOte a Summa phiiosophiill' or a Summa nUll1phy-
riedl', I am convinced that a well worked ou{ metaphysics existed in his own mind
and can be recovered from his various writings. Indeed, his development of lhis
underlying metaphysics was a necessary condit ion for him to create his highly origi-
nal speculative theology. The evidence for this is twofold. First, the fundament al
el ements of his metaphysical thought may be found in his many differen t kinds of
II. S hc-Iow for my to his diff"rent kinds of ","rit ings.
ll. 1'01 my prescmar ion of Gi!.-.on's Jcvdoping views 011 this see Mr/apiJysi(of ThmU's. c. 1. pp.
I- H. A key presentation of vie .... on Chris tian PhilQsoph)' may be found in Ihe
opening rwo of HII' of Ahdi"",l Philowphy (ulfldon. ' 9)6; repro His later
views may bt; found in his irndleclUal 7k PiJiloUJphtr and 11Jrology (New York,
' 961.) ; E/onmll Chri","" Phi/owp"y Gry. N. Y. , !96o); /",rodurti"n .. fa ("Ii_
(960), now in Engl ish tr<l!ljl'Jlion by A. ,l,hu rer. Clirisrfllll Phi/%ph,. An
Introdurrien (Toronto. I')'))) ; and othn sources cited in my dis.cuss ion. On the tr:l.nsformat;on of
phik>wphy imo Thornis!ic lheulogy sec 1mrmIS. p. lh. 11 . 6; also; " ... n3lUle of the doctrine
in <I,e S .. mm4 ,hro//1f;"u .hould be cleu. Since its aim i.1O iu . bq;inncrs,
to teaching of lhrology, in it is theological. This does not the Summa
no philoSQphy; on th .. CQmrary, il is full of philosophy. Si nce the philosophy is in the
St.mma is therc in "icw of a Ihc-ologiCl.J end. since i! figures in it ail imegr.uOO wi th , hal which
is the proper work of the thrologian. il find, itself incl uded wjthin rhe formal objea of lheology and
IxcO!fll"$ thl"OlogioJ i n uwn right (p. ;p ). Cf. 7"," lind '!1Jro{ogy, lIP. tOl, 198, w. On
Ihe pr:lctiCl.I COIlS<"qucnccs Gilson draws fo r thoS<' who would Thomass philosophy today 5
hi s Aquinas and Our - in A Cils.Jn Rrlltkr, A.C. regis. 00. City. N.Y..
(957), pp. 178- 97


'.

Introduction XVlll
writings, a point to which I shall return below. Second, Thomas has taken the
trouble of explaining in considerable detail hi s views concerning the distinction
bcno.'ccn philosophy and theology. the different kinds of theoretical philosophy, the
distinctive subject of meraphysics, the methodology to be used in metaphysical
thinking. and the difference between following lhe philosophical order and follow-
ing the theological order. Si nce all of these dements arc present in his wrilings.
they constitute a standing invitation for today's hi storian of philosophy to take
Thomas at his word and to draw upon them in reconstructing his meraphysical
t hough!. h is this that I shall anempt to do ill this book. I )
To return to the point menti oned above. let me now add a word about the
di fferent kinds of writ ings Thomas has left for us. While they m.ay be grouped or
divided in various ways, I would propose the following in the interests of simplicity:
(,) philosophical commentaries (twelve commentaries on Ari stotle and one on the
Liba cnusu); (1) commentaries on sacred scriprure; CJ) theological commentaries
(on the Trinilnuand lhe on the
nibu$ of Psclldo-Oionysius. and on the Smlmm of Pe('er Lombard- of these only
two are commentari es in the strict sense, i.e., on the and on the
divilliJ nomil/ibus; the other tWO offer brief expositions of the texts of Boethius
and ofreter and use them as occasions for much fuller and highly personal disquisi-
ti ons by Thomas himsclf); (4) works of theological synthesis (Summa contra
liln, Summa Compmdillm the%gia!', and if one prefers to include it
here, the Commentary on the Smu ncrJ listed above); (5) Dispured Questions and
Quodlibetal Questions (resulting from Thomas's functions as a professor of theol-
ogy); (6) theologic.tl opuscula; (7) philosophi cal opuscula (Dr mu rr rsst:nria, Dr
principiis narurar, unirau Dr luumitau ml/1IIIi, IUbsranriis upa-
raris [the first sixteen chapters, although the second and unfini shed part (ce. 17-19)
considers sepa rat e: substances in the li ght of C.atholic teaching and is therefore theo-
logical !). H
IJ. FOI my critique of Gilson's position sec MrtaphYlknl TlNmn. pp. ll- j}. Sa pp. 2}- 14 for a
qualifitd " 'ay in which I would accept dQUibing philmophy such as Thomu's as Le.,
in Ihe moment of discovery bur no! in die momcll1 of proof. Also s my l'ouibi l;ly of 3
Ph ito!>Ophy: A Thomis!ie Perspective, ' Faith mltl Phi/DWPhy I (1984). PI" 172-9<). H.>r 3
good rdume of his long-running disagreement with Gi lwn on thi.\ i!Ue see Van Sto:..:nbcrghen,
"Etienne Gilwn, historien de 13 pens mwic\'alc,- pbiw.wphiqur dr u,ulJtlin n (t979). tsp.
PI" 49'- S05 For a more m:enl criliquc .stt J. Acmen. Medin .. ! Phik>wplry and the Tramundrnl/lu.
TIN DjT/H)>nm Aquinm (Ltidcn. 1996), PI" , - 10. fur another vt'uion of the tendency to theol-
in iUlerplcl ing Aquinas's philosophicallhoughl set: M. Jordan. "Theology and Pbil()SOphy,"
in TIN umbridsr Companion ro Aquinas, N. Kret"lmann and E. Stump, td5. (Cambridge. 1991),
PI' Zjl- SI.
14. This fundamema lly thc same classifi Cliion proposed by Van Ste.: nbcrghen in his u. pbir-,
phir au XIII, siirk. PI'. 180- 8), alt hough 1 am incl udi ng under !heologiClI opusc:ula wri lings he lim
under .pologelical opuscula, 0puKub for the defense: of Ihc ,\iendica nu. opuscul a on
and !ihlrgiCliI !eilers, and The Gualog in Torrell. preparC<! by G. Emery. U$CS the
following Cll egories: (I) ThrologiClI Synt hcses; (l) Questions; (]) Biblica! Commenraries:;



",
In t roduc t ion
.
m
(n considering possible sources whi ch we may use in Tcrovering Thomas's meta-
physi cal thought, IV .. O of these of writings, the philosophical comlllemar-
ies and the phi losophical opuscuJa, stand out si nce both are clearl y philosophicaL
This notwit hstanding, Gi lson lended 10 minimize their importance for any effon
to di scoVt'r Thomas's personal metaphysical thought. According to Gilson, [he
philosophical opuscula are not all that signifi cam as sources for Aquinas's personal
metaphysical thinking, and the commentaries on Ari stotle :lre really only exercises
by ThorTlru; in the hi slOry of philosophy; in them he writes as the commentator or
the expositor, nor as an original
In my view the philosophical opuscula are extremely important sources for our
knowledge of Thomas's personal and original phi losophical positions. This will
become dear below from my citalions from them-especially from the De nltl' l't
l'1semia. the Dr principiis "atl/rar, and t he Dr mbslIIlltiis uparatis-in scHing forth
some of hi s mosl fundamental metaphysical positions. I have already referred 10
the philosophical signifi cance of Thomas's Dr unildll' imr fLrctllS contTlf AVrrro;staJ
bmh as a cont ribution to the study of ArislOtle's thoughts on the matter, and as a
personal philosophical critique of Siger's views. And for final clarificat ion of his
views on the possibiliry of:1I1 eternally created world, I have found his Dr al'urni-
((fU mu"di 10 be of till': urnl OSt importance.
As regards the significance of Thomas's commcmaries on Ari stOtle and Ihe Libn
dr r(1UJis, it woul{j be a very strange procedure for us 10 ignore or minimize their
importance for our understanding of his personal phi losophical views on a priori
grounds. After aI!, he did devote a consi derable amount of time and energy to
prepari ng them. This is especiall y nOl ewort hy since it was nOI one of his rcrognizcd
dUli es as a professional theologian to wri te extended lileral commentaries on Aris-
totle's works.
' 7
Commcmario on Ariswdc; (s) Olhel (6) Polemical (7) T,ca(isc5; (8)
Lew:rs and (or F..xpt"11 Opi nion; (9) Li rurgi(al Workl. &rn1On5, f'r.l)crs. Sec pp. BO- W.
15 5 Gilson. Thr O,,ist;"n f'J,il()wphy fllSt. Thflmas Aqu;nfls (New yo,k, 1956), p. 8. Stt p. H:
"There s.crio of w(lrks in which SI. Thoma.< "sed the philosophicrl method-Ih .. Commcnruio
on Arislotlc and a small nurnber of OpUS{uia. But opusrulum gi,'cs but a rr.lgmelll or his
(hough(, (he on ArinOilc ... only 1(1 SUS! ":C( impcrflly might
Ott" [he namre of Summa of !1lOmi' lic phi!oSQphy organ;1-td by 51. Thollla.< ... : Cf.
E/rmrms q/Ch.;,,;an l'J,ifo,ophy. p. IS!, n. 6; T}" /'biwwpl". and Tbrq/qgy. PI" 110- 11: '"S;a.inl
only a com menUior in his "".ili nS$ On AriswLle. f<)r his p<"rsonal thi nking onc 111UM look
a! [he (wo Summar :md br "'riti .. .. Even in (he rr.ICl, On !kin!. and Essrnrr, the
level h nul (rulll As (oommen[ed in Mrtapbysiraf r IJrmrs(p. [5, n. 41),
if in this lasl ((XI Gilson seems !O lake Ihe Dr rnu more seriously. Ihi, is l>::Iu5<' /", hrrr rrs,,,,h il
[00 1lS a Ih<'Qloginl wr;I;ns'
16.5 my Mt'lapby,i(al T}"mN, c. VII, aoo.-e in n. 5.
17. Scholarly opi nion is dividrtl concerning Tholl1u's rC:lXIns for "'riling !lIe AriSlmeiian com-
rnemuics. Wcishcipl belic" cs lha( he W; I Oll; PUt oflds ilUdlw-..l to produce
guido fo r yQung maStefli in UI$ which woukl Ihem -10 understand Ari SlOlelian philosophy
in h;ulflony with (he 2C1ual\cxt ';I.nd Ihe guideli ne o(ra; lh. where (hiar Thom4s, p. 181;
d. PI" 180- 8s) . Hence he ';I. scsig!>s con,jidcr:l hlc impon2ncr 10 Ihem. For 2 brief prest'nu(ion of


xx Introd uction
Even 50, as I have nared on another ocC'.v;ion, I do think that considerable care
must be exercised when we consult them as sources for Thomas's personal philo-
sophical thinking. Some twentieth-century interpreters seem to assume th.u almost
any statement made by Thomas in these works should be taken as an
of his personal t hought . Gilson, at the other extreme, would reduce them to mere
exercises in and contributions 10 the history of philosophy. The truth seems to
fall somewhere in between. One cannot immedia tely assume that every position
exprc:ssed in such a commentary is merely Thomas's understanding of the text on
whi ch he is commenti ng. On many occasions such expositi ons also seem to repre-
sent posi tions Thomas himself holds. On other occasions Thomas's discussion goes
beyond the thought of , he rext on which he is commenting, and he indi e-oues as
much to us. However, when he docs not clearl y spcUlhis out for us in the commen-
tary itself, we need some kind of control to determine whether Thomas is accepting
as hi s own a panicular position he is selling forth in his commentary, or whether
he is merely expressing hi s understanding of the text on which he is commenring.
Frequently enough such a control is at hand, either in the Proocmium to a panicu-
lar commentary irsetf. where he is more likely to speak in his own name, or in other
writings where he deals with the same topic and is cl early expressi ng hi s own views.
Whcn lhe views he presents in more independent writings agree with (hose he
exposes in a panicul ar commentary on Ari5{Ol le, we may assume [hat he accepts
{he Iauer as hi s own position as wel l. When there is disagreement bcrv.eeil lhe rwo
discussions, we should be very hesil"ant in assigning such a posi tion from one of
his commentaries to Thomas himself, unless Ihere is al so some evidence poimi ng
to change or development in his thinking on that poi nt.
lt
As for our right to draw upon writings whi ch fall under the other cat egories we
have distinguished 3bove, all of which appear 10 be theological in some sellse, CCf -
differrm concerning and !() extent we use in r('CQMtrucring ThomU'$
thoughl > I)P. lJ7- )!;I. hi mself the poi nt that in writing them
Thomas whhfli to dCl('rmi ne the mind of AriSl()tlc in the on which he comment S, but Ihalthis
desire 10 disco\'("r whal "wi$hed 10 Sly al limes leads Thomas 10 go beyond the textS them
seh-es in his for truth. A1SQ cf. J. Doig. AfJui"tn 0" MntlrhFio: A hisumil1-dom'i"tll study 0/
Commtnla'J on rhr MnapbJIio (The Hague. 1971). pp. ix- xiv.
18. S my p. 17. r will appl y this mcthod in Ch. II below when
with Thom:l.!'S views on f4'pa rtll io and Ihe discovery of Ihe subj<:(:t of met",lphysio. For a useful colle<;o
linn (in L;uin and in German tr;msblion) of the Prologues (I'rOO<'mia) to Thom:U'$ C(I mment:l.ril'S
on ArislOde on the LilNrtb (IlUJi s s F. Che\"enal and R. ThMIJlS 00'1 Aquin. Prologt zu
tbn AriJ lolr/nKommr"10rrn (Frankfun am 199J). From the Introducrion Stt pp. Ivi i- ll iY, on
I he philosophical 5i gn of I he ['lOlogul'S. There {pp. lviii---lil} Ihey offer J helpful corrC'Cli"e 10
the some'",ha! emphasis placed on the .hoologic:al of thCSC' romrnemaries by
Gauthier (Srt Lron. and proposed. alb!,ir more tentatively. by J. Owens in his
nas as Aristotdian in St. TixJmlU Aquinas /174- /9701. u,mmnnolllriw Studit.J, Vol. 1
(Toronlo, t914), pp. 11J- }8. \XIhile one may readily with Gauthier and Ihat Thomas
Saw hi. writing of tht$( commcm"ries a! contributing ultimat ely 10 his thrologial enterprise by
helping him perfecr his perwnal philosophy, he commented on ,hem philosophially. i.e . ff(lm lhe
p-hilosophia J pcrspecli,'c wher than the Ihoologial.



inlroducrion

xx,
tai n distincti ons are in ord('r. Van Stel: nberghen has suggested that al times we find
in such writ ings self-colHained philosophi cal di scussions inserted as such int o a
theological work.' Y For instance, in Chapters I and II below we shaH IUrn to a
number of questions and articles frOIll T homas's Comment ary on Boethius's Dr
Tri"itau where he presents hi s views on the di\,isions, distinct ive knowing
procedures. and mcrhodologies of the three theoretical sciences, physics. mathe,
mati cs, and metaphysics. Discussions such as these may and should be used as
important sources for reco\'cring hi s metaphysical though t. Or again, we mar find
a running series of philosophi cal discussions joi ned toget her as succeeding ques-
tions or chapters in works such as the Summa rhrologi(u (see [he so-cal led Treatises
on God, or on Man, or on Law) or the Summll contra Gmtiln (St.'(' Ihe reliance on
argument s based on natural reason throughout Bks I-TIl ). or in the earli er part of
the Compt!fldium tlJroll)giar. We may easily remove such discussions from the gen-
eral theologi cal contex t of lhe writings in whi ch they appear and from the refer-
ences to Scripture and the Fat hers contained in some of their lIidrtltTS or rrd (omra!;
and use them as imporr:lIlt sources in reconstructi ng Thomas's metaphysical
thought ,lo
On still ot her occasions we will find similar self-contai ned philosophi cal discus-
sions proposed as individual questions within Disputcd Questions (sec, for in-
stance, the di scussion of trut h and the associated derivation of the transcendental s
in l!rrilaU, II {, a. t} or in certa in parti cular questions within his vari ous Quodli-
bets. These 100 may easil y be removed from their general theological settings and
uS(:d as important expressions of Thomas's personal thought. Finally. on stil! ot her
occasions we will find Thomas using philosophical reasoning as an instrUlll cnt in
working out a stri ctly theological argument. In such cases I would agree with Gil-
son that the particular philosophical reasoning has here become theo.logi cal. None-
theless. we may still examine this underlying philosophical or metaphysical reason-
ing in order to determine what particular philosophical choice or choices Thomas
has made in dc\'cloping this particular theological argumentation. Because he him-
self [faces diversity in theologies 10 diversity in their underlying philosophies, we
may, if we make approp ri at e distinclions, use even such texts as additional sources
for our effort 10 rC1:o\'er his meraphysicalthought.
11
19. Ul philoJ()phi" au Xlllr rik/r. p. 318.
l O. WI' do beaus<: in these CilSeS Thomas dC'o'd op<'d O<l
,he"e po;m . -.. . p'" <)( hi, I'hi!o..:.phi.:;ll ""' '' '1' ' ;1<: , by .dying on I.u"' "" ""'n,,". lkcau", he
h3S done [his he now thinking into [he brO<l der th('Qlogical contoa or the
[rearlS<' at hand and thereoy wtl!libmc to lhrologia l goa! 2, well.
2 1. 5<-c M""phyr;ra/ Th, mn, p. IN. n. 79. where I offer Ik PCUnt;,I. 'I. ;. a. 14. ad ,,3S an eumple
ofThom:u's incorpol';lti on of h is personal Ul ct3phys iQi of [he C'SS(' nce-NS<' reb[ ion5hip imo his [heo_
logical di scussion of the eternal prOCCS5ion of the Son from [he Fa[her. For his vic ..... that differences
bct ..... theologi3115 arise from itt their undel lyil lg philosoph ical pmitions stc:. /" If S"", ..
d. 14. 'I. ' , 3. 1 (Srripr''''' lib.." 5,,, ,,,,,i,ZTI' '''' 1'. I-.1<ondonn" . eJ .. 1I':. ,;s. ' 9l91. Vol. ;t , p. }So):
Similiter ett am cl. posi[ orcs $acr:.te ScriplUrJc in hoc divcl'$ ifi C:Hi j.('Cundum quod diversorum


'.
xxii Intro duc ti o n
In sum, as regards the different categories of Thomas's writings distingui shed
above, to the extent lhat imponam elements of his thought are contained in any
of them, (Q that extent 1 will fed frt:e 10 draw upon those works in presenting his
metaphysics. And I will preSCnl thi s as hi s metaphysics or his metaphysical thought ,
not as hi s theology or as his "Christian philosophy." 12
In rhi s eRon I will be guided by Thomas's explicitly stated views concerning the
nature and subject of metaphysics, the distinctive processes involved in arriving at
metaphysical thinking, the disrinction between philosophy and theology, and the
difference between following the philosophical order and following the theological
order. Before concluding this Introduction, therefore, I wish 10 consider brieRy his
vie .... 'S on the di stinction between philosophy and theology as well as hi s under-
standing of the difference between foll owing the phil osophical order and following
the theological order.
Thomas deals with the dist inction between philosophy and theology 0 11 differ-
ent occasions. He offers perhaps his clearest di scussion of this in (I. 2., a. 3 of his
Commenlary on the Dr Trinitatt of Boethius. In Ihis particular article he is con-
cerned with determining whether or not it is permissible to use philosophical argu-
ments and authoriti es in the science of the faith, i.e., in theology. The genera.!
sett ing for Ihis discussion is, therefore. theological, and thi s is appropriate; confli ct
between faith and reason should not arise for someone who has no religious bith.n
After present ing a series of arguments against the legit imacy of using philosophi-
cal arguments and aut hori t ies in one's theologizi ng and then another set of argu-
ment s i n support of doing thi s. Tho mas offers his solution. The gifts of grace: are
added 10 namre in such a way that they do not destroy nature but perfect it. This
is an important presupposition on Thomas's part. since it indi cat es thai the gifts
of grace. including religious faith, should not be regarded as inimical 10 or as de-
structive of nature. As his texi continues, Ihe light of faith, whi ch is given 10 us as
a grace, docs not destroy Ihe light of natural reason, which is also given to us by
God.
1
' In saying this Thomas combines something whi ch he accepts only on fai th
(that the li ght offaith is divinely given) with somet hing else whi ch he undoubtedly
philosophorurn 5e(:1:ItOlt$ (ucrulU. quibu! in philosophicis lUlU: Abo Aer(S(On. M"fi-
n",1 f'hiu,f()phy and rlN Tmns,mdmla/s. p. 7, n. I. who C;lelo fk '''-'110, q. I. 1 as illusu.uion of
,hi s. Thefe Ihal Dionysiu$ scrms 10 be following Plalonins when
hr plOiCO the good being (Sana' Thumar.u Aqui no Dpaa tlmnia [Rome. ,881- J. Vol. l},
p. II. lines IS9- 161= l.con. 1j.II;l 59- 16I),
H. This is no! 10 ,hal Thomas will draw upon his faith as a norm in developing
even in purely philosophio. l works such a$ Comm"nLl lic:s on or
philosophical 0pu$Cula if and when finds it necessary 10 do $0. Nor it it 10 Ihal one mighl
refer 10 his philoj;(lphy Chrisrian in "momem of di$Co\'ery opposed to Ihe "moment of
(see uOle IJ above).
l}. See lown. 10.96-'00.
14. Uon. 10.98:114- 118. NOle: " ... unde "t lumen fidei. quod nobi s gralis infundilUr, non d ....
SHU;I lumen natural;.' I"llionis divinilUs nobis indilUrn:



",
Imroduc[ion

XX II!
also firsl accepted on faith but for which he will also argue philosophi cally (that ,
like everything el se Ihat is di stinct from God, the light of natural reason is created
by him). l)
Thomas gocson to explain that while the natura l light of human reason is inca-
pable of arriving at knowledge of those things which are made known 10 us only
Ihrough fai th. i.e., revealed mysteries, it is nonetheless impossible for truths which
have been revealed to us by God to be contrary to (hose instilled in us by nature.
This is so, he reasons, b<.cause in ,hal evelllualiry one or the ot her would have to
be fa lse. (Two colllradictory proposi tions cannOi both be lrue simultaneously. )
And since Thomas has traced both of these sources of knowledge back to God,
this would make God himself [he author of falsity, something Thomas rejectS as
impossible. He adds that, since in imperfect things we find some imitation of those
thai are perfect. in things we understand through natural reason we find certain
likenesses (similiwdi'lNj of things whi ch arc revealed 10 us through failhY'
So fa r Thomas has been di scussing the relationshi p and lack of opposition or
the harmony between failh and reason. Now he goes on to speak explicitly of phi-
losophy and theology. JUSt J..S sacred teaching, i.e. , theology, is based on the light
of faith, so is philosophy grounded on the namrollight of reason. Wherefore it is
impossible for things which pertain 10 philosophy to be opposed to those which
belong to rel igious belief, even though the former fall shorl of the Ialler, Thomas
repeats the point that truths discovered by phi losophy contain certain li kenesses
and, he adds, certain preambles, for those thi ngs which arc of faith, just as nature
itse!fis:l. prt'amble for graceY
However, nOI being blind 10 hi stori cal realit ies, Thomas continues. If something
is found in the sayings or conclusions of the philosophers that is controry to failh,
this is not really philosophy but an abuse of it that follows from some deficiency
on fhe part of someone's exercise of human reason. Here, therefore. Thomas is
assuming [hat we will remember the paim he has JUSt made. that there can be no
real contradiction between what we discover through phi losophical investigation
and what we receive through religious belief. This is because of his conviction that
both come to us from God. Hence if an alleged philosophical conclusion contra-
dicfs an article of faith. bot h cannot be uue at the same time. Because Thomas is
mindful of the possibility that human reason can fa ll illlo error, in such a case he
assigns greater weight, greater certainty, to revealed truth. He does so because he
beli eves tha i such lruth is given to us directly by God through revelation and is nOt
:). For rhe poim all from God 'sen:alM by him s Ch. XI V hdow, pp. 57,)-l j.
16. Lroll. jo.')8:118-99'1;0. " .. . quod ta quae PC' fidem traduntur
nobis divinilUS. sim c..,mraria his sum per namr:.r.m indila: opont1l:t cnim =
falsum . . .. "
l 7. l.eon. 5099:I; I- lj 7. NOle: " ... undt impossibilt quod ta
cQnm"i , quae SUn! fidei .. .. "



'.
xxiv Imroducrion
subj ect to the weaknesses and possible mistakes to which unaided human reason
is
Here we have Thomas's justification for the right of the Christian beli ever to
use his or her reli gious fai th as a check, as it were, as a negative norm, with
to a philosophical conclusion if th;n conclusion clearl y conuadicts reveal ed truth.
At the same time, it is intercsting to observe that Thomas does not apply ,his
same thinking to a conclusion based on thcologi cal reasoning, i. e., to a posi tion a
theologian might reach by reasoni ng about or even from a revealed premise. Pre-
sumably this is because Thomas is keenly awa re that if human reason when used
by phi losophers is fallible, it is equally fallible when employed by theologians.l')
Thomas goes on 10 draw OUI an int ercsting consequence from the point he has
JUSt made. In the case of conllict between all (alleged) philosophical conclusion
and a rl'vealcd truth, it is possible by using the principlcs of philosophy 10 refute
an error of this kind ei ther by showing that it is altogether impossible or else by
showing lhat it has nOl in fact been demonStrat ed. He must allow for these twO
possibilities because, as he explains, JUSt as those things which to faith
(alone) cannot be demonstra ti vel y proved, SO too, certain things which are opposed
to them cannot be demonstratively shown 10 be false. The)' can, however, be shown
not to be necessary, i. e. , not to have oc-en demonstrated:!O While continuing to
defend a real harmony between faith and reason, Thomas allowi ng for what we
may call revealed mysteries, such as the Trini ty or the Incarnation. Because such
an icl es of fa ith ca nnot be demonstrated by natural reason, if someone deni es such
a truth the beSt the believer can do in responding is 10 show that [he denial ilSeif
has nor been demonstrated. If Thomas wer .... 10 al10w for the possibilit), thaT one
could demonst rate that the denial of such a [(mh is itsel f false, he would in effect
be admitting that the revealed mystery could itself be demonstrated,
Fi nally Thomas sums up three ways in whi ch one may lise philosophy in theo-
logical inquiry: (I) to dernollS1Tale what he calls preambles for faith, i.e., truths that
should be known by onc who believes, such as those that are proved by natural
argumentation about God-for instance, the fact that God exists, that God is
olle- and similar truths whi ch are proved in philosophy about God or about crea-
tures and are presupposed by fai th; (2) 10 manifest through certain likenesses truths
1&. L<:on. jO.?9" J7- L'IO, "$i 'Iuid ""tern in dicl is ph ilosophorurn i n""n im, con .",rill'" fidei. hoc
non Ci t philosophiae. sed ph ilosophiat ex dcfeclU r.l1iol) is . . ..
19. The righr of lhe Chris.;:!n believer to usc reli gious f .. it h liS norm ;s gr:Lmed oo.. h
by Gilson and his fo IlO" 'en ;n Iheir defense ofChri sli;n Philosophy, and by mlny of his critics who
are .hcmsclvcs believing 11,c poim of dingrmcm r:L.hcr h3S 10 do wil h tht j:>O$ilivt
inlluences which Gilson claims w find running from 3 ;IS in the a sc of Aquinn. to
his
}O. Uon. 50. 99:' 41 - 147: " ... ct ideo p<mibilt 01 ex principii s hu;ulmodi crrorcm
refellerc. ,d <tendendo omni no ts.lC impouibilc. vel ostendendo non esse nrcessari um, sicut enim
C'a qU1C sum fidei non possum demonstr.l.live cis non possun! demon-
Sln!;ve os!cndi essc rocd pOles! oslcndi non CiSC



",
Inrroduction xxv
which we know through faith, as Augustine docs in his Dr Tnnita/(; h) to oppose
claims made against faith eilher by showing them to be false, Of el se by showing
that they are not ncressa!)" i.c., that they have nOt been demonstrated. '!
Thomas also identifies two ways in whi ch a believer may fall into error while
using philosophy in theology. First, one might employ philosophical concl usions
which arc opposed ro faith and which, he remarks, are not really philosophy but
an abuse or corruption of it. Second, one might ref lise to accepl on faith anything
whi ch philosophy can not demonsnate and, ro IISC a more f:tmiliar terminology, fall
into rationalism.'"
In order 10 fill in one point Thomas has nOt explicitly developed here, we may
turn to his Summa cOflfm I, cco 3 and 4. In c. 3 he distinguishes tWO kinds
of truths concerning God which arc accessible to us: (I) those whi ch completely
surpass reason's ability to disco\'er and which, therefore, can be held only on tile
grounds of religious belief. such as the Trinity; (1) mos<: whi ch human reason can
demonstrate philosophically, such as God's existence or his uniqueness, which,
Thomas says, philosophers have demonSlraled.
JJ
In c. 4 he argil es that because there arc these two kinds of truths concerning
divine things, those which can onl y be beli eved (reveal ed myster ies), and those
capable of being demollSlfated philosophi cally, it was filling for God 10 reveal both
types to us. Rather than develop here Thomas's imeresti ng argumentation to sup-
port this claim, it will be enough for us to nOle Ihat he is now all owing for what
we might as "mixed truths" concerning God and divine things, i.e. , truths
whi ch can be demonstldl'cd philosophically, hut which arc a!so contained in revela-
Lion. h is hen' that the preambles to faith he mentioned in the text from hi s Com-
mentary 011 the Dr Triniuut should be placed . .H Since these fall within the realm
of philosophical invesl' igation, Thomas's disw ssi on of and efforlS to dcmonstrate
them will be of greal iru(' rest 10 us and all important source in our effort 10 recover
hi s metaphysical thought about God.
With Thomas's views on the relationship between fa ith and reason and between
theology and phi losophy in mind, we may now turn 10 Summa (o",ra grmi/(1 I1,
Co 4 for some <l.dJit ional guidance concerning the order we should follow in present-
ing hi s metaphysics. As he explains there, philosophy STudies creat ed fhings in
terms of that which they are in themselves. Christian faith, on the other hand,
cOllsiders them not as ther are in themsel ves but insofar as they reprcscnt God in
some way. Thomas returns 10 this point near the end of the chapter. Be<:au$C philos-
ophy considers crcal etl things as tht')' arc in themselves, it begins by studying them
and moves 0 11 to take up issues concerning God himself only at the end of its
investig:llion. But in theology (the tcaching based on Inilh) one should foll ow Ihe
J'- Leo"_ jO_99:14l1_.6!_
p. '-tOil. 50. \l9: 161- 17l.
H. Sec Sum",a ((lmm Gt-mil<"1 (Ed 'iio I.eonina = Ed. Ll"I)n.rnan. 19H n. p. 1.
H- !-::d_ dc, pp. 3- 4- For mOle on 111 ;5 s en. x belo .... , Scctioll I, and 1l0(es 7- 14.

"

",
xxvi Introduction
reverse order, beginning with a study of God, and only subsequently considering
creatures insofar as they are ordered and related to God. ' )
Accordingly, after a preliminary di scussion in Chapt"cr I of Thomas's views on
the subj cCl and the narure of metaphysics as a philosophical science and the rela-
tionship of its subject to divine being, in Ch. II we shall consider hi s account of
the way we arrive at knowledge of the subject of this discipl ine, as bei ng.
Subsequentl y in our effort to follow thc philosophical order as Thomas has de-
scribed it, we shall devote Pans One and Two to his metaphysical analysis of finite
being. Only in Part Three will we move on [0 consider his philosophical discussion
of divine being (God).
Within Part One itself, because of Thomas's dcfrnse of being as being as the
subj ect of metaphysics, we will concemr.lte on (errain issues which arc as broad in
extension as thi s subject itself, with spc:.'Cial emphasis on the role the act of being
(mr) plays in hi s understanding of finitc being. Hert' wc wi ll consider his debt to
Parmcnides in formul ating the problem of the One and the Many in the order of
being. along wilh his views on analogy as appl ied to finite being (Ch. III). hi s
metaphysics of panici pation in being (Ch. IV). the central rol e played in hi s resolu-
Tion of these issues by his theory of composition of essence and tlU in finite beings
(Ch. V), and his appeal to a kind of rel ative nonbeing as part of his response to the
issue of the One and the Many in the order of being (eh. VI).
In Pan Two we will shift our emphasis to his explanation of the essence or
essenti al StruClure of finite being as this is expressed in his general theory of
subsrance-accident composi tion (eh. VIl ) along with certain rel:Hed issues (Ch.
VlIr) , and then to his understanding of matt er-form composition whi ch, agai nst
theories of universal hylemorphism, he restri cts to materi al beings (eh. IX).
In Part Three we will consider in detail hi s argumentation for God's existence
(ehs. x. Xl , Xli ). In Ch. XlII we will examine his highly nuanced views concern-
ing the possi bili ry of quiddit"ativc knowledge of God, and will then return to his
theory of analogy of being, but chis time as applied to divine being. 1 n Ch. XIV
we will fi rst complere some addit ional poinu which he establ ishes philosophically
aboUT God. and will then revisit cerrain issues concerning finiTe being whi ch we
had previously considered without assuming God's existence. At thi s point we will
bring this study to a close.
j ). FA. cil. , pp. 95-96. Note: - Exinde 0 1 quod non rodem ordine u1raque d()Clrin3 pro-
c.edi l. in quae $t(:undum oonsider:u et 0: ds in lXi cognitio-
nem perducil. t $1 consider:nio de er de Dto. In docl,ina fidei . quae
non nisi in ordine ad Dcum c(>nsi dent. primo CSt consi denlio Dei c(
!n his various prescruarions of Aquinas's Philorophy, Gil son WQUld intiS!
on following the t heologial order !""athtr than ! he philosophia!. Stt TIN Chrillian Phi/OJoph) 0/ St.
T/;.omas Aqu;nas. pp. II - H, 44l- 4j, n. H; t"irm(>lli o/Om'srian Phi/lIJ(Jphy. p. 41 aoo p. 190, n. 41.
For crit icisms of Gilson 011 Ihis p-oi nt $ec: my MrtapbJliraf TINmts, PI'. 1.9- 13; Aerl!lCo, Mtdi,,,,,1
/'hi/oJvphy ,md "It 1"u .. a n,u,w,h, pp. S-<).



",
Introduct ion
..
XXV] ]
In sum, therefore, in This sTUdy I propose !O SCI forth T homas Aquinas's meta-
physical thought, based on hi s own texIS, in accord with the philosophical order,
in the way he himsel f might have done it had he chosen 10 writ c a Summa mnaphy-
sicar. My hope is that it will prove to be of interest to any reader who is interested
in exploring thaI metaphysics.


'.
The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas



I Aquinas on the Nature of Metaphysics
O ne of (he more notable developments in recent decades in OUf understanding
of Aqui nas's Inctaphysical thought has been a growing appreciation of the disti nc-
tive way in which he accounts fo r our discO\'cry ofbcing as real or as existi ng and,
consequent upon this, for our knowledge orl)Cing as being. ' That this is of imp or-
lance 10 anyone interested in his metaphysics goes wi t hout sayi ng. According 10
Thomas, as we shall shonly see in greater detai l, metaphysics has as its subjcCI being
in general or bei ng as heing. J-Ience in consi dering hi s t reat ment of our discO\'cry of
being as being we arc really taking up his account of t he way in which one gels 10
the subject of thi s science or, to put it in other terms, his \i<:w$ concerning the
conditions of possibiliry for mel'aphys ics.
Progress in this area has been facilita ted by t he n.co\'ery and editi on of an au to-
graph of one of T homas's mOSt importan t discussiolls of lhis issue in Q uestions S
and 6 of his Comment ary (Expositio) on the De Trinitau of Boethi us. This was
foll owed by B. Decker's critical edition of his enti re Comment ary on , hat same
Bocthian treat ise and most recentl y by t he Leonine editi on of the same.
l
Especially
significa nt for our purposes is a statemcll! made in q. 5, a. 3 of (hat Commenta ry,
and which appears in other ea rl y texts as well. Thomas's point is this: if il is through
t he irueIJ cCI's first oper:ltioll thar we discover (l uiddi ties or understand what things
art', it is only rhrough its opc{",ni on Ihat we discover theil existence (me).
This second operation is rcferr(.-d to by Aquinas as th:lI whereby lhe int ellect
. in , hi $ is GiI ... n, /kittS ,,,,d P/'iltm'plu., (loronw, ;tel
' 951). c. VI. and in .h\,: $e(ond (pp. H6-p). Here I shall qUOit from th\':
sond Al so helpful and widdy W\,:le certain remarks by J. Maritain in his
E)tisfmu ,md rbt- f::riSln" {New Y .... k, ' 948), PI)' H- J). I do no. ho_vet. to
views an in tuit ion of being as 3n authcnr Ie inrerpretation of
1. S ThIJmas "" n Aqui n. [ " Iibrum &,.,hii dt Trillilau, QUlll'ltiIJII(I Qui ma tf Sara. P. "l,Xly$\':r,
ed. (frioou rg-Louvain, 1948); .sattrri ThIJmat dt Aquj,IIJ & pmifiIJ SUP" Iibrum &>tthii l:k 7;';II;lalt,
B. Decker, ed. hd M., It-iden. repro 1959); and mQ5\ rr<\':nti y. Suptr Bonium Dt Tn'lIi,au in
V<>I. 10 or . h<: <..ii rion. from which I will h\,:f(' cirr.
,



4 Narure of Metaphysics
poses or divides" and is ocrrer known 10 us loday as judgment.} Thomas's appeal
10 judgment 10 accoum for our discove ry of the existence of things has been
stressed by various writers, but especially so by Etienne Gilson and OIhers who have
dcvelopcd hi s work in t his
Equally imporlant for our app reciat ion of Thomas's undemanding of mCla-
physics is anmher point which he makes in q. 5. a. 3 of t his same Commentary.
There he singles alit a special kind of judgment , a negative one whi ch he refers to
as UpllMlio. which he connCCIS with metaphysics and presumably wilh ollr
discovery ofbdng as A numocr of recent writers have also emphasized Ihe
importance of this aspect of Thomas's thought.
6
Before taking up these man:ers in
grealer detail , however, il wi ll be to our advantage 10 consider his views about
the place of mrraphysics within the division of the IhcorelicaJ sciences, and hi s
understanding of its proper subj ect. The pre.sem chapler wililherefore be devoted
10 these two issues. The next chapter will examine his account of the way in which
we arrivc at knowl edge of thai subject.
1. Division of the Theoretical Sciences and the Place
of Metaphysics
In q. 5, a. t of his Commentary on t he De Jrillitl1tr of Bocthius {ca. 1'Z57-12.58 or
possibly 12.59) ,7 Thomas examines a number of questions whi ch Boclhius's remarks
about the theoretical sciences have raised for him. The first of these is rhis: Is the
division of t heoreti cal science inlO three pails {nalUrai science, mathemat ics, and
}. l>n. For discu5sion and for the following
,.. Xc 1 abo,c. In addit;on.\tt, for instance, Gilson, 'I'M Chrisrian Philuwphy o[St. TiHJmJU
AqllinllS, pp. 40-41; j. Owens. An Ekmmlary ChriJfian Mrlllphy,jo (Milwaukec, 1963) , pp. t7- 41;
Truth in Aquinas: (1970), pp. IJ8- \8. rcpr. in his 51. ThomllJ
AqllinllJ on liN &i>fOlrr of God. TiN Col/rad Pdpm ofJD>rph Owt-m, ] . Catan, td. (Alblny, N.Y ..
(980), pp. }4-jI ; on Knowi ng Exisl ence, of Mrlaphytio 19 (1976), pp.
repr. in 5:. Tiwmm AquinllJ on ,hi &iJlo.cr olGod. pp. 1.0- J}. Also An /"urprruuion of xu.
rrnu(Milwauke('. (968), esp. c. 2.
I Von. \0.148- ,. 9
6. For refcrences 10 somc of these R. W. Schmidt. "Lcmploi de la sepHation en m':'laphy-
siquc," RrVUI phi/lOphiqul dr 58 (1960), pp. J7 t'$pially }7 J- 7S. Among
menu Schmidl corrtly mC5.SCS Ihe imporr:ll ncc of thu by L. -/l..\. Un livre: La tU
/.z m:ru.." Quelques 'Aporics''- Erudn'l rrtlNrrhN I (1936), pp. 1l7- 16. pp. [)i- 18. AJso
$tt J. "Mctaphylic:r.1 Sep;!t:llion in M,d;,It"'ll Srutiin }4 (197l ). PI). 187- J06;
L Sweeney. A of AUJIN .. ,ir &isJm,ialiJm (Englewood Cliffs. N.J., 196j ). pp. )07- 29 and
pp. )07-8, nn. [3. 1\. 16, for to other litet:l ture (:Oncernin!,; this. Also thc ot
this in the smdies by S. and L J. which cired below in note 9. Also sec
H. Mrlaph]li/t lI"d 5prtlcM. in, spr(JchphiloUJphisclN %II Thomm IIDn
Aqui .. und ArisJoults (Fll'iburg-Munich, 197$). pp. 17-J2, 4J- 47, 7S- 78.
7. On thc dalirlg of (hi.! work $C(' Tomll , Sain, Tbomas AquinaJ, p. H5: Ihe I' re!':lee (0 th(' l<'onine
edition (Leon. 10.6-9); D. Hall , TiN Trinity. An Ana",is 0/51, Thomas Aquinas' ExposiliQ of thr
Trin;tau (Ldden- Ncw York-Cologne. 1992), pp. J8- ,.1.





Nacure of Metaphysics 5
divine science) a fitting division: As Thomas himself recognizes. the remote ances-
try for this threefold division in Boethius is to be found in Aristotle's Ml'Iophysin,
Uk VI. c.
Thom;l$ hegins hi s fuJi exposili on and defense or (his division in the of
article L He comments that the theoretical or specuiati\'c imellcct is distinguished
from rhe operat ive or practie:!.l int ell ect by reason of diverse ends, The spc<: ul:l1i ve
intellect has for its end t he truth whi ch it wnsiders; bUl Ihe practical intel lect
orders Ihe [rUlh it considers to operal ion as it s
Thomas goes on to distinguish theoreti cal scicnce from pracl ical science for this
samc reason. In ot her words, in a theoreti cal seimee am' seeks knowl edge for its
own sake; but in a practical science one seeks knowledge insofar as it can be applied
to some acti on or operation, With this point esta bl ished Thomas not es that the
subject-matter smeli ed by a science must be proporrioned to the end of that same
science, If thi s is so, the subject- matter studied in praCtical sciences should be
things which can be made or do ne by us. The ract t hat t hey are made or done by
liS enables us to order our knowledge of them to some funher end, that is. to
operation or action. But [he subj ect-maner of Ilteore, ieal sciences will not be things
which arc made or done by us. Therefore our knowledge of them will not be or-
dered to operatio n as to an end.
lOt
To put thi s in Ofher terms, Thomas is here stating that in theoretical sciences
we study things si mply as they arc in themselves, nOt things insofar as they arc
manufactured or manipulated by us for other purposes. Given all of this, Thomas
now concludes Ihal Ihe theoreti cal sciences wil! be di vided or dist inguished from
one another by reason of differences whi ch apply to things as t hey arc in them-
selves, a[1(1 not insofar as they arc made or done by us. I.
Thomas rcali :!cs, of course, that we caml Ot divide the theoretical sciences ac-
cordi ng to th(' sheer numerical diversity of the things which :Ire st udied t herein.
\'(Ierc wc 10 do thi s, there would be as many theoretical sciences as there are differ-
ent things 10 be studied. The possibil ity of speaking of a subject of a theoret ica l
8, " ... pr imo Ul lUril . it con,'(,11 icns di"isio qua di vid illlr in hJi Ires IlJI uralem.
malhematio m, el di"'nam" (1->11. 50" J6: ' - -I )' s.:c p. ' 37:8-1- 87 in .he u d r"ntm, for Thomas's
refw:nce to MrlllphJlio VI. '" I (' 0163 18- ' 9).
9. .. . si"t: intell CCI\IS in hoc proplit opcF.uivo si ,'c praclico diSlin_
guiwr, quod spccub.i\, us habel pro nile "erit3.cm quam cOllsi .\cral, praclicus "cm vcri l<llem co,,
ordi "". in tll. mql.um in fi nem" (I.('QII . 10 , I J7;91-99). Note !ha! he ci!es
.... dc. [P ,,,,; mJl t tl. c. ," ( .. " ' 4- 15) . roo, " ,he, JiKu ;un. 0 ('1' . Cumment ary
Oil the & lhnillltr ""',. S. Neumalln , Grgm JII/lld und da mil},
TJwmllJ ' IVn Aqul'l aufgrund tkr /Ixp()flti() Jupa {ifJrum Hl!(if}ll Or Tn1ll11lir (M(l nstCI, pp.
71- ;4: L. J. Faith ,wd Stim('t". An /wrt}d"u ion 10 St, Thomas ""fH'1;Ii" in &rIMi Or 7ri nillltr '
(Rome. 197.d. pr. 91-94' ]i,,,,mast) "'AII',ino. II &nit), imm. and t",ns. by l'orro (Mi-
lan, 19\17), pp. t } - t 4; R. ne"'y. Bl!(l bj" , mId A'I" j nJlJ D.C. , 1990). pp. J Jl - j 6.
'0. l>n. 50,I J7, LOQ- UO. No!,,: " . . . "I in !! Mct aphysicac dici lur quod fi nis cs,
se<l fi nis ,dell! 0 1 For AriS1Ul I" sec /of(fllphpir, II, c. I (991b lo-t l).
11 . 50.1 37:110-138:11 1.
,



6 NalUre of Metaphysics
science, and hence of defending the uniry of that science by reason of a unified
subject-maner, would be undermined. Instead, notes T homas, when habi ts or
powers 3rc disti nguished by reason of t heir objects t hey arc divi ded nOt by reason
of any kind of difference whal'sQCver, but only by reason of diffe rences which are
essemial fO such objccts considered precisely as such. I! ' 10 ill u$(r:t te t hi s Thomas
notes (hat it is incidenta l to an object of a sense power whether th;n object is a
pbm or an animal. Sense powers arc distinguished not by reason of such diversity
bUl by reason of the kind chac oht:l ins between color (t he specifying object of sight)
and sound (the specifyi ng objcct of hearing). As fAr as the theoretical sciences arc
concerned, t herefore, they tOO arc to be divided by reason of diversi ty in objects of
theoretical considerati on (spnuutbilia) considered precisely as such, !J
Thomas comments t hat one aspect belongs to an object of theoreti cal science
insofar as it is considered from the side of the int el lective [)Ower; and somet hing
else belongs to it insofar as it is considered from the side of the habit of science
whereby the imelleet is As reg:mh rhe firs t poim, insofar as something
is an objeci of the intellect. it must be rendered immaterial in some way. This is so
because the intcl le<: t itself is immateri al. And it also follows, we may add, for
Thomas as wel l as fo r Boethius. from thei r commonly shared convicti on that what-
ever is received in something is received in accord wi th the mode of bei ng or
capacity of that which recei ves
In mcnti oning the second point Thomas is remindi ng us lhat science may be
viewed as a virtue and t herefore as a habit of the speculative imell ec!. 16 He reasons
tbat insofar ;IS sometbing is an o f a babit of 5(:icnec it must be rendered
in some way: for science deals widl that which is necessary. But every
11. -$cicndum quod 'Iu"ndu habi t us vd pol<'miat penos ..,biecra non dis-
linguun. ur pcnes q" ;lSlibel diffcrcmiu ob'e.:lOrum. scJ pcncs illas quae sunt PC'!iC obia::to,um in
qu"ntum sunt (t <'On. SO.l j8' ''}-1I 7).
11. Leon. 50. 1)8: II 7- 11.1. Not .... in pl n icular: M cl id<'O op<lfle\ !iCiemlas Spe.:ulali V,lS dividi per
$pc-culabiliu III in quantum sum. M
14 . Spubbili aut em. quod it obi<ocl "'" spcrubl ivac polcmi.e . liquid com peril {")I parte inld-
pol .... nti:l.c {"I "liquid 4 p"ne habitus sdcnliac quo imdleclllS (l<'On. jo .IJ8:11}-
126).
15. -Ex pUle si<luidcm in tdle.:!us compel ; t (.j quod s;! , m matct;a!c. (IUla ct ipse imdlcclUs imma-
ccrialis (:5C .. .. (l):() tL jo.I,II:n6- 1!7). For Ihis in Bocl hi tls sec his CtI>JJ(Jlllli(J philos(JphilU. Sk V.
4, in 'fk with mr Engli," Tmn$ia,io,/; Tly Gmwialion o/Philosophy. trans,
H. E SleW:ln, E. K. Rand. and .s. J. T(:5fn (C:!.rnbridgc. Mus., 1978), p. 4IO:]S-]7: O mne {"nim
quod cognosdcur non secundum sui vim fed !iCCundum po,iu. c.omp.ehendicur
For Thotllu", dcvelopmtn( or Botfhian (hCllle Stt, ror in5!:ln. In I &nt .. d. 38,
<1 .1,3. 1. ed. , Vol. '. p. 901).
16. See SUm"''' rorU-ril Gnuiln 11 . c. 60 (Ed.le..,n.man.). p. 160, "&<1 conside.a", intdHgendo,
<luod CSt actus huius habicus qll ; cst lCicntiac . . . ips,u!: intellect u!: pl)Sl ,biJis .... Ergo h" bi!u$
non (:51 in imcUcclu pa!:sim. seJ in intdl e.:cu Alsos Sum"ulllNofotj,u = ST I,
<I. 14, ;I.. I. ad I (in God, however. science i$ nO( a hab,c Ot quality). Cf. ST 1- 11 . q. n, 3. I. Sec
A. Zimrnernunn, /)Iir-r MrI"pl1)silt? Disituu;on iilN-r dm Grgmlfand flr -r Muo.pl1)lilt jm
Ii . 'md 14. ;abrl",,,dl'n (ld lev. Leuvcn, 1998) , pp. 101- 7; \'II. A. Wallace. TIN &/, of o,"'Ol'l1tra-
lion i n Aloml Th(ology (WashinglOn. D.C" t9(h), PI'.




Nature o f Meraphysics 7
ne<essary thing insofar as it is necessa ry must be immobile. What is moved is ca-
pable of being and of nOt bei ng, either in the absolute sense. or at least in a qualifi ed
sense. Consequently, it follows from all of this that separation from ma([e! and
motion or some degree of application to the same will belong to an object of thco-
relical science cons idered precisel y as such.'
7
AI thi s point , therefore, Thomas has sClIl ed on a crit erion for dividing the t hco-
reri G,1 sciences. They will be di stinguished in accord with the degree of freedom
from maner and motion of that which t hey study, th:u is, of their objectS (or sub-
jew.) consi(l ercd precisely as
Thomas now begi ns 10 apply Ihi s criterion. ohjeclS of theoretical science
depend upon matt er 10 such an eXl ent thaI they cannot exist apart from it. These
in turn arc subdivided illlo Ihose which depend on maHer both in order 10 exisl
and in order to be understood, and others whi ch, while depending on mail er in
order to exi sl, do nOt depend on sensi ble m:lltcr in order 10 be undersrood. (By
sensibl e maner Thomas has in mind insof:lr it can be perceived by tit e
externa l senses.) As he explains, sensible maneT is incl udtd in 11](: vety definition
of objects of the fi rs! kind. This is why such things cannol be undersfOod wilhout
sensible mailer. In illuSIT<Hion he.' cil es lhe case of human bei ng. In order for us fO
undeTSland human being, W(' mUSI include and bones in our defin il ion. Phys-
ics or science deals Wilh Ihis kind of object of theoretical
Thomas has referred {Q second kind of ooj CCt of lheoretical scil'llce which
depends on maner in order to exiST bUT, unlike the fi rst ki nd. docs not depend on
sensi ble mail er in order {Q be underSlood. As he explains. by thi s he has in mind
the objecrs studi ed by nlal hemari cs such as lines and numbers. These cannot in
fact exist apart from matter, si nce. according to Aquinas, they are based on quan-
tity. BUI they can be underslOod or defi ned without any reference 10 sensi ble or
pt'tceprible matfer, lO
Finall y, cominues Thomas. there is anot her kind of obieCi of theoretical science
17, /" {p 1'i"juIII. '-I- 5. a. I (teon. pb lS- I j8). NOI,I! in "Sic ugo speculabili. quod
obicCi um $l:ientiae I I<'I Ii(" ( ompt'l il s<:pal1n io matetb mOl\( wi al'pl ia t io ad
r8. " ... CI ideo 5wldum ordinctn a malni:. CI mOI(. scico liac specu IJt i,':Ic disti ngu_
untu'- {I.run,
19. "Quaed:lm ('go )I'ulabilium sum (Iuac dependent a S('<:undum qui:lllon nisi
i" tn:ll<'ria <'sse JJOssum. ha("C distinSUUI\llIr: quia qUJeJam
1:1 in ICI\e<' t litn. sicul il b in qUQrum d iffin il ion\' 1"0 " it li t S<:lIsibilis. und<: s<:nsibi li
"0" til '" ' !'ffi,,";""c ('"",ini. "P<>ff<:' CI fLe", .
(49). On "!o('llsi blt sct' q, 5, a. J in tlii s "Undc qUJmil a5 pot c:.<! imdligi
in m:ueria 31U<'q11:1I1) imdligam I" in (';l qua!iI J":li a <l icitur scnsi -
bi lis" (I ........ ". Fo' discussio" s S. Grge>llfll "d ""'/ 6)-64.
!O, Q. S. t: "QuJ<,tbm "en) quae quamvis d.opend<::lnt a secundum tsS<'. Ilon
lamell ,,-'C:untl um il"dkclUtlI. in <-orunl non l)Qltiml
linca cl fI .. me",.': e. de hi., CSt (i-c<"'. jO.'J8;1 4)1- ' 54). 0" tI,i , .CC A. /I.burer. SI.
T/)otl/{/J )!(I ,, ;"/11I. Didsion I/Ild MrlhodJ of Iltr 5ci,."u1. 41h (loron 10. (986) . pp. i-n ii. ,8.
II . 15; ' ';,ith "nd Srirna. PI) 96-99.




8 NalUfC of Metaphysics
which docs nOt depend on ma([er in the order of being This kind of object
(an exist apart from maner, ei t her in the sense that it is never present in matter, or
else in the sense that in cert ain cases it is present in matter and in certain GISCS not .
To ill ustrate t he first of these, Thomas singles out God and angels. As examples of
rhe sC'COnd he ci tes substance, quality. being (nil), potency, act. t he one and the
many, and things of this ki nd.
l l
In ot her words, objects of the first type are nOt and c::mnot be reali zed in maner
because t hey POSiTively exclude materiality. Hence one may, as I have suggested in
another comext , describe Ihem as positivel y imnlal cri al.
12
Objects of Ihc second
type do not have to be reali 'led in matter in order 10 ('XiSI, even though they may
be. As Thomas puts it, in cerrain cases they are present ill maner, and in certai n
cases nOi. Being, for instance, may be realized in malter, as it is in every mat erial
being; but it may also be realized wi thout being present in matt er, as in immaterial
beings. Hence we may describe t hings of t hi s type as neg:nively immaterial, mean-
ing thereby t hat they do nOt have to be presem in maner in order to exisl. We may
31ro describe them as neutrall y immat erial, meaning by this that they mayor may
nOI be present in matt erY
Thomas concludes this di scussion by noti ng that divi ne science deal s wi th all
of these, that is, wit h bot h types of objects which do not depend on maner in order
to exis!. He also writ es [hat thi s is named theology or d ivine 5cience because
foremost among the things considered in it is God. II is known as metaphysics
because it comes after physics in the order of learning. This is so because we must
mo\'e from a knowledge of sensible things !O an understanding of things whi ch are
nOI .sensi ble. This same science is al so known as firs t philosophy insofar as the other
sciences take their principles from it and t herefore come afler it. H As I havl.': ex-
plained in some dcta il elscwhere, T homas does not always offer t his same reason
for descri bing metaphysics as first philosophy. In hi s Cornrnent3ry 011 the Meta
pbysicshe will say that it is so named because it deals with the fiTS! causcso(
1.1. "Qu<l.t,tbrn vero spubbili:.. SUn! quac [lon dq><'ndem :.. ma!cria sc..:undum (lui:.. sine
maceria elSe po.<.S un!. si ,'c IlUmquam si UI il l [("ria. sicu [ deus e! siV'{' in sim in
rnaleri:.. e! in quibusdam non. lIC qualif1l5. en.<. po!emi3. X I US, unum el mull':l. CI huius-
moJ i" (l eon. 50.1, 8:114- 160) .
1l. Scc my Mf'ltIphyJirlll Tlm'l n i n ThomaJ Aquintlf. c. IV ( ,'>.1ec:.physiCii and Sqtlwri(J in
Aquin:u"J. pp. 69- 104. pr <)1.-9}.
He,e [ have my reasons for rcferring!o lhesc 3S negad"el y and nClIu"Uy II"!II ace-
more fully than in !he ,dcrence memiontd in nQ! e H.
14. " . . . d(" quibu5 omnibus dI! !I\ <:,()!ogia. id e5! tli .. ina, 'luia praecipuum in ea cogni -
coruln e5! Do:-us. Quae nomine dici tur mrl':lphyska . id est 1r,InS physicarn, quia poSI
diocenda occu fl i f nobis. quihu5 hhus opon( ! in i nscnsibi lia dc\'('nire. Dic;t ur ct;am philo-
$Ophi:.. prima. in omncs 5Ciemiac ra principia accipiemes ram
( l.eon.
15. Stt MtMphJ$itlll T/umf'S. c. III ("' First According !O Thomas Aquinas"). pp.
15- 67. {II duodnim lilmll Mrftlphys;rlJrum /lrjJltlu/is r.>:/X'siri(J. M . R. Cal hala and R. SpiJ'!,zi. ros.
(Turin-Rolllt'. 19S0). p. 1.. In br ief. in the srudy jU51 ciced I have a!temptro w show how
I h('.'''' 1"'0 do no. anmhrr by [() dis! incI;on synt hr-

,

Narurc or Meraphysics 9
In ,h(: pr(:selH context Thomas also remarks that it is not possible for there to
be things whi ch depend on maner in order to be understood but which do nO!
depend on maucr in order to exist. This follows from the immateri al nature of lhe
int ellect. An imnmerial intellect can hardl y impose dependency upon matter in
order for objects !O be understood if those same objects do not depend on ma11er
in the order ofbei ng.
M
This is an important point, since it indicates that in Thorn
as's eres the threefold division of theoretical science is exhaustive. There is no
fourth di stinctive ki nd of object of theoreti cal science whi ch might lead one to
postulate a founh theoretical science.
As far as metaphysics is concerned, therefore. '1. 5 J. [ of Thomas's Comment2ry
tells us that it deal s wit h a special kind of object of theoretical knowl edge, that is,
the kind thai does not depend on maner in order 10 exist. This kind is subdivided
into the type of objoct thai cannot exist in matter (t he positively immaterial) and
the type that mayor may n O! be present in matter (the negatively or neutrall y
immaterial). Metaphysics deals with bOl h rypes of objects, [hough Thomas has not
yel indicated how this is possibk' and how Ihese IWO TYpes fit together. If he has
offered God and as illustra ti ons of dte posit ively immaterial. he has listed
being (I'm) and substance along with a number of others as illustrations of the
ncg:Hivdy or neU! rall y immaterial. Th is reference to being (I' m) is import .. nt since,
as we shall shortly $('e, for Aquinas txing as being or ocing in general is the subj ect
of memphysics.
Thomas's reply to the si xth objenioll in this same articl e merits consi derat ion
before we conclude Ihis secti on. He not es that one may indeed say thallhe subjens
of the other theoretical SCiences- physics and mathematics-also enjoy a certain
ki nd of being and can therefore be described as But eve n though being (nu)
is the subject of metaphysics, it does nOI foll ow frottl this that these other sciences
are themselves pa ns of metaphysics, as the objection would ha\'e it. :?
Each of these mher thOOrelical sciences examines one part of bei ng (such as
mobile being or quantified being), and docs so accordi ng to its special mode of
considerati on. The special mode of consi deration of any such science is different ,
cont inues Thomas, from that whereby the metaphysici an studi es being. Ir is
cause of this that Ihe subject of such a particular science is nOl a pan of lhe subjen
of metaphysics. It is nOt a part of being under th;u formality whereby being iself
is the subjeCl of metaphysics.
l8
(via compoJllJumJ) and (Ili" uwbJl h",iJ) 10 h<, IxIWl":t'1l
in !<'rlllS or (Ju ulIdum nllil"um) 3nd in !erlllS of eXl rinsic C:IUSCS (un" I'
dum Irm).
l6. 1 (L<.'<:In j O. I}8: 168-(7 1)
l7. For obJcction 6 1":<' Leon. \ 0 .1 )6-j]. F(>r Thomas's reply S<"C I..eon. SO. I4I: }U- P S; m
di c<' ndum. quod qual11\"i$ subiccia aliuum scicmiarum sin! pants ("nlis. quod ",I
physiCic. nonlamrfl oponel quod a!ia( scitmiae si m panes
28. . .. aceipil $<I<"miarum <' mis IlloJUIfl
comidtrandi , 3!iwn J modo quo ':'!IS in n"laphysica. Unde proplie



JO Nature of Metaphysics
In short , Thomas is here acknowledgi ng that in a parti cular theoretical science
such as physics one studies a special or restricted kind of bci ng, i.e., mobile being,
but nOt in the way one slUcli cs bei ng in met:l phys ics. In physics one doo nOt study
mobil e being insofar :ls it is being, but under some other perspective, that is, insofar
as it is mobi1e. l'I In metaphysics, on the other hand, one studies being taken as such
(rat her than as rcsu iCl(' d to a gi\'en kind of being). And ont' slUdies it as being.
T homas's di scussion in thi s reply is important , for i t suggcslS that in identi fying
the subject of a science such as met:l physics it is not enough simply to take into
account the kind or range of object studied therei n- in t he prese nt case, being as
such rather than any r('SHin ed kind of bei ng. O ne mUSt also bear in mind the
perspecti ve from wllich such objects are considered, i.e., as being rather than as
mobile or as quant ifi ed. Moreover, Thomas's ans"\vcr at least implies that one may
examine the same t hing, taken materiall y, from two different formal perspectives
and therefore in twO di ffe rent sciences. Thus one and the s:une materi al thing may
be examined in physics insofar as it is viewed as mobile, and in metaphysics insofar
as il is considered as bei ng. 'w Wi th these points in mi nd we are now in position to
turn 10 the second section of ,his chapter, where we shall consider Thomas's views
concern ing the subjeCT of Ill etaphysics.
l um iHius f10 n esl pus subiecti non t nim esl t nlis 5CCundum ilbm "uionem
en> cSt 5ubk'Cturn ioed hac ipsa CSt spial is aliis
(I.con.5Q. q le jl\- Jjj).
l'). See, fo r 'nnanee. Thomas's lhe vtry begirming of his Comrnemary on rhe I'hJfia.
whele he in succinct fashion views concerning the di!ferem det;rea in which
depend on !lUltet. ooU' more arriving al Ihe Ih r (old division of Ibrom iOlI science. As for physics,
he then comntt m! (hal its subject is rm mobik:" & quia ornnc quod habet malcriam mobilt est.
conSfiJucns est quod .. ns mohite si l subi"'t um naluralis Set, /" IKIO lihTOI PI;pjrorum
A,iJ/(!U/i, E-':f'(Ilitio. r. M. Maggi olo, M. (Turin Rome. 1954) . leet. r, p. J, n. J. Aho Stt p. '\, n. 4,
where t: poinl and nOle< (hat (hc subject of physics ms mobilr rathet (han rorpus
mobik l>ecauioe i( is in (his book (.he one Pl'1)\'CS .ha. ""cry mobile thing is a hotl y, And
hc adds; "nulla scicnt b prob:11 suurn
jO. As ' Illomas Ihis out in hi s On f\ ,rlilpbpics VI, c. I: ... quod licel :w.l
perrineam e, qltac sum separ.t .. sceundum tuC" et "uioncm a
maleria el mOIU> non t:lmen (';1; etiam de seosibi1ibus. sun!
jX'rscfmatur, " Ed. cil .. p, !9!1. n. 1165. No(e that he in this (ext' 'Ni$; rOrtt dicamus, Ul
Avicenna didt , 'Iund hui usmodi communi, quibus perscrutalUr, dicumnr SCPllrara
s.:'Cundum use> nnn quia sempet sin t mataia: non de nc<:cssi tate h,b.onr esse in materi"
sin n rn,thrrnatica." In other words. (\'el\ sensi bl e may !-:lid 10 be from in
WmC sen5(", Ih,t is. when lhey arc insofar as they at'(" bein&-, and t:nce as fitl ling tlllder
.hat which is O. neutrally immaterial. The gc<><,ral re(en:-nce to is 10
the latt er's di scussion o( the of metaphysics in his U/N, dr /'lJjfoJlJpJ,jil prima I;""
St-ifllriadll,hw. l:lk!. c. l (5. V,n Ricl. 00., Vol. I [Louvain Leiden. 19771. PP' ro-tJ) . See p. 10 where
ror .he nl:<' d folr a separate ...::ien<:e which will "inquafllum CS(
ens vel es t , ,,h,,, mi, > ,d de corpore inquant um CSt .. .. "




Nature of Metaphysics II
2 . The Subject of Metaphysics
Something of the Aristotelian (and Boethian) background for Thomas's three-
fold division of the thf,;oretical sciences has already be<=n ment ioned. Aristotle's prc-
$cmation and di scussion of Ihe science of being ;IS being in hi s MrfllpIJyJiu evi-
dentl y exercised considerable influence upon Thomu's development of hi s own
concept ion of metaphysics. E.ven so, cefrain texts in Aristotle's treatist have posed
diffi culties for commentators down through the centuries, and continue to do so
today. One of Ihe mOSt seri ous of these has 10 do with the proper relati onship, in
Aristotle's eyes, between the science of being as being which he presems in Mrta-
phy/iu IV. cc. ht, and the divine science or theology to whi ch he refers in the latter
part of Mnllphysia VI, c. r. Simply put, the qucsti on is this: Arc these ont and the
same science? And if Aristotle believes that they arc, how can he bring them tu-

In brief. in 13k I V, c. I, ArislOtle refers 10 a science whi ch swdies being as being.
He contrasts thi s with more particular sciences whi ch CUI off a pan of being and
study the :mribulcs of [hal part. They do nOt treal universally about being as being.
The impression is here given Ih:lI, unlike such sciences . in the science of being as
being one does not limit oneself to any given part of being. One rather studies
about being universally, taken as being. And if one must seek for principles and
causes in any other science. the sa me will hold here. In this science one must grasp
lhe first causes of hei ng as lx:ing.
JZ
In devel oping hi s undeur:lIlding of being in e."!
of this same Bk IV. Aristotle assigns primacy to substance. [ven though the term
"being" is uscd in different ways, it s various meanings :Ire united to some degree
because of their relati onship to something which is one and firs!. This first or pri-
mary referent for being is substance. Therefore il is of subslancc(s) that the philoso-
pher- presumabl y lhe s[udent of being as being-must grasp the first principles
and causes.
3J
j l. r or 3 bricf O'cr.-icw or this ;11 the rncdicval l)("ri<ld SCI: my l nd Exis-
tencr." c. 19 ill T," CIII>lbridgr HiJfIJry of 1..IlIa Mrdin'llf N. Kret7.man n CI 31. . cds. (um-
b, id!;c. 1981). PI" For a much f"lkr men! $<.'(: A. Zimmermann . O",ol"K;r cd", /l{I"I:lPhy"
Jik?pa,)im. Also. L. Honncfdd...-r. "Dc, ,.wern Anfang JC{ MrrJphy5i k. Vorausscl"'lungcn, AmalU
tind 1'011,"''' dt r ll'icdClhq,rii ndung der l'>1tuphysik im in "hiforol'iJir I'll Mil-
(ti,/fUr, J. CI c,h. I')S7), PII. 164- 86. I' or SOffl ( recen[ of
Ih is in Arisroil c I. Dhring. Ar;SfOldrJ. /){lTStdl ulIg I",d IlIIrrpUI,1II0" St'j,m O",kms (Hti dcl -
berg. 1')66). PI' 5')4- ')'): E. Ki>n;g. trsrt Philosophic als von dc"
Ard"l! for Grsr/"dm dn "'"WWpiJU)l (1 970). pp. llj- 46; J. Owtns. l1Jr /)(Klr1l1f IIflkillg
in Ih< Ar;lIouli"" Mmlphpir1. 3d Oo romo. 1<;178), c.<p. pp. xiii - u,,". jj- 67; - Tit.: DOCll i,,,: or
Being in I he ArislOldi an Mrlllp'ryJiri- R,v;siIN, in f'hi/osopiJin c.J :"';;m.('(", Alld ml .m) M,di"w/.
MOf("wcdgc. ("d. (Ncw Y()! k . I')S:). PI'. 3J- 19: and {WII and hel pful studi,"; by A. Man -
si{)n. ' lnhjCI ,k fa ph ilosophique AriSI01C. Mct:lphys iquc. E, I, in MHllnf,l"I
i, Philoropl,i" Grr'qu" o/frm a Mp Dii1 (I'J.is. 1') )6). PI' . 151- 68; Philowphic prrm ihe. philosophic
s<:condc c 1 mh ..ll'hrsiqur ( h t l'. AriSlOl t: /?'!I!U pf'iloJOphiqunl"l.olU'ilill \"6 Pl'. 161- 11. 1.
32. Stt /l{rl tlphyi i rJ IV. Co I (U)()P I l - jl).
jj. Ibi d .. ,ooja .IJ- {ooj b I').




12 Nature of Metaphysics
In Bk VI, c. I , after referring to his in\estig:nion of the principles and causes of
bei ngs as beings and presumably, therefore, to hi s science of being as being, Aris-
totl e again contrasts this with more restriCied sciences whi ch limit themselves to a
given class of being and concern themselves with tha.t rather than with be:ing taken
as such and as be:ing:
H
Until this point Aristotle's text presents no insurmountable
diffi culti es for the reader. Bur after discussing physics or natural philosophy (whi ch
studies the kind of substance which has within itself its principle of rest and mo-
tion) and mathematics (some pans of which study theiT objectS as immutable and
separate from maner), Aristolle becomes concerned about the ontological status of
the things STUd ied by another science.
j
) If there is something eternal and immu-
table and separate, it belongs to some theoretical science [Q invcstigate this. Neither
physics nor mathernarics will quali fy. Therefore there must be a first science which
studies things whi ch arc both immUtable and separate (and whi ch does not merely
study them as immutable and separate). This Aristotle refers to as theol ogy (or
divine science) . .l6
This immediaICly raises a question for the reader. Has not Aristotle's third theo-
reti cal science itself now become a science of a particul ar kind of bei ng, that is,
immutable and separate and divine? If so, what is the relationship berwecn this
third the science of being as bei ng? Umil this poim Aris-
totl e's emphasis in presenting the science of being as being has been on its nonpar-
ticulariry and therefore on its uni versal iry in seopcY Unlike the pani ctllar sciences
of mathemat ics and physics, it does not remict itsclf to any kind of being; it
studi es being taken si mpl y as such, and it studi es it as being. Now, however, di vine
science has been presented as the science of sepa.rate (, miry.
To his credit Aristotle himself n w this diffi culty. One might be perplexed, he
writ es, concerning whether first philosophy is universal , or whether it deals with
one given genus or nature. In reply he comments that if there is no other subsrance
apart from those whi ch arc composed by nature, physics will be (he firs! science.
But if (here is some immutable substance, the science whi ch studi es thi s will be
prior; it will be: first philosophy; il will be universal insofar as it is first; and it will
belong to this science to study being as being. ')! In other words, Aristotle wants 10
identify hi s divine science or theology with hi s science of being as being. This much
is dear from his text. How h( does so and whether he is really successful in thi s
effort is a very different maner, and one whi ch continues to be di sputed by com-
Rather than ent er intO that questi on here, it will be enough for us 10
H. Stt 10 !Sb 3-10.
JS. For his discU5Sion of physi cs 102Sb 18- 1026 :17. On mathem3tics Sa' 10 16a 7- 10.
36. See 1016a IO- H .
}7. Stt hi5 pres<"nra,ion in Ah/Ilp"ys;o IV, CC. 1- 1, io ,.he ope-oing lioes or Mnaphy$ics VI.
e. r. For the n. 14 above.
38. Sec 1026a :23- J1.
j9. Stt. for in.sunce, gh'rn abo", in o. JI.
,
,
,
Na HJre of Metaphysics 13
not e that di\'ergent readings of Aristotle concerning this point had surfaced long
before the time ofAquina5 and that tWO such inrcrpret':l.t ions wer(' known to him,
that is, those otlert d by Avicenna and by Averroes.
In his Metaphysics (Liver de phi/mopbi" prim(l) Avicenna examines ill some detai l
the claims of different candidates for the title subjeCt of metaphysics. He considers
and then rejects the possibility that God mi ght be regarded as the subjett of this
science. Since no science can demonstrate the existence of its own subjeCt, and
since according to Avicenna God's existence can be established in metaphys ics and
only in metaphysi cs, he concludes that Cod cannot be regarded as its subject. Nor
wi ll it do to suggest that the causes themselves might be regarded as its subject.
Only being as being can serve as the subject of this
Agai nst this line of reasoning AverrOC$ argues that it is in physi cs rather than in
metaphysics that one establishes Cod's existence. Therefore, Avicenna's rl.":!.sons for
rejecting God as the subjeCt of metaphysics must themselves be rejected.
t
Whi le
Averroes grams tb:!. t Aristotle does refer to this as the science whi ch studies
as bei ng," he notes that in thi s usage the term "being" really means substance.
40. Sec his ir l'hiuJJoph!a e. t (Van Riel W .. pp. 4- 6), where he :ngues Ihal God is
not Ih, s'lbj1 of lhis science. Sec pp. 6--<) fo, hi1 prl'.S<"fltalion and eriti'l l!c of the view the
auscs might rhe l ubj...::t wh"rbcr taken in thc or inwfar
3S a uK' according 10 i(l l'mpcr !tl o<h lilY, or in of thc wholc or compol'i,c which ,hey
To slUcly lhclll as Ihey hal'e rot wilt ralher ho:long to thaI whi ch has as its
!Ubjt ocing 1\ being. For furth"1 discussion SCe Zimmermann. Omologir odrr Mrillphyrilt? pp.
J44- 51; J. Do;g. "Scic-nee premiere el science uni"cl"$elle dans!e 'Commcnt3ire de la
de saint T homas d'Aq llin. " phi/olopliiqu, tb LOtlL'ain 6 J (196\). pp. 73-81; Aquitlal 0" />1r(;/ -
p"'tin: A 11I!tonro-Jor/rinal l rudy oftl" Co",m""ar! " n Mrrap"pi(J, pp. lJ- J1; S. Brown , "Avi-
and the Unity of the Con<Cpl of Being: FmnriJrall Sn.din l\ (1965), pp. tl 7- 50, especially
pp. 1l7- I\I. In ci fing from A"ieenna (and A .... rrocs) here and throughout this study. I will
their medicv.t \ u I;n For d iscussions on Ihe Ar.lbic, 5<:( A. -M. Goichon, l.u dis(;,,((iDfI
M I'mmu rI tb l",i" Ulu di'p",!J", 5i"" (A,,;mmr) (I'oris, 19J7). pr. 1-1 , A. Proufi
for l:im,izy. CrrlltiDn ""d I," &isrmcr of Gtxi in MrJirml /su.mic and jrurirh {''';/oroph!
YOl k- Oxford, J\l87), pp. l84-S6.
41. See /n / 1'11Jl .. com. 8 J in AriJlduliJ dprm rum 1I""""m romm"",1ni( (Vcn [561- t 57-4), Vol.
4, if noundum esl quod i1lUd gtn us (ntium. t..ue sciliut K' par:ltum a materia, non
dcdar:ltur nisi in hac .sci(nt;a natur.lli. [ I 'lui dicit quod prima Phil050phia ni lifUr d...::lar:llc
enim enfia subiect:! primae Philorophia". lOt declar.lfUflI C$I in
p{)5ICriOlibw Analylicis quod eSI aliqual1l decbr:l rc suum suhi eclUm sed
conecdi, ipsul1l esse aUf qllia manifo"",, 5<:, aut quia CSI dcmon5trotul1l in ali", He
immwialely b unches into a SClt hing crilicism of Avicenna: "Undc Avicenna cum
di1il quod pri mu, Ph i!owphus dcmotl5tl"at pl imum pri ndpiu m This .:ritique C()minues um i[
Ih" end of on Hk I (Stt f. 47vab) 3nd i1 resullle<1 in hi s Commentary On Ak
II com. n, If, s6vb-S7r:1). There A"cHoa Aviecnna as Sllying Ib, no science can demon.
Ihe of irs !Ubj"'::f and rl"plin while: this is True of d(mOn5lr:1fion simpiiriur and
demonstrafion propurquid. if;l no! of demon5fr:lf ion quill. Thcrdote Aristotle's
of Ihe fillt mover i1 proper fO physia is l demonstralion quia or. :.s also describes iI,
prr Jig"u",. There he docribcs way of proving fitl;\ principle a1 the lIifl loqu",tium,
i. e .. "'':I.y of the Musli m theologians (muluku{/imulI). sec AVC:HOCS, In XII MtI .. com. 5 in
Aril wu/ir opml ,urn A .... rroil com"''''l.:mif (Venice. 1561- 1\74), Vol. 8, If. Cf.
I"nn!fi for fllrnif). pp. Jll- t 8.




14 Naturc of Mctaphysics
Accordi ng 10 AvcrrQCs, therefore, one must study substance first and foremost in
its primary instance. thai is, as realized in that separate substanCe whi ch serves as
lhe first form and the ultimate end or final cause of everything clse.
4
! One knows
that such a being exists because of one's demonstration of th is at the end of Physics
VIII. Therefore, separate substance or the divine is really the subject of thi s sci-
ence.'!) Averroes seems to t hink that he can safeguard t he general or non particular
charaCicr of metaphysics by reasoning that when one studies the first form and
ultimate end of all else. one st udies all else as well. Whether this soluti on can do
justice to the immedi ate nonparri culariry of the science of being as being as t hi s is
set forth by Aristotl e in Mnaphysics IV. c. 1 is highly doubtful. in my opinion.
H
Be that as it may, here we arc interested in Aquinas's position. He agrees wilh
Avi ccnna that the subject of metaphysics is being as being ((TIS hlqlllUirum n t em),
or as he also describes it, being in general (rm communr). T his is already at least
impli ed by t he text we have examined in q. S, a. I. ad 6, of his Commemary on the
De Trinitarr. It is confirmed by remarks Thomas makes in q. 5, a. 4 of this same
treat ise. as well as in his Commentary on III Smrrnus. d. 27. q. 2. a. 4. sol. 2, and
in hi s Commcmary on rhe Metaphysics At rhe sam!." time, he offers
.p . On this at sciener which at bei ng see I" I phyt., <:om. 8j. r.
' Omne enim de '1uo loquitur in hoe libm prineip.aliler 0 \ propler illud pri neipium; el il lc est pri-
mus locus in '1uo naturalis inspicir .I lium modum ascndi iIlo de quo C(msiderar. et apud ilium
cesUI. CI dimisit considcrarionem de C'Q usque ad scienl iam oobi liorcm, quae colUiderat de cnlt'
$C'CunJum quod Also sec In I V Mn, com. I, f. 64 rb inYOtigatl:S "inquan-
tum CSt ens"); <:om. 1. f. 6f rb ("Cum aut .. m declaravil quod una ocienli a ddx\ w nsiderare de ent e
secundum quod r ns ... fr. 65rb-66rb (on substance as the primary refereot of ms). Hence
Ihe "rhilo$Opher", i,e .. Ihc mClaphy$ician. must study Ihe principles of $ubn ance. Sec In XI/ MrI. .
com. 5. f. l \l}rb: "u dicemus nos quidem quod Philo$Ophus inquirit quae sum princi pia sulmanr;ac
secundum quod substantiae Cl dcdan f quod sub$l'lImia absn.tcta est ptincipium nalU-
IOlli s: sed hoc panendo aeeepit pro constam; hoc quod dedaratum (:li l in naluraHhus de principiis
substantiae gcncrab;l is et oorrupli bil is .... quod decb.r:lIum est in Qcl'llvO, scilicel, quod movcns
subsranr iam "5t abslr.lctum a materia ... .- Also s f. 1\l}"" where I\verrQej oot es thaI in
thi s book, i.e .. MrrapJrysil'J Xl I. AriSlotle rht mi nt ; " . .. quod
cliam cSt 5ubnant ia ct fo. ma (;1 finis. el quod mTOque modo. "
43. s.:e the lUI f rom his Commentary on I'hpio I as ciT..d above in nQte 41. In XII Mfr_
(f. 19}va) on the of the fi.st phil osopher and the in duli ng wi d,
s.epante (or $ubsranc<'S).
44. Av .. rroes does nOI bri ng OUI Ihis difficul ty as clearl y as OIlC might wish. His .cmulls at the
cnd of his Commentary on Ml'laphyli('J VI. I 3rC not vcr)' helpful. Cf. Doig, "ScienCe premiere CI
s<:i .. ncc universcllc," pp. Zimmermann. OM' M(/aphpik?pp. 151- H; E. Gil$(ln, jrlln
Dum &-or. l"rroJu(tion a In fX'liriom fon@mmlilln t9P), PP' 77-78. TIle problem is this. If
melaphysics hlU $epar" ,c .. mi,y and eJp,all y rhe divine aJ in il. 100. sums to deal fi.".
forelllas!. and immedi alely wilh a range of reality and not with being taken universally or
as unrCSlri ClW 10 any given class. By sfUd yi ng (he cause (fi rst formal .nd final) of aU el se onc does
not immedialel y and dircClly study aJl else. i.e" being as bei ng, but onl y medi at ely and indi rectly.
45. For the Comrncnruy 0 11 Ihr Tdnihlu. q. f. a. t. ad 6, sec nn. 17 and 18 ahove. For q. J, a.
4. su nn. 51 and below. For ( 'II romml.NIr as the subject of this science Thomas's Commentary
on rhe Mttaphpirs. Pr(>I)Cmium. ciled below in nOt .. 6z. Sec In /II &nt., d. 17. q. 1. a. of, 1i01. 1
(Sc-riptum &mmtiiJ. M. F. Moos cd .. VoL } [Paris. 19HI. pp. 886-.87): " ... SicUI philOK/phia




Nature of Metaphysics IS
a new and hi ghly original solut ion to the issue concerning the relat ionship betv.eell
being as being (or being in general) and divine being.
Thus in a. 4 of hi s COllunelliary on the Dr Tril1 itdtr, Thomas continuC$ to
defend the view that divine science. deals with things which arc without maner and
motion. In devdoping th is point he explains more full y what he understands by
divine science (as Bocthius has named it ill the [ext on which Thomas is comment-
ing). If every science slUdics a given subject-genus, it must also co nsider the pri n-
ciples of that genus. But principles arc of twO kinds. Certain principles arc com-
plete natures in themselves and at the same time serve as pri nci ples for other thinb>S.
Thus heavenly bodies may be regarded bodl as complete beings in themselves and
as pri nciples oflower bodies: and the same holds for simple bodies in that they are
also principl es for mixed bodi es . If [his is so. such principl es may be c)(:lmined in
t\vo different sciences. that is. in the science which studi es that of whi ch they are
principles, and in another science which studi es tht'm as complete natures in them-
selves .
Other principles, however, are not complete natures in themselves but are only
principl es for other things. 11 is in thi s way th3t 3 unit funclions as t he principle of
number. point as Ihe principle of a line. and matter and form as principles of
natural body. Such principl es arc studied in the science whi ch is directed to that of
whi ch they arc principl es: but unlike the first kind of principles, these are IIOt also
considered in another sciencc whi ch would treat them as complete natures in t hem-
selves.
47
With these genera! est":.tbli shed , Thomas goes on 10 nOle that any
given genus cerra in common principl es whi ch eXtend 10 :tlJ the ot her principles
of rhat genus itself. So i[ is [hat all beings, insofar as [hey share in being, have
cemin principles which arc the principles for every being. Such principl es arc said
to be common in one of two ways, as has indicated. They may be com-
mon in [he order of predication in the sense in which a form is said to be common
to all ot her forms because i( call be predicaTed of each of them. Or [hey may be
common in the order of causa! iry as, for instance, one ;md the same sun is said to be
the principle for all thi ngs which are subjt'1:t 10 generat ion. AIl beings have certain
common pri nciples in the first sense, (ha[ is, in [he order of predication. By thi s
Thomas means that certain names <':1.11 be predicated of all such principles Jt'cun -
p,imn quvd co' o", n' bu. co' nmunc, 'luia
specialcm t nris considCr.lt S<:'Cundurn quod n,H! depend .... 1 maleria CI mOIll : Though [hc
ICUIl "n,bjl" dOQ not appear"ol.S such in Ihis passage. Ihe point clear.
46. In & Triniulf(, q, 5. :.t . 4 {Leon. 50.ISJ: 8o- rol}. Not e in partk u! ... !: " _ .. C( ideo iSla non
solnm consider.lnlur in S(icmiis u( sum. so:! eliam 111 sum in sc ipsis res Et
propler hoc de non .solu m Ir.lCUlUr in S( icni ia quae consi dcrat ipsa pri neiriala. Kd habcl1l

per sc .Klelmam KII:l. r.l lam . .. _
47. leon. \ ,1 \3: 101-107. No\(: . . _ und, huiusmodi principia non tr.lcunlur ni !i in
in qua de principia(i$ agitu/ :

\
16 Narure of Metaphysics
dum analogiam. But as he points OUt , beings also h;we certai n princi ples whi ch arc
common in the second or causal
To illustr:lIc this point Thomas preS('nts what might be regarded as an outline
of an argument for the existence of God. The principles of accidents may be re-
duced 10 the principles of subsrances. And the principles for corruptible 5ubsranCl's
may be Haced back 10 incorruptible substances, so that all beings are:: reduced to
u nain principles according 10 an ordere::d grndation. Ikcausc that which is the
principle of being for all thi ngs must itself he bei ng to the maximum degree, prin-
ciples of this kind (the highest principlc::s for all other beings) must themseh'cs be
most pcrfer:t and therefore in act 10 the m;uimum degn.-c so as to have either a
minimum of potemialiry or else none at all. This follows from the fact that act is
prior to potency, as ArislOtle has pointed out in MrttlphYiia IX. Hence these Sll-
preme principles will be free from matter (for mauer always implies potentiality)
and free from motion (the act of that which existS in potency). Divine things arc
principles of this kind. As AriSlOtie n:IIC$ in MnaphJfiu VI, "if the divine existS
anywhere, il exists in such a nature," i.e. , in one that is immaterial and immobile.
49
After offering this brief argument for the existence:: of "divine" things or prin-
ciples, Thomas appli es the distinction between the kinds of principles whi ch are
also complete natures in themselves and the kinds whi ch are not. Divine things
themselves arc both complete narures in themselves and the princi ples for ot her
beings. Therefore they can be studied by fwO sciences. On the one hand, they can
be studi ed insofar as they arc the common principles for all beings. But if such first
principles are most irnelligible in themselves, they arc not most knowable to us.
We:: Gln arrive at knowledge of them through the light of nalllral reason only by
reasoning from effect to causc, as the phi losophers have done. (Here Thomas finds
support in the well -known text from Romtllls t:20: invisible things of God
are:: seen, being understood frolll the things which arc made."po Therefore divine
things arc not studied by the philosophers except insofar as they arc the principles
of all other things. Thai is to say, they arc consi dered in thai discipline which treats
those things which arc common to all beings, and which has as its subject being as
being (,m inquantum m ms). This S(:ience, remarks Aquinas, is referrc::d to by the
philosophers as di vine science.}'
48. In.ln. jO.ISPoS- 1l4. For Thomas's 10 Avicenna Sn" the IaIier'S Su/fil"lmria, J, c. l
(Venke, 1508). f. .. Thomas also refers here 10 Ar;!wrie'5 MtI:lphysics Xl (i.e., XII ) in oflkr ro
show that c( rtain principles arc colllmon in thc lint way anaipgia1l'l. For this sec Mrr. XII,
c. -{ (to7Q:,\ ;1 - jJ): c. 5 (1071a 19- J5).
49. I.ron. 50. tI3'l14- 154:tO. Thomas inuoducc$ argument wilh this remark: " .. . 111 sint
quacdam res eacdem numno cxiSlcnl O omnium rcrum prill(;ipia ... : Sec Arililotlc. MrlopJrysin IX,
cc. & and 9; Mrrop!rysiNVl, c. t (1016a /9- 11).
10. leon. ror another and fulle, imerpr(' r.l. rion ofRoman$ 1:10 in this s;!mc "cin
cf. T hon]",ts'.1 Commenlary on Paul's leiter 10 Ihe Scc S. Tholllor Aquilllllir "",",orn ongr/iri
in or>lnnS. Il,,,/' Apoiloli piIlolas CO"' r'lmrari4. Vol. , (Turin, 19t9), c. I, Iccl. 6, pp. tl -11.
II. .. . unde CI huiusmooi <LOS divinae non traCiamur a nisi prout sum rerum om-


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20 Nature of Metaphysics
amined, si nce without them complete knowl edge of the things whi ch arc proper
(0 any given genus or s]x:cies cannOt be had. At same time, knowledge of such
things cannot be entrusted to anyone of t he particular sciences; fOf these universal
principles are needed for knowledge of every class of beings and could wit h equal
justification be examined by each parti cular science. Therefore they should be in-
vest ig:l1ed in one general or science which, because it is supremely intel -
lectual, is ruler of the
Thirdl y, somet hing may be regarded as most intelligible from the standpoint of
the intel lect's knowledge. Si nce a thi ng enjoys intell ect ive power onl y to the extent
that it is free from m:ilt cr, those things will be most intell igible which arc supremely
free from matter. This follows because the intellect and its obj: t should be propor-
tioned to one anot her. BUI those things are supremely free from matter which ab-
stract nOI only from designated maner (as do natural forms when they grasped
universally, and wi th whi ch physics deal s), but also from sensible matter entirely.
They abstract from sensible mall er nOt only in the order of understanding (as do
mathemat icals), but also in the order of exiSH: nce. Such is true of God and intelli-
gences. Therefore the science whi ch st udies such things-God and
seems to be supremely intdlecmal.
w
At this poi m Thomas seems to have identi fi ed three different classes of objects
whi ch are imcll igi ble: (I) [he fi rsl causes; (2) tlta! which is most univer-
sal , such as bei ng, etc.; (3) Cod and intelligences. Can he bring these lhrce classes
together in some f.lshion so tha t all will fa ll within t he scope of a single science?
This he immediately proceeds to do. First of all, he commenrs, the aforemen-
tioned separate substances (God and the intelligences) are the universal and first
causes of being. T hus he col lapses classes [ and j into one. MOf('Over, he contin ues,
it belongs to one and [he same science to consider the proper of a given
genus and that genus itself. So it is that the natural philosopher consi ders the prin-
ciples of natural body. In like fashion. T homas cont inues, it belongs 1'0 one and
lhe same science to consider t he separate substa nces and being in general (ms com-
mwu). Being in general is the Ugenus" of which these separati' substances afe the
universal causes. (Thomas does not int end for liS to t3ke the term "genus" litera ll y
as he uses it here, of course, si nce he would never admit t hai being is a genus in the
proper sense.) Now he has united the science which has class 2 (being in general) as
its subj:t with the science which studi es the princi ples and causes of that sa me
subject, that is, Cod and intelligences.
G
'
59. Ibid. Nor .. in panicubr: "Unde et ilb scienti a maxim .. CSt inlelieclu;llis, quae cira princi pi;l
maxime univeruli. VNsatUI. QU:I(C quidcm 5Un l ens, el ea quae wnS<"(juuntur ens, lit unum el muln.
. "
potrnr,;l (I actus .. ..
60. Ibid. Sec in I'anicular: "bl vero sunt maxime a m.teria qU;lC non l;llllum a signala
siclIl naturales in uui"eruli acceptac, de quibus trJC[:l.1 scicnti;l n31l1
ralis: s..d omnino scnsi bili . Et non solum secundum ration<'m. sicul sed
sicU! [)ru'tl inldlisemiae."
61. Op. cit., PI). 1- 1_ "Nam p,.,.ed;"ac suitantiu sep.r.llae sunl uJ\;vcrs;oJes <'I primae causae


Nature of Metaphysics 11
As Thom;ls explains. it foll ows from this that while the science in question stud
ies the three classes of intelligible objects which he has dist inguished, it docs not
consider each of these as it s subject, but only one, that is, being in general (fill
(OmmIUlt)."l Tht;: subjt:ct of a science. cont inuC$ Thomas. is that whose principles
and Causes one investigatt:s. The causes of that subject-genus arc not Iht:mselves
the subject of the science. Knowledge of the causes of such a genus is .. Hiler the
end or goal al which the .scienccs investigation aims. Therefore, while only being
in general is the subject of this science. the emire science may be said to deal with
Ihings whi ch are separate from matter in the order ofllCing {mt} as well as in the
order of understanding. Not only are those things s;tid to be separate from mail er
in this fashi on which can never be present in matter; the sante is true of rhoS
whi ch mayor may not be reali zed there. such as mf ( OIlWJUfIl'.(,j
At this poi nt, of course. Thomas has once again aplX'aled to hi s di stincti on
between tht twO ways in whi ch things may be said to be free from matter and
Illotion in the order of being itself. BOth what we have described as the positively
immaterial (God and intdligence$) and the negatively immaterial (being as such)
will be studied by the mClaphysician. But it is only the l:mer, being as such or being
in general, whidt is the subject of this science. God and separate substances are
not its subj ect. Nor is knowledge of mclt ent iti es presupposed for one 10 begin
metaphysics, at least so lar as one ca n dete rmine from the texu we have examined
unli l now. On the contrary. such knowledge is held out by Thomas as the end o r
goal of the metaphysicia n's invcstigation.
6oI
<:sscndi. E.iusdem a,uem sc:iemiJ" cotuiderare propri:u alku;u, generi! el ;psum'
sieU! nallln!i} comidefll! l)ri nci pia corpori s narurJ.!is. Unde oporrc! quod ad umdcm
p<'"inea' consi dera,e snbslJrlIill scpan"ls. ( I cn$ w rnrnunc. quod ( $1 genus. cuiu$ sum
5ubS!:l.miac communcs tl un;"(:[5.11<') Cl.usac."
62. Op. cil.. p. 2: "Ex quo 3pparet . quod quanlYis sciemia pl1lcdicta lIia considere! . non
um..n consider-It q,mdlilxt ul sul>icc!Uln . ",-..J ipsum solum enol commune." Tha!
al50 il !O Ix Aris!mle's ,-lew that bdng :l.5 being or bci" g in gelter-Il is dlt subjcct of ,hi s scicm:e
is ckar from other paS$:igts_ Sec. ror in5t ance. I" IV Atf/.. le<:t. I, p_ 150. n. 5l9: - ... ideo dicit primo.
quod a t quacdalll quae spe.:ulatur ens secundum quo.:! ens. subic\;IUIll. el $publur
'n insull! <' nti per soo' , id""' l emi$ p<'r sc acddemi a. - 5- p. Ij t. n. IJJ: .. efgo in ha<: sckntia
nos principia in'lunntum e.<! ens: ergo ens est huius ,s<;i(miac. quia q "adj _
bel sciemia CSI '!uaelClt s sui subiecl i. - Cr. In VI Atrl. , !, _ I. p. 19S, n_ u,p . He also
agrreo; w;! h Ari.\lOti e in making subwJt1cc ,he p.imar) referem fot fill. 5-. for inslance. /" V M, I ,
11- ;, p. H9. n. 84t: "Suhi ccl\lfll aUlem huius sciell(iae pOI CS t vel sicul communi, er in Iota
C-Sl cn,' <" unum: vel i,1 <jUO prineipalis ;ntentio. ut
cr. I" VitI '>'tn, ket. t. pp. "Ol- j. n. "CUIIl " ";'" haec ens
commune sicut pfoprium 5ubiIUftT. ..
63. Ed. ei l.. 1). l -Hoc cnim CSt subieCl um in scicmia, CUillS c:t usa5 CI pa.lsiones qllaertmus. non
autem ipsae Cl.U\.3.e a!icuius generis quacsiti. Nam engnitio a!icuius generi s. a t finis ad
<ju,-tIl consi dcr.t t;o scicmiate QuanlYi s . ubiet:lUtIl huiu sc;cnt1ae i, ("S commune.
dicilllr IJmen lOla de his 'IlIac sum 3 mau:ria sundum esse ({ rnt;onem. Qui a secundum
esse rntionenl 5tpa rari di cumu!. non 501 um ilb quae nunquam in mat eria e!.SC possum. sieU! Dem
el substantiae. S<'d ct;am iUa 'Iuac poss u'" 5ine matn;a tslte. sieut ens
64. s"e the !exl ciled in the ptl:nding no!t. This is..\ uc will be of in our discussion


22 Nature of Meraphysics
This suggests thac in the order of discovery one n1ll5t first arrive at 1u1Owiedge
of being as being or ofbcing in genera l in order for metaphysics ro have its proper
subject established. And this in turn brings us to the issue to be di scussed in the
following chapter: Precisely how, according to Aquinas, docs one go about dis-
covering being as being, thc subject of mctaphysics?
below of the requi rcd for fhe judgmem of 1nd hc-nee for one's of the
of meraphY$iC$.



11 Our Discovery of rhe Subjecr of Metaphysics
Since Aquinas holds lhar being as being is the subjccl of metaphysics, it remains
for us to determine how he ac(;ounrs fo r Ollf di scovery of (hi s subject . In order to
do thi s we must first consider hi s explanation of the way in whi ch we arrive at
knowledge ofbt-ing as real or as exiSting. fu already noted a1 the beginning orCh. I,
Thomas's m OSt importJIH single discussion of t hese issues is in q. S, J . 3 of hi s
Commentary on the De 'irillirmcof Boelhius. At the very beginning of the corpus
of this articl e he makes a point which is crucia l for our understanding of his view
of the way in which one discovers being as existing or as real. Farther on in this
sallle articl e he offers hi s fullest account of all operat ion whi ch he rlJ.mcs scpai.1tion
(upnrari()) and which he explicitly CQnnttrs with metaphysics. In taking up these
points, therefore, this texl will serve as our focal poin!.
I. Our Knowledge of Being as Real
Q. 5, a. J is expl ic itl y directed 10 the question whedler mathematics considers
without maucr and moti on things which are present in maner. This queslion itsclf
is raised for Thomas by lhe Boethian text on which he is commenting. I
In setting up his rcpl)' Thomas begins by observing thaI one understand
how lhe intellect can abm:lcl in it s operation. As will become dea r from prcdsions
which he introdlu.:es into hi s text ar a later poim, Thonus is here using [he term
wabsrract" veT)' broadly so as to signifY any way in whi ch the incell cci distinguishes
I. - ... ICllio uUum mluhcmal ica consider:llio sit sine:- motu CI maleri;!. de his sum in ma-
leri,- (i-lll, lx..,lhi us, or malhcmalics in c. of his lfl Tri nirau:
" ... fflar/'allarira. sillc rnol u inabSlf acla (hue eni rn forrnas rorporum Speculalu r si ne rn'f eria aC po:r
hocs; nc molU. formae cum in 5; 111 , ab his scpuari non p;.:tUIII) ... (ed_ cil .. p. 8: 10-
14). For Thomas's lit eral exposition of this passage. before he introduces his morc original
ment haK'd on questions articlcs. ,ICe l..con_ 14:86-,00. As he Ihere. whi le h('mal '
;e:.ts can Ix: aparl from (sensibl e) mailer. Ihey ( annOI exist apan fwm il.
'J


24 Discovery of the Subject of Metaphysics
or divides. In devel oping a rather brief remark made by Aristotl e in Dr. Im i mp,
Bk II I, Thomas writes that the irHell e<t's operation is [Wofold. One operation,
known as t he understanding of indi visibles, is that whereby t he int ellect knows
what a t hing is. T here is another whereby the intel lect composes or di vides by
formi ng affi rmarivc or negarivc In other words, if we may use termi -
nology which will Ix mo re familiar to students of a lat er scholasti c trndition,
Thomas is here distingui shi ng bcrween simple apprehension and judgment. By
simple apprehension (which must nOt be confused wit h sense perception), the in-
tell ect simply knows what somet hing is withoUI affi rming or denying anything of
it. By judgmeru t he intell ect composes or divides a predicate and subject and
thereby affi rms or denies.
T homas goes on to arguc that thesc twO operat ions correspond to tv/o f.1c tors
whi ch are present in things. Thus t he fi rst operation has to do with the very nat ure
of the thing according to whi ch that thing holds its proper rank among beings.
This is true whether that natu re is a complete thing, such as a whole, or whet her
it is only some incompl etc thing such as a pan or an accident .
l
The intellect's second operation is directed to the very esit'" of a thing. This (JU,
adds Thomas, result s from the union of the principles of the thing in t he case of
composites, or else accompanies the si mple narure of t he thing in the case of simple
Immedi:ncly, of course, the question can be raised: What does Thomas
mean by the teTm ( If( as he employs it in t his le:<t ?
Aquinas is only tOO aware that t he term (l iterally: "ro can be used with
di(ferelll mcanings. For innan(:e, in an carly text from his Commentary on I Sen-
U'lica (d. Jj , q. I , a. I , ad I ) , Ir e dist inguishes t hree dif'ferclH meanings for il. As he
putS it there, the term (Sf( may be takcn to signify thc very quiddity or nature of a
thing, as when we refer to a definition as signifyi ng what a thing's t'"1St for, as
T homas remarks, a definit ion signifi es the quiddity of a thing. Secondly, t'"1Sr may
signifY the very act of an esscnce, meaning thereby nOt itS second act or operat ion
l. " .. . oponct qua< lircr> inr e!loct lls SC'Cundum suam opcl"3l ionem absl r.lilcrc pos-
$i l. $cicndum igiru, quO<! 5('Cundllm in III [)<, anima Opcr.II;O imd-
lcclus: una. d,ei m, inrdligt nt ia indivisi bilium, >gnosei t de unDqlloquc quid en , al ia vero
qua componi t t r di yidil, scilicet enllnriat ionem affi rmal ivam yel ntgalivam (Leon.
10.r -.6:87- 91). For Arist otle t:Hanima III. c. 6 (-.3Q;1 lQ-18J.
j. "I::I quidclll duae opcflitionC5 duobus quae .Iu m in rebus Prima quidem oJX'"
r;uio ips;tm secundum quam rcs imel lecta gr.ldum in cnribus ool inct,
s;ye 5i l res COml'!cla, U! IOrum aliquoJ, 5;\"C res incornpkl"a, til patj >fd (Leon. 50. 1-.7:96-
101).
4 . "Scc:unda ycro opeTlHio lapki! ipsurn esse lei; quod quidem 0" princi-
piorum rei in COmp<)iil is, ,d simpli o:m rei conoornilal ur, ur ;n su\..;;t2nliis simphci-
bus" (L:on. 50.147:10 1- 105).
j. Herc Thomas is di scU5Si ng Ihc of relations in thc Trin ily. ! n responding 10 an objeclion
hc commcnts: Sed Kicndurn. quod c."i!iC dic; lUr ITiplici lcr. Uno modo dici lllr = ipsa quiddil1lS yel
natura rei , dicilUr qu<">d ddi. nitio est orati o signi fj caf\S quid esf defl n ilio t n im
rci signifiCll " w., Vol. r. pp. 761-66).



Discovery of the Subject of Meraphysics 25
but its first act, i.e., its actual existence. laken in a third way, mr signifies the rruth
of composition, that is, of judgment , as this is expressed in proposi ti ons. In Ihis
sense, continues Thomas, the verb "is" is referred to as the copula. \'V'hcn used in
thi s third way fiSt is reali7-cd in the full scnsc in the intellect which composes or
divides. Nonet heless, when so used t his NSf it self is grounded in the mr of l he
t hing, that is, in t he act of its essence (i ts existence) juSt as truth is.('
Of these three usages the fim may m ike the reader as somewhat surpri sing. In
many other context s Thomas is content simpl y to dist inguish between mf insofar
as it signifies the composition of a proposi tion whi ch the intellect effects through
judgment, and rssl! taken as :l clllal existence or, as Thom:lS of len expresses it , as the
aCiUJ i'S!rndi (act of !xing) . In ot her words, he of len limits himself to t he second
and third meanings he has si ngled OUI in the present ['exi. For instance, he appeals
to t his rwofold di st inction in Summa t/H'O/og;lU I, q. j, a. 4 in order to meet an
object ion against his d:lim that ill God essence and Nft' (acl of being) are identi cal.
7
In our text from Thomas's Commentary on Ihe Df: 7,iniUJu he has distin-
guished between the nature of a thing to which the intellect looks in its fi rst opera-
lion, and the very rotof:! thing 10 which the intellect looks in its second operat ion.
In thi s text it is d ear that tsst'cannot mea n natu re or quiddity; for it is wi t h thi s
that (fsr is here cont rasted. It would seem 10 follow that it must mean either a
th ing's act ual existence, or el se that au which is formed b)' and exists only in the
intel lect when it judges. l3ut since Thomas has referred ht' re 10 the very (/u of t h t"
thillg (ipJll m tnl' rei ). rhis suggeslS that he docs not here have in mind (Sir si mply
as it exi sts in t he intell ect as expressed in judgment, that is. as the copula. By process
of elimi nati on we seem 10 be left with the remaini ng alternat ive: esu as used here
si gnifies the aClual exist ence of a thi ng. It is which is captured through judg
ment. Nonetheless, t his int erpretat ion is rejected by vari ous Thomistic scholars.s
8<' forc pursuing thi s controv<, rted point in greater detail, it may be useful for us
10 recall another distinction which Aquinas also makes, and Olle whi ch Gilson has
6_ "Alio modo di<.'imr esse: ipse: aCtl.lS ('SKmi ae; sicU! vivcrc. quod CS t esse viWnl ibU$, CSI ani mac
lcms; non awu secundl ls. qui CSI oper1llio, OlCHIS primus. ltnio modo did lll r esse quod 5igniti.
en vcrillucm composit ion is in quoti ' e5I ' tiicilu, copula: ct
hoc CSI in imd[cr lu co"'p,mcnIC CI divi dtnt" ad comp[cmcnmrn; !-Cd fundltur in
rei, quod eM aC1l1J CS$(Cntiu. SiCUl de I'CrifalC dictum est" (p, 766). Concerning !Iulh cf. luI
Snll .. d. ' 9. 1 (ei,,:d !x,[ow in n. , 6) _
7. Ad .s.undum djc"".!"m 'l''''lod tSH dupl1dl<:1' eli ei ' "" u nO mod". , igni ti<;3'
aclUm cssendi; l lio modo, oornposi tio nem proposition' s quam alli nla adin\'cnit con
iunS""' Alsu :; QuoJl ilx-\ XII. q. I, a. " ad .. _ CSf<! duplicilc, dicilur:
cnim CSS(' idem CSI quod aClus cnli.; quandO<Ju<" CQmpo,ilinnem " numial;oni s
t l sic signiti c3! lCfum imdlc'Clus" (Leon. 15.l.j99:j4-j8). CL hO .... 1."Vcr. Thomas's remark in [X po-
Imrill. q. 7, a, l . ad t: "Ad prim"m e,go diccndurn. 'luod ens el <"Sf<! dicilUr dupli ci lcr. U( palel V
Mrraph, QUlndoquc (nim cSMllIiarn rei. sive lcmm essendi: "ero sigllific:ll
proprni . ionis __ . ," 50:" Q"'UJlimm dilpulallu. Vol. 1. M_ Pcs!;.:>n. ed. (TurinRomc. '9SJ).
p. ' '.I I. Alw oS / " V Aftt .. [<'(:1 , 9. pp. nn. 889-896.
8. t he rcfcr"ncc$ given below in notes 19. 10, and l l.


26 Di scovery of the Subjecr of Meraphysics
highli ghted to good effect in various publications, especially in c. VI of hi s Bri"g
ami Somr Pbilosopbl'rJ.' As Thomas develops this in hi s Commentary on Aristotl e's
Dr inurpwatiof/ r, the \'erb "is" as it appears in proposit ions is somet imes predi -
cated in its own right, as when we say; "Sorces is." By this we wish to indicate that
Sortes is in reality, i.c., that he aC[ ually exists.lo As Gilson develops this poim, the
verb "is" often appears in what we may de.scribe as existenti al judgments, or judg-
ments of existence. I I But, Thomas continucs, on other occasions the verb " is" is
nO[ predicated in its own right as if it were principal predicate, but only as
joined to the principal prediCltc in order to connect it with the subj eCt of a prop-
osition. So it is when we say: "Soncs is whi te." In this case the speaker does not
intend 10 assert that Son es acmall y exi sts, but ralher to attribute whi teness 10
him. As Gil son explains, such judgments may be described as judgments of attri -
bUlion. lz
As we return to our text from Thomas's Commentary on the Dr Tri f/ ifllLr, we
should recall another point whi ch Thomas makes in t he same immediate COnt ext.
Because truth ariscs in the intell ect from the fact thaI the intel lect is conformed to
reali ty, it follows that in irs second operat ion (judgment) the ill1dlect cannOt t ruth-
full y abstract what is united in reality. For the intellect 10 abst ract (t hat is, 10 distin-
gui sh or divide) in thi s operation is for it to assert that there is a corresponding
separation with respect 10 t he thing's very For instance, if I am speaking of
someone who is actuall y whit e and separate human being from whi teness by saying
human being is nOt whitc, n my judgment is fal se. 1.)
In other words, Thomas is reminding us that uuth in the suict sense arises at the
level of judgment. Any composi tion or divi sion effected by , he intellect through
judgmcll1 must correspo nd to a composition or di vision which obtains in reality if
that judgmell1 is 10 be true. Whil e this point appears to be evident enough in itself,
9. Ed. d f. , pp. ' 90-104. Abo sec his T," Chr-isritm I'hilowplry IIiSl. Thomas Afluinas, pp. 4O-.. g .
' 0. " ... cOllsidenlldum dl quod hoc v<:fbum 'esl' ill pr.ltdi catur It-
cundum s." U( cum dicilu" 'Sori CS en' . J>!' f quod nihil imcndimu5 quam quod
S .. m es 5il in rcrum rwura .. ." Expmirio Libri Ihyrrmmiasll , 1 {(..con. '.1.88:36--40). This .... ork hil s
l.crwcen Dembt"r r170 and October ' 17 t (!.ron. ,. 1.8S -8S).
II. /Hint and mlt Philosoplun. pp. lOO-lOt as well is the citat ion and di$Cu>sion of rhis rell
by as rcproducI by ill Ihc $:I mc soun::e. pp. lI8- l0.
r 1 . ... qll:l.ndoquc vcro noll praedia rur per 5<", quasi I)ri nci pai( pr:aedic:uum, o:eJ q uas; coniun
Clurn pracdiGIlo ad cOllnccl cndurn ipsurn subilo. skul cum dicilur: 'SortC$ est albui:
non cnirn C$t i nlenlio loqll.:nlis III asscrat Sonem e<: in rcrum namr..l, $l-d III allribua[ ci al bcdinem
hoc ,-.::roo 'e:>; [' . (Lron. l ' 1.88:4()-46). In the rhlme conrext Thomas also explai ns why in
Ihis stCond ell(" m is rcferred to as iUliilu1IS pri 'l riptrfi prtudicfl /O; ... CI dicitur = "::flium lion
quia sil Icniurn sed quia e:>1 tenia dinio posiu ill tnUllciuiOflC, qU2C ii mul cum no-
mine praedi.::llo F...cil ullurn pnedic>l um, ul si" cIlUneialio divid..llUf in parlC$ cl Ilon ill Ires"
For Gilson on judgments of amibut;on 5tt' &ing <InA Somf Philosoph"" pp. l.OO, 190-91.
13. Loon. SO.147:1GS- ti S. NOl c: "EI qui a veriru illldle<:lus ($1 ex hoc quod < rei >,
pat ti quod )CCundum bne $ttundam opcrationcm intdlCCIUS non potes! vtrc quod It
CU ndum .em coniullnum el l : quia in abSlnhClldo e<sc JYndulIl ipsum esse
rei ... .- Cf. I" V MrI .. lccl. 9, p . .2. )9, nn. 89S-8.96.



Discovery of the Subject of Metaphysics 27
it is important to keep it in mind in the present discussion. If, as we arc suggcst ing.
Thomas holds chal the intelleCl's second oper'Jt ion (judgment) is ordered 10 the
Wt of thing$ and if this means their actual existence, one might concl ude that such
is the case only in judgments of existence, Thomas's text indicates that the same
holds for judgmerHs of anribmion such as "Sones is white. " Even in such judg-
ments there must !x- some reference 10 real ity or, as Thomas has put it , 10 Ihl' very
me of the thi ng in quCS!ion. I n f.1CI, as Gilson phrased ii, in judgmenrs of
attributi on "is" has correctly been chosen to serve as a copula all judg-
menls of attri bution are meant to say how a certain thing actually
Our text from Thomas's Commentary on the Dr Trinifflu is more or less paral-
leled by rwo others ftom hi s Commentary on I Smfmm. In the first of these, taken
from d. t9, q. h a, I, ad 7, Thomas draws the same di stillCiion be(l.\'cen the imcl-
lcrl's rwofold operation. Olle of these is named by some "imagination" (that is,
conCept formation) or "formation" on Iht' part of the intellect, and is referred to
by Aristotle as an understanding of indivisibles. The other, whi ch some refer 10 as
belief (jidn), consists in (he composition or division expressed in a propositi on,
This, of course, is what we mean by judgment. While (he first operation grasps Ihe
quiddity of a thing, the second has to do with its NIt. Because tTllth as such is
grounded in (,Sst rather than in quiddity, Truth and falsity properly speaking arc
found in this second intci leclUal operation and in the sign of this same operation,
that is, in the
Thomas has offered a fuller explanation in t he corpus of Ihis same an ide of hi s
poim concerning truth. In addition to things whi ch enjoy their complete !x-ing
(mr) outside Ihe mind, and ot hers which exist only in Ihe mind, are still
Ol hers whi ch have a foundalion in reality OUlsi de Ihl' mind, bUI whi ch {""xi St as such
(as formally perfected) only ill the intellect. Such, for instance, is the nature of a
universal or of time. Truth is still anot her example. While truth has a foundat ion
in extramental reality, it is perft'ctcd as such onl)' by an act on the p:1TI of the
intellcct. Moreover, since both quiddity and me are realized in a gi \'en thing, lTuth
is based 011 a (IS( more so t han on its quiddity. , 6
/hi,,! and Somr Philowp},rn. p. 100.
M.ndonnct w .. VoL!. p. ,,89. - ... diccndum. quod cum duplo operatio inlel
k<:l us: una qU"lfum diei",!. 'Iuibus.;bm irn.gi n.tio quam P),ilosophus. 111 Dr anima.
l l . nom i UJI i rudligemiam indivilibiliu rn. qu.e consisl il in appr<:hensione simplicis.
qu,e ,Iio etiam nom ine rorm"io dieitu r: .Iia eSt qu.m die,, "! fidem. qu. e consis,;t in co'np(>si , ionc
,.ej proposition;s: prima respicil quiddita!ctn rei: n:sp;ci l = ips;"s.' For
some helpful cummClHS on lhe usage of Ihe lelm forme/in 10 by forming'
conccpl J. Owcns. "Aquinas On Knowing F-'l is<cncc. " repro in his Sr. TJwmlU AqllinlU em ,ft; ExiJ-
ImrrojCl(Jd, 1'. 14. and 11. 10.
t6. See w. cit.. Vol. I. p. 486: "Similiter dico de ,erilate. hal><-I fund"rnelHum in re. sed
"'tio ei us complctur l><-r :>Cl ionem (Jumdo Sti lle" 'pp,ehendil ur w moJo quu eSI . Cum
auttm in re si t quiddit;l.s <:1 i uum cue, vcr ;tas in Iti m,gi! quam in quiddilat e.
SicUI '" nomen ,'mis imponitur." Stt my "Truth in AquinJ5.- Rrliiru10f Mrtaphpics
,0 (' 98911990). pp. 196--98. SSG-56.


28 Discovery of the Subject of Metaphysics
Thomas also writes thaI it is through t hat same operation by which t he int ellect
grasps the fflt'of a thi ng that it or perfects the relat ion of adequation in
which trut h itsdf consists. '
1
In Other words, it is through j udgment lhat one grasps
t'lU JUSt as if is through judgment that Huth, properly speaking, is realized.
T hroughout Ihis discussion, therefore, Thomas has cont rasted NJt' wit h nature or
quiddity. And t hroughoul this discuss ion, i'SSt' is said 10 be grasped by the intellec
mal operation we know as judgment . Since is conrrasted wil h qui ddiry in this
discussion, it $CCms cleat that when il is so used i1 must signif)' act ual existence. It
is this which is grasped th rough judgmelll rat her than through t he intellect's fi rst
operation. T his being so. it also seems thaI. as ffltappeau in our leXl from Thom-
as's comment<lry on thl": Dt' Tri nit(u(, there tOO it means actual exiStence. It is this
which can be grasped only through judgment. II
Nevertheless. as we have noted above, this imerprctation has frl-quemly been
challenged. According to a more traditional readi ng, wd l expounded by L.- M. Re
gis, T homas does nOt hold t hat a thing's existence (exisurt') is directly apprehended
through judgment. Against any such reading Regis argues that the direct objc::C1
of judgment is rather a "composition or symhesis of concepts wil h which si mple
apprehension has already enriched Ihe illl ell e<: I." I' Accordi ng to this reading, there-
fore, and even when we arc d('al ing wit h an existent ial judgment, both the natu re
or esscnc(' of a thing and ilS actual existence will be grasped through Ihe intel lect
in its first operation, t hat is, through simple apprehension. Judgment 's funnion
wi ll rather be to unite or synt hesi1.e fhe imel ligible cont ent already apprehended
at t he level of the int ell ect's first operation.
lO
Consistent with this interprct'3.tion,
therefore, Regis cannm admi t that in Ihe passages wi th which we arc here con-
17. " ... e. in ips::> imdJcc.us C$$t ,d sicU! per
ad ipsum, comple.u! .c\a.io in qua "eri[aris. Unde diro, quod ipsum
euc rei aus::> ve.i la.is, secundum in cognilione imelle<:lUs {cd. (iI. , p. 486).
18. Sec the Int (iled alx",: in n. 4.
19. $.:c L M. piJlrmolDt;J. rmns. I. M. Byrne (New York, pp. ,'1- 13. JU- Jl. Rol
Iht It XI 'IuoINl5<'e p. J2).
10. R.:gis, EpiJltmo/cgy. p. j2S. He (p_ jZ4) ,he following ,01 from Thomas's Cornml'mary
on /Lfcutphysia V in M.ppon of his imcrp.cr3rion, "Ess., ,tro quod in sui nalu" res
subm.ntiak E{ idffi, cum dici tur. Soc'3te.'i c.\1, si illt Es, p.imo modo accipialUr (n signi
fyi ng .hal which oblai n$ outsidc mind). 0 1 de pnooi caTo $ubSl2nr iali. Nam cns superi liS ad
unumqu<Klque en{ium. sicU! animal ad hominem. Si aUlem accipialllf secundo modo (as signifying
,he compoilion of a proposi'ion). eJ! de p"",diclfo (IC'<: I. 9, p. Ij9, n_ 896). R.:gis :lC
,hal lSI as used in ,he first way cxpresses The :leI of Ihe subsTance if perf.-cu and from
which i. is dis.inguishcd. - Bu{ h .. concludes from this ,hal uk .. n in the thing's
5uilanriaJ:lel of nor grasped through illdgmem. Only rsv.aken in Thesond 5C:nse-
as cxprwi ng a composition of wncepls- is Ihe direel obie<;1 of jlldgmenl. However, nOThing in ,his
teXt forces one to deny that Thomas holds that rs1< taken as a thing's actual or :lCI of existence is abo
grasped ,h,ough judgment. For an CX'l'nd .. d crilique of view:;; concerni ng jlldgml'nl and
nimncc oS J. M. Quinn, 71K TJXltnil 11l (JfErimn, Ci/uJn: A Crithal Study (Villanova, 1971), pp.
5j-<)!. For Ihe other side sec the contribmions by J. Owens ment ioned above in Ch. !. n.



Discovery of [he Subject of Meraphysics 29
ccrncd Thomas imends to signif)' aClu:!1 existcnce by his usage of thl' term t$U. He
must rather mean thereby a thing's mode of exi sting. 11
One remark ill the same immediate context from Thomas's Commentary on
the De Tr initllfl!, q. ), a. j, mi gh t be taken as suppOrt for Regis's reading. After
writing that the imellen's second operation looks 10 the very t"SU of a thing,
Thomas that Ihis t'SSr resul tS from the unit ing of the principles of a thing in
the case of composites. or accompanies the thing's nature as in the case of simple
substances.l: How can Thomas say tha t tIll' results from the joi ning tOgether of the
principles of a thing in the case of composit es if me means the thing's act ual exi s
Is it not rat her the thing's emire being {tm} including its cssence and its
which resultS from the uniting of its pri nciples . th:u is, of its maner and
its
Reinforcement for Regis's reading mi ght also be sought from another parallel
text from Thomas's Commentary on I Smfl'1l rn (d. 38, q. t, a.. 3) . There, whil e
seeki ng to determi ne whether God has knowledgt, of our individual judgments
(t!1JUmitlbilia), Thomas again disti nguishes between a thing's qui ddity and it s l'ssl!
<lnd correlates these with the same tWO intellectual operatiom. If quiddities arc
grasped by the intellect's fi rst operation (formation, or the understanding of indi-
visi bles), its second operation understands (compl1'IJrI,dit) a thing's mt' through an
affirmat ive judgment.
l4
Until this poim in the lext we would seem to have addj
tional support for the vi ew that it is through judgment that one grasps a thing's
existence. But Thomas then adds that the NU of a thing composed of maner 3.nd
form consists of a certain composirion of form with maHer or of an accidcfII with
its subject. How afe we to understand t'SSI' as Thomas uses it here? Must it n Ot be
taken 10 $ignify the IOtal being of the thing father than irs actual exi stence?lS
Milit :Hing against any such irucrprcr:l.Iion. howevcr, is [he flet that in this same
text Thomas immediately goes on 10 speak of nature and ml' in God. JUSt as God's
nature is the cause and exemplar for every other nature, SO is hi s eslt' the cause and
21. FOI Rq;is's uplici \ d;SCU5Sion of OUI lexi from /" & Trinitafr and ;15 pp. j28-)1.
21. Sec o. 4 above for this H!XI. The: n ;{ icai part . _ q'l()<i quidem ex consrq;ari "
. . .-
one PIIIl';:lplofuln . ..
2}. Rc;gi los of ,he of ,hi, I'a. sagt SHikQ me .1.! ... or coincides
with the si mplicity of nature in spirilllal Sub5t:IIlces - (p. j:8). This does not reall y the mean-
ing of Ihe ill: - . __ ips;;rm sirnplkcln lIr:lrn rei con("omi'alur. UI in subna sirnpHci bu!"
(J.('()n. 50_14 7:104_105) , A more rendering of "accompanies- makes il much
more {'yidem ' I. " d. f" . ()I her 11.." Ihe ' ;"'pk nalurl: irso::lf. he" ", i ,
refers to the thing's a iSlence.
"Cum in Ie duo qULddilas rd, el esse d us. his duohus respondel oper:lrio irud-
locI us. quae dic,itur a fVflllJl io. apprehend;1 quiddirJles lefUm. qUle a
l'hilosopho, in 111 o, a";"'II. dic;tur indi\'i sibiliurn Alia aUl cm C5S<: rei ,
componendo ... " (Mandonnct cd., Vol. I, p. \101).
1'1. " .. _ et;am eM<' rd a maleria el forma compositae. qlU .;:ognitionem accipit. comistil
in quadam maleriam. vel 3ccidrnris ad 5ubieCl urn" (ibid.).



JO Discovery of [he Subject of Metaphysics
exemplar for all ot her em. And jllSt as by knowing hi s essence he knows every other
thing, so by knowing his NU he knows t ht' Nuof everything else. But , as Thomas
points Ollt, chis implies no diversity or composit ion in God since hi s m .. does not
differ from his essence, nor does it follow from anything which is composed. Since
Thomas has already argued at length elsewhere in this same Commentary on I
SmrmcN that essence and rot' (existence) are not identical in creatures, we can
assume that in speaki ng of the nature and rsSt'of a crea ture in COntraSt wilh that of
God, he has in mind the creature's naUirc and its actual existcnee.
M
Hener it foll ows
that this text also should be taken as implying that the intell cct grasps actual exis-
tence through judgment.
St ill, against t his interpretation Olle may insisl: How can Thomas say in the last-
memioned cOlll ext that the rMr of a maner-form composite consists of a certllin
composition of mauer and form or of an acci<lem with its subject? And how can
he write in q. 5, :l. 3 of his C..ommentary on the De Trinitnte that t he rof of a
composi te results from the joi ning together of the principles of thai composite

The answer, it seems to me, rest s on the di stinction between different orders of
mutual or reci procal dependency. Thomas's views concerning the disti nction and
composilion of essence and (fS( (aci ofbt'ing) within finile beings wi ll be examined
in detail in Ch. V below. Suppose, for the sake of the present discussion, that we
concede his theory of real composition and distinction of essence and within
mat erial bei ngs. This will imply that tht' essence of any such entity is itself com-
posed of maner and form and thai if any such being is to exist in actuality, its
essence must also be actualized by its corresponding actl.! (act of being).
For Thomas this means, of course, th,u such a thing's existence must be c.lused
efficientl y by some extrinsi c agen t. Bm it also means that such a thing's intrinsic
act of being must be received by, measured or specified by. and limited by its corre-
sponding essence principle. Only in this way can Thomas accou nt for the fuct {hal
it is thi s ki nd ofhcing rather than an}' other kind. I-Icnce in the order of intrinsic
dependency. its r SIr (act of being) 3Ciualizes its And its ('ssence pri nciple
simultaneously serves as a receiving principle for its aCI of being. Since its act of
being is received and limited and specified by itS essence. Thomas can sa)' Ihat its
z6. Simi liter (riam in ipw 0...0 considcf"Jrc natut:lrn el <:SSe .,jus; <"I siew natura sua
cst ct n e mpbr omnis na(Uflic. it a cliam suum elil Cll U!<a CI e>lcmplar onlll;s esse. UnJ(:
sicU! wgnoscenJo suam. (:ognoscil Omncm rem; ita cognosc(:ndo C!iS<': suum, cognosc;r
C!.SC cuiu.lilxt n:i ... quia CliS(" suunl non CSf aliuJ ab e5SC:mia, nee CSf urn ... "
(cd. cit., pr. 90}- 4). For di scussion affirmalion of thc Cl'S<!:nc(:-nH composilion (and
Ihcrr.fore distinclion) in CfUturC!i s. for insull ce. 1>// Smt .. d. 8, q. 5, a. I. wI. , well as du.: 5eCOnd
argumcnr in the wdrontra (ed. cit., pr. 116-z7): d. 8. q. \' a. l (pp. 119- jO). Alw:> q. J. a. J ofl he
same where wlilCS: -Cum ""ult'm it'd . ;1 qllOJ in quaJil,... Ie ,ua
diff"cflll a suo C!.SC. res ili a prop. ;c dcnominalur a quiddirale SUl, el non aD acIU ... " (p. 19d.
l 7. $n. cito:<! aoo,,(: ill nn. 25 and 4 rtspt'Ctivdy.



Discovery of [he Subj ect of Metaphys ics 31
rsu (ta ken :l$ its act of being) results fro m it s essence or even that it consiSts of or
is by Ihe union or composition of its maHel and ilS form, that is, ofils
essence principl e.
l8
At this point another di srinCl ion should be ment ioned, and one whi ch Thomas
does not al ways bring out expl icitl y. [n light of what we, have now seen, it is through
judgment Ihat we b(.'Come intellectuall y aware that things actuall y exist. Btl{ as
already noted, ill Thomas's if a given subsl:lnce act uall y exists, this is
owing to t he presence wit hin that thing of an intrinsic act pri nciple (fl ClIlHSUlldi )
whi ch actualizes it s essence, is distinct from it, and enters into composition wi th
i(. According to Thomas the distinction of thi s intri nsic act of bei ng from its corre-
spondi ng essence principle is nOt immediat ely evident to us, but needs co be justi -
fi ed by philosophical argumentat io n. Thi s bei ng so, one may ask: I n which of these
twO closely rel ated $Cnses is Thomas using t'J5f when he writes that it is grasped
through the intellect's second operat io n (j udgment) rat her than through its first
oper:l!ion (simple apprehension)? he si mpl> intend to Signify by eSJt thc fil et
that somethi ng actually exists (i ts f.1eticity)? Or dues he also have in rn ind ,he
thing's dist inct act of bcing (IICftIJ I'sJl'lIdi )?29
In our texts from Thomass Commentary on the Dr Tri nilflu, q. 5, 3.3 and his
Commcllt"ary Oil I Smlmm (d. 19 and d. 38), he has 1I0t explicitly distinguished
between these twO usages of f SU. And umil ,his point, by using the expression
":lcma! existence" in IlHerprcti ng these I ha\'c ancmpt cd 10 preserve in
Engli sh somet hing of the ambiguity of the Lati n mi. III examining lhis issue, tWO
points should be kept in mind. FiTS! of all , if a given Llling's intrinsic act of being
(lIn us f'lJmdi) may be said to be constitutcd by I he princi pl cs of its essence i nsof:1T
as it is measured and limitcd by thaI essence. mlltfltis mlHlmdis lilc same may be
t Ho For br it:fbu! discu5SiQn of "Aqui nas on Knowing p. 18.
AIS() S"" I" ffl .. d. 6. II. 2 . rtlpO>lJio. ,,hert. in the COUf.o;e of p,,paring to add ress tht issue
conccrning whttlicr {he.e is only one mr ill Cl ltiM. nmc. thJ r tJU'cm hc u.1ed in tWO
differenr W1t ys, ei ther si gnifying d\( !.mh of proposi t ion. i. c .. a cupub, or d sc II that which
comsponds {pmintl} to the of t hi ng. Thi.1 second t1Jf is found in the thing and is "K IlU
cm'$ n principIis rd. , icUl lucne Thomas again add5
rot is in 3 Ihi rd way. a. So:<: Srnp"'''' ,\1, F. .\1OQ). cd., V"t J. 1"
tJ8. I'm allothcrwcll -knowIl tCllI 5e<: In IVMtl. ,eti. cil .. I;:.;1. ! , 1'. IH. fl. 518: "F..sscenim lei quamyis
sit aliud ab c:t.\ctl!i a, nO" quod sit ali<!u()(1 supcraddimm ad modllm
accidcnli s. quasi const' mi, ,,, per principia T hi s pas-.age shm,]d 31:;0 be inl<"tprcu."<l in
the W'J)' sUJ;g,s{al ill Oil! lexl .
29. Owen, "'''nU to 1><" .1l><"U .,d",; u ing d, h d .. {i "c, ion. Ih"ugh he mi,'!!) hi, ,loul>ls ill
the o( cril;ciling C. Fah,,)s way o( if: nistence a, actual ifY w<)uld b<" disl inguished
from a isl{'"nce a. For Owens .o;eC "Aqu ina, on Knowing Existencc, " pp. }l- B. Fot Fabm
his "The In lens;n, of T h<)rn;,I" l'hi low phy: The NOl ion of i'ani ci pal ion, Rrr'irw <If
Mrl"p"pirs 17 (I,)N). PI'. 449- 9' . cspt .. b lly p. -170. At"., 5C<' {h, sympJ!hclic but cr i, k al
of F. Wilhd mscn in his l:Uf, " N(w 5.-holAJluiJm So (J976) . pp. !Q-4S. As ",it! be clu .
(rom wlm fl)lIov." and without cnJOI,ing Fabros of l>!c>Cllt ing it. r regard Ihis di" iucl ion as
<: xtlcmdy



32 Discovery of {he Subject of Metaphysics
said of ils existence (elu) when this is taken in the sense of fa clicity. If thi s presup-
poses (he presence of an intrinsic aCI of being (aclUJ nsmdi ) in that thing. it also
presupposes a corresponding essence principle. The difficulty remains in determin-
ing in which of these senses Thomas is using when he writes that it is grasped
though judgment. Secondly, no matter how this particular que .. aioll m:l.y be an-
swerl-d. a philosophi c.llly more signifi cam poim remains. According 10 Aquin:ts,
when taken as a thing's intrinsic actus mmdi. cannot Ix: red uced 10 the status
of another quiddity or essence. Any such reduction would destroy its dynami c
character as act and would indeed, as Gilson and others have warned, reduce
Thomas's metaphysics 10 another version of essemialism.
In 3He1l1pting to discern Thomas's answer to our question, we should re<.:allthat
in his Commentary on Aristotle's Dr he has dist inguished between
what we may call judgments of exist ence and judgments of an ribution. In speaking
of judgmems of existence in that context he d early has in mind those judgments
whereby we recognize things as actually exisling, whether or not we havc yCI con-
cluded 10 di sti nction and composition of essence and elU (act of being) withi n
such beings. J(I So, tOO, as w(: shall sec below in eh. V, in his Dr ml( (( rsmuia he
begins to argut.: for distinction and composition of essence and existence within
nondivine beings by starting from the fact that it is different for us to know what
something is (i. e., to recognize its quiddity), and 10 know that it actually exists
(presumably ,hrough a judgment of e:.:islence). If he evenluall y concl udcs to COIll-
position of essence and an imrinsic act of being (me) wi t hin such beings, he can
hardly begin with this.
J
' Hence in such passages me sccms merely to refer 10 the
['1(t that the thillg in qucstion actually exists, i.e. , 10 its :lcma] existencc.
On the other hand. in the te:.:ts examined above from Thomas's Commenrary
on ] Srlllf'1lCfS in whi ch hI' correlates judgment and existence (flU), he can take his
theory of imrinsic composition of essence and me within creaturcs as already
givenY Hence in these passages he can, if he so wishl's, mean by me (hI' intrinsic
act of being preselH within such beings. Thus correspondi ng to the diYcrsiry be-
tween intellectual operations whl'reby we know what something is and rt-,cognize
that it exists is a composition and diversity witbin the thing itself, that is, of its
essence and its act of being. And it may possibly be this meaning of ror that he has
in mind in our tcxt from his Commeruary on the Dr Trinitau, q. 5, :I . 3, though I
am less inc1ine<ilO think so. Thcre the COIllCxt does not seem to demand thi s rcad-
ing, but only that we rake NU in the sense of actual existence.
)0. 5(,,, the text eit ffi al)(w" in n. 10.
j l . 5 e h. V below. pp. 14o-S0. For iliu$t r:.uion or this usage 5tt ST II - II . q. 8j, a. t.
j. w"{"re (0 Ari,f1 otlt's distinction h('fwe(.' n rwo operations. Reg:lfding fhe
.sn::ond writes: .. wro C$! compositio tt divi5io. per apprehenditur
aliquid t'$sc vd non C.lSI; (Leon. ').1') 2). While this te.Xt among t"t' opening
is no reason to think Thomas does nor :KecIN il as own view. 5tt his reply to J (p. (91).
p. Sox 11 _ 26 aoo.{" rOI



Discovery of the Subj ect or Metaphys ics J3
Be th:H as it may, in the order of discovery an intrinsi c composition and di sdnc-
tion of eSSC'nce and me within finite beings is not immediatclyevident 10 us in our
prephi losophical experience. And since here we wi sh 10 develop Thomas's meta-
physical thought by following the philosophical order, we need only conclude from
the above that according to Thomas it is through judgment that we come 10 know
things as actuall y existing. We need nOi and should not yet assume lhat a distinc-
lion and composition of essence and act of being within finite beings has been
established. This can only come lat er, after one has already discovered b{' ing as
being, (he subject of metaphysi cs. l3ul presupposed for (hat discovery, I am sug-
gesting. is an initial recognition of being as real or as actually existing. And presup-
posed for thaI is an initial judgment of exis[ence.}J
Allo!ll<'r poil1l should be mcmiolled here. Thomas closely associates eru with
actuality. In fact. he refers to me :IS the actuality of every form or nature (ST I,
q. 3. a. 4). and in a cl assic text from the Dr pOlr1uiadescribes it as the "actllaliry of all
actS and because of this [asl the perfection of all perfect ions.".\< While this under-
standing of "$It' as aCluality IJkes on ils fullest meaning onl y when il is considered
in light of Thomas's theory of composi tion and distinct ion of es$ence and mr (act
of being) wi thin fi nite substJll ces. it seems to be 'lVJibble to him prior to his dem-
onstr:nioll of tha i conclusion. Thus he often explains Ihal a thing is or exists by
reason of Ihe (;1C1 rh:H it has m ... TIle very name being signifies "that whi ch
is," or which hJS m ... " JS Moreover. as we sh:\ll see below in e h. IV, in hi s
fJirl y early Commentary on the De Hrbdonutdibw Thomas holds tha t a being (em)
is or exists inso(;lT as ir participates in the Il ctltJ mmdi. )l, This last-mentioned pas-
sage is signifi canl for our purposes since il JPpears in Tholll:tS's Commentary before
JJ. If I rcw." !O Ih, poi'" of IxlW"('1I o.,..cns 11 . .I.') ab",c). I
would Ix!twecn order of di5Cowr)' , h,' order of I 11 Ordef of
.... ha. We lim know is exisling .hi,,!: . or" b('ing. l,) recogni ze lh.1 il exisls ""<Illites judgment , I
.... ould hold. i" agtmcn. ' U un lill his po im w;lh Gilson al1d In . he order <If o.
Oil Ille other hand. 'Iccording 10 de,d(>p ... mCIl ph)sia. an)' such Ihing aClualir
CXi51S hcr':lIIloC of Ihe I" CJCncc wi l h in it of an i nHim;c aCI ()f!X';l1g ("Ci1l1 ffl",di ) .... hi eh aClUalil.o its
distincI et"nce princi ple. This .cl pr inciple is prior in Ihe ort!er of nalure 10 the thing's aClual
or 10 il.l t:'C!iciIY, hill 1'01 in Ihe of lime.
H . "Scrundo, qll ia o.'IC 0'1 ,lClualilJ.s <Hnnis fl.mn:lc vel nOn cnim vd
$i gnifiCiIIH in II;S' pmlU (1 .... "OIl. 4..j !j. For ,hc & ;wmrti4loCc q. 7.3. l.
ad <): "Quadibel fornu signl la I\On hmI1' gitur ill aCl u IllI i pel hoc quod o;SSC I'0nil\II . . ..
Undc pal c' quod hoc 'lUll<.! d'co =<" omnium ct plople. ho<: CSI pnfectio
omnium pc,rcc,;onu"," cd .. p. I'll). For fuller discus:;i('n ()flhis e h. V below. 11 . II I .
H. See. for sec I. Co u : -Ampl ius. ("$1 per h<lc 'luo<l habet <Ill
in this chalHer he ae1l1rn que"darn 110m ina I: non enim dici ml aliquid hoc
quod in IXlumi3. 5.-..1 co 'IUOO in KIU- (e,l. dl .. II. 4 ). Sec ST \- [1. q. t/). l. 4: " . .. cns
CSI quod hal,ct .. . - (I..eon. 6. 1901
j6. Ili/k Hrbc/o"",dib",. Icc!. " . .. ita poMUln llS dicnc I!uod ell . i,e id 'lund e.I ' '''luan-
IUm paflic'par eS5<'n.)i- (L..:on . The divcrsilY 1X'{w....,,, /"jJr and it! 1",N1 (JII()
wh id, 801:Ihil1 fefcrring this poi m in Ihe leXI i; r<"Slri CiOO I() Ihe order ofin(emi()ns
(p. l 70;j6- )9). r-JrlhN Oil Thom3S "lfnS 10 Ihei r real diwrsit}, (p. 17j:lO'i-!SS).



34 Discovery of the Subject of MClaphys ics
he offers his argumentation for real distincti on and composition of essence lnd t'su
in such participating bdngs.J7 As he explains in ST l, q. 5, :1.. I, ad I, Ihe term being
(m s) indicates that something is in act. But act is ordered to potency, he adds.
Therefore, something is said [0 be a being (ms) in the unqualified sens<: insofar as
it is di stinguished from thaI which is only in pOIenc),. And it is so distinguished by
reason of its substantial
In his late Commentary on the Dt' inurprnariollt' 1, 5, while comment ing on a
doubtful Lati n renderi ng of a passage in Ar istode's text, Thomas rema rks that the
verb "isH when ta ken al one "con signifies" composition (judgment). but only by
way of consequence and nOI in its primary meaning. In its primary mea ni ng it
rat her signifies [hat which the intdlC(:t grasps in the manner of unqualified actual-
ity. since i l means "to b<-. in act. " The actual ity which this verb ("'is") signifies is that
of any form or act, whether substant ial or acci dental.}? But as he had explained in
hi s much earl ier Quodli bet 9, q. l, a. l, the term may be taken in one sense as
signifYing Ihe act of being (nctl/! mlis) insof.u as it is being. By Ihis Thomas has in
mi nd Ihal whereby somelhing is dcsignaled as a bei ng in act in lhe nalllTe of things,
thai is, as something which acruall y exists. As he also explains here, in this sense
is properly and truly appl ied to a thi ng which subsists in itself, that is, to a
subsisting subsrance.
40
While freq uelll r('fercnce wjll be made throughout this study to Thomas's em-
phasis on m<as act and perfec ti on. the poillt is wonh mentioni ng here for a special
reason. In the key passages from his Commt'nrary on J SmlmcN in whi ch he corre-
lates judgment wilh N/(, whelber or not rJSr signifies a distinct illlrinsic al ms n -
Ul/di, 31 till very leaSI if must be taken as referring TO actual existence. And it is in
this last-mentioned scnse that 1 prefer to take it as it appears in the pa ralld text
from his Commentary on Dr Trilli,flU, q. 5, a. l Moreover, as we have also seen,
}7. S thc tCXt$ eilN in n. ,,6 aoove.
38. Hc", he defending his claim Ixing and identical in bUT diffcr
oonccplUaUy (fundum rtlt;Qlln>1). Note in plrficub.r: cum cn$ diCl1 aliquid proprie c:ssc in
:Kill ; aCIU$ aurcm proprie ordincm halxat ad potcnti am: $undum hoc simpliciter ,.liquid diei,ur
ens. scrundurn quod primo di$Cernil Ur ab eo quod CSI in p<.lftnria tamum. Hoc est esse suh-
,lei uniu.c:uiul'I.J ue: unde pcl . ....,urn $urntant iak dicitur unumquooquc .I;mpliciler"
(I.ron.
3'). L<.'Qn. t. -Ljt: )91- 400: "Ideo >litem dici t quod hoc verbum 'ell' ooll1ignificl1 composi tionem.
quia non principaliter ca m sOO cunsequenti: signific:u enim id quod pri mo in
inrdlt<:tLl pcr mod"", "am 'cst' simpliciter dictum signific:u cs,;,r 3Cru. CI ideo
sign ific:lt p<:r mooum v('rni. Qui a ,",,<0 acrualit 3S. quam prineipali tc. signifiC' .. t hoc verb"", t.u
communir cr iKllIalira . omn is for mae vel substamia1is vel accid{"nn.1 is . ...
40. Leon. : p.94' 4t -50. Then' he nore$ that " .... c:t n be rued in two eil her the copula,
or: "Al io modo e5K dicilUl <KI U5 {"ntis in qU;UHlltn eM idcs! quo dCn(Hnin3IUr aliquid ens aeru
in rerunt "m"ll.; el I'SSI' non anrihu;llt! ni si rebus ipsis quae in decem grncribus ront inentur.
undc ens a (;Iii dicrum pcr go:nrr;r di viditur. &d hoc C!.o;c 311riouirur rei duplicilcr.
Uno modo. sin H ci quod tt "trc habet t;S!;C vd e'iI; el sic anribui rur soli pcr sc
suhsiS'cn,i ... . " Not< here Thomas is considering the question ",he,), e here only one n.u
in Christ. Quodlibet 9 J at es from the ChriSllnas quoolihelal session of (I.eon.


Discovery of (he Subjecr of Metaphysics 35
in other comeXls Thomas stJ tes or impli es dla[ it is dHough the int ell eCl's second
operJtion (j udgmerl[ ) that we discover t hat things actuall y exisc
41
The impl ication
is this. Evt"n at thi s pri mi ti\'!.: or prephilosophicdl level in our understanding of
being or of real it),. we mUSt undcrstand something as aemal if we are 10 grasp it as
exi sting or as real.
Before concl uding t hi s part icular secti on, therefore. I woul d li ke 10 offer a bri ef
account of the Steps t hrough which one must pass in discoveri ng bei ng as real or
as existi ng it) accord wi th Thomas's general theory of knowledge. Because Thomas
has nOt spelled OUt t his procedure for us in m)' accoull1 must be regarded as
a reconstruct ion. Others have 3nemptt'd to offa such reconstr ucti ons in
accord with Thomas's t hought , and Those present ed by J. M:Hitai n, by R. Schmidt,
and by A. M. Krapi ec proven to be helpful. Nevertheless. my accoulll will
differ in vari ous respcCl S from each of dleirs, and I must accept full responsibility
for any $horl comings t hat may rema in in i1.
41
As is well known, Thomas holds that all of our knowl edge begins with sense
experience and must in some wa}' be derived (rom Supposc t h:lt we have come::
into contact with one or more objccts 3t the level of ext ernal sense perception. In
order for perception to occur. in some wa}' Olle or more external scnse power nlUS!
be acted upon by t he objecl which is 10 be pcrceivcd. That there is a passive el ement
in perception is a point repeatedly made by Aquinas. [n reacting to this impression
from WiT hout. Ihe sense in questi on wi ll directl y perceive t he thing insofa r as it falls
under that sense's pro)>e r St' nsc object, that is, insof.-u as it is something colored, or
soundi ng, or smeil ing, et c. , and hence impli citl y w met hing which
Cf nn. 10 JI abo,c. Fo. Sti !i3ru;nhcl (anriwuistcmi dl") or mra, it is used
in the leXIS from ' ll'OIll:l5's Commentary on the Sm tmCfl Stt B. j "Jifium:
Jo"rrt"t. Tho"" l! dllqu, ,, (Momreal . PJris. r968). pp. IW-19.
For these St."" Mari uin. b :;utrlrf ,,,,d Ex;sunl. pp. 16- jo. {he kmg nOlc whicl-,
bcgiu5 on p. z6; R. W. Schrni<h , Evidence G.ounding of in A" Elimn'
GiUe" Tribult, C. J. O'Nci l, cd. 1959). pp. n8- H ; A. M. Kr:..pic-c. "Aual f$is forma
!ionis conccpt us emis Di.,w 71lOmIlJ {r b c. l 59 (1956). pp. p o-so.
4.1 . On Ihis poim. of courl't:. i5 followi ng A, isfOllc. If is so Ce lli A'l ui pcrwnal
thought that no au ellljX can be here 10 citr all of , he IO U in which he il .
of Hliufflll ion, I III fk "/'rilliIIlU, " . 6. a. 1: wPrincipium igil Uf cui m!i 1x:1 flO$lf1IC
cognitioni! in :;cnsu . quia c" app",hcnsione :;cnsus oril ur aPP' (' hensio phllnf"Jsiac. 'l ' laC 'morus
a sensu fllelus' .. . (> "IU' app.ehensio inl e11ccl iV"J in nobis. cum l,hll ntaSmala si1l1 imel
ICC1;\";lC UI o/)i la . . ." (I..("()n. SO.164;7t -76); fk ",,"rillllr. q. 11. a. , . ad 1:&d p. in",m
principiuflI IlOSIr.1e cognil ioni s Cil 0P0rlC' ad ql .o<iam moon rOO!\"CIe omnia de
<l ,,;b ... . . . " ([ ... -on. U.1.J78:J79- )81): ST It - I I, 'I 1: w/{Cl'roC-"lCnr anrUf lI Ulcm
men Ii hu al i<luac sp;cs: el secundum ualur-de o.dinem. primo opo. lel
quod spics prJC>emcl' tU I scmui: sundo. lerl ;0. in Id lccw i pos.sibil i. qui immutalll I
spcdcbus $undum i!i umalionern inr d lcclUs .1 scmis" (Loon. 10.}86).
4-1. Sec. fOi jnsrJl1 cc. I" I llkl1>1i''''I. I ) : MEl idCQ ali re. diccndult, ' lund (ons;S.;r ;u quo-
pl ti ct ut sup.a dict um (It-Qn. 45.!.120: IlS-1l6). In II & Ilnima. 10 (\..cou.
4\. 1.1 07-9) . Cf. Quod li bet VIII. q. 1. a. I: cx [crio. O" susci p;unI rt:bU5 p<'r
modu m p, (icndi. sine hoc quod , li'IUid cooperCnI '" ad sui form>! ionCI!l . quarn\'is iam format i ha
I,.., ,,, prOfl.i am ' IliaC <'$1 iudieiu", de propriis nhiris" (!..ron. 1.j.1.56:69- n ). No!c


36 Discovery of (he Subj ect of Me(aphys ics
Going hand in hand with t hi s, according [0 Thomas, wi ll be rewgnit ion by an
internal sense power known as the common sense (U1IJIIS communis) that the exter-
nal senses are indeed perceiving. At the same time, this internal sense power is
required to account for the fact that, even at the level of perception, we can dist in-
guish the proper object of one external sense from that of anot her, for instance,
that which is white from that whi ch is sweet.' If t hese [wo aClivities lead Aquinas
to defend t he need for t he common sense as a di stinct internal sense, t he first of
these also suggesrs that the common sense. may play an imponant role in our dis-
covery of t he existence of extramemal t hings. Li ke the external senses themselves,
the commo n sense presupposes that the external senses are in direct cont act wi t h
thei r app ropriate obj&:1S and, as noted , it also enables one [0 be aware that one is
indeed sensing.
46
Even at this levellherc seems 10 be an implicit aw:lreness of the act ual existence
of tilt: t hing which is perceived by one or more external sense; for in being awa re
that one is sensing, one is also aware that one's power of sense perception is being
acted upon by some object. Stri ctly speaki ng, what is perceived is an existent rat her
than existence as such. Hence such knowledge of existence itself is still only im-
pliei!. Exislence will not be si ngled OUI or isolatt'<i as such for consider;lIion at rhe
level of Ihe seuses. BUI ('he raw malerial is now al hand for Ihe illl clleci to advert
to the fuCl that the senses arc perceiving somc object and for il to judge that the
thi ng in questi on actuall y exists.'
and "judgi"S" fu,";:oi o n :u.<i llncd by ,0 ,he enrrnal wilh resl""" ' 0 ,heir
prolX' For diKussi on Owens, "Judgmenl Trulh in Aquinas,' pp. }7- 41.
45. Stt III II Dum/mil. I) (!..:on. 45.l.IlO:104- IOS). Notr in panicutu: " .. . enim communi
pcrcipimus n05 videt .. .. ' discemimui ime. 1Jbum el duk ... 5 III II 1:kI111i ma. 26 (Leon. 4.\ .1.178:3-
I,, ): " ... huiusmooi aUICm sum duac: una CSt $CCunJum quod nos p"'rcipimus
sen$uum propriorurn. punl quod. Stmimus nO$ vide", et csr secundum quod disc .. rnimus
int er diver,sorulll scnsuum. pura quod. 1liud si! Juice, CI a1iud album. " Also see rhe futln
discuu ion in cc. ! 6 17 (hc opening in c. 28 aOOUI rhc twofold activity which h ..
10 thc common sense (p. t87=1- 6). A1,so see ST I, '1.78, a. 4 , ad 2 . Thom3S arguC$ Ihat
i f 1 part iculal eXI .. rnal scm .. c:on judge about iu prop"" itnsible objl, i, c:onnO! distinguish ill'
from tho"",, of the other it nSC!; . Nor c:o n il aCCOUn t for rhe fan Ihal
one perc .. (hat One is seeing. For both of these common sense
requited (Leon. S.1\6) , Though $Orne of the t .. xtS <:i tc-d abo,'e have bttn laken from Thomas's Com
mem1rY On the I",ima. they dearly hi s personal posiTion :as wdJ. On Ihe relal ion OCro..et'n
the common sense and Ihe exl .. mal sen$C$ a1w St'C his !j,mOlrill libri Dr sm su. Co 18
(Leon.
In addition to rhr rcxt$ d uxl in the previous note. see his &mmria {ibn' mmlOnd. C. 2
(!..:on. 4\.1.109- (0). There Thon' as follows Avicenna in ddending th .. disti nction of lhe , ommon
senit from Ihe imaginal ion a!ld Ihe senst-memory. For the dis linction uf, he four infernal SCflSC!; it("
the d auio.l text in ST I, q. 78, a." (Leon. P SS- S6).
5.:e In I So-m,. d. t9, q. ). :1. t, ad 6 eti .. p. 489); " . .. qu:anwis esse sir in rebus
sensihifibus, lamen "' Ii on .. m csscndi, vel ;mrOlioncnt .. nti s. sc.n5US non :applehcndi( , skul nee ali
quam ((milam subslanl;alem, pel :accidells. , , " In his "The Evidence Grounding Judgm .. nts of
Existence: Schmidl brings QUI nicely IWO poinls J havc in mind: (I) The mere facl that the sense:



",
Di scovery of the Subject or Metaphys ics 37
According to Aqui nas's general theory of knowledge, however, other steps are
req uired for thi s to happen. St ill :11 t he level of the internal senses, another int ernal
sense power will produce an image or likeness in which the form of the external
objttt. as appropri:lle\y di st inguished and orga nizcd by the common sense. is pre-
served. This likeness is known as a phantasm and is produced by t he internal sense
known as the This phantasm in turn is submillcd to t he liglll of
the intellect's active or abmactive power, the agent intellect, which abstracts the
potentiall y intelligible COll[etH contained therei n from its individuating conditions
and renders it :Ict ually intelligible. This abstracted illlcll igible cOlllcm ill t urn is
impressed o n the other intell ective power, the int ellect (inullertld
bilis), and is grasped or apprehended by ir. At this point one will have arrived at
some kind of general or uni\'crsal knowledge of the whatncss or quiddity of t he
t hing in question. though one wi ll not yet know it intellectuall y as this t hing or
is and actro ,,['On i$ nOt "for thc eviden(c of sm si blc being. " Thrrr must
at rhe level of rhe lema an awareness o( this mooific:nion, or a COn!ICiOll5ness ,hal We arc sensing.
This is by the common s .. nse. (1) ["en rhi s kvd "<'Xim,nc( as sllch is not dirtttly and
prop<rly sc: nscJ" (pp. L}7- )8, In his "Judgrncm and Truth in Aquinas" (see PI' ;8- 4l), Owens
(it es 3 numocr of ttxtS wher( Thomas refers to the sen.>4"S as judging: Quodlil",' 8, q. 1. a. I; fA
Vt' ritlltt. '1' I. tiC; ST I. q. 17, 3. l (: ST I. q. 4. ad t . With the possible 4eeption or thc text
from [), ,,,ritaft, q. I. 3 . fl. these do not state thar ,h .... senSC5 dircctly grJSp ai,rence 3$ 5uch.
Their poim rather is rhar the s<"nscs iUd!;, Of w; tllin t h,' ra nge of their propel iK'n5C
objecls. ' Ille text (rom the fA l. ... ritau llppears to S3y !IlOIl:: " .. . er sic dicilUl CS5e v"r ilas .. eI (alsitas
in sensu sicU! et in intellectu. in quantum videliccl iudiat esse quod ($1 vel ,]uod non esr" (l oon.
1 tak( this and Thomas's ensuing discussion as that there is truth in the
:;ensc when it judges thaI arc as thry ue. and falsi ty when it judga otherwise:. Xc the remark
nea, the eml o( , he eo'pus a k n.-: (nu, judging) i.s pn',,,,' .enli!.>le II, it i,
(lron. H.l .)S: llo-llr).
48. For a helpful de.o;cri ption o( the tok o( th( in rhe production of the phllnr.L5m.
and for ,he illumination of the phantasm by the agent intcll cct and the consequent product ion of
spccin Of in .he pO5ihle Quodliixt 8, q. t. a. I ( Lron. 1).LH- S7) . This
is dir.-ctcG to this qucslion: ... utrum aceipi at spies eognoscit a rebus SUtH
exi ra um." Here. as io a text cirro abovc in n. 43 (ST II- II , q. 17J, a. Thomas's docu inc conccrn
ins S(osible and inH:lli giblc sp.-cies Spc6es arc invok(d in his of external sense
percep,ion. i and imdl ection. alt hough in W:lys. a full account
of his views on inrdligihle spc<ics be he'e. OM important misconcepti on
should 1'0' him an intelliGible sp.-cies is nOt t he objt which is known. but ,ather
that b}' means o( wh ieh some th ing is understood by the imell o:< I; (he intelligihle . pecies i.i a
o( that thing and is ultimately .C<!ui,ed. a. Thomas sees it. to account for ,he presence ofl he form
of the known in ,he knowing powN. Sce ST I. q. 8s. a. ! . as ",..II as the discussion in ,he 1)(-
I/,Irin,alij"" a. 9 , 6. T huma! " i""" ,>o h",h it"dliSihl c and scMibl" 'pecic! and
as mueh o( "Undc species non tit quod sc:-d UI quo ,idctur. E,
simile CSt de intdltttu possibi li; quod imellcrt", possibilis \<A.-cl inH supn seipsum et
sp ient suam, non 5.:e Qunmioll rs displ<Mt.u. Vol. 1 (Marien i cd. , ' 9))). p. 40 4. On
sensible and imelligible species in Aquinas s J. F. Peifer. Th, Conapr ill Thomism (New yo,k. J9S2).
( c. 1 znd J (helpful but heavily influenced br John o( Sf. Thomu); J!ld a prtsCntation by
N. Krenmann in K.znu"n and E. SlUmp. Tfu Cumbridgt Comp",,;o,, 10 A'l";IJas (Camhridge.
J99j), pp.



38 Di scovery of the Subject of Meraphys ics
as an individua l. To PUI this in ot her lerms, Ihe intellect's first operation-the
undemanding of indivisiblcs- wi ll have occurred, whereby the intellect grasps its
natu ral object, the abstr.l cled quiddity of a material
For the intel lect to grasp an indi vi dual another step is required, whi ch is referred
10 by Thomas as a kind of "'flail) or IUrning back upon the Only at
this point will one be inlel lccmaUy aware of this thi ng or xno[ merely in uni versal
fashion or as x but as Ihis thing or (his x. And here, I would suggesl, owing to its
cooperation with the common sense, the intellect will be in position 10 judge thai
[he object one is perceiving (and which is aning upon the external senses) aCUIaHy
exists. In shorr one will now make an initial judgment of existence regarding the
panicu!ar t hing one is perceiving. This may be exp ressed in c;(plicit terms such as
'" This x is,n or man is," or perhaps in some ot her way. [n any event, one wi lt
now be inrellecmalty aware thai t he thing in queslion is real in t he sense lhat il
acntal1yexists.)1
Presumably one will repeat this procedure as one encount ers other exrramema[
objects. Corresponding to our perception of these diffcrenr objc<:ts wi ll be seri es
of individual judgments of existence: "This x is" : ('This J is": "This z etC. At
some point, possibly even one's first existcruial judgment , perhaps aflcr several
have been formulatcd, onc will be in posirion 10 reAecr upon {his procedure and
as a consequence to form in SOlll e vague and general fas hion one's idea of reali ry,
49. 5. for in5tance. I. '1. t. in pJrtic"br; -Cognosccre VNO it{ quod in rnueri a
nOn prout C>f in Clot ab"mh",e re-
1::1 id<:"O na:($$t eIIl dicerc quod imellccrlls intdligi\ nmeriaJia abo
51f:thendo a plmmsmatibus." Also sec 3d I (Leon. HJO). See Quodlibel 8, q. l . 3. J for a good
of t he Ilccd for bclwccn ,he agent intellC'C1 and Ihe phanr:unu fo r the pro-
duction of ;nlclligibles in :l(. u:.llil Y in rhe imellcct (1..("00. tP.!6-s7). Cr. lk spinnulibUJ
lTtlllUTl f . a. 9 (especiall y for the di,linction bc:fWrto the agent intellect and the possible intellect):
QUllesti ones JispuulfIu <k ani",a. q. (on the nen! to posit the vciSlcncc of the intdl=); [H
u1/ir4l1' romTII AWrroHt aJ, c. 4 (Lron. 4} j 09- lo); SeG II, , . 7J (againM
unici ly oflhe possi ble intell ect); c. 76 (on thc presence of agent imdl ecl in
ea, h being); c. 77 (for an rewme of the rdation bc,wec" phama.\11ls. agel1l imdlca.
and po,;s ibk int ellect in pHXC;S.S of ahsll";I( t;on).
so. Sec S1' I. q. 86. 3. I. There, aft er denying thaI our imd lC'Ct can directl y and fi rst know an
individual Ihing. writ es: aUlcm. et quui per quandam rcAcrionem,
POlesl cogllo)Cere si llguble . . : (I..)n. 5.H7). Sec 1ft .It' rhllu. q. 10. a. S fOl an earli er of
his v;ews w n"rning Our intellcctual kn<.1wlcdge of si ngulars. NOH: in particular: ... "I sic mens
si ngub,e cogno)Cit per protH scilic"t mens cognoSoCcndo obie.:t um SlIum,
qllod ($t aliqlla natura uni,crs;alis. rL..iil in cogniliuncm sui ;ICtuS. ct uherius in sp ."ciem quae ($t sui
p.incipium. el ul rerius in phantasma a quo spies tsl abslracla; c. sic a!iquant cognilionem
d" si ngulari :oa;:; pil- (Lc.'1)n. 11.1. J09: 7j- SI). For much full er discu,\S;on of Ihi s and f01 tvcts ranging
throughoul Thomas's cara'r sec G. Klubcmlfl :t., "SI. T homas and the Knowledge of Ihe Singular. "
Nrw Stholmtinsm 16 (19P ). pp. Ij \- 66. Abo sec F. X. [\mlilat. i.I' Jt' m rk fn ';fiodl1ll rim. 7"hiJmas
d'A'fu;n (Pari s. t991) , PI'. I ,8-1j ; and C. I\(',uo.: . La Camllli_n de L indil1idul'lnu MoymAgl' (MOil '
trt:J.1. 1964). PI" 41- 64.
$" This p<o<:cJurc W01JIJ..,.,1ll !O b" rur ' nt cUc..::l uaJ on Our of
something as whet her or 1101 we spdlthis OUt in 50 InJny W()rds by s;aying -Ihis Ihing existS:


Discovery of the Subj cC( of Metaphysics 39
or !x-ing, or whalever leTm one may use, meaning ,hereby ",hat which At this
poi nt one wi ll have arrived al what [ shall call a primit ivt' (mea ning t hereby a pre-
metaphysical) nOli on ofbcing. O ne will nOI yel ha\'e reached a metaphysical un-
derstanding of bei ng as being. For thi s another and diSl inClive kind of judgment
will l>c re{[uired, which we shall lake up in the final sect ion of this
Before we !Urn 10 this, rcfeTe-flce should be m:l de 10 cert ain difficulties whi ch
remain for interpreters of Thomas's t hinking concerning thi s process whereby we
arrive al a primit i\'e underst anding of being. First of all , among those who rl"Cog-
ni7.e tht' importance of judgment s of existt'nce. some have stressed the role of an-
other internal sense. the cogitative power (v/; cog/1m/WI). sometimes also rcfe- Trt'd
to by Thomas as the panicular reason_ T hus Marirain mel1lions this power in his
account , and Krapi ec makes il the ccmer-piece of his descri ption of judgment s of
t'x istcnce. Unfonumndy, however, the most imporralll lext cit ed by Krapiec in
support of this intnprct3tion need not and, in my opinion, should not be taken as
assigning a specia l role 10 the cogitat ive power in our di scovery of the existence of
external Whil e Thomas assigns a funcl ion to this power in accoullIing
for our appli ca1ion of general principk'S to particular aC1ions in pr:lC1 ical affairs,
t hat is a ,'Cry Jificn.:nt mat ter. llccause of t he immediacy involved in sense percep-
lion both at the level of Ihe external and at the level of t he common sense,
SZ. It is imponarn IV note that this It'Sult ing notion of !x-ing. whk h is complex. and
Ih31 complexity for hy appt'aling 10 Ihe cOl11 ri budvns both of the ina'llea's
operation (10 Kcount (or ils 5id,,- "Ihal which H) and of iudgment (10 for
t xiSlt nt i .. 1 is -). 1lena it nOI I:>" rq;:lfdro as t h .. produci o( "it ht" intdleclual 0P"""
tion :lIon". cr. G. Klubcmm .. [nirfxlul'tion IIJ til( PhifbUJpb, IJ! lki/lg (Ntw York. 196}), pp. 4S- St.
A5 I shall do hele. he di sl inguisht'S belwet'n 2 primit i,'" nOli.m of !"' ing and I ht "'''Iaphysi('al under-
M2nding of hcing I'm
n. For t.hr;lain sec E ... iJl mrr fwd Ilx f.;xi!ftlll. p. :7. n. Ij . For Kr.1 piec 10<: .. his "Analp is (01",,1-
I;o"is conCtpfUS "m;) . . . ," Pl" Jj t-j6. 1-1" huilJ$ his Cdse in b 'l;t- mcasure on a laken (rom
Commentary on th" 1)( flI/ima. Rk II. kX:l. fJ. There. fUr " ot$ibi/itl
i Ilduding Ix)! h CQmmo" n.! prope r 5ellsib!cs. tum, to ,efcrcIlu 10 Ihat which is
"" "tyidtm. !'or Stlmethi ng I Ix OJ pt. "(ridms. it must to Ihal which is a
ltotJibilr pt. It. il apprehended by Ih ... M' llsing bdng t hrough some olher knowing
fK>wer. If il is somt'thing uil iven:l l. iI can oil ly Ix grasp .. J by lilt intellect; and ifknowlroge of 11
occurs i III media Idr willt on .. s gra51' of the ItnJibilr pt. It H> which .1 - then ' t can Ix
a It /llibilt pt. tlt(idn JJ (X'(! . fur my in,clJe.;-tual someont whom J ."Ce
sp<'.king is .lso Jiving). If t he vmibi!, ptrt1rrid'''1 is !.Om'" hin\; tndividuAI. o( i, is df"""".1
in Ixi ngs, soars ThOlll as. hy cogi I3Ii \'" powt ! lot pani cuh r Ie:lson). in Ihal I, mmp.m-s
part icular intentions. In bnH<' animal. this ;, known Ihe ($, imat"c [,<)wer. I-Ie " .. . nam
cogil:l{iv. 21'l',d,,,,,dit tnd,viduu lll ot n:iJmJlrm mb 1If1/"r.1 rOllwlI<1Ii, qltod comingil d ill qltamum
u"ill. t int cll t-Ctivac in .. )(km .<"hiC'Cw. undt' cog,>(>scil htl"c I",mil>et" prout <"', hie ho mo, '" 1"-,,,
lignu", prout hoc lignum- {I.<.-;)n . l5.l.tlO- !l; ciu l ion. r. 111:106: i,al ' o mint). in
{h" wotds"ur esi stcII S CUIllIllUf)i- 311 illdi CJI ;nll Ih:ll a 10k f()
cogi taliv" 1"' .... 'Cr in our of exiStencc. 1lo ..... "'cr, Ihe I'.oim or til c:;c words i5 not f()
Itll owl ro!(t- of exi"enc': a..' such w rht I)oW':I . hm rccogni ' i<ltl
indi"i<iual insor,,. as;1 fall s u" .1 ... .wnw Common On tht cogi lati"e pOlwer Stx- KJul>C'ftarw ..
7711' f)istlmh ... " (IIlY' r: 50,,"-(1 mlrllJorlrinr oft/x 'Vir Arrll rdi "K Sf. 71)1) "'''1 A'll/ inti'
(51. '!l H)


40 Discovery of the Subject of Metaphysics
and because it is th rough the common sense that one is first aware that one is
sensing, it seems to me that the cOlHri hution of t he common sense should be
emphasized in accounting for our original judgments of existence, that is, the kind
required for LIS 10 disCover bcing.)c4
Another difficulty has do 10 with the issue of priority. The process as I have
spelled it Ollt should be taken as implying that there is priority in the order of
nature regarding the steps indicated. But when it comes to the intelleds apprehen-
sion of an object's quiddit ati\'e conwn t hrough the process of abstraction and its
judgment that the thing in question act ually exists, whi ch is first in the order of time?
Thomas's reference 10 the one as and the other as mi ght lead us
to think that the illl ellect's firs! operation- it s understanding of indivisibles-is
prior to any judgment of existence in the order of time. Another view would hold,
how('ver, that these fWO intellectual opera ti ons are simultaneous, with the under-
standing of indi visibles depending on judgment in the order of formal causal ity,
while judgment would depend on the underst anding of indivisibles in the order of
mat eri al
Though Thomas himself not explicitly resolve this issue for us so f.1.r as I
can determine, I am incl ined 10 accept the I:mer suggestion. The twO operations
may indeed be simul taneous, but the undersr:mding of indi visibles may be re-
garded as first in the order of nature frolll the standpoint of material causal ity; for
it provide;<; the subject for an existential judgment. Such a judgment, on t he other
hand, may be regarded as prior in terms of formal causality, though again only in
the order of nature; for it grasps actual existence, which may be regarded as the
actualizat ion of the subject.
A final diffi culty should be ment ioned. Frequently Thomas refers to being (ms)
as that which is fi rst grasped or conceived by the intellect, and oft cn enough he
H. Her.: I mind disti nction which Thomas for in$UnCl in & wriultr. q.
10, a. j. We may arrive a( knowledge ofindi\"iduals in two differcnI ways. On Ihe one hand , one may
consider the motion or Ihe )t nsitive po""r insoF.ir as it lerrninal<'$ in (he' mind or soul. Here, as
already nOled, Thomas accOUnlS fOI Ihi) by a procm of Ihe mind's turning back [0 Ihe phanta5nl
produced by Ihe imaginalion {l (he fellS , il td aoo,'c in n. 50). On tile mhet hand, one may ha''t
in mind knowl edge or ,hc singubr insofar as such knowltdge from the mind to the
pan of Ihc soul, and in'lOI\"t'S the app! iarion of some univcB:.I1 principle which Ihe imellect al=dy
knows to a p;anicul al and siru3rioll. that is. 10 anion. Herr Thom:UCllls UpOI1 the "'8ilal ive
""""cr ( Of porlicular rC',uon): " ... univ<:, ,,,, lem .,n'm mens habcl de ope .... bilibu$
non ell possibile appliClri ad anum nisi per 3liqll311l potent ia m met!i:.tm {Ihe e08iI31;\'e
power! singulare .... (u.oll . 21.1.309:')0-9.4). c r. Klubcrtanz. "St. Thol1la5 and
Knowledge of Ihe Singular: pp. I )O- jl. K .... lexl from Ihe on lhe Dr ,,,,i,,,,. is
imended 10 aCCOUIll for the St"Cond- pt";\cliClI k!lQWblge uf dI e si ngul ar.
IS. Set: "brilain. the F.xiSlr1ll. p. L6: Owens, "Judgment and Trmh in pp .
J- .H. I com,,1<"1"11 here ,bt I lind lillie (exllIal ('Vidence in Aquinas 10 suppon
Marinin's theory of an inlui(ion of being eilher as dcvdOl'ed in his XisWI ""d tM Xislmlor as
prcsenlcd in "RdleKiol1$ SUI la nalllte el sur !"imuilion de 1"bre," Rrvur IhomiJu 6S
( 196&). pp. \ - 40. Cf. cri liquc in his "Propos SUI I"etrr ( I sa nOlion. " in Sm, ,ommdlO r j/
ptllJirro Studi (omin;ci j (Va( ic:m Cily, (974), pp. 7- 17.



Discovery of [he Subjecr of Meraphysics 4J
citt"s Avicenll J as his aulllOri ty for this. Thus in the Prooemium to hi s very earl y
De enl( tt NUflt;a he wri tes that being {ms} and essence arc fi rst conceived by lhe
imellect, as Avicenna says in Bk I of his Metaphysics. 'i6 In De writQI( q. t. a. I
Thomas wriTeS: which the intellect fi rst conceives as mOSt known and imo
which it resolves all of its conceptions is being, as Avicenna says in the beginning
of hi s The same poi lll reappears in other writi ngs, somct imes wi th
and sometimes wit hout explicit reference to Avicenna.)3
Moreo\'er, 0 11 a number of occasions Thomas draws a parallel bern'cen {hal
which is firs t grasped by the int ell cct in its apprehendi ng role, i.e., being, and that
which is fi rst in the order of principl cs, i.e., the principle of
56. ", .. ens sun! primo in!dlecl u concipiunlUI, U1 dici l in
principio '\'Ielaphpiac , .. " (Leon. r'Ql Ihe leXI from A" icenna 5 his Librr ,u
Phi/i!WpIJiJl P,i"Ul Sri,."ia diui"" I- IV, S. Van Ricl, cd. (louvl in-....,iden. 19n), u. L c. v. pp,
jl-jl: "Di et mus igirur quod res et ellS el necessc talia su m quod Sf:n;m imprimunlUr in anima prima
.... Unl ike his usual to this, here Thomas both of being (ml) and of
CMence lim One wondcn why. Fim nf this consinem wirh rhe tirlc and celll .. ,,1
purpoS(' of lhis ro develop dIe meaning of CSSC'nce and (''IS, &.::ondly, in mher rOlrl, when
accoumiug fOl the namo "being" (('t/J) and "Ihing" (m), notes that Ihe fint is assigned 10
$Omcrhing becauS(' of ils ('J U', and Ihe .second of irs quiddity o! (see, for inwAnet,
"'f'ri/alt'. q. I , a, te [leon. 21.t.p,6-1,9J; I" IV /.fu" eil., len. 1. p. tH. nn. \5) . H8). In the
c;rarion flom OIl and both mentioned, along with nuNSt'. Thi$ 100 may ha"e influ-
enced Thomas at thi s c:.Irly poim in hi s ottXr.
17. ", . _ i!lud aUlem quod primo inrcllttws concipit quasi nori)si mum cr in quod eonccpl iones
omncs r<:soI,,;, C$I ti t dicit in prim:ipio suac Mct 3physicae" (Leon. 1l. t.p OO_to .. ).
sR. See I" Ifl Trinitatr. q_ I. a. J, obj_ J: " .. _ quia ens CSt illud quod primo cadir in cognitionc
humana, U! Avicenn3 dici t .. ." (l con. 50.86:18- 3). T homas's Rply iml ic.1!CI' t hat he acetpu this
pan of the objection, and adds a refeT\:nce 10 unity: " .. , quam"is ilia qual' sum prima in gcncrc
corum quae a si n, 1).il\1o .:ugnila nobi s, ut <:'0$ "num _ "
(p. 88:174- 177), Alw.sec In I fj,nr .. d, ,8. q. I. 3. 4, obi. 4: " . . primum adcn. in 3pprehen$ioJl(
intcll<'CIU5 CSI ens, ut tu el _ [ MnaphJf_. cap_ vi. did l . .. " (M."donnN ed_, VoL I . p. 90S).
rcpli($: ". , . dicendum. quod qu;dquid cognoscitur. cognoscirur ut ens, "eI in propria na-
IU!OI, "el in vd in .. " (p_ 9(6). cr. I:N t'mtJlu. '1_ t: "Cum
ens sit id quod primo in conccplione tit Avicenn3 dicit . . .. Sic crgo supra
quod Ot prima concepf io imdlectlu .. . " (Lron, 12.),\93:I404- l\ 7) . 5.:( & potrm;tI , q. 7, ad 11 ,
where Thomas m3ko the s.une poim in showing how Olle mOves from knowlffigc of bei ng. to its
ncgatio<l. and then to division . and th"n 10 unit}', and 10 multitude: "I'rimum cnim qllod in
intell <'Cl um odit, CSt eM" cd .. Vol. 1. p. 4 4): cr. 6 (p. 4J). S.,.. I" 1 Mn .. lect. IJ.
n. 46: "Sed dicendum, quod magis univers;,tia s<'Cundum si mplicem sum primo
nou . nam primo in intdlecw ens, III A"iccnna dicit. ... " Also, ST 1_!1. '1' jj, a. 4, ad t: " .. ,
id quod primo o dil in inldl<'Ctu. C$! en): ,,,,de unicuiquc .pprchcnso a nohis amibuimus 'luoJ sit
ens .. ." (I.con. (i -JUl. Abo S4'C ST I. '1_ j . a, whe. e he . upportS his as..,,,ion that being is first in
,he imd!<'(t's CQnccpl ion b}' nOting each and evcry thing is knOw:lhk insofar as it is in
(Leon. ,*,\8). On rhisd. Fabro. "The Tr:mscendcn!ali lyof Em-lim-and thc Ground of
Inurnmim1l.1 PbilolOpJ,iml Qu"rur/y 6 ( t')(,6). PI' 407-11. 14 f/,immology. PI" lS .. - S,).
19. Fo, enl y of .cc In I &m" d. 8, q. " }' "Pri m"on enim '1"0(1 cadil in
imdleclUs. 0:1 l illr 'luo nihil ab inldlccm, prim"",
quod a di ! in cn-uulitale irudlectus. sum et pram pllc isr.l. cotllr.ldiCioria non C$Se simul
''e!".l , . ." .. Vol. I, p. 1(0). that hc W, ;!c. this in order 10 how in l he
ol(Irf or (muollionn) Ik"ing is prior ,,'tn to .(ltch as good, one. ;\I,d


42 Discovery of the Subject of Metaphysics
Thus he wriles in Summa I-II , q. 94,:1.2: "That whi ch first falls under
one's apprehension is being (mi), an understanding of which is included in every-
thing else one understands. Therefore the first indemonsl rable principle is that 'one
cannot simultant:ously affirm and deny,' whi ch is based on the not ions of being
and nonbcing. And upon this every other principle is grounded. '"'100
One immediately wonders whether the kind of priority assigned by these texts
to our grasp of being in the order of conceptions is to be taken as temporal. If
so, does this not imply that we must grasp being intell ectually before we can be
intellectually aware of anything else, including the abstract quiddity of a material
thing? And docs not this in turn run count er to my suggestion that even our primi-
tl \'e understanding of being presupposes both simple apprehension (the under-
standing of indivisiblcs) and judgmem, not merely simple apprehension alone?
I have already suggesled Ihal temporal priori ty ne .. :J not be assigned either to
simple apprehension or to judgment insofar as these twO opera rions are involved
in our primitive judgmetHS of existence. Moreover, certain expressions whi ch
Thomas uses in referring to being as that which we first understand imply that
even in these passages he does not necessarily have in mind temporal priority. For
instance, in the text JUSt ment ioned from tht' Dr vrrililU he refers to being as that
into whi ch the intellect all its conceptions. And in the [ext from ST I-II ,
(1.94, he explains that an understanding of being is included in everythi ng else one
may understand. These texts strongl y point not to priority in the order of time blU
to priorit), in the order of resolll(ion.,q
For Thomas r('solwion is a tct:hnic<l.l expression which can be expressed in En-
glish as analysis. As he in his Commentary on Ih( Dr 7rin/tau, q. 6, :I. I.
according to this procedure one may move from knowlt'dge of something to
knowledge of something rise which is implied by the: first but nO{ explicitl y COI1 -
r.uio est. quia indudilUt in int dlt<tu tQrum, et nun I' ({m'el1Ol.>." He up a similar panlld
betwUn which must be "reduc({j" to prillciples which are ptr It 1I()111 and the order in
which we Sttk 10 determine what it is" abom each thing in Dr writiitr. q. r, a. r: " ... sicut ill demOIl-
$trahilibu5 heri rro.uctionem in principia per sc inrdle.::lUi nota ita illvcstig>.rIlio (Iuid
eSt unumquodque. in inhnimrn . .. " (I..ln. Then the pas-
cirfil in nOle 57 Fur another prcscmation or this Stt In IV Mtt., Icct. 6,
pp. r67-68, r1. 60\.
60. 'Nam illud 'Iuod pri 1110 "":ldir in CSt ens. cuius imdlecrus ind uditur in om ni-
bU!i: qU;$ apprehend;t. Et ;.1 ...... primum principium nt quod ,ro" m
limul4firn",u fr "'-gtlff". quod fundawf supra rollinnem c. non em is: et super hoc principio
omni a alia fundaruur .. . (1-",,,,. 7' 69- 170).
61. Sec the texiS cited ab.wc ill nn. 57 and 60. Col1fl rmat;on for my 5Ug&e$tN nplanation mar
all.<) be found in rhe d ,cJ in 11. 59 from I" I &111 .. d. S. q. r. a. J and. for that matter. in T homas's
derintion of genual and modes oflx-ing in Dr q. r, 1. Even when "' ith
thosc characteristics or properties which are as broad in eXtClls;on as being and rcally convereible
with il. primacy is to be !O being inwfar as it is imp!ieJ in our undcrst"nding of th", othef
A fOffiori. being is implied in less extended con.':pU or in bs cxlcndr.:1 mod<"S of
being, as illustrart"(! by Of cr. rhe impon:.ml di'ictlssion in ST I. q. S'
3. I ufbeing's to rhe 1;;01"'.



Discovery of rhe Subject of Mer:tphysics 43
rained in il. And this can happen in terms of l'xrrinsi c causes (unO/dum rem) as
when one reasons from effeCT 10 c,1I1se. It can happell in terms of inrrinsic causes
or forms (uflwduIII rarionem). when one moves from the more particular to the
more uni verS;l.1 Ihal i.s implied thcRin. Indeed, comments Thomas, the most uni -
vcrsal arc those things which pertain 10 all beings. Therefore the terminus of this
kind of resolution (ucl/lldum is a consideration of being and those things
that pertain to being as such. It is \Vilh Ihis thai divine science or metaphysics is
concerned. Hence its consideration is mOSI imellectua1. r.l
[n simil ar fashion, I would suggest. Thomas would have us apply Ihis same kind
of procedure to those texts in wh.ich he to being as that whi ch is fi rst in the
order of our conceptions. This docs not mean Ihal we in the order of time
with an expl icit concept of being. [t rather means that whatever il is we may COIl-
ceive about a given object of our understanding, if we pursue our analysis Elf
enough we wi ll discover th:lt the thillg in qucslion must enjoy being. eilher real
being (whether actual or possible) or at least being in the illlellecl. Otherwisc il
could not be conceived at alJ. 6l
61. di $Cussion (hcre is compli car....t (han "' y brief suggest. For
fldler di$Cussion !itt my . Ph iloOphy' According ro Thomu in MtI.:physi(ll! 1"//(",."rs
;'1 Thom.:s Aquilltv, pp. 60-65. In brief, hc conccrned with ou! more f<lll y Ihc difference
Oc(w n (he medlOd of irlldkx( (I .... ""ri intflfull.alil(T) the Ill tr hod of I"l:.son (mril}nJlbilil(T
proad(T"(), and wis hes 10 rhes.o wi Ih IlIrlaphY5ics phpics. r { r:ifional
cr:n ion u:,min",,:s in in tel k-clUal according to tlu, "'":ly of ",sohn ion (analysis). imdk-c
llIa[ comiJer.r!ion sc:r"es as a pri nci p[e for rJ! ional ron$iJcra! ion 3ccording (0 the of symh('$is
k omposition). Reason. he nOtes. can move from knowledge of onc thing to knowledge of anothcr
in the order of reality (srnmdum rrm). as whcn there is dernorlSlr:uion in t<:r ms /)f atrinsic
or drccls. Th,s will be by composition (5ymhesis) when one mQ\'(:S from to by
when one pmccWs from to Cl U=. But mov<: flOm knowledge of
one 10 of anothN in order of .caSlln (ucrmdum ",ri()nr",), when one pmccem in
terms of iouinsic This tOO b.:, ilr composit ion (s)' nth("Sis). or by ,esolution (analysis):
... oornponendo <juid<: m a form' s muimc in magis pn:><:..ui _
IUr , rcso!"cndo autcnl quando e cOnVerSO. ro quod urliv<: l"SOlliu5 CSt maximc uni-
,crs;r.!b quae SUIlI communia omnibus <: tltiOU5. Ct ide<) trrrninus resolution is in hac vi. ul-
cOllsideralio cntiset quae sunt rm is in quantu m h (lcQn. jO. 161 : j 7 4- j8I).
In order to tina! st<:p to .he disco,'c!)' of being being, spccbl pr<)UdlHC
known >.S It"pJl"'ti() wili be rC<luiR"<i. Sec &oioll 1 of thi s Chapta. cr. Rq;b, el dans
I'IXUv,,, de s;r.;nt T homas," in Slldia Mrdi.ul'.:fia i" J)(Jno>Y'm Iidmodum rrw>Y'Iuli 1'.JtriJ RaJ-
mu,.,1i jl}l'pbi Mimi" (Brugcs. r\>48) , pp. JOJ-JO: S. E. Dobu. "Rewhrtion a"d Composition in
.nd l'ract ;cal D'$(OII ("!; e'- i..1llm/ rhrolvgiql<r rt pbi/I);ophiqur 6 (I ?Io). pp. <)-6:: J. Doig,
Aquhuli V" MftJIpll) siq. pp. 64-;6; ). A. "Method and Metaph)'.i ;cs: Th<: V;,' m"{'";,,,,iJ
in Thomas Aquinas: Nru, 63 (t989). pp. 401-18: MrdiflVl( Philosopb, allli rhr
T,.,lIllfrntum"IJ, pp. t.lo-J6.
6J. A. if: "Bei ng '!I,,- known: But this 'fi r$" be.::omes the
bqpnllillg of fK <YriUllr I. 1 only on tbe basis of rcsolution. S<:e "/\.-!cthod and Mcu-
p. 416. Ho""C"cr. i t\ his Mrdifm/ Phi/owl''') am/lhr T,..lnJl"rmJmtal.t. Aermn argu("S, again) t
Thomism: thaI bd ng is gl":lsped at the Ir,'e! ofsi J11pie appr"hen!ion. am! that if being
signifies what has bcing- or what is: this II .... 'S nOI r rltail a judgment (pp. 17')- 80). On ,his point
OUI imerprenl imu ditTer. Also see /" I St-1If., d. I'). q S. , r. ad .. d<: eo <1'100 null/) modQ
esl 11<)<1 po'eSI aliqu;J cnuruin i; ad minus tnim oponct quod illud de quo aliquid cnunri:uur. sit


44 Discovery of [he Subject of Metaphysics
Likewise. Thomas's references to bei ng as that whi ch is first in the order of thaI
whi ch we grasp through the intellect's first operat ion need not be taken as eliminat-
ing any role for judgment in our initi al discovery ofbci ng as real or as existing. On
the cont rary, what one first discovers through original judgments of exi stence can
be summed up, as it were, under the heading being. or realiry. or something similar.
Once t he intellect makes thi s discovery. it expresses it in a complex concept or
notion. as "that which This. I am suggesting, is what Thomas has in mind
when he refers 10 being {ms} as that which is fim known. Intellectual awareness
of thi s presupposes both simple apprehension (the intellect's first ope ration) and
judgment and, of course. sense experience.
2. Our Discovery of Being as Bei ng
In the preceding section of thi s chapt er we have attempted to reconstruct the
process through which one must pass. according 10 Thomas's theory of knowledge,
in arriving at a primitive or premetaphysical understanding of being. This notion
ofbc.ing is ba.sc':d on our origi nal experience of material and changing beings. Whil e
its cont ent is Mt h:u whi ch is" - this notion has not yet freed from
restri ction to mailer and motion. Hence it cannot be identified with our under-
standing of being as being-the subject of metaphysics.
This is so because, according to Aquinas, metaphysics deals with a spe<: ial kind
of object of theoret ical knowledge, that is, the ki nd that does not depend on matt er
and motion in order to exi st. We have seen him subdividing chis kind of object
into what we have call ed the posit ively immaterial (which cannot exist in matt er),
and the negatively or neutrally immaterial (which mayor may nOt exist in matter).
If the subject of metaphysics- being as being- is immateria.l in the second way,
that is. negatively or neut rall y. how does Aquinas account for our discovery of thi s?
In other words, how does one move beyond a primiti\'e notion of being (as re-
stricted to the mat erial and mobil e) to an understanding ofbci ng as lx: ing?6-4
In order to determine Thomas's answer to t his. we shall retUrn to q. j, a. 3 of
his Commentary on dw De Trinitarl'. As we have al ready seen, there he introduces
his discussion by indicati ng thaI we must note how the intellect can abltraer in it s
operat ions. In developing thi s he appeals to the distinction between two intellec-
ila habel al iquo<.\ es.s<! minus in inleUeclU appr<'hendenle. _ ed.,
Vol. [, p. 489). Fw undemanding and divi.i i<lnS of Ihe possible s my "Thomas Aquinas,
Hmry QfChenc. Godfrey ofFonlaines on the Rn l;ry in Ml'laphyslcnl
l1"ffln, espiall y pr. 161-7). 189.
64. 5 our of q. 5, , 3nd q. froln Thomas$ Comrncntu y on the EN
Tri 'l i lJm in Ch. I (pp. 8-<;1, 17). For somc Ot hcr intcrpretcrs of Thomas who 31so explicitly Jisl; nguish
..... cen 3 notion or being and a mefaphysiCilI one SC'C H. Is St. Thomas'
Approach to N{w s.-bol4slirimljo (19S6). p. 7J; "Analysis formationis . .. .
Pl'. HI- 44; ImroJwrlirm '" tI" f'hiwu>p!Jy"JIV;ng. 1d cd. York, 1963), pp. 4S- S1;
R. W. Sch midt. "t:ernploi b separation mCflIphY5iquc: pro ,n--lio.



Discovery of rhe Subject of Metaphys ics 45
lUal operations, one (the understanding of indivisibles) by which we know what
something is, and another whereby the imellec! composes and divides. Whi le the
fi rst has to do with a thing's nalUre, the second is directed to its
As we have also .'><' en, immediately aft er this Thomas comments that because
truth in the imellect results from the fact Ihal it is conformed 10 reality, in its
second operation, that is, in judgment, the intellect cannm truthfully abstract
things that arc unit ed in reali ty. In so abstracting (or judging negatively) one would
signify thaI there is a corresponding separJtioll with respect 10 the thing's ("ilf. For
instance, if I judge that this individual hum:ln being is not white, I state that there
is such a separat ion ill reali ty. If ill fa cl in this given instance hum:m being and
whiteness arc not separated, my judgment will be f.1 Ise. Therefore, in its second
operation, that is, in judging, [he imellcct can truthfull y abstract only things which
arc separated in reality!"'"
Unlike its second operation or judgment. however, Thomas indicates tha t
through its fi rst operation the imellect ca n abStract cetrain things whi ch are not
separated in realiry.b? It cannot do this in all cases, however, but onl y when the
intelligi bility of that which is abstracted docs not depend upon that with which it
is uni ted in reality. Only in such instances can the former be abstracted from the
laner, whether (hey a fC uni ted as part and whol e or as form and matter. 6/! At this
point Thomas introduces some new precisions. As he explai ns:
Accordingl y, through its various operations the inlelk"<t ont" thing from
other in clifiercnt ways. Through ,he oper.uion by whi ch i, composes and it distin-
gui shes one thing from another by undemanding that the ont" does nOt t"xist in the othtr.
Through the opcmion, however, by whi ch il undnsrands wh:u a thing is. it di stinguishes
onc thing from anOlhtr by knowing what one is without knowing anything of the othtr,
ei ther d, al it united to il Or separalffl from il. So this distinct ion is nOt pmpc: rly called
separation. but only the hrst. It is ClUed flbs/ mr/ ilm. bu t only when the things. one
of which is known withom lhe Other. art ant" in realiry.'"
6S. abovc in nn. :., J. and 4.
66. Set n. I} aoo..( ror Ih" AI$() nOte: .. b c ergo opcr:ltionc imd l<"("tus verc abstrahur non
POIOI nisi ca quae sum 5("(undum rem UI cum dici t ur ' homo non a l :I.sinus'" ( I1on .
10.147', IS- 118) .
67. ' Scd )"uJl<lum primalll op.:r:uioncJll porest abw .. herc ta quu rem non
SUnl . non sed (I.con.
68. l.L"OIl. 50.147'119- 158. On ,his sc<: Neumann, C.q;omllnd Mr/hoiU, pp. 79- 81.
69. As hy A. Ma" "':f, St. 71wmllJ A'Iuin",; 7'JN Di"iJion Il"d AtrtlliHh ({1M SriNlrt"J. 41h
cd. (Toronlu. 1,63). p. 37 (;llIlio; minC' ). Fo r Ihe L:ui n S<'t'! I..tQn. 50.148:1 59- t71: Sic Cfg<J imel l<'"ClUs
di sti ngui, unum ab aliler Cl alitel $I.."<undum di\'erS:l5 quia j.('Cundum oper.uioncm
qua COJllponi, el divi<l il dislingui' un"", ab alio pe' hoc q"od imell igil unum alii non in<".Ssc. in
VCr(> inlcll igi , quid CS I unumquodque. dis,ing"i l unum ab alio dum inlcll igi l quid
CSt hoc, nihil inldl igendo de alio, n<'<jue l! llOO $;1 cum co, neq"c quo.! si t ab eo unde ;$1':1
dillincl<O non propri" habel nOmen S<": parJlionis. sed pr ima lamum. Haec aut elll di sdnctio r("Ctt""
dicilur abSlral;fio,.sed lunc I:I.m"lll quando "'HUll sine ahero imcll igilu, sum simu] $C"
cundum rem."
,

46 Discovery of rhe Subjecr of Meraphysics
Signifi cantl y, in this text he substirutes the term "dist inguishes" for the term
This implies that until this point he has been using "abstract" in an
eltfremely broad sense so as to apply to either way in which the intellect ca n di stin-
guish. Now, however, he restri cts "abstraction" 10 the way in whi ch the intell ect
di stinguishes through its first operation, that is, simple apprehension. He assigns
another technical name 10 the dist inguishing which is effected by the intell ('{:t
through negative judgment, that is, "separat ion. "
Thomas goes on to propose two sulxlivisions of abstracti on when this is taken
Strictl y in accord with the twO modes of union he has already ment ioned. Corre-
sponding to the union of paft and whole there is what he calls an abstraction of
the whole, that is, of the universal from the particular. Corresponding 10 the union
of form h he accidental for m of quantity) and its appropri ate maltt' r (sensible mal-
tcr) therc is an abst raction of the for m.
70
Whil e T homas's discussion of each of
these is tOO detailed to be presented here, it will be enough for us to nme [hat he
correlates these, along wit h the nega ti ve judgment (separation), with his threefold
di visi on of the theoretical sciences. It should be sncssed that he ag3.in refers to these
as Ihrec ways in which the intel lect in its operati ons, not three ways
in which it abst raw.
We conclude Ihal there are three kinds of distinction in the operation of the intellect. There
is one through Ihe operadon of Ihe intcllect joining and dividing wh ich is properly called
uparl1tioll ,' and this belongs to divine science or mct3. physics. There is anot her through the
opc!mion by which the quidditi es or things conceived ..... hich is {he abSfTI1(tion of form
from sensible matter; thi s 10 maThemaTics. And there is a third through thc
5:l mc opel"'.l.I ion whi ch is the abstraction of a universal rrom <II and th is belongs 10
physics ;a.nd TO all the sciences in general. bec3. u.'iC science disregards accidental features and
of neCCSS;) TY
Most imponant for our immediate purposes in this passage is Thomas's si ngling
OUI of a nega tive judgment. separation. and his association of this with metaphys-
ics. If he has descri bed judgment as being direClcd IOwards a thing's tile at the very
beginning of this article, he now seems 10 be thinking of a different kind of judg-
ment. In his earlier reference 10 judgment and tH( he seemed 10 have in mind a
positi ve or affi rmative judgment , and oll e which is best ill ustrat cd by judgments of
existence when it comcs 10 our discovery of being as real or as existing.
n
In the
70. Lroll. jO.148:(7)- 179. Sec pp. Cf. G'tgtrnt;mJ "",d pp.
Sl-8j.
71. MaUlel pp. H- 14 mine). r 'Ol dl(' L:l! in s Lron. jo.149:l7S- 2S6, "Sic
ergo in operalion" imdl.nus triplex illveo;lur: uo. suoclum oper:nioll"m imdle<;elU$
oornpon"mis . , di"id.n!is. qu scparario dici lUt propr; . 1 ha compelil scicm;." clivina" 5; ".
melaphysicae; 5tCundum op"ralioncm qua fo rmalltur quiddirat ts r.rum. qua" CSI
fo. mae a male' ;. el haee romp"Iif rnuh.rnal;,ac; canclem operationem.
universalis a parriculari. "I haec compelit .Iiam phYl'iCl.c "I est communis omnibu$ scieol iis. quia in
omni sciemia praetcrm il1ilUI quod per accidens CSt . t acci pil ur quod P'" S(' est.
72. S .bow io ,his chaptci. Section I. pp_ 14- 27.


Discovery of the Subject of MCl3physics 47
prcsem cont ex t, however, he is eoncel1l r.uing on lIeg:nive judgments. This is 1I0t
surpri si ng. of course, since he now includes separation, along with tWO forms of
abstraction in the st rict sense, under the general heading of different ways in whi ch
the imelleet di sri ngui shes.
H
If Thomas has now explicitly conncctcd sq)anll lOn wi th melaphp ics, and as-
sod:lled the ["\110 kinds of with fhe other theoretical .sciences, one
may wonder why. JUSt what does scpar.uiol1 cormibute {() metaphysics or to our
discovery of it s subject? It would be considerably easier for us to answer this
question if Thomas had devoted a fuJI arlide 10 separ.1tion itself. Since he did not
do SQ, we must base our interpretation on the few remarks he mJ. kcs about it in
qS,a.J.
First of all, separation is a judgi ng operation, wherehy the intellect distinguishcs
one thing from another by noting that the one is nOt found in the other. [n other
words, it is a negative judgment. Secondly, Thomas also writes wi thin this same
artide that when we arc dealing with things whi ch (ilIl exi st in separation from
one another, separation obtains rat her than abstract ion.7
4
Thirdly. he remarks that
substance, whi ch he also refers 10 as the intell igible matter for quanti!)" em exi SI
without quantity. The refore to consider subsrancc as such apart from quantity per-
tains 10 separation rather than to ahStr;lcrion. 7S
This t!lird poi nt is csJX-ciall y importantlxcausc ill q. I of this Same Com-
mentary, Thomas has included substance along wilh being {em} as illustrations of
that whi ch is found in matter in ccrt ain insta nces but not ill others. that is, of that
which is negatively or neutrally immaterial. [fit is through separation 111;11 one may
consider substance as such rather than as quantified (or as material, we may add),
so tOO it is through sepat'Jtion that one may consider being as such or as being
rather than as quantified or as material. In sum, it is through separation that
di scovers being as being, t he subject of metaphysics. This follows bOth from the faCI
that Thomas cit es substance and bei ng as illusnations of that which is negati vel y or
ncurrally immaterial. to use our terminology, and oceause for Thomas, as for Aris-
totle. substanct'" is thc fcfcrmt ofbeing.
76
73.5 thc textS ci tcd above ill nn. 69 and 71.
7+ For th(;SC tWO thc Int C;t l-d all\)Vc in notc 69; and leun. "!n his
:l.U!tm $(."cundulll ("S!><": PUIo5U1U es.... {I hah.:, !oo:;u,,, 5<' 1);I1J! ;0 quam ,""c.io .
n. "SubStalllia :l.,ucm. qll J C esl materia irnd!igibili s qualuitar is . pol CS! l'SSC ultd.,
<:on. id ... ,a", sine pertine, ad .:PJr:uionis
( Lwll. SO.149:l70-l74).
76. Fo' the Itxt from'!. 5. a. , s l,ron. jO.I}8" )4- !(io. cited alxwe in Ch. L n. M. For the
point in,!. loon. SO.!H:,8z- I<)8, citro aho ... in Ch. l. n. \}. On as
for being Mnap"Jlio IV. c. l (I OOlh S- (9). For Thomas s I" IV Mrt .. cd. C;I .. leet . I.
PI'. '51- H. nn . 539- )47, and fo' other e h. L n. 6l Aho s /" VII Mtt .. leci. I. pp.
JI6-I S. nn. I Z-l 6-nQ<) . This is not 10 den)'. of courS(". tim being (rm) imri,uic-.t.lly to the
ot her ninc a, well . at Icu l for Thnmas In VI/I ,\In. lcct . I. pp. -I02-}, n. t68z (aflcr
t tXt ( ill...!;n Ch. I. rI . 6ll). or being is hrwd ... , in than subH'Arlu ins,""ll cc. fk
wrUiltr. q. I).



48 Discovery of the Subject of Metaphysics
This also at least suggests why Thomas associates with metaphysics
and why he does nOt have recourse to abstracti on taken in the strict sense in order
to account for our discovery of being as being, the subjcn of this sciC'ncc. As we
shall S('C in greater deta il in th(': following chapt(':r, for Aquinas being is nor a g(':nus,
not even the most universal genus of all . In accounting for our di scovcry ofbeing,
therefore, and especially of being as being, the subject of metaphysics, it is impor-
tant not to exclude anyt hing from irs range or scopc.n
If this notion were reached by a process of abstraction taken in the strict sense,
in formulating it one would have to abstract from various charactcristics. For in-
SlaIl CC, one would abstract from existence itself, it would seem; and yet this must
Ix retained in one's underSt anding of being as which is." Moreover, olle would
abstract from individua['ing differences, from specific differences, and apparendy
even from the diRcrences which obtain Ix-tvieen the supreme genera or predica
ments. Yet all of these must be included in some way in one's unders tanding of
being. Otherwise, they will be relcg:Hed to the realm of nonbeing.7
1
And whi le
one's absuacted concept of being would be the most general of all. it would also
be the emptiest. By appealing \0 a positive judgment of existence in formulating
one's primilive undemanding of being, one includes existence withi n that notion.
By appealing to separation in moving from such a primitive norion of being 10 a
metaphysical understanding of being as being, onc avoids the unhappy conse-
quences JUSt mentioned which would result if this wefe achi eved onl y by a more
refined kind of abstraction.'"
To sum this up in other Icrms, for Thomas sep;lr.uion is Ihe process through
whi ch one explicitly acknowledges and Ihat thaI by reason of which some
77. This remark be lim;le<! [0 tnsrommutf(. Ihe !ubjcct of melaphysics. As we ha>'e
Tht)m:lS dOl'S nOf include God under fns comm,mt. Hence it follO"-'S that God will nOt be
,neluded under the nOt ;on of being d i" oyered th rough ,he ion "wolve<! in the diSCO\'ery of
being as being.
78. As we shall sc<: in grcatn delail in ,he fnllowing T hom:lS amibtues reasoning
to Parmcnid"ll (In I Aftt .. leet. 9. pp. nn. lJ8-1.l?). In bri"f, u Thomas S$ iI, l'arm"nides
yiewfil bdng as ifit WCle univocal: henn, I)othing can be adcle.:! ro ir from wi,hin whk h might seTV\'
to di .-.::rsify it; nor could anything be adde.:! 10 ir from witooUl. since oUl.lide being dlere is only
aonbeing. [f Thomas'$ theory of allOilogy of being will be au of his repl), to l'arrnen-
ides, as distinguished from ab>tr;\Cl ion SCCmS to be retjuired 10 rneh an anilogial undtr
m nding of being. S- t he helpful ",muks by }. D. Roberl in his "La melaphysique. Kitnce disdncle
de aUI", discipline philosophique. scion Dim Thom:lS d'Aquin: Di"", rIJ"rnm {Pi a,-) So
(19.17). PP' l 06- H. eip .. :ciallr pp. 114- 11 and n. 29. AI; upbins, tht differences which comraet
being nc niH included within being according to though in a coufu5Cd way. BUI
and individual .. enc.eJ a,.., only and no, .cmall y P'CSC!l! in .. 1 COn
cepts. Roben refers the readcl to Ot q. I. a. ,.
79. C[ Geiger. "Ab5! r.tCrion er sCl)ulItion d'apru I" dr l'ri"itllft. q. 5, a. ,,- RtlJUf tin
Kinrrtl plJiu,wphi'lutl tlllJ;"/Dgiqutl Jl ( r947). p. 18. Note in particular: "Mail dirt cda, ,'m dire
!qni""lemmem que ne pcut ab5\ rait :i propremenl parler ni de maTiere IIi des reali res
pui.sque roUl cela e5' de Finalemenr c'e$1 done Ie lranscendental,
et avec lui Ie Clr:ICICr(' analogique propr, donnees rransccl1dell t'JIl cs qui uigc Ie iugemcnr de

scpara"on .. ..



Discovery of the Subject of Meraphys ics 49
thing is recognized as being need not be identified with that by reason of whi ch it
is recognized as enjoying a given kind of being, for instance, material being, or
changing being, or living being. It may be described as a negative judgment in thai
through it one that lhat by which something is recogni zed as bei ng is to be
identified wi th that by rcason of which it is a giw'n kind of being. It m:J.Y be de
scribed as separ:J.t ion because through this judgment one distinguisht:s lVo' O intelligi-
bilit ies. and denies Ihat one is 10 be identified with or reduced ro the mher. One
distinguishes thc int elligibilifY involved in one's underst:J.nd ing of being from all
lesser :J.nd morc restrictcd intell igibilitics. Thus one negates or el iminates restricti on
of being 10 any given kind from one's understanding of being. One j udges that
being, in order 10 be realized as such, need not be material. or changing, or quanti-
fied, or living, or for that m:J.ller, spiriwal. !IfI Hence one est:lblishes the negati vel y
or neutrally immaterial character of being, and prepa res to focus on being as such
or as being rather than on being as restricted to this or that given kind.
Through separarion one docs not den)' that beings of this or that kind also fall
under being. On the contrary, by denying that bei ng itself mU$T be limited to any
onc of it s actual or possi bl(' ki nds, one opens the way for considering these, includ-
ing lhe differences which are realized in each, within the realm of being, and as
being. Even purely material beings can be studied nm only insofar as lhey are mate-
rial and changi ng as in physics, hut si mply insof.u as they share in being. This kind
of study, of course, will nm take place in physics, but in metaphysics, the S(: ience
ofbcing as being.
sl
Before concluding this discussion, I should ment ion two points concerning sep-
aration whi ch have ocen disputed by studems of Aquinas. First of all, it been
pointed OUt thai hi s fullest di scuss ion of this appears in a rel atively earl y work, and
that hi s clearly drawn di stinction in terminol ogy bcrween abst raction and separa-
ti on di.sappcars in his later writ ings. Does this nOI suggest that Thomas may ha\'e
given up hi s earlier view of separation and that in the end he fell back upon abstrac-
lion in accounting for our discovery of bei ng as bei ng?8!
So. 5, for instancc, remar k in (he cilcd in n. n 'IS a g()()<!

81. For adJ ilional !elliS in which Tlwm:tS 5i ngb Out the lllcl'-'physician'$ of viewing
St:t: I" !If Y m .. d. 1.7. "l' 4, sol. 1: ' " _ sicU! plii!(}!()plJill pri ma 0;1 spia!is
consider' l ens 5undu 01 quod CSI om nibm COm III llnC, qllia rationem emis COn
sider ... 5unJum quo.! nOn dependt'l e. mOlu" (Moos <"<1 .. Vol. j, pp. 886---37): /" IV Mtt ..
Iccl. I. PI'_ 110- 11, n. no' "Dici. -seeun,!.,," quu;J c>' quia scicn, iac quae . unl de
entib.u ( (Iuidern de eme, wrn omnia subiccta scien tiarum si nt en (ia, nOn
UmCn considcranl em quod ens. sed secundum quod est huiuslllodi ens. Kilicel wi Il U
Il.erl.ls. ,d linea, ,d igll;s. aliquid huiusn>Odi -: In VI Mn .. Iccl. " p. t5lS. n. 114]: "Dc
cnim en. C ens. p.op. ium es. me.aphysici In VI Mtf.. 11. I, p. l')8 ,
11 . rr 6s: "Advcnendu lJ) CII quod liccI ad cOll5idcrati onCfll plimac philowphiae
C2 sunt sepH::II a seeundum css.c <:. talionem 2 ma .... r;" el motu, non tamen willm ca; s.:xl ctiam
de scnsihilibus. SlInI
St, Thomas wu careful in working Out .his dis.i nClion in 'I' 5. a. j orhis Commcn.3ry


50 Discovery of [he Subject of Metaphysics
Secondly, in texts cit ro above from Thomas's Commentary on the Dr Trilll'tatr,
:H times he wri tes that duough separation we distinguish one thing from another
by understanding that the one !Ired nOt be united with the other. But on other
occasions he wri tes that through this judgment we di stinguish one thing from an-
other by understa nding that the one is not unitl-d with the ot her. To apply thi s 10
the prcseru issue, in order to begin metaphysi cs is it enough for us to judge through
separation that being, in order to be real il.ed as such, need not be Or
mUSt we nOt first already know that in one or more instances being iJ not material?
As for the firs! [>oim, a lengthy discussion in the Summa tiJroiogiar(l, q. 85,:l. I)
might lead one to conclude that later on in his career Thomas aba ndoned his earlier
views concerning separation. In replying there to the second agai nst his
comention that our intdlect understands ma terial and corporeal things by abst rac-
tion from phamasms, Thomas again revie.ws the kinds of abstraction associated
with physics (abstracti on frolll individual sensible matter) and with mathematics
(abstraction of quamity frolll common sensible matter). Certai n things, hc com
ments, can be abstracted even from common imelligible maHer, i.e., from sub
stance insofar as it is subject to quantifY, A;; ill ustrations he lists being (rill), the
one, potency and act, and other things of thi s kind. Such things, he adds, can also
exist apa rt from mauer, as happens wi th immaterial substances. Given this, onc
might maintain that Thomas is now appealing 0 111)' to absnact ion and not 10 sepa-
rat ion in accounti ng fo r our knowledge of being as being.
s
,
in reacting 10 thi s suggestion, one should not overlook Thomas's reply to the
fi rst objection ill this sa llIe art icle. There he comments that abst raction may take
place through the operation whereby the int ellect composes and divides, as when
we understand that one thing is not in :lIlolher or that it is separated from it. Or
abstract ion may occur through that operation whereby the intellect simply under-
stands one thing without underst:mding anyt hing about another. This Thomas
now describes as simple or absohuc considerJtion, and is what we have frequently
referred to as si mple apprehension or as the understanding of indivisibles. As he
had al ready indicated in hi s earlier di scussion in hi s Commemary on rhe Dt'Trim'-
Mit' ('1. 5. a. j ), here again he not es that falsiry wi ll result if one abstracts in the fi rst
on th .. & This ;s not only from th .. fi rlal 1"lI1 itsclf, hut from th .. fact Ibl hi s
autogr::lph indiC'lICS that he began his response 10 q. I. } &-e Leon. for a
!r:lflKrip'lion of rtworkings. Fot hi$ u!;;Ige of ,he bnguagc or aMtr::lCl ion to n"gali"c
judgment a$ ..... dl in an ('arlier red<l<:tion $('C Leon. to_ t 48 , t ... n5Criptioll from autogr::lph for lines! 19ff
in not .. : "palet ngo quod triplex est imdlcclus abst r::lif. prima qlJidem sundum
op<'mtionl'm bie) .\(Cund1m inleHectus componi t 1'1 dividit. 1'1 sic intdl e<:t um ab--
Slr::1CrC nid'il Gt aliu.l < quam> hoc non ($5<' in hoc." On the diffnetll redactions !itt Gcigrr.
SHan;on ct pp. 1';- lO; Ma'"er, Sl. 711<)1)0"" TIN Diuil;(m lind MnhtJdJ 0/
!V;tnrN, pp.
S}. Leon. j .JJI. Note in particular: Vl:ro SUnl quat po55unt aMl/ah; etiam a materia
intdligib;!i communi, sicut ens. unum.l)() tcntia et actus, cI11ia IlUiusmodi. qua(, eliatn pos.Ium
omn; llt 1)3t CI ;n immaletialibus.


Discovery of (he Subject of Meraphysics 51
way, tim is, Ihrough judgment (composit ion and division) things which are not
separ:lI eJ in realiry. This is nOt necessarily so, however, when one does so in the
other way, i.e. , through simple apprt'hension. li<I
In sum, in this reply to the first object ion we find the same doctrine as in q. S,
a. 3 of Thomas's Commentary on the Dr Trinirall'. It is true lhat he no longer
restricts the term 10 lhe process whereby the intel1e\:! distinguishes
through si mpl e apprehension. Now he lIseS it broadly so as to apply it in addition
to the process whereby the intellect distinguishes by judging, dw is, to negative
judgments. Even so, he dearly continues to differentiate between these two ways
in whi ch the intellect di stingui shes. Hence he ca n and does assume' that we wilt
keep this in mind as we read his reply 10 the second objection.
As we have seen, in his repl y 10 thaT objection Thomas writes that being, unity,
potency and act, etc., can be abstracted from common illleiligibJe maHer and that
they em also exist apart from mailer. He repeats a criticism of Plato which he h:ld
already raised in his Commentary on the Dr Trinirau. Plato's failure to differentiate
bcrwecn these twO ways in whi ch the int elleCl can abstraCi (that is, di sti nguish
intellectually) led him to (he' mistaken view that {'Very thing which can be ab-
stracted, i. e., distinguished by the intellect, can also be separated in
Thomas would have us recall that while this is true of thaI which The irnell ect
di st inguishes through negative judgment, it does not apply to all things which the
intellect distinguishes through simple apprehension. If the earli er distinct ion in
terminology between abstracti on and separat ion has now di sappeared, the doctrine
remains the sa me. There arc tv.'o very different ways in which the intc1le('l can
distinguish. [t arrives at knowl edge of being as being through a judging opwnion,
a negative judgment, to be sure; and this is not to lx: reduced to the level of si mpl e
app rehension. (\('
As regards lhe second di sputed point mentioned above. a number of contempo-
rary interpreters of Aquinas insist that one cannot justify separati on and thereby
di scover being as being without having already demonstrated that in at leasl one
case being is reali zed apan from maner. In other words, one ClnnOI esrablish lhe
negatively immaterial character of being withuut already knowing thaI posi tively
immaterial being exislS. Some hold that one must have already demonstrated the
84. Ibid. Sec in "AJ primum "'So diccnJum quod conting;' duplicil<'f.
Un() modo. ptr mooum romposili()nis CI sicul cum inrdligimns :l.liquid non CS$C in 31iO.
"d CMc >epu:.omm ab l"O. Allo modn. 1'<" moo"", "i mpl icis cl cum
intdligimm unum, nihil considerando de
8S. Ibid., cnd of reply!O obj. 1; "[I I' laro 11011 quod diclll!ll eM de r11odo
abSIrOClioni s, omnia abSlrahi per imclllum. abslnela $Kundum rem:
f..,.:I. cri Ticism in his Commenf:l rr on .he Lk Tr;n;"lfCscc "1' 5, a. 3 (Lron . so.149:l87- 190).
There Thorru s also charges wi,h ,his s.:lme mislake.
86. Tn repeal a poinl already m,dc, Ihis b<-<:nmd dear when one connCCIS Thomas's dixUMion
in rcp1rillJ; ' 0 obiccdon 1 ifi ,he IC .. from ST!. q. 8\ , a, I ,,,ith rtpl)' to objccl ion !. Cf. Elders,
Faith lI"d Srimrr. p. 109.


52 Discovery of the Subj ect of Metaphysics
existcnce of t he First Mover in physics (phil osophy of nature). Others requi te, at
t he very least, prior knowledge of the $piri rual character of thc human soul. Al l of
these writers agree thai il is only beca use one already knows that in at least one
instance being is realized apart from maner t hat one can validl y judge that being
in order to be realized as such nrrd nOI be maleri aL 17
We shalt see that certain lexts in Thomas's writings, especiall y in his
rary on the Mrtaphysics, might be laken as support ing such an imetpretation. O ther
texts, however, suggeSl a different procedure. As will be recalled from our discussion
of Thomas's views concern ing (he subjeCi of metaphysics, at limes he refers to this
as em commune, and at times as being as being. In his Commentary on t he Dr
Tri"itaU' he has indicated that mt>taphysics treats both of t hi ngs whi ch arc posi-
tively immaterial, to use our suggested terminology. and of t hose which are nega-
tively or neutrall y immateri al ; but it docs not do so in t he same way. 88
Thus in q. 5. a. 4 of t hat Commentary Thomas wri tes that phil osophical theol-
ogy (met'aphysics) t reats of t hose things which need not be found in matter (t he
negatively or neutrall y imma terial) as its subject , and of thaI whi ch Glnnot be
found in maner (t he posit ively immaterial illumau:d here by divine things) only
as the pri nciples of its subj:(. ti" Thi s should be connected with his earli er remark
in that same cOnl ext to this effect: if every science has a given subject-genus, it
belongs (0 that science itself to study t he principles of that subjcct-genus.?(l Si nce
being as being is the subject of metaphysics, as he aJso indicat es there, it wi ll belong
117, Sec. for i"",,, ,,,c, A_ Moreno. N.", . c 71" rb..",iJI,o p. II, :
" Is Ihc a iSlence Or nccnsiry for mctaphysics? Ir hy meraphysics we
mean a .science 5pifioHy different from physics, rhen, thdr e,li$tcncc ;$ abliohudy
V Smilh. "The Prime Moyer: PhysiClhnd MetaphysiClI Considerations: in Prwdi"lgso/rlN Amrr
;r,1>'/ Guh<!lir {,hi/osop/lira/ AlJ(K'iarion l8 (1954). pp. 78-94; TIN Gnlrrdl Sdmu ofNnrurr (Milwau-
kee. ' 958). p. J8 (who. while not "S I h" role of sepal';1! ion, Ihal prior kno"oledgc of
;",,,,,,ta;,,1 and jmmobik being Prime Mowrl i$ requi red to establish the possibility of meta
ph)'s;q;); Geiger. -Abstm:tion e. pp. (prior knowledge or Ihe Xliy;!y
of our intdlect and h.:nee of Ih .... i ntclle<:! itsc:lf and of the soul is suffici.:nt [and requi redJ for separ::.-
.ion and for on(: '0 begin Schmidt. "Cemplo; de S<paF.ltion en mmphysiqut:
pp. J. Weil'hl'i pl. of Medienl Nalllr::.1 Philosophy to Mooern Science:
The Contribution of Thom:u Aquinas 10 1[5 MnnUJaipra 10 (1976), pp. 194-96:
also, !;to! his review of my Mnnphytirnl Tht'ltll'l in Thm>laI Aq"inaJ, in Rfllirwl!fMrfllph]1;1'I }8 (198j).
pp. 699- 700; L J. Eld.:l'S. Failh and Srirnu . Pl'. 107-8; Thomas Aquina$' Commenf3ry on
the 'Mmphysiq;' of Arinolle: Dil'UJ Thomas (Piac,) (1984), pp. 309- 10. ,12 (who appcab (Q adem
onllF.llion of .he immaterialilY of Ihe hUlllan soul as ThOtnil's junificalion for his discoy.:ry of
CQlIltnon being); M. Jordan, Ordering Wisdom: TIl' Hirrarrhy of Phiwrophiral Disa",rKI in Aquinas
Da",,,. Ind., 1986).1'1" 'Sll- f.o
R8. Stt my discussions of q. s. aa. I aod 4 above in Ch. J (pp. 8-9. t7),
89. leon. Her .... we should reCllI Thomas's desc:ription of the neg:lti\'dy or n .... u
.ully imma.erial: . . . alio 1'11000 sic quoo non sil de r:llione .... ius quoo $il in materia CI motu .. ..
(Uon. 50:154"90- t9' ).
90. -Sciendum siqu;dcm CSt quod quat'Cumque conside.." aliquod genU$ subi<."C'um.
ol)(lf[el 'luod cOllsidcf.:t p,ind pia iHilis l;.:ncri5, cllrn Kicmia non nisi P<" cogni tion"m
principiorum . . ." (Leon. 50. IU:8I-S6).



Discovery of Subja::t of Metaphysics 53
to the metaphysician to investigate the principles or causes of the subjcct of thaI
science, tha t is, of bei ng as being. In no way docs this text imply that prior knowl-
edge of positively immaterial being is presupposed for the metaphysician to di s-
cover bc:ingas being, the subj ect of his science. On the comrary, it is rat her assumed
tha t the metaphysician will take this subject as gi\en. presumably as discovered
through the process of uporatioas described in q. 5. a. 3 of this same Commentary.
Only then will he be in posit ion 10 inquire about the principles of thar subject ,
tha t is, about divine things or the positively immaterial .'"
Thi s interpret-ation is confirmed by Thomas's much later discussion in the Pro-
oemium to his Commentary on the MnopiJysics. That these remarks appear in the
PrOQemium is signifi cant since it seems d ea r enough that here, at least, Thomas is
speaking in hi s own name. \'(fhcncver we turn to the body of the Commentary
proper, since it is :l liter..J.l com men tar)" on Aristotle'!; text , we must constantly ask
ourselves whether in explaining the Stagirile's thought, Thomas is also presenti ng
his own. In the Proocrnium, at least, he clearly seems 10 be. This is corrobor:ltcd
by the faci that Thomas's presentation here is in full accord wil li views he has
developed in hi s Commentary on De Tri llifflU, q. 5, a. 4. On(' can be confident that
Thomas has presented hi s personal position in that teXl because he has developed it
nOt in his rdatively brief litem! exposition of the Bocthian text, but in his much
full er and independent discussion through quest ions and art icles.'!
Reference has been made above to the general context for this discussion in the
Prooemium.' .l Here it will be enough for us to concentrate on Thomas's expl icit
remarks about the subject of metaphysics. "That is the subject in a science whose
causes and proptrti es we investi gate," he writes. The cau$Cs of the subject arc nOt
themselves 10 be idcntifit:d Wi lh the subject of the science. Knowledge of such
causes is rather the end or goal at which the sc ience's investigation aims.9-I
Once again, therefore, Thomas's words do not suggest that he would have us
presuppose prior knowledge of [Xlsiti vely immat erial beings or separate
91. On being being as the 5ubj t of Ihis Kiene<' Lron. 50.1504:161- 162: - ... habel
5ubil um ens ;n quantllm CS I ens." cr. Iht u; "g discussion on p . 5-4 .
92. On Iht I)!ool{""m of def ermining wh{""lhn in his on Ihe MnaphyJin is
si mply presenting Aristot le's thoughr he il. Of he his CommentalY to
I"e.'tnt own views, or he in way .\ rimts and in anorhn on other
itt J. Doig, Aq/iiml1 0'1 Mtlapbysin. For my Itview SI:"C" Spm.lum 51 (19 77), pr . Ij)- )S. Also s
L. Elders. Thomas Aquinas' Commcfilary on pp. J07- !6. es p. PP' 3-4- :6:
J. OWC<ls . lI. S CommtnlaIQr. " pp. 1I}-3S (nOI rL"Stritlcd ro Thomas's Commcn-
,a,)' un [hc Mnaplry!;o), anJ .. dJi, ;onal re(erene"," <:;[1 in my l"oO<.lu"l ion lb..we. nn. 17 [8.
posi rion presentcd hen: is personll.l view (.) i'l dcar from the that il is in
3ccord with that which he in his Commem:I.rY 011 [he Dt Trinilo1u, q. 5. a. -4 . and (l ) is alw
strongly indicar1 lIy Ihe nf Ihe PrnoetHium itM' l( 0" [h" .rignih""nCt of [he
difference brrv .. ctn the npulitiu and tht displililriu in Thomas's Commentary on the Dt Trinilau
S J. " \'(115 hcil\t MClaphysik b.,i von Aquin)" in MiJu//a"("lI MtdiQ("t'a/jQ H. t
(tkrl in- New York. 1994). pp. 11&- 19. For Thomas's nrpll1ilio see Lmn. SO.IH- H.
93. Se\" Ch. [above. pr 19- 21.
94. Ed. cit .. 'lu",rd abo,"e in Ch. 1. n. 6).


54 Di scover), of [he Subject of Metaphys ics
(God and intelli gences), as he here describes them, in order to jusTifY separation or
in order to begin metaphysics. On the contrary, it is only after one has discovered
Ihe subj ect of metaphysics-ell! cQmmllne- that one is in a position 10 inqui re
aboUt its causes or principles. Since these- separate substances-are the only posi-
tively immaterial bei ngs mentioned either here or in the discussion in q. 5, a. 4
from the Commentary on the De Trillitau, no support can be found in either lext
for Ihe claim that Thomas would have us begin with a knowledge of posi tivel y
immaterial being in order to be enabled ro discover being as being.
In confirmat ion of our interpretation we find Thomas repeating within this
same Proocmium a paim he had made in his earl ier discussion in the De Trillirau:
it belongs to one and the same science ro consider the proper causes of a given
genus (or subject) and that genus it self. Thus the natural philosopher considers the
principles of nat ural body." In li ke fashion, cominues Thomas, it belongs ro one
and the same science 10 consider em communt and to study separate substances;
for ellS commUNe is the "genus, that" is, the subject of whi ch separate substances are
the general and uni versal causes.'!6
We may develop the analogy which Thomas has drawn between physics and
metaphysics. JIISt 3S naeural philosophy does not presuppose prior knowledge of
the causes or principles of its subjecr (mobile. being) , nei rher does metaphysics. In
each case knowledge of such principles can come only after one has di scovered the
subject of the science. Such knowledge is held oue as the end or goal of thae science's
inquiry: it is not presupposed for knowledge of its subjecI.97
In the case of meraphysics. eherefore, knowledge of ies subject comes firS(. Onl y
afeer one has discovered this is olle in position to inqui re about posit ively imm:lt t'
rial bei ngs such as separat e substances. In faCl, in a telling addition to Aristotle's
text, Thomas obscrves whi le commencing on Bk VI, c. I of che Mnapby!ic! that
even sensible things can be studied insofar as they are beings.
9
" That is to say, even
')s. Ed. ci l.. pp. I- l. quol.-d .tbovc in Ch. I. 11. 61.
96. !bid .. p. l: - Undc OPOf1CI quod .td .Kiemiam IXnincal considtr:l.K subsl.tfllias sepa-
"'las, el en.< commune, quod en gen<.ls, cuius .Ulll p",edicl.te el universalc,
91 Thomas th.tr rill is Ihc subjeci of nalUml philosophy. Thai mobilc beillg also
is corpore.tl is something whi ch mUSI be shown in physic.... Sec In I Phys . !eel. J. M. Maggiolo
.-d. (Turin-Rome. r9504). PI'. n. 4- He", Thorml5 eitts an undcdying principle for his posilion:
" ... nulla alllcm .Kientia probal suum subi telum. " However, Ihe analogy he draws in the PrOOCl1li-
unt to his Commentary on the Mrtllphytiabetwcc-n the physicist and the met..lphysicilln holds. Each
mus' be concemn! with reaching knowkdgc of ,he princi pl(S of hi1 $Cienu's subject-genus. cr
p. }. nn. l - j in ,his u me (onten fo' another brief prncntal;on of Ihe Ilm:efold division of Ihe
I hrow ical sciencts. and for Ihe d islinCiion bel,,"",n Ihl' nq,,:;nively or 1lCt.II",lIy immatctial.tnd Ihe pos-
itively
98. In VI Mn.ltet. r. p. 1.98. n. (ci!ed abovl' in n. 81). His immwialdy following words also
meri! 'IUUlal;On: "Ni$i rorte dicam<.lS. U! Av;eenna die;!. quod huiusmooi communia de quibus
.Kiemia pl'rscrUiamr, dicumur scpa"'la sundum SC, non quia semper sill( 5ine sed quia
non de necessitate sc in materia. sicul malhemalica."



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Discovery of dIe Subject of Metaphys ics 57
Moreover, Thomas's di stinction berween considering something directl y as the
subje<:t of a science and considering it onl y indi rectly as a ca use or principle of
that subject would seem 10 be endangered. If prior knowledge of separate emil Y is
presupposed for us to di scover being as being, the subject of metaphysics, [hen why
not make separate emity itself the subj ect of this science? This, of course. T homas
has refused to do. Given these considerat ions. therefore, il seems w me thai in thi s
part of his Commentary we have Thomas's cxpbnarion of Aristotle's text but not
Thomas's personal view concerning the conditions of possibility for the judgment
of sep;lration or for rhe discovery of being as
A seemingly more compelling text appears in Thomas's Commentary on the
concluding lines of MelllpbyriCl Vl . Co 1. Here Thom:ls repeats the quest ion rai sed
by Ariswdc himsel f concerni ng whether fi rst phil osophy studies bei ng taken uni-
versally or only some particular genus and nature, that is, the divineY'(; In com-
menti ng on t\ristotle's reply 10 this Thomas does little more than repeat the Stagi-
rite's tCXt . If chere is no substance apart from those whi ch exi st by nature, wit h
which physics deal s, phys ics will be the first science. But if there is some immohile
substance. Ihis will be prior to natural substance. Conscqucnd}', the phi losophy
whi ch studi es this kind of substance will be fi rst philosophy. Bci:ause it is first it
wi ll be uni versal , and it wi ll study being b(' ing. Thomas's concluding remark is
not found in Aristotl e's t e xt : ... for the science of the Fi rst Being and the science
of (m commune are one and the samt', as has been indicated at the begi nning of
Bk IV. " HI?
lOS. II is aho in Ihis way Ihal I would imerpm an intcrcst ing remark Thoma.s in sec
I. c. 12, about the oHlcr of thc sciencC$. There he is offcring a of brief argumel1 l$ thc
claim that God's ai$tencr al1r1ot be: dcmon5trated hr reason. Thomas CQunlcn that the fa15 ity of
1),;5 claim can 1><. ftQm (I) Ihe an or dcmon51ralion which tcaches one 10 rcason frQm drl'ClS
loauses; {ll . . . ex ip .... scicm;uull1 o,dinc. Naill , non sit sci biliHUbstalllia supra SUb5lan-
tiam non e,il aliqua s-o: i.mb supr:. Natur, leln. ut dicit ur in JV M"tlph." (perhaps a
rcrercnce to Mrtap/;Jlio IV. (:. ) , tbt is. to our in Aristotl e. as the rtIi !ors suggest. but cer-
tainly not (,1 the efforts of the phil osopher. 10 tim God ( .. ) Romani
1:10 . (Sec cd. cit ., p. 10.) Thc last tWO argument5 clearl y on authority w, I would
suggest, is 5<"(ond. Thomas's pu. pose he,,, is n')1 10 uptain the W:l.y in which we
di s-o:ovrr being a.s being. bUI 10 offer wmc dialcCl ical aq;ume11lalion and somc aUtholi ti..-s
tl1os-o: who den)' thaI eXiMenCC be detllOnSIrateJ. His phi!owphical demon5tr.r.tion
pmition is YCI 10 cOJlle. wilh hi, for mal pre<cllralioll of prove Ihal God Q isu (i n r. IJ
and in c. IS. Amp/i us).
t06. &e MnaphysiN VI . c. t (!016a lJ- Jl ). Fo. discussion see ell. I pp. It - I,.
107. So....;: /" V/ /lin. kCI. " p. II. " 70. by 10 "$undo
soJ vil . . .. " Note in particular: "51, si C:St aliqua ina cr;1 prior
nalura!i: CI pcr COllS<."luens ph ilosophia considl;r.lIIS hui usmodi sub5l":l.IItiam. el it ph prima.
E! quia CSt prima, ideo crit uni'Ns:tlis. et e, il eius spul ari de ente inquatHUm cs( ens . .. ewem
en im cs. scienl ia primi en ,is et C()mmu"i s. Uf i" I" inei pio quart; habilUtn CS I." cr. I" IV Aln,
Ic". t, p. 151, n. HJ. There Thom:u comment$ that in this science we uc (ollhe principles
ofbe:ing insofar as il is being. "J11erefoK, he conlinues, bei ng is the i ubjt of thi s scien<:e beaus-o:
<:very science seek5 afler the pmpcr ClIIISes of ill This passage argues for Ihe identiry of


58 Discovery of the Subjecr of Mcraphysics
In commenting 0 11 the parallel passage from MttaphysicJ Xl Thomas adds an-
other remark to his repetition of Ari stotl e's text: "For First Beings are the prin-
ciples of the others.
M
This remark also hi s addition to the text from Mtta-
physicr Vl. His poillt seems to be thar in st udyi ng the First Beings one studi es the
principles or causes of everyt hing else. Therefore one sludies everything else. One
should not conclude from [his, however, Ihat Thomas himself accepts Ihis position
or holds that the First Beings const itute lhe subject of metaphysics. This would be
to impost' upon him the Avcrroi sti c soluti on for the AristOtelian aporia about the
identiry of divine science and the science ofbeillg as being. 1M
texts from Thomas's Commentary on Mrraphysicr VI and XI arc obvi-
ously importanr for our immediate discussion. If they do reAect his personal posi-
tion, it will foll ow tim for him the existence of the science of being as being is
conti ngent upon our prior knowledge of the existence of separate emity. 'lPt
As already indicated, i{ is very diffi cult to re<:oncile this procedure with that
impli c(1 by Thomas's more independent di scussions of the subject of metaphysics.
In those COntexts knowledge of God or of separate entity is nOt presupposed for
knowledge oflX'ing as being or the subject of metaphysics; it is rather proposc.-d as
the or goal or the meta physician's investigati on. Moreover, there call be no
question of thinking lhat Thomas ever made God or separate entity the subj<.'Ct of
metaphysics. This can only be being as being or lx-ing in general
scicnce which 5ks af!er Ihe firs! and highes t pri nciples (I.enee- the firs! being) and ,he science of
being, II docs nOI i",ply th.t o"c ",,,n discover the fim be((He the st'Cond. 0" ,he comr:lry.
JUSt the procedure to bc indicated. Cr. my remarks aoout this passage in M(t.ophysitllf
7J,l'mrt, p. 89.
108. Stt In Xl Afn, II'CI. 7. p. 536. n, H67. In this 'nt he follows Aristotle's text "ery dO$d)' in
writing ,ha, if nafUr:l1 SUMta<lces. which arc M"nsiblc and mobile subst:lnces. arc the fits! among
beings. na, ural scicne .. will be fits! among the sciences. To this he adds: "quia secund"m ordinem
i ubicctorum. cs t ordo .lCiemiuufll . lit ;:.un dictum es[." I n doing so he faithfully imctprNs Aristotle's
reason ing both here and in the corres ponding pa.uage in Mtlaphpio VI. c. I. In these: p:l:l.gcs.
Aristotle's approach is ccrtai nly objcct oriemed. got'S on 10 repeal Ari stotle to Ihi s effCCI: "Si
:lutem dl alia nalura el sub:j;{amia pr.1clCr subnamias natur:ll es, quae sit C! immohilis.
cst alteram quae sit prior nannali. EI co quod CSt OporlCl
quod sit Then he makes the ,wo 10 enim 0.1 sciemia
quae 0:$1 de primis entibus. t t quae esl uni"el'Sollis. Naill prima elltia principi3 aliorum."
'09. For such of pass:\ges sec: MorellO. -nle Nalu .... of Mctaphysics." pp.
T. O'Brien. MmtpllJlin and thl' ExiJt(nrr D.C., (960), p. ,60 (ciling /11
VI /lft:., II . 11]0): Doig. Aqkillill (III Mnapl'11ia. p. 24$. n. I; p. )OJ. n. I; Weishcipl. "Thc Rdation-
ship ofMC'dicval Naturall'hilosophy to Modern Seiena:. pp. 194--96. Anolher such pass.age is found
in {II !II M(f.. Iccl.Ii , p. Ill, n. )98, whe.e Thoma . is explaining how Aristotle can usign Ihesmdy
of :ti l substances insorar as they are $ubsranc" to ont sciena:. the science or being as being. Afler
nOling that (he first substances arc immaterial. he com"'enU ,hal a considerl, inn of ,he:sc belongs
properly to th" fillt philosopher. and then rt'fers 10 Afrtllphpin VI. c. I: "Siem si non essenl aliac
priorcs !Ubslam iis mobilibus corp.or:tl ibus, scienria natural;s CSS('I ph ilosophia prima. UI
dicilur inr", in SCXto. While this i$ his underst:lnding of Ari stotle's pvsilion in Mrtllphyfia VI, c. I.
il docs not ncsnri ly follow tha, if;S ' Inomas'! personal p.nition.
!lO. Sec abo"e in Ch. I, Section 2. pp. 17- 11. Cr. J. ()v..1:ns. "Mefaphysia;l $epar:tlion in Aqui -
11:1.1, " pp. 288--91. on Ih" different "iews of the subjl'C! of melaphysics in the to Thomas's



Discovery of lil C Subj eC[ of Mctaphysics 59
GiV{'1l this, I would offer the same imerpretation of Thomas's Commemary on the
indicated passages from Mnaphysin VI and XI as I have for the tex t from his Corn"
mentary on Mnaphysin IV. In each of these cases we have Thomas's explanation of
Aristotle's text, but not Thomas's personal J>osi ti on concerning the conditions of
possibility for separ:nion and hence for the discovery of The subjecr of meTaphysi cs.
It should also bt, noted, if only in passing, that in none of these texts is there
any suggest ion that one must prior knowledge of the charaCi er of the
human soul in order to discover hcing as being. Some writers would require this
r:l.( her than prior knowledge of separate entity in order to justify separarion. III But
the passages we h:lve just eX:lmined from Thomas's Commentary on the Mn.lphp-
in rather refer to immobile Ix' ing, meaning thereby the hrst mover of the Phpin.
It is this whi ch is idemilied with the First Being studied by first philosophy and
hence by mClaphysics.
11Z
So f.1 r as Thomas's view is concerned, therefore, if these
passages do indeed reflect his personal position, prior knowledge of separate and
immobile entity will be required to enable one {O discover being as being. Knowl -
edge of the soul's will nOt sullice.
In rejecting such passages as expressions of Thomas's personal thought, I do nOt
wi sh to deny th:l1 when he considers the pedagogical issue about the order ill which
young students should study the various sciences, hc recommends that one int ro-
duce them to philosophy of nature before attempting to teach them metaphysics.
In brief he this sequence; logi c, mathemaTics, natural philosophy, moral
philosophy, and finally, metaphysics. In these discussions, however, he is not con-
cerned with the conditions of possibility for metaphysi cs or for the other sciences
but wit h the grndu:llly devdoping capacity of young students to learn differ-
ent disciplines. Htnce such textS can hardly be used to settl e the now under
cO/lsidcrat iOIl. 113
In additi on to the hi storical (luestion, anot ht' r line of reasoning seems to influ-
Commc11I:1.f)' on Ihe Ml'laphp uu r.J. in h Com o n I p:w.;lgC$ ii, qUO'li<)r.. Or. Ihc Olhcr
hand. j.FX. .sttms 10 Ihi"k Ih31 for T homas one h'-gin ,.ncl3pnysia ariel diKovcring
beillg ( ... ,1) as habO/I "I<' (appucmly whal I ha'<e dCK. ihed as a primili,'c nOI;on of being). Then.
while pfOlcficing melaphysics. Olle would demo l151 ral e the exiSlcnee of subSlance and onl)'
Ihell di$(o,e. tm (qn""u,u . .se., TJu 10 71NJ m;JIil' Muapl'}J;<1 (Ne .... York, 19')0), I)P 9j - 11 3.
nl h faib 10 do ill5lice 10 Tholl1ass ulIJentanding of Ihc subj e-cl of a $(;CII", knowledge
of which required for o n .. 10 !l<egin th .. !I COll1radiCIS a principle accepl$ flOm
to Ihe effecl Ihal no 5Ci.' ncc C3n CSlablish Ihe elistenc .... of ill own subiecl .
HI. Scr fo r ill.112r.ce. C .... iga Elden a, cil(:d abo,.., in n. 8J.
S Ihe from nlOrnas'sCo""l1cnt ary011 Mfl. IV. II . 19}: AIr/. VI. n. and Mn. XI.
II . H67; CiH-d above in nn. 101, 107, and loll. Th .... !a.\Imcntione,J .... rc-quim. nOI o nly a sub-
which is immobile but olle which is flp;<,ahifir. For a discussion or the rdat ed but CUllt esled
point conccrning whedlC/ for !ll .... FiTS! Mo,c. of PJYf /;n V!Il i, God. see A. I',,&i$, "51.
Thomas Ihc Coh{" .ncc of dIe A,islOldian Thro!ogy,- Muiiafv. ,/ jj (1973), pro 67-117;
J. J\tUIU5, "u Ihrorie du Premier MOIeur cha Arino! .. ," Rrwr dr philof(}phir, n.s. 4 (IS/H). pp.
219-<)'1. 394- '1 J. Owell s, "Aquillas and the P,ooffrOrn Ihe' Ph)'sia . " Siudirs (1966),
pp. 119- jO. Pegis dcfends ,denl il}", ill dis.:rsrmc111 wi l h "",,u!us ;wd OW<' ns.
ll J. 5 Snllmlin fibri Ell;irqr",,, VI. 7 ( L.."(>n. i 7.1.Jj8:178-3S9: lIj): Stl nui 71NJnuJt d, Aq"illo


60 Discovery of Ihe Subject of Metaphysics
ence many of those who would rest t he possibility of metaphysics on prior knowl -
edge of positively immaterial being. For them it is a necessary phil osophiCl I posi.
tion. As they see it, prior knowledge of the existence of immat erial bei ngs must be
presupposed if one is to begin metaphysics. As one recent writer has put it in a
generally posit ive review of an earli er study of mine: one may legit imat ely ask
whether mere possibility is sufficient to ground the new science of !lletaphysics?
Whence comes t his judgment of separabil ity? It is easier to prove t hc faCt of onc
separated being than to prove itS
Here we have a k-gi ti ma te difference in philosophi cal positions. In defending
my own interpretation, [ would recall cerrain ]lOints. First of ali, we are interested
in ar ri ving at an understa nding of being as bei ng whi ch may serve as the subject of
a science of being as being rather than of being as material and changing. Secondly,
according to Thomas himself, it is quitt: possibl e for LIS to study material being in
metaphysics, not insof.1T as it is material OT mobil e, however, but simply insofar as it
is being. When it is so viewed it enjoys the negative or neutral kind of immateriality
Thomas associ'Hcs with the subject of metaphysics. Thirdly, in referri ng 10 separa-
tion in his Commentary on the De TriJlilal(, at times Thomas indicales that what
is discovered thereby is wi t hout maHer and motion. At times he writ es that it can
be withoul maTter and motion. It is the laner kind of immaleriality which he as-
signs to being as being, the subject of metaphysics.
I would ask the reader evaluati ng my approach to distinguish TWO questions
and, corresponding to this, twO kinds of intelli gibilit ies. One quest ion searches for
that by reason of whi ch somet hing is recognized as rcal or as sharing in being.
Another seeks afler thai by reason of whi ch something enjoys a given kind of being.
Supa '.ibn"" rtlusi! rxpositil). H. I). Saffre),. eo. (Fribourg-I .<!uvaill, ' 9504). p. 1. On this jC(:
G. Klubertam:, Sf. on Lc;uning MefaphY$iCll ." Grrgt'rian"", H (1914), pp. }- 17. Cf. his
"The Teaching ofThomisfic Grrgoria""", 35 (J9H). PI" One 'nighl also cile
cen ai n tuu where ThOFn<lS dte imerrelationship beP,"ecn metaphysio and mller specula-
tive sciences. See, fo. instance, 'I' I, a. I, ad 9 from his Commentary on t he [k Trinitllu. where he
again suggols ,1m should be learnro afler ,It.: namral sci ences and after malhematiC$.
He notes that it eemin whi( h arc explained in natural science such as generation. wrrup-
[ion. mOlion, I have indic:uro in OIher (OmelUS, in 1I,;s Thomas u heavil), inAu"
enero by A.icenna. BUI wha, he docs no, $:I.y h",e is that me,aph)"1ics depends on phySiC!' (or on
ma, hcma,ics) for knowlroge of iu SUbjl , being as bei ng. 100 h .. "plains ho'" mel:lphysio
COn!ribU( e$ arla;n (hings 10 (ht o!her sci .. occs (by pro"ing thei r principle!O). and ye( borroW$ eer (';lin
things (,,,,m them. s.... !.In. IO, t4[ ;H7-)8L my Mnap/rysictl{ pp. 97- t01.
<IS welt as c. II. passim.
114. Stt rtview of my Mrtaphpiclll TfNmn'l5 ci ,ro aoovt in n. 87. He jC(:ms to shalt
,his eonviclion along with o, her aUlhotl menti oned in ,ha, samc note. that is, that tbeir
interpr .. talion is al$() nccasary on philosophical grounds. For som .. motl' tl'<:tnt discussions which
defend on hiswric.,d grounds !h .. SoImt approach [ have prtsented her<' sec M. V. Leroy's review of
m)' ill TJx,mi11 Aquinill in n.,. 4 (' 984), pr. 667- 68; Aerucn.
' Was htitlr ... ?" pp. 111- jJ; Mr-diroal PbiloJ/Jphy Imd Ihr Trtlnswr,u",als. pp. 11.8- 19.
Also sec Leroy's call), discussion of ,bis, -Abstract;o el wpllroJI;o d' apr6 un ,ex,e de sai m
Thomas," Rr-,'"" lhomistr- 48 (1948), pp. j18- }9, which, h .. indic:ues in his review. is in fundamental
agtl'ernel11 wi,h ,he posilion I am



Discovery of the Subject of Meraphysics 61
If these are fV.'O different questions, it seems that one is justi fied in offering fWO
different answers for them. That intelligible content in a thing by reason of which
it is recognized as enjoying realiey or being should be distinguished from that intel -
ligible cOlllent by reason of whi ch it is recogni1.cd as enjoyi ng this or that kind of
being. To be material. or li vi ng, or mobil e is 10 enjoy a given ki nd of being, it
would seem. Without presupposi ng that there is any being whi ch is nO! living and
material and mobile, we can still ask why any thing which we experienc(' enjoys
ueing. 10 ask Ihis is vcry different from asking what kind of being it enjoys. If these
(wO questions are not idcllIical. it follows that the answer to the one does /lOt have
to be idenritled with the answer to the Olher. That by r('ason of whi ch somet hing
is recogni1..ed as enjoyi ng being nced nOt be identified with that by reason of which
it enjoys this or that kind of being. Therefore, we may invcstig:nc one and the same
physical and changi ng thing from different perspeni\'es. We may st udy it insofar
as il is material and mobi le, or insofar as it is li\' ing, or insofar as it is qualllified.
But we lIlay also study it insofa r as it enjoys reality at al L i.e., insofar as it is a being.
An objection might be raised: Is this not 10 make memphysics a sciencc of the
merely possible Not al all. To exam inc somcthing from the standpoint of being
is to continue to apply to it the intel ligible content contained in our primitive
underslandingofbeing as "that whi ch is." As a result of separati on we continue to
recogni1.e whalever we study in metaphysics as enjoying being, or as an illSlance of
't hat whi ch is." We do not abstract from this inclusion of exi stence in our primitive
understanding of being when we apply separalion 10 il . We ralher judge dial the
intell igible cont ent in vi rtue of whi ch wt' recognize any thing as a being ("that
which is") is not to be restricted to or ident ified with tim intelligible content by
which we recognize it as being of Ihis or Ihal kind. Otherwise bei ng could only be
one in kind.
At this paim I should emphasi ze that il is not Thomas's distinction and com-
position of essence and an intrinsic existence principle (act of being) whi ch is dis-
covered through separ3tion. Through scp:uati on one simply recognizes lhe legili-
Inacy of investi gating any given thing in terms of its reality or as a bei ng {"that
which is"} rather than from any ot her perspective. Investi garion of the rel ati onship
between essence and existence (esse) can only come laler in the order of discovery,
and presupposes (hat one has already discovered bei ng as being.
In concludi ng this chapter I should add that I do not wish to exclude the possi-
bility that one might proce<:d in a different way. If one has succeeded in demollSl ra-
till g the exiSlCll ce of some positively immaterial hei ng in physics, wel l and good. lIS
Then it may be easier for sllch a person 10 formulate the negative judgment wit h
rrs. On Ihi$ poim, ver y 51rong posi rion . As il. il is nor possiIJI" fOI one
10 knowl("(lgc of bdn!; l)(Ojng 011 3 prior of ,hte of imm:l.l cri31
emily. "Ei lher ' is' is (feted !"rom ils S("miblte challging contO' ! (prior 10 the proof of the teXiSIence
ng. nd I h liS is m", ningful ..... h"n ..... e mnclude 10 r he exi51elKte of 5uteh !xing) or . is'
we fi m fi nd il imlllciX"d in seosini li l)" ch3ng{". In Ihe !aller C3>C". ' is I"r1 teJ ns is >C"tuibk


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The Problem of Parmen ides and
Analogy of Being
N; we have now seen in some detai l. according to Aquinas metaphysi cs has as
its subject being as being or, as he also puts iI. rns communr. In Cil. II considerable
anemion has been directed 10 hi s account of the way in which we arrive al knowl-
edge of being as real and then of being as being or of (w rOlnllllOlt. Now we must
take up a problem with which Thom3s himsdfhad to corne to terms - the see m-
ingly confl icting claims of unity and of muhipliciry (and hence of diversiry) wit hin
being itself.
This problem ca n be raised at tWO different levels. bw rwo levels which are
closely imerconnl'(:ted. Thlls onc may ask: \'(Ihat is the nature of:l not ion or con-
cept which can in some way express bot h the unit), and the diversity which Aqui nas
assigns to being in general (rm communrJ. As we shall sec, Thomas's answer to this
is developed in terms of his theory of analogy of being. But one can also raise this
issue at the lellel of individual beings themselves: How call there be many such
beings. given the unity of being as indicated by the fact that each of them shaKOS
in bei ng? Thomas's answer to this is compJicated, but will include hi s theory of the
part icipat ion of beings in being (mr), the composit ion of essence and mr (act of
being) which he finds in every participating heing, and his defense of the real ity of
nonbeing in a qua lified sense- relative non being, as I shall describe iI.
While subselJllent chapters will be devoted to each of thes<: issues, in the prt:Sellt
chapter we shall first consider the I'armenidean dilemma concerning unity \IS. mul-
tiplicity of being insofar as thi s was known to Aquinas. The concluding section of
Ihis chaptcr wi I] be dirccted to Thomas's answer ;u rhe level of our concept or
not ion of being, that is to say, hi s theory of analogy of being.
6,


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Parmcnides and Analogy of Being 69
begins (Q formulaic Parmenidlos' problem in terms which Sf't' m to refer dire<:tiy to
the nature of our notion or concept of being.
[n facr. Thomas immediately criri ci7.es Parmenides for viewing bei ng :15 if it
were one in definition or nature, li ke a genus. In ot her words. without using the
technical term. Thomas criticizes Parmellides for regarding being as univocal.
AgJinsr this Thomas immediately protests. Being is not a genus bur is said in
different ways of differenf
In effe<:l, therefore. Thomas !faces back to Parmcni des the two levels of the
problem of rhe One and the Many which we distinguished above. On the
ontological level or the level of being itself. it seems that being ca nnOt be divided
from being. It cannOt be di\' ided from itself by being, si nce it already is being.
Viewed from this perspective. it is simply one. Nor can it be divided from it self by
nonbcing, since this is nothingness . Therefore it cannOt be divided at :Ill. and all is
one. On the level of the concept of being. jf being is regarded as univocal in the
fas hion of a genus, any difference which might Serve w divide it wi ll then full
outside one's undemanding of being. Therefore such difference will have to
be dismissed as nonbcing and will be unable 10 differcmiate being.
In commenting on Bk I of AristOtle's P"piN Thomas follows the St:lgirite in
citing Parmenidt'S and Mclissus as holding that there is one immobi le principle for
Thomas comments that stri ctly speaking it docs nOt belong 10 natural sci-
ence cit her to reject the position of Parmenides and Mclissu$ or 10 resolve the argu-
mentation they have offered ill suppOrt of it. This is so because it does not belong
to a given particular science 10 refute a posi tion which destroys the \'ery principlcs
of that science. For instance, geometry as such need not argue against one who
rejects the firs t principles of geomet ry. This task wil[ rl thcr fal1tO lnother particular
science (if geometry itself is subalternated to any other particular science) or el se
10 a general science. that is, logic or
In holding that there is on I)' one being and that all is one and immobile, Par-
men ides and Mclissus in effect underclH the very meaning of the term "prin-
A principle must be J principle of some other thing Of things. This prcsup-
poses multipli city. In eli mi nating all multiplicity they have also rejected all
princi plcs.
1G
Moreover, Thom:IS finds Aristotle m:tilHaining that it docs not belong
'4. - SeJ ill hoc dcripicbamuf. quia ll!eballmr eme r:tlionc e! una nalUr:t Si':ll l est
natu ... alicuiu; gcneri5; hoc eni", C$ t impussibik Ens non .:5! genus. sed m "It ipl ici! et dici! ur de
(pI" 4' - 4 n. I j')). I mmcdia'd}" Iht reaftcr ref ... ) 10 AristO! ie-s criticism in i'frysifJ I
of the cbim (h,,, hll) being is one. For Thomass commentary on thi s. btlow. For Thomas's
repet ition of I'armcnid c:;' argu mclUalion on th" or bt ing. S p. 41. II. !41. What -
evc, is mhe/ than tx-ing is 11011h.:il1g. What is no"being '0 be reganled as nothing. he
!hal l)o("i nl: one. all<ltha, ot her Ihan being is nOl hingnl:Ss.
1\ . In I Phyr .. 1 .. ..:1. 1. 111" 9- 10. nn. I). 15. cr. Ar istot le. l'IlYlies !. '" z (t!J4b l S- ISSa J).
uS. Srr p. 10 . n. ' \. NOfC c:;pecially: Sed pnedina IlOsitio deSlluil pr inci pia . . . . qui
igilur nega! III it lIdinem. 101Ii! principia; non igi l ur dd X: I comr.l. hanc p<i,ioncm dispur>fc
r:tlis .


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Pa rmcnides and Analogy of Being 73
flonbcing (not hingness) and nonbcing in a qualified sense (relat ive non being). But
as we shal l sec below in Ch. VI, this distinction is an important part of Thomas's
solut ion to the problem of the One and tvbny :l! thl: lev.:.:! of bcing.
Finally, as Thomas remarks, if one admits that being taken strictl y applies not
only to a subject or substance but 10 an accidcrn such as whitcncss, it will follow
that being signifies many different things. But thell there will II Ot be merely one
being, since a subject and it s accident are many in intdl igible COntent. Once again,
therefore, with om using lhe lechni cal expression, Thomas is crit icizing Parmenides
for viewing being as ifit were purely univoca1.
1
'
Thomas has repeatedl y sounded this theme ill hi s Comment aries on MnaphysirJ
I and Physics I. Being is used in many different senses or, 10 PUI il in other terms,
being is not univocal. \Vhi le these passages arc found in hi s comrnentaries on Aris-
IOtle. there can be little doubt that in making this point [hey reflect Thomas's
personal position as well as hi s understanding of Aristotle. And this brings us to
the s(.'Cond major se<: tion of the present ch:tpter.
2 . Thomas's Views concerning [he Analogy of Being
As certain recent st udi es of analogy in Aq uinas have: shown quite: effectively, the
problem of I n:ll ogy of being arises for him on rwo very di(ferell1 levels. Fi rst of all.
the issue may be raised :It the level of beings insobr as they are given [Q us through
experience and fall under I'/JS (OIl /llll/lIl"- the subj("ct of metaphysics. Certain
writers. influenced by the terminology imroouced by C. Fabro, rekr to this as the
predicament:r.lleveL'" Here Thomas is conce rned wi th showi ng how being can be
29. Scr 00. ci!., p. t5. n. 4J' "Uncle :.d (:vi l"Jnd,un IlOc inconwnien$ dicamu$ quod ,-ere .'ns
non SOIiUll subkctUflI, s.:d ipillm album, Sl"(j ui rur '1u(){1 ell! muha . ignilicct . Et ira
non Cf it talllum unu III quia subi''( tunl {'I I'lurJ $1"11 se..:u "du,"
}o. &.: c. Fablu, !'arlirip,uion (I rall!II'il; uloll s. Tbomi/i li"Aqllill (I.ou,ain- Par;s. r961), pp.
I rO- l j; 52j. For expli" ir acceplJnce or this rerminolq;)' ami d ivision orhis own in accord
wir h i r Set: II . MOil f.1l liM/rinr di' limlllogi( (II' l 'ilu " ilp";s 1<1;111 T/romlll Ii 111";" ( l.ouvai n
r96}). PI" H - 40: c. II (pI" (,S- 114) Oil analogy (.r b,i ng. "I'll<' li .e ... t"rc un
"iew! )ncerni Ili; allalog)' i. ,xtc",i,". Mn.>( hd[.f,,1 f"r my h,u httn
OOok. For 10 mlll )' other Ii IU5 Il iblrOSr:r. phy. Among these mcnriOI1 ShOlIId
I"" made of 11. Lyn kcn" A",'fng,r Imu"i'f"n C"III ",,,I,i,.. WQrM: An {""mil-'I/;Im of Its /1;ukgro,,,,,1
(/lid Im(rpr('liItilln of Irs U,t by T/,onllls of Aq"'tUi 19\ which is hel pful for r he
i, " fI (-' $ On I"i". 10 A'luj"" . 'hou!;h "V' s<> i" i"
of t Ilc of Thoma$$ in ;t)Clf; G. P. Kluhcm ,rL. S,. 7110111111 A1"i",1J 1m AlIilloX,r: II
";-';I""! AII4'pil ,md Syum/llik Sy,"h("JjJ (Chicago. hd phd cull('Ct ion or must or
!nts cVllccrning analogy. with sensit ivity to i5S uC$ of ctHonology Jnd de"d0l'mrnl in Thomas's
! hi nking concerti ing tI, is, and l':t ft r r 1. s! . 1 of FalJro'.< bo()k (I'P. Ji) cited ill !hh nOt e.
nll):> srudy is csp .:dalty ;mlJOrtallI fOl i" (ul\lribwion ro Thomas's rnoor}' of p;lflicipJtion in
ing, his appeal In t hi> H' br ing OUI thr mCI"physiC"JI fOil "d.I io"s of Thomas '5 of amlngy.
All of th"5<: sources in the ,diJloility of in1ctl',el'dtion as
in Lk 1II,,,,inuIII 0.. ronupru tmiJ, N. Z;o",rni t. 00. ( H,<.>mc. and of
the mJn), b tn Thomist ic imf'l)l ct:lliuns bJlrd '!I)On it. For a J;OOhl rn:ent tl.")!alemCm vi hi s


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Parmenides and Analogy of Being 77
csti ng combinat ion of analogy raken as proportion (or proportionality, according
10 the terminology of the slightly latl' r Dr writau, q. 1, a. I I ), and analogy by
reference 10 a first.' s In Ari stotl e himsel f the term analogy is often taken in The
sense of proportion, bur when Aristotle so uses il he does nOT apply iT to the case
of being. On the oTher hand, Ari stotle mllST be rega rded as the original source for
lhe theory of analogy oflx!ing by reference 10 a first, lhaT is, 10 subsTance (ooo{a).
At the same Time, it should be noted thaT Ari stotl e himself never refers 10 Thi s as a
case of analogy. n pOC; .v equivocation is his way of describing it.'';
If these TWO aspens of anJ.logy, uni t}" of proportion(aJiry) and uni ty by reference
to a firs!' had J.lready been brought together within :m t:arlie! philosophical tf'Jdi-
[ion,' 7 it is instructive 10 note how Thomas correlates them in his principii!.
On the one hand, in applying his views concerning analogy to intrinsic principles,
he has coordinated such principles according to a proporti on. JUST as the matter of
substJ.nce stands in relation 10 substance, so does the matter of qualllity in relation
to quantiTy. On the other hand, he has justifi ed Thi s by noti ng thallhis pwportion
holds on I)' becausc of somc causa! relationship. As substance itsel f is the cause of
the OTher predicametHs, so are the principles of substance the principles of the
otlter predicaments. And in contrasring anJ. logy with univocity and equivocation,
Thomas has strongly emphasiud the c;! usal relation which obtains between sec-
ond;uy instances of the analogical perfection and the primary instance. Whether
this rel:ltion hJ.s to do with tlnJ.1 causal ity or efficient causality or the causality of a
receiving subject, it is in any event a c;!usal relati onship which grounds analogical
predicati on. In The case of bei ng. it is because secondary insunces of being, i.e.,
4\ . i$ wdl known w smdenu of Jo.1101;,)" in Aquinas. in lR ,.,.r;/I//(. q. l. " Thomas dimi-
n, t<$ univoo.l and c'l"i\"OCl1 ..,f OamCS such u srir",ia of Go..J Such names
a ll be pnodiclIed of Go..! onl y analogicJlly: - ... (]\l0<1 nihil CS I quam secundum proponio-
nem. " Thomas nOtes Ih:"1 such agreement acwrding to propou ion c-.m be I,-,'Ofold :"lId acwrdillgly
,hal community according 10 anJlogy may ,Iro be 1v.'Orol d- lhe kind obuinl belween
which a Idal;oll to one ,nOlhe!. Ihe kind which "lIher re:m on Ihe agreement be-
rween IWO rdal;onS. Thomas here rel",."O' w Ihe tim as agrct lll cnt i1\ tetnH of proporti on. and 10 Ihe
.w-.::ond agreement in of (Loon. Tht lR 'Itr;"zudatC!i (.om
tls6-nS9 lonel l. Samt 17wmaf AquillflS. p. J54
46. Sec Montagnes. p. ! . who ci les G. L Muskens in support or Ihe I>oim Ihe propor
, ion(aJilY) w which Atistotle in his biological wnrb is appl ied (0 the case of being.
Fo r . 5<''' his Dr w";r<.hllAoyia<;: rig"ijirutJ(mr at" mu upud Arimmfon (Gn,l n'nsell , '9'U), p.
')0. Aho sce Lynkens. Tit,. A'II/Iug) btrU't"r'l God ,md thr World. PI' !9- j6 (un in
erhinl writings), 36-S8 (on ,hb ill and logic). Sec pp. \2.-\8 on Ar;s-
,ollc'$ uSC of lip.); el' 10 for Iht mal\ifokl w.l.ys in which being is
The IIIOSI imp<Jrta.ll 50",((, for lhis. of cour;.c. i} Ari slode's Mrwp1lysiq IV. c. z. for which
C[ Mclncrny. Aqui1llu ami AMI<tg} pp. )O-.u. who also cmphasi7.e.1 the different lerminology used
by and AristOl le in ",fen ing 10 the oS(' of bei ng.
47. Montagnes " ffcO' Iht inl erd ling 5uggdlion Ihal ,v,.o kinds of uniry Wele broughl to-
gethcr the ;nl1\1cnCt of Comment ary on the Gzugorin (l'L 64.1668 ). There Btl("'
lim four kinds of " am,;/;"." (I) R'Cundum simili rud inelll ; (1) S('Cu ndlJm proportio-
(j) 3h uno; (4) ad unum. As OOICS. R Clmsilioclfllr 10 be identi fied
widl Sec op. cil .. 1'. 30. n. I) . Cf. p. 14. n. I.



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Parmenides and Analogy of Being 81
call study all of these instances of being.
6J
That science of being as
being-can do so because what it considers fi rst and foremost is substance. As
Thomas interprets thi s, thi s science deals primarily with substances and therefore
wi dl all instances of being, si nce il consi ders [hal lirSI thing upon whi ch all the
others depend for their be ing (mr) and from which they receive their name. For
Thomas as for Aristotl e thi s first thing is substance. Therefore the philosopher who
considers all beings, {hat is to say. die metaphysician, must firs! and forcmost rake
into consideration the principlcs and causes of substances. Moreover, as Thomas
also explai ns, all substances insofa r as they are bei ngs or substances will fa ll under
this sciencc's fi dd of investigation.("
When we compare this discussion of anal ogy with [hal present ed by Thomas in
hi s Dr principiis IJfifUrar, one slight bu{ int eresting development appears. In the
earlier tre:HmelJl Thomas had referred to something as prcdic:lted analogically
when it is applied to things which haw differem intel li gible content s (rationes).
but these ratioll" 3re ordered \0 one and the sallie thing. In explain ing analogical
predicat ion in his Commemary on Ml'tap/'ysics IV. c. 2. Thomas explains that in
this case something is aflirmrd of different things according t'O rationt's which are
partl y di verse and pardy nOI di\crsc. Because cach of those (secondary) things to
whi ch the analogical term is applied is itself rel at ed in diffirmt fashioll to some one
Ihing, the variOIlS mtiOfit'S of these things will differ. BlIt because it is 10 one thillg
that the various secondary instances or anal ogates an;: orden;:d, their rationn are
panly not diverse or are partly the same. This goes hand in hand wit h Thomas's
ins istCIIC(' (hat the single thing to whi ch being refers in it s other and secondary
appli cations enjoys nu mericalunil Y. nOI merely unity in definition. This impl ies
that all thc ot her qu:dities :.In(j charaw::ristics we find in a given emi lY may be
named bei ng because they bear some ontological rel ationship 10 the substance of
that very cllIi tr M
Thomas frequently repea ts thc poim thar the imelligible cont ent {ratio} corre-
sponding 10 analogicaltcrms is pardy [he same and partly diverse. For instance. in
Summa r/u%giaf I, q. I), a. l he again poims OUt lha[ in the case of thi ngs which
Jre sai d analogically, there is not a si ngle ratio as with Il nivocal,crms: nor arc the
rOliOlIfJ totally diverse, as is the case with C(luivocal terms. Rather the name whi ch
6J. 5 lI1t ",pl"J;,-r !V. c. 2 (IOOJ!> II- H).
6 .. , Ed. ci t. . pp. rp - 5J. nfl. j46-H7. NOlC concl uding Icmark in n. S .. 7: - N,m OOlnCS sub
i",! ua",um , ,,,,, c: ,,, i, "0;1 pert inenl consi.-jCF,lI io,,<: m huiu$ sdcm iae: in-
'luanlum sum ,d Idli s :;uhSlanl ia lit I"" vd .d sp, .. T his
renurk should Ix: joined wilh Thomas's "iews aboUl God and the or mc['physics which We
have: in e ll, I. and which Thomas h,,!> HI>rt:iSctl in [he I'rooelll ium w his u [nmen-
I:lrf on [he MrtapIJpin. w [he eff:t [hal di" inc being do.:s nm Iilil under $ubj<:C1 or mct:lphys
io - being Ix:ing ollleing in !;t !lcral- hul is sl\ldit<l h)' Ihis scicnce onl)' as Iht or
or whal does fall unda ils subjecr.
6 \. r'Or tI,e IB prmripiiJ s....:: Ihe Inl$ ..:ill-G abo,'c in nn. J9, .. 0, r or Ihc I{,X[! (mm t h{'
COmnl{'1lI3IY 1m [he Mrlllp"JI;(J >c{' nn, H 55 abowc in this , haplcl.


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Parmenides and Analogy of Bei ng 85
be called good if they have di!lt' rem meanings (rariOllN)? Thomas commems that
something may be sai d of different things according 10 differcIH rtlt;onN in rwo
ways, eit her according to raliOlW which are e!Hirdy different and nOt rel ated to
anyt hing that is one (equivocals by chance), or else according to rrtti ollf! whi ch arc
not completely diverse but whi ch agree in some way. In the latter case the rati one!
may agree (I) by being referred ro one principle, i.e. , an agent, or (2) by being
referred to one end (as in the example of healthy), or (3) either according to diverse
relations (prop(mio/J(s) whi ch they have to the same subject (as quality is called
being because it is a disposition of being pa U' or substance, and quantity bL'(;ause
it is a measure of the same), or according 10 the s,lflle relationship they have to
different subjects (liHis sight has the same rdationship 10 the body as the irnclle<:t
has to the souJ) JJ
Thomas comment s thaI Aristotle herl' is stat ing that the good is said of different
goods (t) insofar as all (other) goods depend on one first princi ple of goodness, or
(:z.) insofur as they arc ordered ro ont end. or (3) morc so accordi ng 10 analogy. that
is, according to the same rl'lationship (propor{ioj {hey have to different mbj e<:ts
{thus, JUSt as sight is a good of (he body, so is the intellect a good of the soul ).
Thomas adds that Aristotle prefers (his third approach because it has to do with a
goodness (hat is in herent in things, whereas (he first (wo approaches juslify naming
things good merely because of their relationship to some separate
In li ght of thi s one might object that here Thomas gives priori ty 10 analogy of
proportion ra ther than 10 analogy by reference to a first and, moreover, that he
seems to regard analogy of propoT!ion as better suited [Q safeguard the intrinsic
presence of a charaCt eristi c such as in all or the analogat es. To this
('agnes has rightly poilllet\ OUI that (his passage need not be taken as rdlect ing
Thomas's personal view aboU! whether one should usc analogy by reference to a
first or analogy of proportion when dealing with the good. Indeed, here we rath{'r
have Thomas's efroT! to explain Aristotle's leXt which ilSClf. il will be recalled, is
part of the Stagi rite's refutation of Plato's theory of a separ:l1 e Form of the Good.
To thi s I would also add that al the beginning of leclio 8, in commenting on Ari s-
tOtle at 1096b }O- 3 I, Thomas nOtes (hal il is necessa ry here (in the Ethin) to set
aside this issue concerning how the good may be predicated of different good
things according to one or according to differem ratiol/'J; for to establi sh thi s with
73. h,l Erb,( .. II."(L 7 (I.<."On. 47l. l6:168- q:(98).
H. S,'c 47.1.2; " 98- " j . No( e in par! icubr: "Vd di cUluur o"mia Sl'CUll -
dum id proporrioncm unclem. quamum 5(: ;I;c(1 'Illod Y;SIl5 a( oouum corporis ( '
imdlccll1S e<il OOm.lm allimac. Ideo au( em hUll' tenium modnm r ... 'Iu,,:, scculldum
OOni l.t( Cm rebus, primi duo moe!; a 'II!':' non iu
proprie aliquid dcnomiuaIUf.- Cf. Monlagnes, /.4 dONril/r, pp. 40- 41, for lhe u me view Ihal , fOf
Thom3s, by Il!ftrenc( 10 3 lim it more f\lndamental (he &c pp.
4o-4), n. }6, for di5(:u$S;ofl of thi s lext from Thomas's Comm.:ntar), on (ht l;ibiN. For
discussion of the $:lome see Mcinerny, A",,;m/J and AIl,,/ogy, pp. (OJ- I I.
,
,
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Parmenides and Analogy of Being 89
Whil e the second approach leads Thomas to hi s dcrivat'ion of what are often
caJled the transcendental properties of being (rrs. umml, a/iquiri, boman, Ilrrum),
the first is of greater interest for our immediate purposes, According to this ap-
proach. evay such mode is a more panicubrizcd mode ofbcing. There are varyi ng
degrees of being, Thomas observes, and in accord with these, different modes of
being aTC realiu::d. And it is in accord with these different modes ofbcing that the
different genera (or predi cament s) are derived. Here again we should note Thom-
as's metaphysical approach to thc predicamcnts. They :lrc grounded in different
modes ofbcing, and those modes ofbt-ing in turn reflect differcllI grades or degrees

Thomas cit es substance in order 10 illustrat e hi s point. Substance does not add
10 bei ng a difference signifying a nature superadded to il (being) from without.
Rather, by the name substance a specialized mode of being- a sl>eciali ud way in
which being is realized-is signified, lIlat is. being prr Jr. So it is with the other
supreme gcncra."" In other words, if being is predicated of substance and of any
given accident analogi call y rather than univocally, this is beGLUse the mode ofbcing
designaled by substance differs from the mode of being design:ned by the accident.
To say thai the mode of being des ignated by substance differs from lhat desig-
naled by any given accident is to imply Ihat lhe one is Ilot the other. But is thi s
11 0t to the reality of nonbeing and, if Parmenides is correCI, 10 iJcmiry any
such mode with nothingness? This is 10 the problem of the One and
Many at lhe more fundamentalleve1 al ready ment ioned in the opening page of this
chapler, the Icvel of individual beings thcmselves. rull er di.s<: ussion of this will be
deferred until the following ch:,pters. As we shall sec, Thomas's metaphysi cs of
parricipat ion, his theory or real composition of essen(:e and me within finit e beings,
and hi s defense of the reality of a kind of non being (relative nonbeing) will all enler
into hi s 5Ollllion.
At Ihe same l ime, 10 amicipalc that discussion for a moment, we should nOle
thai the lex t from the Dr IIrriultr makes it abundantl y dea r that being is reali7.ed
intrinsically both in substantial being and in accidental being. Hence. unl ike Pa r-
men ides, Thomas is allowing for a way in which one (substantial bei ng) can be
said tlO\ to be another (any given accident) and sliII not full inlO absolut e non-
And we should remember that Thomas remains f:,ithful to his generall y
85. " ... SUn! enim gradu.\ sundum ao.:ipiumur divers; mod; <' I
h<l> mooo) acc;piulUUf di,'crsa rerum ... " (s: " 6-119) .
86. " ... enim nnn i up<.:r en.< ali'lu.lm quae d<':\;&nel aliquam rmu-
r."n superadd;""l em; sed nomine .mb.lamb< expr imimT quidaru modus cs:;cnt\i, KCi lkcl
per CI in 3lii$ (P'9- 1t}).
87. See, for ;nmncc !he rem.uk ci led above in n. 8J: quadihcl Ilatur.l ell a,;cmialiler ens'-
It il imporl :!."! !O re!.> th is poim of frequent US<' of AriSlodc'5 exam pIe of heah h
10 ill"S\fate analogy by refercnce 10 :1. fif$!. If onc applies Ihis enmplc 100 rigid!)'. onc may conclude
Ii13! jUSI:l.5 health i$ realized imrj n5icaHy only in !he pri mary analogale. a li ving body. SO 100 being
prescm inl ri n.;olly only i 1\ Ihe primary analogalc for heing. $UbSlanC<'. This would result in deny-


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Parrnenides and Analogy of Being 93
differellt conclusion, If indi vi dual substances belong to the sallle species, being may
be predicated of them analogicall y, no! univocally. To say anyt hing el se would be
to run the risk of reducing the between an}' two such bei ngs- their
individual differences. if you witl - IO the realm of nonlx-ing. If being were predi-
cated of any tWO substances univoca!l y. thei r individu:l1 and individuati ng differ.
ences would have to be added to being from
In addit ion. as Fabro has pointoo Out, some text ual evidence can also be offered
for the interpretation we have JUSt proposed. In his Commeillary on I Smuncn,
d. JS. q. t, a. 4 Thomas nOt es that somet hing may be common to cliffe-relll things
univocally or equivocdll y or dnal ogicall y. I n support of his contention tltdt not hing
can be sa id univocalJ y of God dnd of any creature, Thomas reasons that we mliSt
take into account both the quiddity or nature of a thing and its In things
whi ch are commOIl uni vocally, there he community ill terms of the definiti on
of the nature, but nOt in terms of A given is present in only Olle thing.
Thus the condition ofbcing human (!Jabitur IJllmanitatil) is IlOt realized with the
same (SlI! in fWO difierell1 human beings. Given this, Thomas concludes t hat when
ever the form signified by a term is tlU itself, this cannm pertain univocally to
different things. Consequently. he continues, bei ng (till) is not predicated univo-
cally:J6 Since he has been di scussi ng roe as realizoo in ditTerell1 human beings, pre-
sumdbl y he would apply this concl usion to any TWO individuals wi thin the same


Though Thomas not spell this out Cor us in great detail, hi s reasoning
seems to be this: because being (ms) itself is complex, includi ng bot h quiddity and
tiSt, and bCCl use is not realiZt:d uni voca lty in tWO differem members of the
$dme species, neit her is being so realized. II seems 10 follow, therefore, that for
Aquinas, whet her being is predicat ed of substances whi ch differ speci fi call y or of
subst-:lnces whi ch belong to thl' same species and differ from one another onl y
indi vidually, it mUSt be predicat ed of [hem analogically, not univocally.
on ly unequal. For C. Fabro. Lt "qUq,ll' mtltl.foira di ptl.rtfriptlz.;ont smmd{J
S. Thmmmod'Aquino, ld ed. n i lrin , 19\0), pro 171- 7l.
9} So:e nn. 1$ and 14 abovt,
96. "Huiu5 t"Jlio c.ll quia Cum in rc duo considen' t: scilicet namrlm ".:I et
!UUm, oponet quod in omnibus univocis si t eo",mun;t:.s r:uionrm namrae. non
secundum es5(', qui a unum cSSt non d t nili in re; unde non est S<"<: undum
idem CSS<' in homin ibus: CI idt'"\l quandocumquc fOlm3 sign ili cara pel nom(n d[ ipsum ess(.
nOn PO' ''''' ,"O",,,,,, j,,., 1' '''1''' ,t,,,,d "",m en. non '''';''''';0: p.a",I'<:3t"" ( M"nJ " n"CI c.J .,
Vol. !, p. 8( 9). Cf. La noz;lJnt IIJfllljisictl., I) 17 l . n. l .



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Partici pation 97
we a quality or perfenion by a given subj a ! in only panial r:t{hl':r
than in total &shion, such a subject is said to participat e in that perfection. If in
fact other subjects also share in Ihal same perfection, it is because each of them
only panicipatcs in it . None is identical with it. Thus, appeal 10 a participation
structure is also a way of accoulliing for the fact rh:u a given kind of dlaractcristi c
or perfection can be shared in by many different subj ects, or of addressing oneself
to the problem of the One and the Many.
T homas immediately goes on 10 observe Ih,l1 participation can rake place in
differem orders and in different ways. Thus (I) man is said to participate in animal
because man does nOt the intell igible content of anima l accord ing to its full
univcrsali!)' (ucundum totmfl commullitatem). So 100 , Sones is said to panicipate
in man, and apparently for the same reason, My understandi ng of Sort es taken as
this individual man does nO! exhaust the intelligible content expressed by man in
ils full universali ty, I n like fashion. ( on(' i IIUes Thomas, (1) a subject participa tes in
an accidcm, and maner in form; for a substamia! or an accidental form, while
being general or universal in [erms ofilS iOle1ligible COlll elll, is restri cted [0 this or
thaI subject in which it is received. T homas concludes [his general descript ion of
the kinds or partieipa lion by noting (3) Ihat in like fashion an effect is said 10
parri cipal c in it s cause, and especially when it is not equal to the power of that cause.
9
In sum, T homas has here singled OUI three maj or kinds of part icipation. The
first type is represented bot h by the way a specifi c notion such as man shares in a
generic not ion such as animal. and by the way my understanding or an individual
such as Sones shares in my noti on of the species of man as such. In each of Ihese
examplt'".$ wc are dealing wilh a less ext ended intelligibili ty whi ch is said to share in
a mort' universal or more eXlendcd il1l clligiblc- cont C' llt. Si ll ce in each of these in-
stances we are dealing wi[h the fa ct [hat one int elligible COJ1(C!1l shares in another
without exh:H1sling it, we may describe it as a case of participation; bu[ sinct' we
aTe only dealing with Willems, the parri cipalion is logi.:'.!. 1 or imcn-
lional. not real or onlOlogical.'
pmt" ni hil quam ab alio pmialitel accipcte." AI !iO 5.,e La 119Zi(Jnf fII((ujisiOl, pp.
}J(; .... ' 7,
II. u SicUI homo dici tut part icipate a ui mal 'li lia nOli h;tbet rat iOll cm alii 511 ndum t<}tam
el .. (ione parl icip3t hominem. Similiter edam subiC"Cl um pJrlicil)at
accidens et mateda !.juia fOt Ina subSl:I.n tialis vel quae de sui r:ll ione communis
CSt . a<! hoc vel il l",! suhi"';I" ",. E. d f<'CI u.< diei "" I'"n jci" a,,'
Ct praipue qUl nJn nOll vin "' em .tlllC pUla si dicamus ' 1"00 an pan id pat
I,, (cm soli. nUll .cdpi, in cbritau: <Jua <::;1 in (l eon. \ O.171:74-8S),
9. 1'0' ti isn ,>., ;uIl or , hi, ... ,' Fab. o. t" 1 IIUr.zjiJicJI , 1'1'. 17 .... ! 8, !n .... 46, 1.19 .... S0; G";S"r,
Ln panirip,lfjon d.,m / .. pI,j/oftJpJ,jr dr S. 1IJO/I/I/i d'A'I"j" , PI" I e Vddc, l 'a rriclpal i(JI1 and
S" hl tlmtiJl /ity. PI'. 76-81. 0" s<xouti gcnt ral ' YP<' of l);j " ki padon S<:<' sec l, c. Jl : "Am-
plius, Omnt' quod dc plu, ibus pracJiC'"J tuf lIni voce. se<:"ndum c" ilibe, eorum c" n-
ven; t de <J UO prJCi!iat l1l r: nam Jprrln pllm cip"" /:(11/11. CI ;',ah'idlll,m s/,,"ciml. I)c Dco
nihil dicitu, P"" iom:"" omnc ' 1"00 dClcrrninal u. ad Illooum par! icil{i
St'<:ms 10 b<: demanded I,>' the cl sic cl non om-


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Parriciparion 10 1
IxcauSt: it indicates that if something is 10 serve as a subject for an accident, it must
it sclf rx isc And in order for it to exist. it must panici pat c in me, or as Thomas has
also phrased it , in dte aClUJ NSl'I1di (act of being) . Here, Then, we find Thomas very
deftly insert ing his own metaphysics of mt l aken as act of bei ng intO his Commen-
taryon Boet hius. 1'1 This becomes even clearer as Thomas turns to another Boethian
axi om: in every composi te, m t and Ihe composit e itself differ. Here Thomas finds
l30cthius formulating axioms which penain to t he nature of the one (1/1Ium) rather
[han of being (nu), as had umil now been the C;ISC. Alld, comillelliS Thomas, al
t hi s point Boethius has shifted frolll diversity in t he order ofinwuions to diversity
in the order of realiry. " . . . juS! as tSSt and 'that whi ch is' differ in the order of
intentions, so in composit e entiti es do they differ really !rtaliur} ."zI>
In order to support Ihis, Thomas first recaUs a point whi ch we have al ready
considered- tllat mt itself does not participate in anyt hing else so tha t iu int el li-
gibl..- cont ent (mtioj might consist of different factors. He also recalls another poilll
which unt il now we have nOI ment ioned- that nu does nOI admit of Ihe :Iddiri on
of anYThing ex ninsic to ilS formal content. Therefore, he qui ckly concludes, mt
it self is nOI composed. But ifit is 1t 0t, then a composit e or composed enti ry ca nlt ot
be idcntified with its (act of bei ng) . Here. [hen, we seem 10 havc an argumcnt
for thc real distinclion berween essence and act of being in composi ll' entities.
although not one ofThoma5'$ morc usual argumcIHs for Ihat
O ne mi ght immediately ask, however, about fi ni te or caused simple enriti cs.
\Vill L'Ssence and be di stinct in [t seems that some other kind of argu-
mentati on will be required 10 establish [his. In apparent ant icip3t1on of our query,
nem ' !'SillS "I partlClpt quocun"lu,' a/,g, hO( scilicel 'luod sil (I...,o n.
):0. I 7l" 80 - 191)
l!l. In additio n 10 mher rrom Ihe Commentary On Ihe 1ft /1fbdoml1d,bus (set: n. 1-1
above), One a brer lIch QllarIfiont"f dupulIIll1r Imi mll. q. 6, ad z; "Ad stcun
d ll1l1 dicendum quod ipJum C$5c est 3CI US Ul l iJlHIS qui parcicipJbHi s 0 1 ab ipsum 2Ulcm
r>ih iI PUI icif"l l. Uncle .Ii si t al;quicl quod si ! if>5l.1m subsiSien. , sicul d, Oro dicin\us. nihi l pUlici
pare d'cimus. NOr> eSI a U!W1 simil is ral io de aliis formiJ 'lU:l.\ ueccssc e.<i l PJrlicipMe
ip.lum eSlc ( omparari iP"1II1 lltl'Olclllia ([ .ron. z-. .1.SI: z68- z]j). Herr we haw in
o utl ine form mOM of the r!crn..,ms ... f Thomass m:I.!Ur(" dOCHil>e of of being.<; in
anJ a co nfirm3t i011 of ,he vi ews in his C' :II1lmr ma r y all {he lk /1,bdom<ldilms: t"fJ(" is {he
ultimare l et which Gill be in by aiL itself J oes nOf pJrli cipale in if there
iJ a subs;s\ illg NU'-GuJ - l hi p,,,,;ci p3teS ;n nOlh;ng: 01 her subs;sl ing (angtlsl muSt pall;ci-
pate in be re!3f<d fO i, {their Jct of bcoingl as potency to .1Ct.
!.<:oil. so. l71:I<)6-J98. Nme, " . . . CI d ! consider.lI1<ium <!uo<l ca dicta sum de
d ivc il";uS c; " s ' I" od 0 1. c,>, ' secundum ip.3.< inlcm;one; . Hie os, end II quo modo appli-
cnUl ad ... . Elf ergo prill10 cOluider:l ndum <\,,00 sicU! CIS<: el quod CS I differmll <ecundum
in t("mionrs, ila in di tferum (Ll-on.so. 27u96-2n:206) .
ZI . "Quoo quid cm Ol anifrs. um el l ' ' I' racm;n ;'. oien"" <:.> 1 "n;1ll s"pra 'luod ipsum Cli:;C ""'1""
lurricil)JI ul ti us r.ui(J (Onsl; lUllUI ex neque ha!x,1 aliquiJ ('nrin$l."Cum admiXlUm
lJt sil in eo composil io acciJcmalis; e! ipsum esse non C.<I compmilu!lI: res erf:o non
0 1 suum ... " ( L<:on . For the poin! Ih3! nothi ng infO i !S
COIlICIlI SCe 1 ... ""Ou. \CO.!71: l q - Zj Z: 1.16. For fun he. d iscumoll or 1 his arg llmtl1l:l! iOIl .... CII. V
below. n n. lIo. 81 . Cf. Mcinerny. ikmhi", ""d A'lu;lIaS.I)p. "' - 15.



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Parti ci p:uion 105
rogether with its mauer in the of a composite emity, is in potency with respect
to its aCI ofbe;ng.
Another importam difference between the first type of parti cipation, tim of a
species in its genus or of an individual in it s species, and other kinds of part icipa-
tion including lila! of beings in is brought out in Thomas's Commentary on
the Dr HebdomadillUI and in Quodlibet ;;, q. 2, a. t. In Irclio 3 of the former text
Thomas is commenting on a que51ion raised by Boelhius concerning whether be-
ings are good by their essence or by participation. Thomas remarks that Ih;5 qucs-
ti on assumes that to be essentially is opposed to being something by
participation. He concedes that this is truc according to the second major kind of
participation he has distinguished (thar of a substance ill an accident, or of maTter
in form). This follows because an accicl em is not included within the nature of it s
substanrial subject, and form is not included within the naTUre of maner. Bm this
does nOt apply to the first major kind of participaTion he has dist inguished, at least
not according to ArislOde, although it would apply if, wiTh Plaw, we defended
distinCT forms or ideas, for instance. for man, for biped, and for animal. According
10 ArislOdc, whom Thomas here follows. a man is Truly ThaI same thing whi ch is
an animal. Because anima l IIOt exist apart from the <Iiffercnce man in this
panicular illustration, wh:u is said of something by panicipa tion in this first major
way call al so Ix: predi cat ed of it substa nt ially.30 1 n other words, Illan is said 10 parti c-
ipate in animal in the way;l species participates in its genus. BUT because animal is
included within the nature or essence of man, animal may be predicaTed of man
substa ntially as wel l. Thomas would deny, of course, that WI' is predicated of any
creature in Thi s way, i.e., substantially or essentially.
In Quodlibet l. q. 2 , a. T, Thomas ex plicirl y makes this final point. There he
has comrnelllcd thaT something can be predi cat cd of somcthi ng either essentiall y
or else by participati on. Being (tf/s) is predicated of God alone essentially, and of
every creature only by participation; for no cre:l! urc is its but merel y has fSU.
Thomas then nOTes tha t when anything is predicated of somet hi ng by participa-
tion, something else mUSt be present there in :lddition to that which is participaTed.
Therefore, in eve ry creature there is a di stinCtion between the creature whi ch has
m t, and wr itself. 'I Hut something may be participated in two different ways.
j O. Leon. So. Z76' H - 61. Nott in pari k ub r; .. . S<:tl "(uudUnl ,\r;SIOldis iall] qui posui!
quod homo it! quod ""I anima!, quasi c",>\ ;:o an;n,a!i. nOll ubrl'mt
homi ni s. nihil pwhi!>e! id qucll.! pcr Illrt ki palionc:m didl UI (I jam dalil e! - Hence
i" d,,: tc.' , [,,'''' I" V(! loIn. (ci ,ed in n. 9 ab<:>vc) Thunld$ mUSI Ix: UndtrSlandill j5
only illlhc !oC:cun<l waf. ",jlh the WIlS<:qutnn' Ihar rhe i5 "(.11
induded " 'ilhin [he t$sence of Ihe A "floe!,' no, in a i" this way.
blll oul) accord iug lu t h, firs, gencrJI waf uf pM I i(ipaling.
jl. i.('Qn. !S.! u .. ,lll-so. N()l e in paflicub r: "Secundum ergo hoc t! icenduill CS I '1"",,1 ens !Jnedi-
ClInr de .<.010 Dco ro quod C.s5(" di vi llUIlI CSI suhsiSIClll "I de 'I".lil>",
l Ultlll crealur.! pr:lcJ k altif IlI: r p:lnicip;u;,)n<nl: "nib tnim .:Iel".Ira 5""111 1'$1 habcn5
(sSI.' .. . - Ihen applic:s Ihis 10 g,K>dnc:ss as wd l. \'(Ihilc God ;., u id 10 Ix b'()(){\ o S('"llI ially



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Participation 11 3
however, he then al so rders to
.
communI' JUSt as he had done in his repl y \0
objection 4.\1)
In his laI C Commentary on the Libt'r dt' caw;; of 1271- 11. 72. Thomas fi nds il s
unknown amhor considering the following objection. Someone might argue that
if the first c;m$(' is pure t'lff (mt' t a1ltIlm), it is t'lff communt' whi ch is prcdic:llcJ of
all thingsi t herefore il is nOl something exist ing indi\'idually and dist inct from al!
others. That which is common is not rendered individual exc..:pt by being n.""ccived
in something. Si nce the first cause is, in fact, somerhing individual and distinct
from all others, it seems Il eccss;uy 10 concl ude that it has )'Iilllim, that is, somethi ng
whi ch its
Thomas comments that to thi s the Ubn dt' {{lusiJ replies that the very infinity
of the divine we, insof.lf as il is not restricted by any receiving principle, plays t he
role in the first cause whi ch )'Iilllilll ext' reises in other things. This is so bl"CJuse the
divine goodness and the divine meJre rendered individual by reason of their very
puri ty, thai is, by reason of the (,1CI that Ihey arc nOi received in anything else.
Thomas explains th:1I something is said to be an individual because it is /l Ot its
nature to be found in many things. Bur Ihis m;l}, happen in two ways. It may be
owing to the fact that the Ihing in question is delermined 10 some one subject in
SO. For ST I. q . .I . a. 4, ad I. 5<."<.: l.cQn. "Ad pr imunl ergo dicendum quod uliquid cui nonfil
adt/ilio po. r$1 ;nldligi .I"plici!cr. Uno m<.>do. UI .I.., (;"io"" "i us , il qllOtI non fial ci . . . . Alio
rnudo inu:l!igi, uI aliqlliJ cui non iiI aJdi rio. nOn dt rdlionc ..,ius quod sibi ... .
Pri UlO igimf modo. ('15<.' , inc il iont. divin uUI ; 5<."i:U ndo m"do, O.>C si ne addiri""c, Cli! CSK
(Omm11nc. " He, e he is an ohjeclion which would ident ifr God ...... ith t'S1t' (omm",u or OIl
one thaI ill God tSscn(c and f$Jt'arc 11,1' sa!l1C. rcpl)' 10 6
in Dt petrlllil/. q. z is addr(S.>(!d fO Ihe ,';"ll<: objccrion. Cf. /n I !it.". , d.li, q. I,
I. whne a si mibr obj('Clion and Thom:lSs ICp\}' art in ICrlTlS of 1m (Otmm"u (Vol. I.
p. If!) . for dte ,\.amc dis. inclion set: SCC !. c "SCCl,ludum" (rd. CiL. p. !8).
p . "!\)sse. eni m aliquis dicc,,' quod. si prima ,il <''is<: lalltum. videlu, 'l uod Stl esS<. OOfll-
munc 'l'IOO de cl quod non aliquid ab id
ell im '1uoo 0:$' Ci)mmunc nun individual ur pel hoc 'lu.:xl in al;'luu rcciptwr.
'-'$1 at iquid indi viduali ter diS! inCHml ab omnibus . ... Erg!> "idtlll r {[ u.:xl '1lY"fflnil dictrc c:1 USJm
)/iat; m. id eM al;<I "id fccipiens s.:c S.mai d, Aqu;'l(u upfr Ubrrm, dl
mUj;1 H. !). Saiftt"Y. t..:l. n. 1954). VI). 64- 65. has gread}'
Up!>11 a hrief SrJl ell1ell I of Ihi.' objcct iOIl by (he alii hor or fhe Lib" dt' r ill" ;! (M'" J>f()I" 9). and
to have inlo il his own concnn aboul nOI idcmifying dIe first came wilh nit' rommunt. T he
origi nal object ion r<'aik "QlIod si dixer;1 ali'luis: neccS$C UI sit < habcns> yl;l/lim. diccmus .. . "
(I" 57). Th!>1l13S had anclll pted an cl Ylllotogical of Ihe (;Ilher myslcrious cxp'n<>ion
,!iatim in ! he i III mctl ialely pr<::cC( ji nl; C" nI O<I. b)" ",ci,,1' il ." Ih .. G,<-.; k ' ettll fut
mulfigt1lljll "dwt ,li;lIim. id al iquid ,d ad rnodurn mau.' riac hahens; dicilur cnim
, /ill/1m a!> >"" '<1"0.1 cs. mJler;a" (p. fa(l. Ihe A",hi..: (rum which Ihe Latin
IF.lnsliter:lI iun w>.s taken n n meall ornamnll. " atlriilUlc.- "Ij ' Ialt". " condi. iun: "appeAr-
ance," or Sec R. T' ylor, "5(. Thmnas alHl the Uhu dl "'mis on the H)' lomoq)hk Com-
po,i. ion of SuhS' Jnc<"S." M,dl"t',itJl 51"'/;(1 1' ( P)].,), 1'1'. 510- 1 J. Nc,cn hdcss. as Ta)'lor aho
om. while being miMakcn in thinkitl j; Ihal )1idtirn is derived rrom ,he lefm for
T huma$ . ....... 'lu il e eon .,.;t in maimaining in Ihe do nO!
On Ihe gcncnl accuracr CommcmalY Stt C. R(chlrrlrt"S mr It f.if,..r "I mum
(l' adJ, JlI) u ') - S8. Cf PI" 11 8- ' 9



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Partici pation 121
(act of being) would simpl y be a piece or a part. &u (ommIUl( docs nOl exist as
such apart from individual existents, except in the order of thought. (1) On other
occasions Thomas refers to such entities as parTi ci pat ing in the Fi rst Act, or the
First Ene, or the fi rst (king, and as he often adds, by si milirude or by imitation.
This does nOl imply that they have a part of Gad's bei ng. It rather means that in
every finite substant ial entiry there is a parti cipated likeness or si militude of the
di\'ine 6!C, that is, an intrinsic act of being (me) which is effi cientl y caused in it by
God. (J) On stil! other occasions. when Tholl13S refe rs to such enti ties (01' natures)
as participating in nit', he .seems 10 have in mind immediately the eSjf wh ich is
reali'LCd within such entities:\s their particular :\Ct S of being (awlS m mdi). While
this usage may stri ke Thomas's reader as ullusual. il may be helpfu l 10 fc<:aU that
frequently in such contextS Thomas uSt':'; (participart) as a transitive
verb wi th rift' as its direct object?1
E.ven so, for Thomas 10 speak in this third way is also for him 10 indicate, at
least by implication, that any fi nite substance simpl y has or part icipa tes in me
C01mmm( without exhausl'i ng it. The first usage. whereby such subs(:Ill ccS or na-
tures participate in me commllne, whether explici tl y expressed or implied by the
third usage, d()('s not exclude til e second major usage, whereby they panicipate in
selfsubsisti ng we. In facc. as we slw!l suggest below, ill lhe order of phil osophical
discovery, [he first usage should ultimately lead 10 the second. In rhe order of na
ture, on the ot her hand, rhe second usage is lhe ult imall: rnetaph),siul foundati on
for the first. If fini te llalUres or subs(ances do in [leI panicipare in me commune,
this is ultimately bc!cause thc), participate in ('su
7 1. FOf early l' xl' l;';;1 I<:XI which hm . U!%C>leJ reading 10 me "" 1.,1 .5 .. m., d. I'), 'l
1 cd .. Vol. 1).1" 491:" ... l1uadibcl ,es pani( ipal suum ( ' catll m. quo fo,malile!
est, el ll11Usquisquc i 11!dle'::l us pan it i1)al lumen Pc! quod tc<IC de IT: jud ic n . . .. - For OIMr examples
s ST [, q. 44, a. t (til.:J in n . ... omllia ab a Deo nOll Sil1l 51111m esse, sed pafl ici pan[
lJ..spi';/U4fib,d <""a/uFis. a. 1 {M ... rI . 6 and [he English 1< in my coJT1'e.5l'ondi ng .exl ,
and n. 64 for discu>siol1}: LJr submmriis gP'lrtlt;, (t ;led in nn. 65, 66. 67) . Wl, ile the CiH'd in
n. liS might It":Ivc one in douh, as 10 T homu has in mi nd ("igr9mmu" ... "! the pUliciparn's
arlU, mmdi . he h Iler imcrprc'31ion 51rongly by Ihe remailld<:! or Ihe .ext
in nn. 66 67. Aim 5<-''' Ql1O-dlihe. I l. ' I. 4. J. I (sc..' 11 . (8).
7l. It nOl 10 del"nninc whit h of Ihese Ih.ec 11.131;<::5 of as<' ThomlS has in mind .
and on occ uion if r:spially difficult 10 decide bcrwn:n .he firsl and lhe ,hird i.e., 1)<lwn
in o)ml1l'''U and in (jg t:li.:t:n 3S l he ,' md nsmdi which is [ealiud
""';l h in lhc panicipanl. Sn. ro. ins lance, Qu,ullio'lri Ji$/, .<lat.u Dt- ,lni""I. q . 6. ad t , " ... d itcudum
quod il>;urll os.- esc aCTus 'lui eso ornnihu$: il'i um l1 ihil I'l 'lic' l,at.
Unde sil aJiquid 11u1Jd Sil ipsum C.\,:o: de Dco dicimus. nich;! panieipare dicimus.
Non au(em s;mi!i s ' :l lio de ali is !ormi s suhsislcnlihus. QU3S 11tCCSS<: CSt ipsum e.
il'sum U' p()1<:n( ia ad 3Clum" (L<:<on. 24.1. 1l: 168'- 17 \) . The fi rs! ."ferenc., 1() ipJum m ..
wuuld mak" OtiC [hink " f ri, .. rommUfI ( ; bu[ [he final us"lge o r ipsu", (fit may <efa 10 lhe
rom,s il1Hinsic IJ(fur This is more <'Vi(!em!r imc" d.,d in d, ,, of "'ply:
.. rl3m ml1eri a ex hoc quod . e.:ipil formam pUl ic;pJ! Sic igilUl css< ips-am
nox !l111en <::II esse, cum sit I'rillci pium .... . in formis pe.,:o:
!cmibus iJl\'cllilUr el polen! CI 115. in we CSI 3ClUS 5I1bs;S1cnlis, non
CiSI slIum <:liSC" (l<"On. Also sec sec; 1. c. u (cJ. ci! " p. -4) ' "A111plius. Omnis res



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Parricipatiol1 125
calls participation by composit ion or to what he calls participation by simi lit ude
or formal hi erarchy: In account ing for the limi ted charaCter of finite bei ngs, Fabro
ass igns primacy to panicipaIion by composition, though he refuses to separate
composition and imita tion as sharply as he believes Geiger has done, Geiger, on
the other hand, assigns primacy to parti ciparion by similimde in accounting for
this. If the of a gi ven being is limited, this is first and foremost because it
imitates its divine source a ni), 10 a limited degree, not because it is limited by the
essence whi ch receives it. Limitation is prior in nature to composition.
sl
This disagreement in interpretation cent ers in large measure on what Fabro calls
Transcendental participation rather than predicament :! ] participation. Hy predi ca-
mental participation he means that all the partici pants have in themselves the same
formality in terms of its essential content. and that the participated characteristi c
does not exiSt as such apart from irs panicipants.
u
Here one has to do with "univo-
cal formalities, such as genera with respect to species, and species with respect to
individuals."so [n ot her words, Fabro here has in mind the fi rst tWO major kinds of
partici pation distinguished by Thomas in hi s Commentary on the Dr Hrbdomadi-
bUJ-Iogical participati on and real participation, whether of maller in form or of
a substance in i15 accidents. By transcendental participati on he rather means that
the participants have in themselves only a lesser likeness or similitude of the part ici-
pated perfeCt ion, which does exi st in itself either as a property of a hight'r entity,
or in the pure state as a pure and subsisting formality in full possessiun of itself. In
the last-mentioned cJ. se we arc dealing with lhe part icipation of beings in (Sir, with
rhe consequence that the parti cipated perft'ction can onl y be predicated analogi-
cally of the participants, not univocally.8S
Geiger, on the other hand, di stinguishes tWO different systems of pan icipation,
that is, participation by composition and parti cipation by similitude. In the first
case, participatiun is b;lsed upon a dualit y of a recei vi ng subject ;lnd an dement
whi ch is received. Here dt e fundamemal element is composi ti on. To participate is
81. For on;rv;cw of Controversy .<ec Helen James )01111, Tilt Tlwm;J' SpraTUm (Nt"" York.
1966), pp. 88-97, 108- r8. For ... good resullle of l'Jbro:1 personal to Geigers approach see
l'oJrlidp.1lio>l rl mrllnfil; st/un I. ThomliJ d'Alj ui", I'p. 63-7 J.
8}. See La mmljiJim. PI" J 17-18.
800\ . Sec F ... hro, ! Hcrnu.' mmics of' l ic t' hilomphy,' Rrr'1(UI of /i/rttJpbYlio 1.7
(197-4), I'P
81. /." IlP:' ;lI'lt mrrdjisirll. p. Jr 8. Fab,o wr; rei : - La parrlXipnionc "",dptil. in
i: 'luella della ,hi CrealOrc che, OSCIl<Jo !'.,..scrc pcr USC"1l'1..l. in r.C ... IUIIC Ie ahtc
flrmalmmrt sc woo i purc, loI: minc." Fa' SUPl'orl he cilt:s rwo
inreres ring /" /I &-111. d. 16. q I, a. r. ad J (M.ntiollncI ..... .. Vol. :. 1'. 398): -. . . coovcnienr ia
pol t:5r CS$C dupl ici rer: aU! dUt/rum aliquod unum. <:r 1:llis non POlesl
Crealoris cl (:rearurac ... ; aU! .se<:undum quod unum per sc esr sirnpl ici lt l. CI Ilatt idpal
de .Ii mili mdine ;,ius q"aomm por esl . .. <:1 ralis (On\"co;,mi ... = poreSI cr' ... mrJc ad Dcum ... ;"
1' (r;/IIt(. 'I . 7, ,0: " ... noo diei"" confu rrllar; Oro quasi parlid panfi candem
formam quam ip!<J panicip.lf. 'p,a rorrua c" ius c...,;t\u,.,. p".' <j uan_
dam imirarioncm Cl r p:m icipali ..... . . . - (I..<"()ll . u .). 671:)j6-)40).



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Panicipati on 129
Thomas's (here is lillie justifi cation for Geiger's fear thaI appeal to
pa rti cipation hy composition might lead to the defense of some kind of preexisting
subject or essencc which would Ix independent from God and would wait for
cxistence to be created and poured into it at some subsequcm poill! ill time. Ally
such readi ng of Aquinas would, of course, be a caricature, but one Il ot tOO br
removed from an interpretati on actually imputed to a more traditional Thomism
by SOme, such as William Carlo. Such a fear also seems to haunt Geiger's discus-
sions of this issue. Perhaps this is because he has assumed without justificat ion that
an applica tio n of what he understands by participation by composi tion to the case
of Nfl' will cafry with it unacceptable consequences whi ch were part of certai n theo-
ri es of paflicipalion prior 10 Aquinas, or whid! may apply to participat ion of mat -
tCf in form or of a subject in its accidents, but not to part icipation of beings in (U(. ?,
Moreover, SQme .s uch mi sundew:tnding seems to have led te Velde to the
taken view that if one holds that essence receives and limits it s corresponding act
of being (mt'), it must be produced by God before its ac! ofbt'ing and only subse-
quently actualized by it s act of bei ng, which God al so produces.?) Such an interpre-
ta ti on would lead to lhe absurd consequence that essences would preexist (taken
temporally) before receivi ng their acts of being, somethi ng that Thomas would, of
course, nevef have admitted. [t seems to me, however, that bot h Geiger and te Velde
have r.liled to sec:: (I ) tha t here Thomas is applyi ng in an appropriately ,Idapted way
the adage Ihal causes call be causes of one anOt her si multaneously according 10
diRt-rent causal Jin es, or in this case, that principles can be murually dt'pendent on
one another according to different lines of dependency, and (l) [hat pri ority in the
order of mLlure does nOlnecessarily impl y priority in the order of lime. Thus, while
the ,let of being acrualizes the corresponding essence principll' of a given ent ity and
.. sse ni hil esl , niSI font in imdlt'<.:Iu crtamis. ubi nOll CS I . Cn';l lril ts.Se miu" kd.
ci l .. p. 49). Cr. Dr pO/mllll . <I . J, J . I. ad ' 7: AJ d<'ci mum dicrndunt , quod DeliS , intul
d3ns lOSs<'. prOOut' il it.! <luOO eM" r<,<' ipi!: rl ,ic ' H'" opon rl '1,,0<1 apl eX "li'1"o praeniSI<' nl i" (p. 41).
Also sec J. 0"'("0,. "Thl' CbrJw'r of Bd llg in (he Doc(rioe ofS!. TholllJS
Aquinas." in Sr. 77xJI""J Aq",'''''J on tJ" oIG"'/. J. eJ . (Albany, N. Y .. 1980). pp. 91-9!
94 In addil;on 10 Ihe lexts <,i l,',1 ... sec Geiger. Lt, /",rtirip"rio" , pp. 6'1- 6S. j 9}. :",d 393 1\. I.
Fo. discu.\sion ;l lld rcfWlt;oU of Ihis "al' of "i,' wing hi )ee Fahm. /lmiripnti(JI/ tI rnwJl fur. !lp.
69-7': Nicolas. PI" 16. - 6!. I'", C., rlo R"e "Th .. Ro le of Esscncc in
in J. Rosenb.- r". cd .. Rmd"lgs 11/ Ml lllphpic! ('Wenlll; nnc,. ,\11 .. 1963). pp. l iS- II!.
which origi nal ly ;n /nurwuiOlUl/ PJn/olilP/lil.,' 1 (196: ). PI'. ;8,, - 89: and TJJ(
U/t;"",u Rrd"rib;{,ty of Ew " " to E . :;, t;''''' in MltltpllJilN (The Hague . ... )66). C5p<ochll y
!)II. 10J-I . Thi, is in COlU1<'Ct ;OI\ wi , h Carlo') along with a nllmbcl of o(llel Tholll is ts
100hy, rim ,'SSCI1Ce for ",hen righlly inrc1l" .. , cd. j, !<"ti uciblc H' II, .. g" '<' 1\ ..... '" 11\000k
of b)" :, gi""/1 !lnl lt' cntilY. ror ,( iscu .... ;Qn c, i, icbm of {his rtllt ing see nt}'
"Thomas A,!uinJ I ,)11 , h .. [)i Sl inction "ml Dt"tival ion of Ihe M,l1W r.om ,h .. On ... " PI' IS6-<)0. and
e h. VI hclow. I'P ' 90--91.
95. 1'0' Ie Vdde $<'e Ih .. 'lfcrene .. in n. 9l "boJw. Cf PI" 8!- 8j {Ilis genera! concern. sh.ucd
with Ceigcl. aho", rden;ng 10 essence m d bt':;ng (<'1St! as (ompoS<...:Il: p. 87 Cpr .. uislenl suhjcct of
p. 89 10 I'Jhlo', = n, .. would be <:reJted as 1}O'){enc), and sulll<"
qu .. ntly <"Jo,,",,! ,,";,h aCIU.l iIY).



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Essence-bse Composition 145
I n my judgmcm, this pan of Thomas's lrgumclHlt ion is much more imcrcsring
and promising t han phase one. Phase twO also rests on cert ain presuppositi ons, of
course. Fi rst of all, t hert' is Ihe fact of mult ipl icity. If multi pl iciTY of imelli gences is
in such inrellj gcnces essence rMt' must differ. The for this is
that at must t here can be one th ing in which essence and mrare identi cal. At Ill(:
same t ime. il seems 10 me till! Ihis arguillem, if valid, will apply as soon as multi -
pli ci ty of subs[l mial enti ti es of kind is ad mined. If twO or morc t hings cxis\-
which for Aq ui nas is an undeniable dalum of sense experience- in nonc of them
wit h the one possible except ion can essence and mrbe identified. T his is so bcc;)use
t here cannOt be more than one being whi ch its very "lence, this argument
may be regarded as an early att empt on Thomas's pan 10 address himself to
the problem of t he One :lIl d t he Many.
Secondly. Ihe argument seems to rest on the exhaustive charaCi er of the t hree
possible ways of account ing for multipli city which it dist inguishes. Is there no
ot her way of :l ccount ing for t he mul tipli cat ion of beings? At l!;::l st as of t his wri t ing
T homas t haI , here is not. MOH:oller, as we sha ll s<.:c below when considering
the next cl ass of his argumellls, he evenlll aJ[ y seems to have concl uded that t hi s
way of accoun ti ng for mult iplici ty could be reduced to tWO funda men tal
types: (I) multi pl ication by t he addition of:l difference (cc. possibi liry one as pro-
posed in the Dr rnu); (2) mult ipl ication by recept ion in different subjccts (j oining
possibi lit ies (1-110 and three of the Dr enfe, apparcntly}:P
O wens has maint:li ned (hat Thomas's argumentat ion in rhe De mu presupposes
and musr presuppose thaI God's existence has already been C1i tahJi shed before it
can concl ude fO a disti nct io n between esse nce and flU in other entiti es. Owe ns
:a nd I conti nue 10 differ on thi s issue. O n my reading, ullIil t his point in the argu
mentati on, God's existence has entered in only as an hypothesis. At mOSt t hen" can
be one being in which esscnce and me arc identical. In all ot her beings they mUSt
)7. Sc-c Flbro, "UII itillcr:l.i re de SlI ilH p. 99. To ill ll5tDle the more common appeal !O
tWO of for Illlll dpl icl! iOIl , r abro citell Compndium rlmJWgillr. c. 15: . . . ellt
modus 'I"O ali'l ";!' rornu p.,HQ[ mult;I"''' ''''';: unus I"" sicul gener:.!i., UI (olor in
di "clU' spccil$ ("oloris: a!i us !>cr s"biec ... . icUl albedo" (Leo n. 41.87:H - l \). Here is al-
[cmpt ing 10 show lhar thert' is on ly God. His arguni cllI COnt ill 11($ 10 l his if a form c::umol
mult ipli.-d by Ihe aJ dit ion of J ilfcKnces. and if il flO! a for m Ihal exim in a o n only
be! one. BU! such i. Hue of the divi ne. <":SSI'IlCC which b with the divine (Sfr . It should be
not t F:lbro h.-re !iCpar:u ing dl<' th rec argumcnu of Ihe Dr "'''. Hc regards
,h., I"" !" "" on.,. " I,;,,h he " ,e.al'hY"i",,!' :l.' tI,,, 1"01""1:"'''' ' " "",,,,1 or the
firsl one. whi ch he .efen logi o l (PI'. 98-99l. ['abro ci les In / .xnt., d . 8, q. 4, a. I, ad l a
contemp .. vcrsion of tI,,! of d'e The.e Thomas writes Ihal
crcalW Ihings somelh ing may be J elermined so as 10 be Illiq"id eit her (I) by Ihe addil ion of a
Of (t) 3 common naTUre is rC'Cdvcd in solll<"thing, or (J) by da' addil ion of an
accident . None of wal appl )" (0 God, whose )i mpi icil Y T homas is here defend ing. However,
wh ile the fi rst IWO divisions mOte or 1m par.rllcl lhc fi rsl Iwt) in Ihe [R mIt. the Ihird member of
Ihe division in /" / S",, 1. fl nds no par:l lld in Iht Dr mIt. And thei . purposes are nO! Ihe SlI me. See
<.J. Cil ., Vol. I . pp. lJ')- lO.



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Composi ti on 149
from somcthing else, or must be efficiently caused. H ea' Thomas uses the conchl+
sion establi shed in phase: twO as the point of deparrurc for hi s argument for God's
existence; for he grounds the radically caused or contingcll1 character of all bei ngs.
with om' possible exceprion. on the di sti nction within them of essence and
After completing his argument for God's existence T homas observes that thi s
First C.ause is the cause of {((ws(ll'JJendi) for all other things by reason of the
fact that it is pure Wi. He again nOtt's that an int ell igence is form and mi (sec the
conclusion of phase two), but now goes on to show that form and mr are related
as potency and act.
4J
That which rt'ceives something from another is in pOtency
with reSpect to that which it reives, and that whi ch is received in it is it s act.
Hence the quiddi ry or form (or essence) which is an intelligence is in potency to
the mr it receives from God. and its is received as its act. In other wo rds, only
now has Thomas complcted his general effort in [his chapler to show not onl y
that essence and are re;l lly distinct in all nondivine beings and therefore ill
int elligences . but also that they are united in intelligences as potency and :ICt. His
text shows that he is again using [Q signify the int riosie act of being of any such
being. . . _ the (luiddi1)' of an intelligence is [he intelligence itself, there
fore its quiddiry or essence is identical wit h that whi ch it is, and its which it
receives from God, is that whereby it subsists in reality."H
Thomas also wmments that for thi s reason substances of thi s kind are sai d 10
be composed of quo est and quod ru, or as Bocthius puts it, of quod ru and uu.
Though T homas has not used the term [Q describe the diversity and com
position of essence alld me which he has argued for in this chapter, he wi ll usc such
terminology a few yC"JI"S later in imerprcting the Bocthian couplc[ in his Commen-
tary on t he Dr This we ha\'t' already seen in the previous chap-
tcr. Hut it is worth mentioning again, since it suggests that the kind of diversity
.g. l..ron. 4}.J7p27- 1J7. Note the concluding remark: "'Ergo "POlltt qllod
as(" est natura sua esse alio" By Ih's S"OIcmcnr b s consider....!
eliminated a thi rd i.t .. thlt somethi ng which bt-longs 10 thing is si mply idtfJl iC:l I with
that thi n" ill.dr. H I' cii minates it by concemr:ning on ix-ings in whi ch and rw rally diffn
In "II such b<-ings Ihl'ir mUSI gi"cn ,0 Iht m from .... i,hom. which ;s '0 s.>.y. tll{"Y mU5t bt
dfic.icnl ly GluSI'd .
.01 ; . For <hc co'" inua,;"n "f d"," for see Lc<Jn . .oI.I.j77" 37-q 6. NOlc in
" ... oponct ql.iOd sil [cs S;t causa omnibus e() quod ipsa at csse:
.. : He dl{"n joins the condusion r,om phase tWO wit h "I'al el crgo quod imdligcmi3
CSt ct CSM:. C[ qutxl c.''''- p,imotll tc qu,,,,I,.'1 ,', hO(" <:S ' pri"," '1"3e
(Xu, ""'. "
.01.01. "Omnc awem quod n:..::i p;t 31iquid ab alio CS t in potenlia <csp!U illiu5. Ct hoc quod ,teCP-
tum eSt in <.-0 CSI ei llS; ergo opon"t quod ips> quidditas vd fo rma qual' e.<it sit in
pOIcmi. ,esp-ttlu C$S(C qllod Oro ,,-,;;pi,. ci illud esse !tttplUm eM IX' modulll F.t ita invt-
nitur I'f in imdligcndis. non tamen forma 1'1 .... F.I quia, m
dictum CSt, intelligential' quidditas est ipl'<l mcl i rml ligenlia. idC"() quidd ifas vd ascmia eius est ipsum
quod est ipsa. Ct nlc luum ,cplUrn a Oro en id quo lubi;.I. il ill rerum nalUN ... " (Leon.
4H n :l.ol 7-163)



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E .. sence-Essf Composiliol1 155
As in Ihe argument from Dr spiriruali/Jus creaIUriI, so in this one as well Thomas
joins hi s case for composition of thi ngs Other th:1tI God with hi s metaphys ics of
pani cipation. And like the previously considered arguments, this one also rests on
thc impossibility of there being morc than one substance whi ch is its very me. The
by-now familiar parallel widl whiteness is again drawn. If whi teness could subsist
in itself, it could only be one. If rot' does subsist in itself, it roo can onl y be one.
Once more, therefore, the argumem woul d nOt have to assume th:u there is such
a thing as self-subsisting mr. The impossibil ity of there being more than one casc
of this would be enough for Thomas to conclude to nonidcntity of essence and act
of being and, :l ccordi ng to the present argument. to tilt: composition of potency
and act, in ('very other substance.
Our final text in this section is mken from Thomas's \'ery late Dr JUbuamiis
srpararis, c. 8 ( 1271 or later). There he again argues against Avicebron that there is
no need to hold dlat created separate are composed of mattcr and form
in order to avoid identifying them with God. Some potency is present in them
since thcy are nor tsU irscl fbur onl y p:lrricipate in it. ('()
Thomas aga in insists that there ca n onl y be one subsisting thing that is l'Su irself.
[n support he reasons thai if any other form is comidered as separate, it can only
be one. JUSt as a spc<: ies is onc in the ordt'r of thought when it is simply considered
in a specific naturt' would be olle in reality if it could exist in itSelf as such.
The same may be said of a genus in relation to it s species. JUSt as it is one in tht
order of Ihought whcn it is considered in itself r:llher than as reali zed in ils species,
SO too l genus would be one in the ordt' r of rc:!lity if it could subsist in itself. By
appl ying similar reasoning we fi nlll y come to W i' itself which, says Thomas, is mosl
universal (commllniSlimum). Therefore, he quickly concludes, mr mblisum is only
one. His point again is that since mr does subsist as such and in itself, subsisti ng
( 1St' ca n onl y bc one. Once more he contrasts this with everyt hing else. Everyt hing
which exi sts has rlit'. Therefore in everything apart from the Fi rst Being there is
both m( as its act and the substlnce of the thing whi ch hlS rIit' and is l receiving
potency for th:n act. f,r Like the previously considered argumentS, this Olle does in
fact take God's existence as grant ed. Bm like the others, it would nOI have to do so
in order to remai n valid. It. tOO, rests o rr the impossibiliry of there being morc than
one bei ng which is it s very mr.
Beforc concl uding this particular section, some remarks should be made about
the different w::r.ys in whi ch Thom:lS attempts to show that then: can only be one
thing in which essence and mr(act of being) are idcntical, or only one case of mr
mvsiut'lls and hence, by contrast, that essence: and ;rcl of being differ in every-
thing el se.
60. loon. 40.0 5S:164- 16<).
6r. lron. 40,05sa6!l- rgi .



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E.isence-Esse Composilion 159
Fundamentally the same reasoning reappears in D t: potrlllia, q. 7, a. 3, in Thom
as's first argument there to show that God is nOl incl uded in a genus.?1 We find
thi s repeat ed in its essentials in ST I. q. 3, a. 5. In his third argument there 10 show
that God is nOt in any genus, Thomas reasons that all things which are included
in a given genus share in the quiddit y or essence of t hat genus; for (he genus is
predicated of them in quidditativc m hi on. But they di ffer in terms of their I.'Ht:.
Thus the t:JJt:of a human being is not ident ical wit h that of a horse nor, for that
malter, is Ihe fiji,' of thi s human being idemieal with t he me of another human
being. Therefore, in all things which fall int o a genus, ml'{act of being) and quod
quid m. or essence as Thomas also specifies, difle r. But they do not differ in Cod.
n
As I have already indicated, in none of these :Hguments does Thomas appcallO
God's exislCrlce in order 10 make his point about essence and mI.'. On the cOlllrary,
he rather argues that if somet hing belongs TO a genus. essence and wl.'(au of being)
differ in thm thing. Si nce essence: and Nit: (act of being) do not differ in God, he
cannot belong to any genus. Moreover, appeal to any version of the ;1/I('lIut/IJ m al-
rial.' appro.1eh has disappeared from t hese bter
Before examining thi s line of reasoning more criti call y, it will be helpful to ltJrn
to the version offered in DI.' !lffimfr, y. 27, a. 1, :Id 8. There Thomas is considering
the question whethet grace is something positive whi ch is creared in the human
soul. In defending his affirmJtive reply, Thomas must meet t hi s objection: Onl y
things which are composed can belong 10 a genus. Grace, being a simple form, is
not composed. Therefore grace is not present in any genus. But since everything
whi ch is created belongs to a genus, grace is nOt something created.
7J
Whil e the context for thi s object ion is theological. Thomas's reply is of consider-
able philosophical int ereSL I-Ie begins by agreeing with the objt'etion, but only in
part: if something belongs to the genus substance, he specifics , it IllUSt be com-
posed, and by real composition, he adds. In support he reasons Ihat whatever f311 s
within the predicament substance subsists in its own (SSt!, Therefore its rot! (act of
being) mllst be different from that thi ng itsel f. Otherwise, such a thing could 11 0t
differ in terms of its t!S!t,from all other things with which it in quidditJtive
COnt enL Such agreemelll in quidditative COll(t'I1t is r('(luired fo r things to belong
to a given predicament. Therefore, he concludes, everything whi ch is includ(:d di -
rectl y within the predicament substance is composed, at least of mi' and quod (Jr,
that is, of a CI of being and essence. On the other hanO. he cont inues, .romcthi ng
does not have to be composed by n:al in order to belong to an aceidcn-
Pr:l-:I(f Hoc i. UI " m ill Ow inlPQssibilc C!;'- J)"Ul igitur in
nun est" kd. cit., p. 16).
71. Ed. l'i l., p. '9,. Nor r: "I'timo qUIa nihi l POll ltU! ill sc<cundulll esse Alum, scrl
'! l,; t! dilari uae; <\"00 hoc pa,,,,. <I,, ;a CSS( uni u;.cui uS<..!u" CS I ei p'opr;u"" et diSlillc"'m
ah esse cuiuslihcl Sl S"mlant;ac 1,,>lCSI esse c. m,munis .. , ."
71. L('un_ + 4-1 . Nmc ( ondusion: .. 1:1 sic op.)" el quod 'luaec.m"que t in g .. di !feranl
in cis l'S,<e l' I '11/(J(i quid <'1t, ides! In [);:o non diffen . . . ,"
iJ. 1.<'011. H -3-7?O:j l-'j5,


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Essence- bSt' Composition 163
ipation at least to somc cxtCIH because of the fi rst claim; WI' itself docs not p:mici-
pate in anything elsc even though. as Thomas has shown earli er in this same Irrtio,
"that whi ch or being (ms) does panicipatc in t'H1'.Bi
Thomas's ra:ognition tha t this kind of argumemarion is restricted to maner-
form composites may accoulH for his immedialc illl roduclion of a second approach
whi ch is more direcdy based on participation. And il could be that he reali zed that
the first argumelH needs some reinforcemem. Be dial as it may, he first distin-
guishes between which arc simple in the absolute sense SO as to lack all
composi tion, and things whi ch arc simpl e in a quali fi ed If thefe arc certain
forms whi ch do nOI exist in maner, every such form will be simple insof. .... r as il
lacks maner and qllanrit),. If such forms subsist. it docs not immedialel y foll ow
from this that they arc perfectly simple. Suppose for the sake of di scussion that one
admits the exi stence either of subsisting and separale forms or ideas in dt e Pl alOl1i c
senS(: or of Ari slOrl e's separate cll1ities; in eilher CdSe any such form will determine
mr with respect 10 irs kind of being. No such form will be ident ical with com-
il self, but each will only "have" nil'. Each, insofar as il is distingllisht'd from
other sepa rat e forms, will be a specific form ,hat parti cipates in mI'. None will be
simple in tlw unqualified sense; but each will be composed, we may conclude, of
its form or eSSf;: nce. on the one hand, and of ,he me (aci of being) in whi ch il
parti cipat es, on the otherY
Thomas moves flOm this '0 the concl usion thal the onl y perfectly simple being
is one which does not pan ici pale in m t but is subsisting mI'. Again he reasons Ihat
such a being can only be one; for if mt insofar as il is tsSe admirs of nOl hing extrinsic
to it self, that which is subsisting t'SStCJ. ntlOI be multipli ed by any di versifying prin-
ciple. This unique being, of course, is
twO arguments are of considerable imerest to our prcSt: nt di scussion, firSt
because in introduci ng !hern Thomas has explicitly distinguished betv.'een d iversi ry
Uni, -ersi .ii t5bibl io.hck "Sl , f. ?9r:1. ' 4.h Century.: and V'" = Va. ic.:1.11 l ihr.ory 808. r. H va. 151 h
unmfr). Rut Ih" .mangcs. evidence point ing . o o mitt ing tn! is. in Illy ol'ini,m. phi!Qsophia l and
cont",m ' J I. FQr d", point .Ill. I'W' of nm hing 10 its ; nt elligible cOIuem s L,o n.
50.l71: 1'4- l 7 l ': 146. I n brief Thoma) b,,:;e,; his o n the faCE tim UH i, cons;der,-d abSI rJcliy.
8 1. /l.kl ncrnr delllCS Iha. illl cnds rOI Ihis 10 be ,kmonSl rJlio n of a re'J I disl inCi iofl
Ixlwcl'n ffll' and ' llUM m. It ;.1 .ha. o ne mi ght opect to imroduce anOlhcr 51ql
wril ing that itS<' lf is nOt composed. i.e .. that i=!f cannot Ix idcntifi,-d wilh co mpo, il r
Ihi n!;, and t hen hycon\"crsion , he c""el Ll s'on ,h3' a thi ng h no, rn ... Bu' '" Mcin_
erny notes, wri tes that a compmitc , hillS i.l not IfJ es.". &e Honhius um{ Aquj tl flj,
1)1). U)- I + I would ho,,"<"vet. lhm If ipsI< m roranno, I,..
h<:<l wil h composi te lhing bccJu5(" ro .. nOl then no co mpm i.( (:I.n be
Ii.,.j wi l h m t . it (rot) is ,aken absn-.tcd r 01 as rCJIi/.c:J in a COnCK!e cxiSling comp05i !" cmify.
h . I..e.:>n . sO.ln ' U I- 149. Nm .... in lines 1}(r--49 as ci'ed in e h. IV. n. l J.
Tho mas had ;nm)jj uQd .I" s dis.-u.ss;oll wit h [his rcmn k: "Si en; m esW[ al; ud , cali. N id q uod CSI , .
ipsUll1 CSSC', iam !lOEl si mpl ex. 5("d compos;t ul1l" (U!)- UO). f or more d iscussio n sa: Ch. IV
31>0> ..... nil . Zl. 13. and the corresponding leXI.
8). I..e.:.n. \0.171:149-1\8. Ch. IV ahoY\", n. 24.



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Essence- ESse Composicion 167
and composition between the nal'llre and the act of being which is intrinsic 10 each
of Ihese entities. Would it nOI be enough to say thaI each of these different natures
or emifies panicipales in the act of being viewed in general (mr communt') and is
Ihercfore merely conceptually distinct from rSJt' commune in the wayan indi vi dual
inSlance of human nallire as realized in SOrl es is ollly conceplUally distinct from
the human species in which he
Thomas evidentl y thinks Ihat a merel y conceptual distinCtion between nature
or essence and act of being will not be enough 10 account for participation of beings
in me. In facl, the present text suggesls {"wo additional reasons for this_ The fi rst is
nOt fully developed, but runs something like thi s_ If me (the act of being) is to be
multiplied, this ca n onl y be owing 10 diversiry on tite par! oflhat which pani cipates
in iL Therefore, bee,lUse different natures or entities participate in it , it is realized
in different f:tsh ion in each of them_ Not only this requi re real diversity be-
tweell one participating nature or emit), and another; it al so requi res real diversity
within every such being between something whi ch receivcs and di versifi es me (the
act of being) and the received and diversi fied act of being itself_ One may ask why_
This follows because as such is not sel f-dividing or self-diversifying. As Thomas
has explained in a number of other conrexts, NU insof.""I r as it is NU is not divided.
It coin only bt: divideJ by something that is different from itself, that is, by a nature
or essence which receives and diversifies it. If the rsu (act of being) of this human
being is different from the Nit' (act of being) of thaI hum:ln bei ng or lhat stone,
this is because in eadl of them the nature or essence whi ch receives and diversifi es
tJSf' is distinCi from the mt' which il receives and
The sttond reason is mOTe directl y suggested by our t(,XI and will be developed
in the following secti on of t hi s chapter. It foll ows from Thomas's oft-repealed claim
that act, especially the act of being (rot), is nOt self- li miting. But if mt is pareici-
paled in by a subj ect or participant, it is present in tim subject only ill partial or
limited fashion. This foll ows frorn the \-ery nature of participation, as Thomas
understands it. If one is to aCCount for the limitation of that which is not self-
limiting, one must postulat e within such a pani cipant an inuinsic pri nciple whi ch
receives and limits mrCthc act of being), and a reall y di sti nct act of being which is
received and li mited. Hence for both of these reasons, appeal to a merel y logical or
concepmal distinction between essence and act of being will nOt be suffi ci clH 10
account for Ihe hlet that given beings :lc[Ual ly and really do participare in me. Real
Th is nOli"n;$ implicd by Comm(' ntary on the fk Tri n;ll1u of lIoclh iu$,
q. t, although th(,l(' it is applitd to I'm: Non POIesl quod ens dividJ tlll Cllte
in qU3nfUm C$f ens; nihil divid; tur ah ClUe nisi non ('ns" {I..('Qn W.1:ZO:96-"Kl. It bc-cOI11(s
", "eh "'Of<: in sec II. c. within Ille fi tst for COHrPQsi liou of 'luOti tit
in ;nrdlcctu,, 1 where it "pplkd 10 fflr (sc<' n. Sl 31>ov(' (or the h is CUIl -
firmed hy a remark in l"k pomlfia. q. l. ad '): MEr pe, hunc lll00um. hoc illo mr di.ll;" -
guitu,. in eSI I:l li.l vd lali, ( l'e5.\i QlI ed., p. t'.lll.



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Essencc:-EmComposi ti on 17 1
This argUIlIt:nt begins widl the fact that cream res only have finite or limi ted me.
This f.'1Ct would be so evident to Aquinas that it would hardl y need justificat ion.
Nonetheless, he al so formally argues elsewhere tha t there cannot be twO completely
infinite beings. Thus in sec II , c. p., he reasons that completely unlimited NU
would embrnce the lotal pc:rft'ction of being. Hence if such infiniry were to be
assigned to (Wo different beings, Ihert: would Ix:- no way in which one could be
distinguished from the other.
IO
!
As for the argument in Thomas's Commentary on I Smterl(N. this reasoning
assumes that if enr were not received in :lI1y subject, it would be unlimited. In
other words. it is not self-limiting. Because m, is found in limited fashion in every
creature, it must be received by some limiting principlt in evcry such being. Other-
wise: we could not account for the limitat ion of that whi ch is not self-limiting, (In
light of what Thomas says ill Ihe corpl/so( this ani cle, the argument and ilS conchl -
sion should be resrriclr..'(\ to the It'vel of complete beings or substances, Complete
beings or substances full shon of the divine simplicity by being composed. And
since in Cod alone is there identity of quiddity and ml', in every creature Ol1e mUSI
find both ils quiddity or nature and its me which is given 10 it by God, And so it
is composed of quiddiry or nature and of me. This is nOI true of what we might
call incomplete beings or principles of being, such as prime 1l13tler, or a given form,
or even a univt'rsal.) 'O)
As we have noted, the argumcnt in the Jed comra r('Sts on the presupposition
that unreceivoo is unlimited. The view that aCI as such or, as in this case, that
we as such is not self-l imiring appears frctl ut'lltly enough in Thomas's wri ti ngs,
from the earliest 10 the latest. He often uses it as a working principle CO e51ablish
other points, for inStallCe, divine infinity "" When it comes to Thomas's reasons
102. F..d. cit., p. 1.15: "Adhuc. Imp.mibilt'" C51 quod sir duplex CC Qmnino infinitum: = t'"ttim
quod umninu ; nfin;""". on",,,,,, p.,rf.c. ;0""'" eQ'''prchcnd;. : e. ,i <.Iu"b"5 .,.1;)
infi nilllS. nOn i ,,,"cni.('wr quo unum ah ,hclO di!fern.:t. "
10). Ed. cit. , pp. n6- 27. NQlc in '" Dim clgo quod C5t duplex. QUJcdam
cnin' ('s( quae halX' t c,s<: eomlliclUm in ,;c, sicut homo huiu.modi. t ... li. CfeJluD ita defi ci t a
.implicit a tC quod ,ucid;, in c"UlIX'.i t iunem. Cum fnim in solu DC(> esse suum sit sua quiddi.
las. op . m<"l quod in Clf.tUD. vel in (oq)(1r:11t ,eI ill imeni. tur vel natur:I
CI e.'SC5uum, quod c:.l sib; Dco, cui us es..:nt; a CSt suum <'SSC; ft il"lI comlX'ni! ll r CK
vel quo esl. fl quoo Here Thumai muves frottl ident ity of f=m:c ;!.nd tiH in Goo to
di stinctiOn of thc same in (omplcu or This Jues not implr tim !he
based on .... hi,h he prGenlS in (he 5rd ( /).urll rem on (he same
I;" Sum , ' "' XIS sc. f" ! SOli . J . S, 'I. I (e<1. d . , Vol. " ", .. ,'1
hoc moJo sohlnl divi num ose non C"S t IcrminalUm. quia non CSt rcccplUnJ in aliqulI. quod si t di -
"(' sum ab /" / d. 4.\. , (p. (00)). Thomas fi rs! applies Ihis to form, and then
to me: ideo illud ' I"od hao.:1 el nullo 1ll0'\" n:CeP1l1nl in aliquu, i!llmu ip!<Cltlcl
esl illud CSt illfinitum ,imp/ieiter"; SCC I. c. -H (p. 4' )' .... helc it is used 10 pr",'e divine
infini!)': "Aetus igilUr in nullo cxi.tctls nullo sec II. c. j l (cired abovf in u. H),
where it is ag.i " u$<..J en estahlish ,I i"inc i"r,,,i,y; ST 1. q. 7, a r (.0 prove iufinil Y); u.mpt"-
diu", ri!(Q/llf,ill(, c, IS. \Q I'ro,'c di vine ;nfinit)"' "N" lIu5 cnim actus in'cnilu, finir; nisi per
cSf cius (e<:"cpt;"" . . ." ( u "'On . 4!.8!1:7-l1).


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Essence-Esse Composi[ion 175
I f one agrees with Thomas t hat what he call s mr (thc aCl of bei ng) is indeed t he
actual ity of all actS and the perfection of all perfcrtions, wherever one fi nds it real-
ized in only li mi ted fas hion, ont' must account for it s actual realizati on, to be sure,
but one mUSt al so account for its limitati on, fo r the fact that it is nOt rcal i-LCd
accordi ng to it s full power or plenitude in this pan icular instance. For Thomas,
appeal to an extrinsic cause is necessary but not sufficient to account for thi s. He
is convinced that a distinct int rinsic li mi ti ng pri nciple is also required, in order to
account for the limitat'i on of tha! whi ch is nOt self-l imit ing.
II
"
Closdy connected wi t h this issue is another question: Does this argument for a
real disti nction and composition of essence and rur in fi nite beings presuppose
knowledge of God's existence? Recognit ion of its starting point, the fa ct t hat lim-
it ed beings exist, dearly does not. But what about its appeal to t he axiom that
un rcccived ('!Sr is Does not this presuppose knowledge that God exist's?
I have suggested that acceptance of this axiom reSts on Thomas's parti cular way of
understanding esu. Does not his undema nding of me as l he actuality of all acts
and the perfe<:tion of all perfeclions presuppose the Judeo-Christian revelation of
God as subsisting me as implied in Exodus
As I see things, il docs not. !f Thomas ulllJerstands by tlU that principl(' within
any given substantial emity which accoun tS fo r the f'<lct that it actually exists, this
is because the disti ncti on betwcen an acroal existcnt and a mcrely possible existent
is something which we can di scover wi t hin the realm of our own experience and
r('Rection upon t he same. As he remarks in the text from the Dr pcumia ci ted in a
previous paragraph. it is by reason of it s l'Ss( (:let of bei ng) that a given form (or
enti ty) enjoys actual existence. Given his recognition of this, Thomas then con-
d udes immediatciy t hat what he calls rHl' is the acroality of all acts and t he perfec-
tion of all T his well-known (exl does not give the impression lllal
Thomas depends upon prior knowledge or God's exi stence ror hi s understanding
of l'JJl' as 3.ctual iry and perfcrtion. Hence neithcr does his acceptance of the axiom
that unreceived rul' is unl imitcd.
POI(l;t conjidcrari Ut in pOl enl ia malcriae exis lens. vel UI ill vi r! "Ie UI ill imdloclll :
sed hoc quod ror, efficiwf aClU Unde p>lel q"od hoc quod dieo rnr
omnium et proptet hoc CSt p<:tfl"io omnium pcrfcctionum" kd. cit., p. 1')1). Tholll:t.'i then
immediatel y that tIlr be dctcrm;ncJ by cis<: would he more formal ";lnd
would be added to it as act tu potency. Hence flit is nor detCfl11inffi by 50mething in , he W'<I. y
potency is dctl""nnil1l""d by an, Lnn r:llhlr in the ael ii dClerrnin....!. i_e .. by potency.
11 6. Fo r fulle r of thi s principle see rny "Thomas Aquinas :Uld the Axiom ThaI Unle
ce;ved Acr Is and Ch. IV. n. 91. above.
117. For suggesriOll Gi lson. Eb",nm ojChriJli"" Philosoph). PI'. IJG-Jl: for
ground , pp. 119- l 4 ; alw ,;0: (" his flllrodurtio'l i: f4 philosophir rh";';rmu, 1)1'. 4S- Sll. and for di Rieulfies
involved in pu rdy ";l ppro;1Ch to Ihe distinC! ion. pp.
98-t09_ k Gilson views the maner, would be a flne illu$lrarion of Thomas's fOI the
dlrological order nuhet than the philosophical, as well as an example of what Gilson understands
by Thomas's Philosophy_
118. Dt p<Jrrmia. q_ 7. a. I. ad 9, cited in n. Ilj abo"e.


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ReLuive Nonbeing ' 79
to a consideradon of first principles in the order of thought. He notes that in the
case of first terms (and principles, I would add), negat ive propositions arc imme-
diat c. This is so because the negation of one term is, as it were, included in one's
understanding of the other.
6
Though Thomas immediatel y shifts from thi s refer-
(' nce 10 first terms and principles back to the ontological order. hi s int ent is dear
enough. I take him to mean by thi s that in the order in which we di scover fi rst
principles, the principle of noncontradiction comes first, and not , for inStance, the
principle of identity. As he indicates in other writi ngs, we first come to a knowl edge
of being and then, by negating being, 10 a knowl edge of nonbeing. When we com-
pare these twO not iom we immedia tely sec that being is nOt nonbei ng.7
In OUt passage from his Commentary on the De Tr,n,rau, however, Thomas
immedi:uel y returns to the ontological order. He notes that when the very fi rst
creature is considered together with its calise, plurality is thereby introduced into
the realm of being. Such a first creature docs not att ain to its fi rst cause. Apparentl y
with some sort of a Neoplatonic emanat ion scheme in mind, Thomas observes that
some would int roduce plura lity int o the realm of being by arguing that from the
One: only one thing can proceed (imrnedi:lfely). This very first effect, taken to-
gether with its cause, would constitut e a many or a plurali ry. And from this first
effect rwo things would proceed- one from the first crearure when it is simply
considered in itsclf; and another from that same fi rst Cft':ttuTe when it is vic-wed in
rdation to its cause.'
6. ... unde in prirnis sunt qu";!si negat io uniu! sir
in inte!lecl u ahcrius' (I.etlll . SO.HoOl oo-ro l ).
7. As Courl Cs poi,1I5 OUI , $()!1le Iwemierh-<:ennuy of Aquinu ha.c defendffi the
priori !)' of the pri neiplc of ident ity r.r. thcr than t hat or noncom r.ldiCi ion. He Cill'S j. Marit ain :'lf1d
R. to clfccl. Stt his c( Ie lli>ll -erre scion !>ai nt Thomas d'Aguil), fl PI"
584- 87. As regards the order of rhis is clearly not ' n tOrnas's vicw. Sn-. ror insunce. {n 1
YnI., d. S, 'I ' I, a. J, cd. , Vol. I, p. zoo: - r ri rnum cl1im <Juoo cadit in irnaginalione
imdlec! us. lns. si ne quo nihi l pmC$! apprehendi ab imdlcnll; sieu! pI imum quod cadi r in erc.:lu-
111Jft iludleclus sunl digniIJtl'S, et pr.r.ecipue ;5I a, contradictor;,. non esse simul ."(1:1. ... .. Also see
mmJJ r"lIIm II . c. 8} (cd. cil. , p. zoo): "Natur al iter ig; !ur imdlecrus nOSt er eognosc;t et
ea quae sum per 5e huiusmooi; in cogni !ione primorum principiorum
III 'Ion rot sim,,! affirm,," tlIUgil". el 31ia huiusmodi. " EspcciJlly signifi canr is the following
t(;< t rrom ST l- lJ , q. 94. 3. 2 ( I.COIl. 7. IG9- 70)' "In his Jlltem qUJe in apprehcnsiont: omnium
caJun!, quidarn o. do inveniwr. Nanl illud quod primo cadi t ;n 3pprenCl15ione, est ens, cuilu inrel-
Icctul indudi!Ur in omnibus <j uis Er ideo pr;murn principium in-
demonst r.rbilc es t quod ,,(m f.S1 si", .,l affirma" n "tg<l". quexl IIr SUI)1"";l r::Ir inncm cnt cr non
ent is: CI super hoc principio omnia ali a ut dici lUr ;n IV Mm'php." Weidemann
other cum pi es whne IIcg,n ivc proposilion.1 arc immcdialcly on pr imitivc tefllU beClUS'" Ihe
nq;:uion or one is ind"dcd in the OthN. such a5 Ihose involving the "onc' 3nd the or
and. the or Ihc ".same- and the - divcrse." Sec MnapllJfik "lid Sprilr/', . pp. 52- H.
ing this, hO ..... c\cl. it 10 me that pal m in the immedialc contCJ( 1 ('I ' 4. a. J or his
Commentary on Ihe IN Tri llilalt) i5 best brought OU! by (he opposi!ion between being nonbcing
as formularcd in rhe principle of
8. leon. SO. tlO:l 04- JlQ.



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Relative Nonbci ng 183
diverse from one anOlher. Hence ..... e might say that diversity is t he princi ple or
cause of plurality in such things. But now he inrroduces a funher precision by
dist inguishi ng becween divi sion and diversity. r n accord with the theory he has jusl
presented, division is prcsupposed for the plurality of things which are prior (or
fi rst); but diversity is not. This is beGlUse division docs not require that each of the
things whi ch arc so distinguished must enjoy being. since it arises from affirmat ion
and negat ion. Unlike divi sion, ho ..... ever, di versity presupposes that both of the
things that are di sti ngui shed enjoy hei ng. Therefore, diversity presupposes plural-
ity, and plur:l lity presupposcs division. Or to reversc our perspective, di\' ision gives
rise to plurality, whicll in !Urn gi\'cs rise to d iversity. Hence, reasons Thomas. diver-
sity cannOt be regarded as the cause or explanation for the plural ity of t hi ngs whi ch
are first unless one takes diversity as equivalellt to di vision. Therefore he concludes
that thl' B()(:thian dictum applies to the plurality of composites. In the case of
composites, the ca li S(' of plurality or JIlultipli cit y is otherness, i.e. , the diversity of
things whi ch are first and simpleY'
Of greatest interest 10 us here is Thomas's appeal to the opposit ion and division
between being and nonheing in hi s effort to accou11I for any kind of plurali ty or
mul tiplicity within the real m of being. This most fundamental opposit ion between
being and non being will be enough for him to distinguish a first crealed effect from
God. the uncreated cause. And it will also be required for him to distingui sh any
given creature from any other. If we concentrate on one such e(fcx: t, we may say
that it is or enjoys being, presumably because it exists, and yet Ihat it is not (or
includcs nonbeing) in some other way, since it is not its divine cause and is n Ot any
other efTe<: t. And if we can refe.r to a plurality or mult iplicity of such primary and
simple t hings- effectS immediately produced by God-this is because the power of
the original opposi tion between being and non being is preserved in each of them.
17
2. Distinction of Any Finite Being from O the r Beings
If we grant Aquinas all of thi s, we may slil l wonder what it is within the st ructure
of any such prior and simpler being which account s for the fact that it is not God
and dtal it is not to be identifi ed with any other pri mary and simple creatu re. It
seems that in some way Thomas is goi ng to have 10 defend the. reality of some kind
of nOll being if he is 10 account for thi s. Moreover, we may wonder whether these
primary and simple effects to which he has referred in our tC)(t are complet e beings
in themselves, or perhaps something still more fundamental. [ shall now mrn 10
these fWO issues, although in reverse order.
16. [--<:(In. jO. I'U;l j 8- l j l. ill PHl iculu: " ...
pri (m)orum, IlOIl Umell qui. di visio nOll requirit u"umque condiviWlUm esse rns, rum
si t di" i$io p"r . f!i 1'1 ncg.tiollem. $/:'d di"crsi( as requi. i( mrumque esse ens, unde Prae:l;UP'
ponj . plurJlitatcm.
17. n. IS .1.M .... c.



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Relative Nonbci ng 191
its an of being. This in turn would seriously compromise the meaning of and even
eli minate the nee<j fo r one of Thomas's most ccntral mctaphysical positions- real
compositi on and disti nction of essence alld act of being (me) in fini te suhstances . .I!i
Moreover, such an interpretation seems {Q undermi ne a number of crucial roles
assigned by Aquinas 10 the esscnce principle of finite substances.
First of all , as wil] become dear from the immediately following chapters of this
study, Thomas turns to the essence of any given substant ial entity in order to ac-
count for the determination or specificat ion of the kind of being it enjoys. if is
because its essence r(.'Ceives and specifies its act of being that a given substance is of
this kind ra ther than of any other kind, for instance, a human ki nd of being rather
than a canine kind. To the extent that we may connect the structure of a given
substance wi th the det ermination of its kind of being, St ructure tOO conferred
on that substancc by its essence. This follows because within a given substance it s
essence principle receives and limits, 10 be sure, but al so determines and specifies
its correlative act of being. [f essence is equated with absolute non being, or even if
it is viewed as nothing but a gi\'en mode or degree of existence, Thomas's way of
accounting for (he essential structure of p:micular beings will be severely compro-
mised.)"
Secondly, as we have alr('"ady seen in eh. V in SOO1('" detail, according to Aquinas
act as such is not sel f-[imiting and Iherefore the act of being is nOI self-li miting. [f
we do encounter fin ite instances ofbcing and therefore of the act of being, Litis is
because in every finit e substance its ;lCI of being is received and limiled by its corrt'l-
at ive essence principle. \'Vhil e differing from the aCI of being, therefore, essence
mUSt enjoy some positive COntent if il is to receive and limit the act of being of any
given cntity.-IO Essence will be unable to fulfill this function either ifi t is reduced 10
absol ute non being or if it is regarded as nothing but a mode or degree of existence.
Thirdl y, my illlerprctalion in this chapter has concentrated on Thomas's expla-
nat ion of division and multiplicity wit hin the realm of being. [n this order of ex-
38. Clarke. for one. i5 aware of Ihis diRi cul!y. Stt his Preface 10 Clllo'$ book as ci red in Ihe
1I0t e. pp. lii- liv: also 5C:e hi s "What Be S3i d .. . . pp. )7- }8.
3\l . &:.0. r .... 0.- 2: - QI,io .arnen '1"aelilx, (om,. Oi t dete,minat ' ''''
ipsius es5C:, earum e:\"( ipsum .:sse. sed CSt esse .. ." ( I..eon. jO. 273' 2)4- 2)6). Aho
sec I. c. z6. especiall y th .... following: it lJr ergo quod to pmpl cr hoc diffclOInt q ,,00 habcnt
di'cls:ls nOlluras. quibus acquitil'" = di,ersimode
H
(cd. C;I .. I). Z7). Cf. SCG II , c. Sl (cited in
Ch. V aho.we. n. f:k pMmtia. q. 7. a. t . ad 5. ad 9 NOI .... in the p3S$:1ge: - 1
I""r hunc m()(tum. hoc d SC illo distingu;(",. ;n CSI vel nan.,""c" (cd. C;t ..
p. 19z) . AI 10 til }" Ihe indivicllt auon of nlllSI
come of ""h(. Ihan from the side of exiSlcfl C"'. will b<: in Ch. IX below.
I' inally. as both Geigcr and F.b.o recogniu"<1. .h" rompo.i lion of essence and h U dilr"", ftom
or malllr and form in I",ms of thc spccifying principlc in c".I.\.(' . While mallcr {t h" pol .... mial
principld ;$ spo.-.:ifi.-<l by form, il is ffl<' (fhe principlc) whi ch is speci fied by (he C$5C: nce Ot potcncy
in which it is reccived. For rcfCfcnct"S 10 Geiger (pp. ' 98- 9'). n. t) and \0 Thomas sec FabIO, PoJrlici-
!",lion ( I (lluJ/dhi. p. 6S.
40. For 5l)m" tal ive (eXIS and for discussion $C<'; Ch. V. &crion j abo,I:. ami m)" "Thomas
Aqu;nas and the A ... iom That Act h Unlimi1<:d : paSo,;n>.


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VA RT TWO
The Essential Structure of Finite Being



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200 The Essemial Structure of Fini[c Being
upon being and exists only in the order of thought, that is to say, negations and
privat ions. A second class is cl osest to it in the weakness of its claim upon being,
because its members still include some admixture of negation and privation. Here
Thomas has in mind generation, corruption, and motion. Thirdl y, still others are
described as beings not because they share in non being but because they cnjoy only
a weakened kind of being and do not exist in thei r own ri ght (per $<) but only ill
something el se. Thomas lists qualities, quamit ies, and the properties of substance.
Finally, there is the most perfect class, which both exists in reality without incl ud-
ing privation and enjoys what Thomas refers to as a firm and solid being
This kind of bei ng exists in its own right or u and is, of course, identified by
Thomas once again as subSlance.
6
For our present purposes we are especiall y concerned with Thomass third and
fourth divisions. Ihal is, wilh the kinds ofbcings which do not exist in themselves
but only in something cise, and with others which exist in themselves. Although
Thomas has only mentioned qual it ies, quantities, and properries as members of
this third class, we may assume that he wishes to incl ude therein accidents in gen-
eral. In short , in his third and fourth classes he has int roduced the fundamental
distinction between accidental being and substantial being.'
As we have mt,ntioned above in our discussion of analogy, in hi s Commentary
on MrraphyriN V Thomas offers what lUay be regarded as a derivation or kind of
deduCiion of the ten supreme categories or pre(licamentS intO which being itself is
di\' ided. Since this issue wil! Ix taken up in detail in the following section of the
presclIl we nel>d not delay over i{ /lOW. [t will be enough for us to nOle
[hal Thomas develops thi s deduction or derivation in lhe course of commenting
on Aristotle's treatment of the mode of being Sf. Of three precisions Thomas
finds Aristotle applying to thi s mode of bcing, the first is the Stagirit e's di vision of
cXlTamcnt"dl being imo [he len predicamentS.
9
\X/ithin [he predicamentS them-
6. Ed. ci f., p. 152. fill . HO-<j 4j.
7. See Il. !.p : Terti..,,,, did l urquoJ nihil de Ilon Cnl e d5C
debit.-. quia non pc. 5l:. 5l:<l in aliQ. sun[ el
A[so n. j4J: Quanum eli ! quod c:.Il pcrfccli5Simulll, quod scilicel o;sc in
llJlul"l absque adminione privalionis. el habel firrnum el solidum, quasi per.sc cris!ens. sicu!
sunt Cr. 11. 4. I'. n. \117: k scieruia I\on solum C$"I collsidcr:lliv:l. subsnll -
I iaru rn . .scJ etiarn iu Ill . cum de ul ri.'io:jll<: tn.1 p .... nficnu ... . -
8. S bd.,w. Sec,ion I.
9. See III I' Mrt . 1C'C1. 9. p. 1; 8. n. 88<J. T he Olhel two have!o do wilh Iht di Sl inclion
bel' .... cen being which only in I h, mind b(i llg whi ch QislS tht divisiOn
of being in terms of ro"ocr ;K"I. As Thomas has memioncd at thc beginning of this
Irt"lio. A, iMolk im.oclucC! e. 7 "fUk V by dist inguishing betwan Ixing (ms) ..-hidl
and being whieh is s3iJ Ju ulldum I/rridmt. division is nOI 10 be confU5<.-d wilh Ihe division
of being infO and accident . The fim divi sion is ConCerilM wilh whet he! .somelhing is
JU' u o, JUrarddnll. The is on ,he f3CI lhal somethi ng is in ilS n3!urc eilhcl
a subsnncc o. acci dent. T his is why ,he first membc:-r (ms Juu"dum I(J or 'h<.': finl division is iudf
divided into sururlllcc and the ni ne accid,nts. Set- pp. l}7-}8, II . 88s: "Unde palCI quod divi)io entt s
.secu ndum S<' ct scrull dum :u:cidclls. 3l1cnditur . ...-cundultl quod aliquid de aliquo per S<'



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220 The Essemial Structure of Finire Being
rial and formal causes are int rinsic to the of the subjecr or substance itself,
predications based on these fall under (he predicamem subs(ance. A final cause
cannot exercise its causality apart from an agent , since an end can serve as a cause
only by moving an agem.
1O
From this it follows that something may rC1::eivr irs name from somrthing else
by being caused only in the order of effi cient causali ty. In this case we have (5) the
predicament "being acted upon" (pasJio). Or something may be named an efficient
cause by reason of an effect which it produces. Here the effect itself is exuinsic 10
the subjcrt. In this caS(: we assign (6) the predicamcm action (at'rio) to the subject
which
As regards modes of predicating which arc. based on something else which serves
as a measure of a subject. such measures may be e"uinsic or illl rinsic. By intrinsic
measures Thomas has in mind the particular lengt h, width, and depth of a given
thing. In this casc the rhing is so named, for instance. as being so long or wide or
deep. from something whi ch inheres in it intrinsically. This docs not rcsult in a
distinct mode of predicaring or in a di stincr predicamem. but is included under
the predicament quantiry.u
As extrinsic measures Thomas lists time and place. Insofar as something is
named from time, that is. from the time in which it is realized, (7) the predicamem
"time (quando) result s, Insofar as something is named from place, the pred-
icamcms (8) "placc where (ubi) and (9) position (rilus) result. As in hi s Commen-
tary on Mnap;'Ylics V. Thomas here explains that the predicament position adds
to the predicamcnI "place where" the note that the partS of [he localed body art:
ordered 10 one anorher. u He also now commcnts that this subdivision into "place
and position does no! apply 10 the pn'dicament "time An ordering
of pa rrs within rime is already implied by the definition of time itsclf Time,
Thomas reminds us, is the numbering of mmion according to the before and the

Finally, he returns to the case where a given kind of subject, a human being, is
named from something which is extrinsic to it, There is something unique about
human beings, he explains. Nature has sufficiently equipped other animals with all
80. Ibid. Thorna.s'$ rcrn"rk "bow mmer "nd form Wi lh his npl"nalion of
the first way in which something is prroic llro of somethi ng i.e .. belonging 10 il$ C$Sence and
hence:lS pertaining to the prroic,,- ment substance (sec n. 76 above).
81. -Sic igimr sn=umlum 'luod "liquid denomin,,-tur " cau$.:! :agente. p41"
lion;'. nam pat; nihil est "Iiud qu"m susci pere aliquid ab secundum autcm quod CCO[l\"er.so
denorni""tur ('au.\'-'. "ge", "b df .... tu. eot p .... edi c:l.rntnturn IIn;"";I. " an, ac,io eo' acms ab "gen", in
aliud ... ' (ibid. ).
82. - ... ab his ergo dcnomi namr aJiquid sicUl ab init ri nS(l in h"crcme; unde pcrtincI ad pracdi
c:r.menrum {ibid.).
S). Jbid.
84_ Ibid_ Note final remllrk cOll(crning t hcsc: "Sic igiuu al iquid dici tur e.<5C qU'1IIdo vel
ubi per denominationcm a tempore \"elll loco."
..

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214 The Essential Structure of Finite Bei ng
Naples, from 1269 to (272). As Wei sheipl also warns, we should nor assume thai
Thomas composed his Commcntary on rhe Mt'lapbysia. at leasl in irs final version,
in rhc order in whi ch we number irs books IOday. Whil e accepting this final poim,
Torrell places the o,mmemary on the PlryJics during the earlicr pan of Thomas's
second teaching period at Paris, ca. Although he acknowledges the un-
certainties surrounding the dating of the Commentary on the Mt'taphysia, he sug-
geSlS t hat its beginning may dat e from the academic year 1270-1271, with rhe Com-
mentaryon Bks falling after mid-Ill! bUI before 1272- 1273. Since Torrell
has been able 10 rake into account more recent research concerning this, he should
be followed on this poin t. Consequendy, it now appears that Thomas's derivation
of the predicaments in hi s Commentary on the Mnaphys;cs expresses his most ma-
lure thought on this iSSLle. '16
From another siandpoilll , Thomas's emphasis on the point that Ihe differenr
modes of predi cation follow upon and refl eci different modes of being, whil e pres-
ent in bmh deri"alions, is developed more fully in the passage from the Commen-
tary on Ihe MnapbYlics. This is imporrant if we arc to view the len predicamenlS
nOI as purdy logical calcgorie5 but as of importance for the science of being as
being. T hi s t"mphasis on being is wh:n one would expect in a Commentary on the
MrtaphysjC5. Somewha t morc surpri sing is tht" fact thar Thomas devoted 50 much
artemion 10 deriving all ten predicamenlS in hi s Commentary on the Physia. and
especially in thi s particular context. This full derivation of Ihe prt.'dicamenlS hardly
secms necessary there for him to clarify AristOtle's undcrslanding of action and
passion and defend the claim that they cons!"itute fWO different predicamenrs.?7
Before concluding thi s seCtion, we should rai se anOlher quest io n aboul Thom-
as's derivation of the ten predicaill ems. in particular about the last six- the ux
principin as they were often referred 10 by mcdievallhillkers. Did Thomas regard
his deri vat ion or deducl iOIl of [hem as definiti ve? I! seems that he did, although
doubl would be expressed by others in the lhirreemh and founeemh centuries
concerning whether they reall y are [en and irreduciblc. Thus thinkers such as
Henry of Ghent. and in the fourteenth century. Wi lli am of Ockham, would
sharpl y rc{\uce the li st. And even someone as sympathet ic to Thomas's views on
substance and accidcms as Godfrey of Foma;nes did not regard the number of the
\)6. Fr;ar 71""""1 pp. Ji S-76 (. ,. con e<:tN.!). 379: SAilll 7oom41 Aqui
I1a1. pp. l 31- jJ. H1. 344.
97. It il true dm TllOm3s second difficulty in introducing his derivation of the
prwio ",e"l! in his Oil the concer ning whet her mOlion is fOllnd in sub-
uhi. if i, is ur passion (ed. ci (., p. tW, n. }u). For Thomas's
answer set' n. j24. wht' r<' ht' di ni nguishC':S Ot'rwe-c-n motion U; I is realized in ntr;tmem1l, 1 (i"
,n "", ''''IUra) in termS of what !<"<jui.ed for ;t$ (ull ("U;IJ).
brief reply to this would retjuire the dcri\":lcion (Jf (he predi caments which
he offers here. his fulle r di scussion of Aristot le's rC$ni ction of mOt;"" to quality. quanl it y and "bi in
Bk V. ce. 1- 2 dots rhoory of to prcdiaments. 5c-<- In V Pkp .. Icct. j, pp. }l8-}l. C':S p.
nn. 66rtf.


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228 The Essemial Structure of Finite Being
an operative power, or as an ultimate act or s{"(:ond act or second perfection of
an agelH.
I07
This in rurn is closely connected with another distinctive view defended by
Aquinas-that any created agent or subSTance can act or operat e only by means of
really distinct powers. These powers fall within the predicamem quality (its second
species) and are relat ed fO their subst".mriaJ subject as acts 10 potency. An action,
including a transitive action, I would suggeSt, nllly in rurn be viewed as a second
act whi ch directly inheres in and informs its corresponding operative power. II)' From
this perspective il will again follow that action, including transi tive action, resides
in the acti ng subject by means of that subject's operative power. Viewed from the
side of the motion which is produced by the acting agent, of course, Thomas can
continue to say that acti on is present in the recipient as in its subjecl.
l
......
3. "Definitions" of Substance and Accident
Though Thomas's derivation or deduction of the predicaments is interesti ng,
slill more significant is the fundanlenla.1 distinction he draws between that which
cxists in itself (substance) and that which exists in somethi ng dse (accident) . He
does nOt appear to hold that we first discover accidents as such and then reason
from them 10 knowledge of substance as their cause. What we firs! discover arc
1()7. Cenain lUIS cUllcerning operation mig}l1 be (i led 10 suppofllhis for inSlan(c. fk
.pirir",dibus (rrollllris, a. II: - Sicu! esse: I!SI aCluatiru quaedam e5S("nl;ae, ila opefllri CST
aCli.lalilaS opeulivac pmendae seu vinuI;s (ed. cil .. p. ST 1_11, q. J, 3. 1: CSI
aUlcm quod opcraTio Cll llilimus :>CIUS operantis: unde CI a CIUS a Phi!osopho nominalUr.
ill II Dr anima . . : (Leon. 6.17): sec II, c. 46: "Amplius. Perfccfio secunda in rrous 3ddit supra
prima", (cd. cil .. p. I19): ST I. q. H , a. I: "AcI;o enim I!SI propri" Klualila, virlul;s:
SkUI CSM" CSI aClIIalius !ubstam iac ,d (I...con. 5.J9). [n all of Ihew: COIlICXfi , wi!h
Ihe poS$iblc exception of !he firSI leXI. Thomas nuy refe rring onl y 10 immanCnt action or opera
lion. and nOllO lI'U1silivc aClion. [n dIe fits! leXI he may have 1)(:>Ih in mind, since he subsequently
<.HI 10 argue for Ihe spccifi c point lhal the powCfl; of the 50ul arc distinct from the wurs essence.
On mosr of these lexl$ $U l\l tthan, Efficirm eaJiJllliry. PI'. 116ff .. and on Ihe first {)o.o,cns. An Elnnm
/'l'J ChriSfian Mrl4physio. p. 197, n. 16.
108. Sec the com;nual;on of Ihe I("XI from Dr Ipirinm/ib", r"aturlJ d ied in Ihe prcvioui 1l01C.
Al50 on Ihis gerleral s ST 1. q. 1 ("Unum intdligcre angel; Si\ eius ST I,
q. 77, 1. I ( Urrum ips:! essemi a all imae sil tius polemia"): Quadtillel X. q. }. 3. I ( I...con . lp.I }O- }I):
ani,.,,,, q. 1l (.cQn. For a very carl) Ilcallnelll $tt "II Smt .. d. J. q. 4,
a. 1 (Mandc.IIInel cd., Vol. I. pp. JJ6- 17). For di.scus.sion $tt Kum.le, D" , l'"h;;{tniJ tkr Suk:z:u
ih"n I'Qlrnu" . Probk,.,gru:-hirht!ir," Um,,.,,,rlmnf,fn IJ(}" Aug,oj/in bit lind mit T},,,mll! IMn A'Iuin
$wirlCrblld. 1956), pp. /71-118. For more on this su Ch.Y1I1, Seclion 4 b!,low.
109. m empl$ 10 fe5Qlve this appa/elll dilemma by suggest ing Iha! when Thomai refers
10 Transi!i\"t anion a$ Ihc lJC,rcclion of I h<" Ihing aCled upon he is uI'irl8 I term perfcctioll" in the
sense of dli., ient Arld when he refeu to such action a perfection of Ihe xli ng .rubjttt he
Ihe lum in Ihe Sl: ns<: <.>f f{)rmai Glu>alily. This ;, to y when '""
viewed f1m".Uy peTfeels Inc aning subjc<:I. though ;1 docs so as an accident.1 Or secondary formal
caU$<:. S<"C pp. lI4- 16. Promi5i ng though suggcslion is, il is an interpretat ion ralher Ihan a
SOIUl ion Iha! on be fo ulld in T homass texts.



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232 The Esscmial Srruclurc of Finire Being
ues Thomas, for then being (on), which signifi es the act of being, would itself be
a genus. m Thomas's poim here is that given the identity of essence and act of being
in God, we cannot say that God is present in a genus by reason of his essence
without implying that he is included therein by reason of his act of being
And t his would be to make rrsr and therefore being (ens)a genus.
In order to prove that being (em) is not a genus, Thomas refers to Aristotle's
procrdure. If being were a genus, we would have to identify a difference which
would remict being 10 its particular species. But no difference participates in a
genus in such a way that the genus is included within the imelligible coment of
the difference; for then a genus would be ['I.ice included within the definition of
the species.'lJ (For instance, if the difference rational already includes the genus
animal in ilS imelligible content, to define man as a rational animal would really
be to define him as a "rational anim;lJ
Therefore a difft"rence mUSt be somcthing in addi tion to the intelligible content
of tht" genus. Blil nothing, and therefore no difference, can fall Olilside the intelli"
gible content ofbcing, since bei ng is included within the imelligibili ty of all rhose
things of which it is predicated. Therefore being cannot be cont racted by any dif-
ference. It follows from this that being is not a genus and in [urn from this that
God is not present in any genus.
114
Thomas then poses an objection for himself. Someone might argue that whil e
the name cannot properly apply to God for the reason that God does
nOt stand under accidents, the reality signified by the name substanct" does apply
to God. Therefore God is in the genus substance. This follows because a substance
is a being in itself (per se), and to be such is also Hue of GodYS
To thi s Thom:ts replies dl:tt in itselr is not the definition of substance.
He has already shown that being (I'm) is not J genm. The itself" pan of the
proposed defini ti on seems 10 imply nothing but a pure negation, lhat is, rhc f2c r
th:,\( .'io tllething does not cxist in somcthing else. And a pure negation cannOt serve
as a genus. It follows from t his (hat substance should rather be understood as a
thing to which it belongs to not in a subject. The name (m) is taken
from the substance's quiddity, and the name (('w) from its act of being
(mr). Hence implied in the meaning of substance is that it have a quiddity 10 whi ch
it belongs 10 exist not in something else. And this, Thomas contends, cannot be
said of God. I ..
Ill. "Ampliu$. Unllmqllooqlle (ollUCItur in gencr;, pl:t r.l(ioncm 'Iuidditaris, cllim
in quid rif. Sed quiddir.ls Dci CSt esse. Sundum quod non colloc;uuf
in 1ic ens esset genus, quod lign; fint ipsum esse" (ibid.).
nl. Ibid. NOIc in panicub..: "Nulla aUl('rn diffcTt:tllia genus, ita scili cct quod genus
sit in r.t tionc diffcrcntiae. quia genu1 ponereHu bi5 in dennirionc .. .- Fo! sec
Afuaphysio HI. c. } (998b U - l7).
a ... Ed. ci t .. p. !6.
Ell. cit.. p.
116. Ibid. Note ill Opone! igiruf quod r.uio imdligalUr hoc modo, quod



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236 The Essenrial Structure of Finite Being
thinking once more. This time an objection was raised by a panicipam at the quod-
libelal disputation against the possibil ity Ihat in the Eucharist accidents can con-
tinue to exist without thei r substant ial subj('(:t. According to the second objection,
of whalever a definition is predicated, so is thai which is defined also predicated.
But the definition or description of substance is a "being in itself. " If after Eucharis-
tic transubstantiati on accidents remain in themselves wit hout their substance, it
follows that these accidents themselves will then be substances.I)'
Thomas begins his reply by recalling that. according to Avicenna. ffll"CannOt be
included in the definition of a genus or species. This foll ows because, while all
individuals have in common the generic or specific definition, the genus or species
is not reali7.cd in the individual members according to a single act of being (esit).
Thomas qui ckly rejects the descript ion of substance as Kthat which exists in itself"
or of accident as Kthat which eltim in something else. These are only circumlocu-
tions for the correct descriptions. A substance is a "thing to whose narure il belongs
to exist nOt in somet hing else." An accident is a to whose narufC it belongs
10 exist in something clse." 13'
In light of thi s, Thomas concludes that if miraculously, i.e .. through divine
power, an accident does not exist in a subject, it docs not thereby meet the defini-
tion of substance. In other words, it will not thereby be turned into a substance. It
will still nOt be owing to it s nature nOt to exist in something else. Nor does such
an accidcllI cease 10 be defined as an accidem; its narure will $till be such that
it belongs to it 1'0 exist in something eJse.
'40
Finally. ncar the end of his career,
Thomas makes lhese same points once again in Summa lhto{ogiat Ill , q. 77, a. I,
ad 2 .
'
.'
These passages arc important Ix-cause they rco inforce the point that Thomas re-
fu.scs to define as hcing in itself. or to define accident as tha t which exists
in something else. But they are itlleresting (or another reason, (n the texts we had
previously considered. strictly philosophical concerns accounted for Thomas's reo
fusal to define substance as that which exists in itself. These concerns followed from
1)8. Leon. l S.1.97-9B. NOlt in p3rlicular:" . . . si Ngo;n sacr:lrnenlO $unt
5e. non in SC<jl.lilllf qllod sint substantia", ... ' Also 5eC Ihe note 10 lines 15- 16 for 2 \'llluable
5e1 of r<:fcrences 10 u di er and coniemporary u5<ogC!; of rTlS "" Sf 10 define !oubnance. including Alex-
ander of Halo:s. Ihe S" mma fintril Alb.orl. and Bona"enlU"', The Leonine editor (Gau.
Ihi ... ,) COm'llentS Ihal ,his ddini,ion is nO! found in Arislolle bUI 5ttms to dcri, ... from John
Damuccnc's 0;11/((1;((1 in i.s by Rokn
Ij9_ 2\_1.99=78-90_ NOle "EI ideo haec non at vera ddinilio 'Sub-
Siamia esl quod pcI tsr', vel < accidtmis> : 'Accidens ts. quod CSI in alio. sed (SI cin:umlocutio
verae descriptionis. imdligilUr: 01 cuius tJalUrac debclUr ts5e non in alio';
'Accidens Ve IO I'lIt Ies, natu"' ... dcl>cl1u esse in alio''-
q o. leon. :\. I.99:'}o-<)S-
'41. This "Umuu in hoc Sacramcnl O si ne subil"Clo" (leon.
I l .19;). Sec p. 1'}4 for Ih ... reply 10 objC'C.ion 1_ Afler rCjccti ng ,he faulty denn it iOlls of subsnncc llnd
3ccid ... nt Thomas 5urnlilUles: quiddil31i seu esscntiae SUOstllll li ac comp<!lil habere esse non in
'l"iddital ; amem sivc compel" hab<:re t.<I>C in 5u"icclO_


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240 The Essentia1 StruClUre of Fini(c Being
As we have seen Thom:lS indicati ng in his Dr potl!ntia q. 9, :t. I, substance taken
as subj ect has (Wo characteristi cs. First of all , it needs no ex tri nsic foundation
which would support it; it is sustained in itself and is therefore said to subsist . This
means Ihat it exists in itself and not in something else. Secondly, it serveS as the
foundation for accident s. Insofar as we wi sh to emphasi7.e the first characteristic,
the faCt thai it subsislS in itself, Thomas nott .. 'S that we may describe it in Greek as
oumWmt; and in Latin as J nsofar as we stress the second characteristic,
we refer 10 it in Greek as "JPo5tllJis and in Lain as prima sUbUdlltia (fim sub-
stance). J Hence if "JPosrllJis and first subsl"ance differ in name, they are one and the
same in reality.(,
In his attempt to account for , hat whi ch distinguishes an individual subject or
supposil (rom its essence or nature or quiddity, two possibi lit ies seem to be open
to Thomas. On the one hand, he might simpl y appeal to the difference between
the individuat ing characterist ics which are presem in concrete material subj ects or
substances, and the nature whi ch is realized in each of them. He often !Urns to this
in accounling for the diversil)" between lhe twO, as in our passage from Dr pou",;a,
q. 9, a. I. Since according 10 Thomas there is no mailer in angel ic substances, il
wi ll follow from this approach t hat in Ihem there is no rcal dist inction between
nalUrc and the individual subjct:t or supposi1.1
On the other hand, Thomas might appeal to his theory of real composition and
diSl inction of essence and act of being (mt) in all finite substances. If we include
the act of being in our understanding of lhe subjct:t or supposit, it will follow from
rhis approach that in every finil e substance, angels included, the subject or supposil
will differ frol11 its essence or namre. Thomas reasons in this way in Quodlibet 2,
q. 2, a. 2 , as we shall shortly Puzzling, however, is the fact thaI he usuall y does
nOt speak this way. More frequently he holds that namrc and supposil arc identical
in created s pirits or angels.
For instance, in his earl y Comment ary on 13k III of lhe SmunuJ (d. 5, q. I , a.
J), Thomas is concerned with showing ,hal in Chri st there is only one person. He
observC$ that in cermi n cases namre and person differ really and in other cases only
conceptuall y (Ircundum rat;onnn). By nat ure he has in mind rhe quiddiry of a lhing
whi ch is signified by its definition. By pcrson he rather means this particular some-
thing (horaliquid) which subsists in its give':n nalllre. If we bear in mind that for
Thomas a person is a rational or int ellectual supposit, we': can easi ly see thar here':
5. [d. /:;f., Vol. I, p. ll.6; /:; I<'d;n Ch. Vil n. p.
6. On idclllific:nion of individual as fit")! sub.ltanC(" or Iry/J'OlI(lsifsee ST I. 'I.
19. I. Cf. III 1&111 .. d. 1.3, q. I. a. I (Mandonnc! <'d., Vol. I, pp. 55}- 5]). <'..'I pecially:
dicendum dl, S;undum Bact;um, Ul SUIl1:!.tu. horum nom; num, 'essc:nti3,
substantia,' sundum si gnifiC:l!ionem a quibus imponuntur, Kil ictt esse, subsisterc, sub-
sure" (pp. 554- H). In VlIMtt .. lccl.!. nn. 117O-U74. and Ie .. ! ciled in Ch. VI I above,
n. }B.
7. Ed. Cil . , p. u6. s.:c Ch. VI I, n. H-
8. S n. 11


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244 The Essenrial Structure of Fini te Bei ng
In matter-form composites, essence or nature is nOt restricted to the substalHial
form alone, but incl udes both matter and form. Given this, Thomas asks whet her
in such enti ties (he subjecr (supposit) or indivi dual natural being {i ndividllUm 7111-
tum/f} is identiClI with its essence or nature, He refers to Aristotl e's M(tl1p/'ysiCl Vl I
where he finds the Stagirite holding (hat in things which arc predicaK'd prr sr, 3.
thing (rrs) and iu quiddity (quod quid m) are the same. T his is not tr ue of things
which art" predicated prr flccidms. For instance, cont inues Thomas, man is nothing
ot her t han what it is to be a man, since man signifies a rwo-foot"ed animal capable
of walki ng. A whit e thi ng, on the ot her hand, is not altogether identical wit h what
it is to be whi te; for while the quiddity white signifies a quali ty, a white thing is a
substance which has (hat quality . .!O
Given all of this, T homas develops this working principle. If a thing is such thai
somet hing el se can to it which is nOt included in tht" defini tion {ratio} of
its nature, that thing (m) and its "what it is" (qllOd qllid mY, or that subject and its
nature differ. This follows because the meaning or definition of nature incl udes
only that whi ch belongs to its spttific essence. But all individ ual subject incl udes
not onl y this bllt othcr things which to that essencc. For this reason the
subject (supposit) is signified as a whole, and its nature or quiddiry as a formal
part. This point, of course, is consistent with Thomas's earlier remarks concerning
nature and supposit in material enti t ies. They arc related as part and whole, and
they diffcr from one anothcr!'
In this teXT, however, Thomas makes no except ions for created spirit ual bei ngs.
Only in God arc there no accidel1l s in addi ti on to his essence, and this is bttause
the divine cssence and l he divine aCI of bcing arc idcmica1. It foll ows from t his that
in Gml (he subsisti ng subject and nature arc completely identical. But in angels
10. !..ron. l\.1.1I6:'U- 117:84. in panicubr: <'Igo considerandum. cum supposilum
\"d individuum nalurak compos;lUfn ex materia .. 1 forma , ulrum idem vd natura ...
EI h:tnc m()". .. ! Philowphu,' in Libm VI! M"!2physiCI ... ubi inquiri(, utrum sit iibm
unumqutwiqur, rI qulHi quid nt du!.. F) dClcmlinal quod in his quae dicuJ1!ur pcr sc:, idem esl res el
quod quid est rei. in his 2U!em Iluae dkunlUr per accidens. non esl idem: homo <' nim nihil esl aliud
quam quid esl homini$. nihil cnim aliud .<ignific:n 'homo' '1ullm animal pmibilt bipn; sed IU alba
non CSI idem omninu d 'luod quid C$1 album, 'l uud .sciJic .. t signifi c:uur nomine albi: nam IIlbum
nihil significllt nisi qUI1!itatrm . ... res 2UIW\ alba CSI . ublumia ha!x,n, 'lualilalcm" (p. 117:69-84).
For Aristotle s Mrtllphyt j(1 VII, c. 6, tspecially 10J I !- 1031 b 1.8. Then:' Ari'lode is di$Cussing
or n(;midcnlity of,. thing wilh ill rO Ii TjV dl"(u. which tcndef5 as its quod
'1uii m. In hi s Commentary un /I.lclaphysio VI! , I<"CI . 5, he ref .. rs 10 rhis 2.1 a thing's qued '1u;i rrat
(IK, which is, or courS<", " lilcr:aJ from Ih .. Grt:{"k. Thne, 100, foJi(M."$ Aristotle in
holding in Ihingl' which "re prcdic.md the thing tx idemified Wilh its qu<'d quid
rr.1I riU" (nn. IJ61. 1}71), although nor '0 in rhings which all: id prr lI('ddm r, mch
(n. 1}71). S n. IJ77 fOf Ihe mc. AhQ sc:c Thomas's in nn. 1}78-1}79. Compare wil h
our earliu remark 300"" in eh. VII. n. }7 aOOut Thomas's usual of esscn<:t, quiddity
:,md quod quid all! Wt.
2!. !..ron. lS.1.U?:8!-<)3. NOle in parti cular: "Sc:cundum hoc ergo, poresl aliquid
accidne quod non si l de r.tlione l Ull. .. nal urae, in eo diffcn ft:! CI quod quid sivc supposiml1l
ct .. . . w


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248 The Essenti al Srructure of Fi nile Being
supposiI . [n some way n>r is now incl uded within his undemanding of a subsisti ng
subject (supposit). Yet , as T homas indicates ill replying to the second objecti on,
[hi s does not impl y [ha t the definiti on of a subject or supposit incl udes NU."
Schweizer cit es anot her int eresting text from Summa thtoiogiat Ill . q. 2 , a. 2.
dat ing from ca. 11.7,h272-11.73. Here T homas raises a strictly th<."Ological issue con-
cerning whether the hypostat ic union is a uni on in person or in nature. In de-
fendi ng union in person. Thomas again examines t he meanings of person and
nature. Natu re signifies the essence of the species. that which is expressed by a
defi ni ti on. If nothing else could be :Idded 10 t hose thinb'S which fall under thi s
specifi c meaning, there would be no need 10 dist inguish nat ure from an individual
supposit in which that nature is reali zed: for an individual subject (supposi!) is t haI
which subsistS wit hin such a nat ure. Hence every individual which subsists wi thin
a given nature would be IOtall y idellli cal wi th its nat ure:
u
I n cert ain subsist ing things, however, somethi ng is present which is not incl uded
within the spt'cifi c meaning of t hat thing, namely, accidents and individual' ing
princi pl es. T his is most evidt' lll in maner-form composi tes. T herefore, in such
enti l' ies nature and sup posit reall y diffe r. This does not mean t hat t hey arc com-
pletel y sepa rate from one another, but t hat the nature of Ihe spC1: ies is contained
within the supposi t. along wit h cert ain ot her things which arc not incl uded within
the specifi c content of that nat ure. Therefo re the subject or supposit is Signified as
a whole, which incl udes t he nature as a formal part."
If there is something in which nothing whatsoever is present in addition 10 the
illldligibi c Co ntent of its nat ure, SUppoSil and n:uurc will not reall y differ in that
being. Such is true of God. In sud l a bei ng SUppoSil and nature will differ onl y in
t he order of thought, i.e., concept ually. It will be referred 10 as a nature insofar as
it is a given essence. while t his same nat ure or essence will be describe<! as a stlpposi t
insof.1r as it subsi sts . .!'i
Does this text support the posidon presented in Quodl ibet 2, q. 2. a. 2. in di st in-
guishing nature and supposi t in creat ed spiriu? Schweizer seems to think so, even
though T homas has not expli ci tl y refnred here 10 angels. He has reasoned t hat in
subsisting things in which something is present whi ch is not incl ud<.-d within
JL Schw.:iur. pp_ 8&-$9_ For ICl I 5tt n. l 7 aNwc.
j l. u :on. ILl S. especiall y, "tt si quidcrn hil quac r.uiO"CIll spici rcni ncm tlihil aliud
;L(/iunclull) inveniri possei . nulla tl ecc:s.sir.u m<'1 naUUam a natu",.: , quod est
individuum in natura ilia: quia unumquooquc individuum in al iqua
esWt omnino Cum 5U:l. rutnf":l. "
3). Ibid. NOte in particular: "Comi ngit aurem in 'Iui busdam .ebussubsis!cntibus invenir; aliqu;d
quod non pt: rtinct ad rationern speciei. accidcnli a c{ principia indi"iduan{ia: sicu! ma>ri me
appu ci in his ex (I fOfl1l3 comp05ir.l. EI ideo in [:I.libus el iam .'iundUIll rem
differ! natura ct supposi(ultl . "on quasi onmino aliqua scp3rat'3 . . . .
j4. uSi qua vem res <'$T in Onlnino ni hil esT aliud praCter I':I.tion(nl 1piei vel nal uru 1Ull. (.
Si(.UT d t in Dl'\). ibi non CSt :l.Hud secundum supposi wrn et natura, sed secundum ratio-
"em intclligcndi: ' Iuia natura di citur sundum quod C$I cS!>e nl ia <juled:l.m; caJ"m __ e.o J iciwr sup-
pwi lUm soxundul\1 quod suhsistens- (ibid.). Cf. his to obj. ,_


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252 The Essemial 5rrucrure ofFinire Being
and in more rceell( limes has especially been defended by 6ill ot.
44
Still more re-
cenil y, however, another reading of Capreolus has been proposed: he did nOI really
hold that it is existence {mt} itself, but rather an ordering to existence 011 the part
of an individual thing's nature whi ch serves as the formal constituent of the sup-
posiL
H
It is not my purpose here to enter illlo the controversy concerning the views of
Cajetan, Capreolus, and Billol abom Ihis. [I seems 10 me Ihal when the problem
is stated in these terms it is difficult if not impossible 10 find an answer in Thomas's
lexts. This is because he usually casts the issue in other terms, having to do with
the relationship and di stinction between nature and supposit. h will be enough for
us to recall that al least in Quodlibet 2 Thomas incl udes the aCI of being (mr)
within [he ontological structure of the indi vidual subject or supposil, This suggestS
that the act of being pla}'5 an imponam role in Thomas's mind wilhin Ihe Structure
of any existing subj ect or supposit. It reminds us again that for Thomas the act of
being {(1St) is the actuality of all actS and the perfection of all perfections within a
given bcing . .t6 This is 1)0 1 to say, however, that Thomas has explici tl y rai sed or
answered the question concerning the formal cOI1$[i tuent of the supposit or person.
It is to suggest that if one wishes to answer that question within Thomas's meta-
physics, an important role should to be assigned to the an of being {mt}.
Reference to the act of being raises some ot her points. Thomas is convi nced
that there I:an only be one substantial act of being in a gi ven subjeCl or supposit,
at least in the natural order. The act of being wilh which he deals in Quodli bet 2,
q. 2, a. 2 is, of course, substantial NU, not accidental rot. Whether accidems al so
enjoy distinctive actS of being is an issue we shall take up in the foll owing
&Ce tion of this chapter. As reg;uds substantial (SU, Thomas's conviction that Ihere
can onl y be one substant ial act of being in a given supposit or subject assists him
in meeting olher questions. For instance, he usually appeals to [his in addressing a
+4. On th is Stt Schweiztr, pp. 1}- 18 (on Clpreollll and fO/ sollie ..... ho would deny thaI he mak($
exiSTence Ihe cOnStitul ent); )l- H (8illol his folloWC"r.I). Also sec J. Hernandn -P:rchuo,
Act<> J fubJumria. ESluJhl Il mn>N !i.uuo To ... ;11 Aquino (&vill e. pp.
For etlOru in this direction Stt F. "8 eonsliTmivo formal de la persona creadl en la
Ir.ldicion tom iSla: La Gorda tomiftll 68 pp . .\-89; 70 (1946). pp. 201-93: E. "II
problema scol mico dell a per.sona nd Gaetano t nd Capreolo," DiulU TiJomas (Piac.) 5S (1951) , pp.
H- 6,: "Discussioni ndl 'i merprer:u ione di Capreolo $ul problema ddb. persona," s"Irsianum 18
pp. Mullaney. "Crated pp. J8.1-91. For crilicism of Muii il and QulTe-
lit) Degl"lnnoccnd, quadam rarione," 1'1" 311- , 8; ' upreolo d'accordo w i Gaenno a
proposilo ddb f umn docnr 7 (19S4). pp. 168-10}. For agrccmem with the " iew
Capreol u, did defend existcncc theory 5..:hweiur. p. 17. Norc that Schwci'.cr himself ult i
mat ely mncludes thaI Thomas defendt<i none or lh($('; lheories, bUI espoused the theory or
and therefore held Ihal makes an individual a person is nOl something posit ive
but .something negative, i.e., the ab$("ncc of union Wi l h another 5upposil and eSpially
PP 1I4-
1
7).
46. Sa Dr fOrmti", q. 2.



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256 The Essential Strucrure ofFinirc Being
of gre-,m:sr imerc:st to us here:. By saying that such an accidental being (NSt') results
from the union of a subjea and its accident, I take him to ml'an lhat the accident
in some way causes (as a secondary formal or determining cause) thi s accidental
being in its subject, As he pms it in the second passage: JUSt analyz.c:d, the superven-
ing accident does not cause a thing's substantial act ofbcing, but a ce:nain second-
ary being (t'su). We are still very much in the dark concerning Thomas's under-
standing of this secondary being (mr) . But at least this much is clear from T homas's
remarks in the Dr rnu. He disti nguishes bcnveen a thing's substantial act of being
and a superadded secondary or accidental ml'.
In thi s discussion Thomas docs not indicate how this secondary or accidental
being (mt) st:!.nds in rel ation to the accidcnt<ll form or essence. Are the {\vo really
distinct from one He docs state that the accident'".ll form Cduses this sec-
ondary bcingY One might be tempted to conclude t hat thi s is enough to show
that Thomas really distinguishes between them as bem-cen an accident:!. l form and
the heing (NU) which it causes. This, however, would be [Q take tOO much from
thi s text. If the causality in question is of the formal order. as it clearly must be. \\fC
should remember that a formal cause exercises its causality by communi cat ing itsel f
as a determining principle. Even if the accidental form is reall y identical with the
accidental being it is said to cause, that form could st ill be described as a formal
cause of the accidental being (mr) within a given substance.
In his equal! y early De principiis nalllrnr. c. I. Thomas distinguishes hem'een
IWO kinds of existence. (au}-the substantial or essent ial existence of a thing, as
for a man 10 be, which is existence in the unqualified sense:; and an accidenral
exislence (nu), as for a man 10 be whi te, which is to bc in a qualified way (r!Sr
aliquid ),(.' Shortly t hereaft'cr he comments that a (substantial) form gives existence
(Nir) 10 matter, whereas a subjeCt gives existence 10 its accidents. In other words, a
substalHial subjeCt does nOt derive its substantial existence from its accidentS/"
If we were to stop at this point in Thomas's text, we might suspeCt that here he
rejects his claim in the Dt' eIIuthat an accident or accidental form gives an acciden-
tal and secondary being (t'Su). This is not the case, however, as Thomas soon clari-
fies. What produces subsrarnia! existence in aCllla!ity is substantial form. What
produces accidental existence {md in actuality is an accidenTal form. Again. thef'(: '
fOTc, he refers to an accidellt<l l t Juwhich is caused by all accidental form, and which
he distinguishes from the subsrant ial exi stence of the underlying subj ect. Whether
19. 5 len cir<'d in n. 17.
60. eM <:SM' . sdlicCI <:S5C CSM: nlial e rd sivc UI homincm cl hoc C;';1
cnr- simplk iler; {"$ I 3liud acddcmalr- . ll! hominem OJ(' album. Ct hoc CSt esse aliquid"
( Leon. 'U. J!H - 8).
61.5..-.: LeOIl . i 3.J9:lO- 35- NOl c in I'udcul .. " -Unde si!1ll'licil cr loquendo rorma matc'
riac. sed subicoclum ___ ." In this conlnt Thomas dOC;'; nor ck-anr distinguil h /xo(wttn mr
taken 5ubSl:1ruia! aa,,! romd; and:lS the F.icmaI4iSlr-nce which resuit$ lherdrom. Henc( { halle
hr- re chosen the nculral tcrm 10 apn:ss it in Engli l h.



",
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260 The Essential Structure of Fini re Being
(inme). Therefore an accident is not descri bed as a being because it has roe. hut
rather because by mea ns of the accident, something is. Hence it is hert er described
as "of a than as "a bei ng. "n
In his Commentary on MetllphysiCl Xl. leet. }, Thomas mentions the different
ways in whi ch being is said. T hat is described as being in the unquaJ iJid sense (l'IlS
simpliciur) which enjoys existence in itself, that is to say, l hat whi ch is a substance.
Other things are described as beings beeause they pertain to that which exists in
itself. Such is true, for example, of a pllssio or a habi t or anything of this kind. Thus
a qualiry is not said to be a being because it has es.u hut because a substance is
di sposed in a certain way by that qual iry. So it is wi th the other accidents. It is for
this reason that they are said to be "of a bei ng. "7r. Thomas makes the same poim
in his CommelHary on MttaphyliCJ Xl I, leet. I. There he adds that accidents and
pri vations differ from one another in this respect , that by reason of accidents a
subject enjoys some kind of being (elu aliqualt), while by reason of a pri vation it
does nOt but ra ther lacks a certain being (me).n
NOll(: of these passages should be read as implying that Thomas is now denying
thai there is an accidental bei ng in dist inction frolll the sub$tanti al Jct of being in
a given subject. His purpose repeatedl y is to guard against the mistaken impression
that an accident has existence in itS own ri ght , or that it subsists in itself, or that it
is a subst ance. Only substances are bei ngs in the un'l ualifi ed sense/
s
Thomas had already made this poi nt, bUI with all interesting ptecision in termi-
nology, in ST I, q. 45, a. 4. T here he att empts to show that accidents and forms
and ot her thi ngs of tbis sort whi ch do not subsiSt arc more properly said to be
concreat ed than created. Only thi ngs which subsist are created, strictl y spea king.
To justify this conclusion he reasons Ihat 10 exist belongs properly to that which
has being, i.e. , that which subsists in ils own act of bei ng. Forms and accidents and
other things of this kind arc not described as beings as if they themselves exist, but
ral her because by means of them somet hing is in a given way. Thus whi teness is
said to be a bei ng because by means o( it a subj ect is whit e. Therefore, an accident
is morc properly said 10 be "of a than a being. And things of this type
which do nOt subsist arc morc than beings and hence morc properl y
75. Here Thomas is defending the point that one kind of grace- habimal or whn is orten known
s:mnifying- is a quality of the $(Iu!. In ,eplyi ng to objtion J he oomments: u .. . aceidentis
e<t Untlc omne KCiJeru non di ei lUr ens quasi ipsum css<': quia ro aliquid cst.
Unde Ct magi s dici1l1' ""(" quam CnS . . ." ( Lron. 7.J lj).
76. EJ. ci t" p. 5t9. n. W )? $..'C in panicuJu: "Non enim quali ta.< did tur ens. quia ipsa habeat
esse. P<:! eam ill. dicil l.lT esse d isposiI3."
77. See p. 567. n. 1-{1 9: "Nam enS dicitur quasi hoc :.lutern $Olum 0'51 substantia.
subsisl;l. dicumuf ( mia. nOll sum, ><:d IlIagis ipsis Fot rhe
cQrnpa';$Ofl wit h n. 2-{ 20.
78. AI$O Dr porttlfjll . q. j. :I. . 8, 00. ci l .. p. 62: " .. . SicUI <:t accid(mia dicu fllur (mia, quia
cis tsf vel qualis vel .. . . "



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27 0 The Essenrial St ructu re of Finite Being
A number of passages d:ll ing from Thomas's more manIre writings also poim
(0 the same. conclusion. For instance, a tex! we have already considerl from
SlImma contra GI'1IIilN IV, c. 14 (daling from ca. 1264- 1265) is al leasl open to ,his
ilHerpretation. There Thomas remarks {hat all accidents are certai n forms which
are superadded to their substance and caused by t he principles of the substance. In
this text , however, he dOl'S not indi cate in what way accidents arc caused by their
substance's principles, whether only in the order of receiving causaliry, or in OIher
orders as well. I "
In the De potmtia, q. 7, a. 4 (dating from 126s-1266), Thomas offers a scries of
arguments to show that there are no accidents in God. In hi s sccond argument he
rcasom that since an accidell1 is extrinsic 10 the essenct' of its subjecl and si nce
lhings whi ch are diverse can only be unilCd through some cause, to admit thaI an
accident is present in God would require a causc. No cxtrinsic cause could be ad-
mined (0 account for this; for something would then be prior 10 God. Nor will
appcal 10 an intrinsic cause suffi ce in the case of Cod, although thi s situation does
obtain in the Ca$C of prr sr or proper accidcnts. They do have a cause within their
subj cCl . But a subj eCl cannOi serve as a cause of irs accident by reason of that
whereby it receivcs the accident ; for no potency can move itself to act. Therefore a
subjcrt must receive an accident under one aspect and serve as the cause of that
accident under another aspect. This is to say that the subject must be composed in
some way, as is [rue of [hose subj ects which recci \'c an accident by reason of their
mallcr and causc the same accident by reason of their form. I II
This is an intCTcsting text for a number of reasons. In it Thomas appeal s 10 hiS
general theory of aCI and pOl encr to make the palm that a subject canllOi re<:ci,'c
an accidclU under the same aspeCt in whi ch it causes the accident ; for no potency
can reduce iuelf 10 act. We shall sec more ofllis thinking concerning thi s when we
take up his argumenr'Jt ion from motion for God's CJ[i stence in ST I. q. 2 , a. ) . II)
But Thomas's remark again suggests that , at least when hc is deali ng with proper
accidents, he assigns somt' kind of causat ion to their substall1ial subj cct which is
distinct from mat eri al or receiving causal ity. We would still like to learn more about
this non rcceiving kind of causality.
This text is al so important because in it Thomas amici pates a possi ble objection
agai nst the cl aim that a substantial subject can both receive and actively produce
one and the same accident. He attempts 10 meet this objection by di stinguishing
within Ihe subjcct between thaI by means of which it receives and that by means
III , S n. 84 abcr.e,
Il l . Ed. ci , ., PI). 19J- 96. NOle in part icular; "Simililer Cl tam lIon PO' OI esse ex causa imrinseca,
CST in \,<, r S(' accidell1ibus {for: 1">C1!it: in aecidcl11 ibusl . quae habcm causam in $ubiK IO.
lum cnim non PO""$I t1k accidtnt ii ex tOOC' m N. quo susci pil accidens, qui:.\. nulla potenti a
movel !iC ad Uncle oponer <lund ex alio sUKepli vum CI ex alio causa acci
el eomposilUl1l; quae recipiunr per nalUl':I.m malcriat. el O U$:l.nr
PCI natUTam
" J. S Ch. XU. Scrdon I, Fi m Way. -


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274 The Essential Suucture ofFinirc Being
jeer of a virtue. In preparing hi s answer he fi rst notes that a subject is related to an
accident in three ways: (t) by sustaining or supporting the accidcfl[, since an acci-
dent does not exist in it s own right apart frolll a subj ect; (2) as potency to act (dlUS
a subject st'3. nds under an accident as a certain potency for something active; for
this reason the accident is related to it as a form); (j) as a cause to its effect, since
the principles of the subject are the principles of a per u (or proper) accident. 1.U
Rat her than explain more fully how a substance may be said to cause its proper
accidents, Thomas goes on to examine if and to what extent onc accident may
stand in similar rel ationships to other accidents.1l4 BUl si nce he has referred to a
substance in one way as sustaining or supporti ng an acci d{,nt , and in the third way
as causing il in some &shion, Ihe ki nd of COl usality he has in mind S<.'Cms once more
to be distinct from material or rCi:eiving C!. usat ion.
In sum, we have seen that throughout his career Thomas holds that a substance
serves as a rL'Cciving or material cause for the accidents whi ch inhere in iL Hence
the subject is in potency to such accidents, and the accidents may be regarded as
its secondary acts or secondary forms. In itself this poses no great difficulty, But
Thomas refers to certain accidents as being "created" or "caused" from or by the
principlcs of their substanti al subjcn, or as bei ng "educed" or "flowing fronl" or
"resulting fronl" the same, This is rcpeat'edly said to be true of proper acci dents,
i. e . those which follow from a thing's essential or specific pri nciples, though some
texts suggesl that it appli es to other accidents which foll ow from a thing's individ-
ual principles-but only, I would suggest, if lhose aceidenrs arc inseparable from
that individual. m
Thomas has also indicated that a subjecl may be regarded as a productive prin-
ciple or Cluse of its proper accidents. This follows from the fact that the subject is
in act uality in some way. In the case of a composite substance, Thomas has traced
this producing rol e back to the substamial form of that subj ect. In the case of a
simple form such as the human soul, the form itsel f is in act insofar as it is actual -
iz.ed by its corresponding act of being, although it is in potency to any accidental
forms which inhere in it. Thomas has noted that a subj ect is a cause of its proper
accidents in three ways, i,e" as a hnal cause, in a certai n way as an active cause, and
as a material cause. And in the last teXI we have examined (Dt' lIirtutibus, a, 3), he
has remarked Ihal a subject is related to it s proper accident as a c.mse to its effect;
for the principles of the subject arc also principles for such an accident.
IM
113. A. Odwo, ro., in Quantiolln dhputar;u, Vol. p. 71S: .. . $uhil'ClUrn lriplicil N compar.nur
ad accidens. Uno modo, 5icul ei sum:n,amenlUm; nam accidens so: non fulci-
lur V<:'o p<:t subie<:l um. Alio modo sieul polenlia ad aClUm: nam 5u6iN:fUm aC(:idenli $ubiicilur,
sicUi qU2e.:b.m pOIcmia xlivi ; l1nde accidens fOlm3 dicilur. Tenio modo skU! Clusa ad etl"eCfum:
n3m prinCipia subiN:li {wnjcclUral corre<:l ion ror; subjcctal sum principia pc'r S(; 3ccidentis."
124. Ihid.
IlS. l:Ur tCXU where Thomas applics Ihis to which follow from a thing's individual
principia 5CC till. 99 and 104 alx)\"c.
Iz6. Sec n. I:J abo,c.



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278 The Essent ial Srructure of Finite Being
is viewed as an image of the Tri nity within the soul, is to be taken as the essence of
the soul or as a power. 'JS
In developi ng his reply, Thomas nOtes that the {erm "intellt."C[, " insofar as it is
expressed in rel:nionship to rhe aCI of (understanding), dCl; ignates a power of the
souL Such a virfllJ or power is intermediate beTWeen the essence of the soul and its
operation. Fartht' r on Thomas remarks that the human soul incl udes the hi ghest
level of powers of the soul. And from this highest level of power the human soul
receives its name. Thus it i$ known as the intellective soul, or sometimes simply as
the intell ect or mind, $ince this power (i ntelle<;t or mind) naturally fl ows from the
human soul iucl( ,'''' Given thi s, Thomas concl udes that the term expresses
thaI in our soul whi ch is hi ghest as a power. And since the divine image is found
in us according 10 that whi ch is highesl within us, the im:lgc of the Trini ty wiHnot
belong to the essence of the soul except by reason of "mind, " its highest power. in
ot her words, insof.1r as the image of Ihe Trini ty is expressed by the tCTm
(mfm), it refers not 10 the esscnce of the soul but to its highest power. Or if it does
refer to the soul's essence, Ihis is true only insofar as the power of mind flows from
the soul 's esst:nce itsclf. ' .l7
in this discussion and in replies to certain obje<;tions in this articl e Thomas
takes as given the distinction bemeen the soul and its powers. Important fOT our
later consideration of any evemual evolut ion in his posi tion is hi s remark that the
soul is known as the int el lecti ve soul , but also as the intellecf or mind. This SUggCl; ts
(hat we must carefully delermine when Thomas uses the term "intellect" to signifY
a power of fhe soul, and when he uses it 10 designate the imellenivt: sou l itself.
'
'''
In the only slightly bter Quodlibet 10, q. 3. a. I of 1258, Thomas again responds
to the question whether the soul is ident ical with its powers. In replying he notes
thaI we may speak of the soul in [\\10 ways, either (I) inSO(l r as if is a certain sub-
stanet", or (2) insofar as it is a certain potenti al
When taken in the first way- as a certain substance-the soul C:Ulnot be identi-
fi ed with itS powers, and this for twO reasons. First of all. it is impossible for one
IJS. Of t primo utrum prol1l in e:I HI ,i , ,.t!
aliqu3 potenti3 (l>n . U.2.1,9j:l- S). With Weil heipl I am 2Si' uming t hat TI.omas di!puu:d
q. 10 during hi! $()nd yur as Regent Mana (5 FriJl r TJ,omaJ d"A'luilffJ, pp. J61!f.).
IJ6. leon. Note: " ... sed anim2 hum2na (Krfingil ad altissimum gr.l.dum
ima polellIias ani mae el a hoc denom;nalUr. unde dici lur imdl{;va cl "';2m imd
el ' imili ler men, inquanlun, scilicet ex ips<! nata CSt effluere talis potentia, quod at sibi pro-
pri um pr.le aliis anim3bu" (z97,1}j- 1, 9).
1)7. Leon. 11.1.197:1-40-1-49. Note: '" ... vel!; nominal hoc non nisi inquanlUm
ab cl Auil 13li$ pot"ntia.
138. Sce our di$Cussion below ofWroer's cl aim th3t Thorn3S 3b.r.ndoned of
leal dislirn:l ;on oown Ihe Wil l 3nd ils powers. NOie in his lo objt ion 1 Thom:as ex
Ihal Ihe lerm "mind" can be used so as 10 includc b<)lh the and tho: wil! . in Ihal it Ih(n
5i gniho:$ a cellain genus of of Ihe soul. i.e. , those- completely llOln$Cend maner and Ihe
oondil ioll5 of mail er in Ihei r o(Kralion (Leon. 21.1. 198:211- 219). cr. his replies to objections 7 and 11.
139 Sec l..c<:>n. 15. 1.1 }O-JI' ... primo utrum ani ma sit ,";lIem;u."


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282 The Essenri al Suucrurc of Finirc Bei ng
In q. 77, a. [ Thomas offers a second argumem which is immediately directed
to Ihe human soul rather than to being in general. With obvious reference
to Aristotle's descripl ion of the soul in the De animtl and his own view rhat Ihe
human soul is a substantial form, Thomas remarks that according 10 irs essence the
soul is an acl. If the of the soul were its immediate principle of operation,
one who always posscsS(."<i a soul in aClUali ry would also always actuall y perform all
its vi tal operations. Thomas also observes that insofar as the soul is a form, it is not
an act whi ch is ordered 10 any further ;I(t; rather it is the ultimate terminus of the
process of generation. For the soul 10 be in potency to addi tional acts does not
belong 10 its essence insof'J.T as it is a form, t herefore, but only by reason of some
potemialiry. And insofar as the soul is subj ect 10 such potentiality. it is referred 10
as a first act which is ordered to a second act. In fact , however, we observe that
someone who has a soul does not always perform all Ihe soul's vi tal operalions.
From this it follows that the essence of the soul cannot be identified with its po-
tency for
While t his argument is cast in diRerI'll! terms from any we have seen so far, in
it Thomas again appeals to a general principle and to a faCI which can be di scovered
by introspect ion and by observation of othcr human agcnts. The principle assumes
that the soul is an act in the line of essence and, because of this, that if t he soul
were the immediatc principle or its oper.uions, whCIlI:\'cr it cxisled it would also
perform those operations. Imrospection and observation rc\'cal, howcver, that t he
soul docs nO! always perform those operations. Hence it is not the immediate prin-
ciple of its operadons. To accoum ror these, <tnd to <l ccount for Ihe fa ct mat the
soul is in potency 10 olher aelS, one must appeal to powers of operation whi ch are
distinct rrom rhe soul's essence. Presumably those who reject Thomas's conclusion
would reject t he principle on whi ch the argument
In Summa tht'owgilu I, q. 79, a. 1 Thomas repeats a \'crsion of the nrSt argument
we have just considered. There he asks whether the intellect is a power of t he soul.
In supporting his affi rmat ivc reply, hc again reasons tha t the immediat e principle
of an agent's operation can be its essencc only if t hat agent 's operati on is identi ca l
with ils act ofbcing (esu). JUSt as a potency is rdated to its operation as to its act,
See U1 pp. 91-9). WdlCr d.xs llI (' mi Ofi Ihis poim in paMin!; in fl. II, p. 107. He
Ihe inAuencc on Thomas or a Slalelll cnl from I'scudoDiony$ius's Crkftiol C. II.
cil ed in ST !. q. I contr::l1. according 10 which heavenl y spiriTS:l. rc di vid<!d imo
powN, and operation (pp. 89-9Ij .
149. l.)n. S.tJ6-j]. Note Ihal h ... COnnI:C1S hi$ obSNvation that one who h:os a soul dOC!! nOI
:ol way p"' rforrn all iu vilal with description of Inc soul io II, c. T. as
klhe actuali), of:l. oatur::ll body which hu life in (4lta. t 7-l..8). " Ef sic ipsa ani
ma. secundum quod SUbesl suae dici\UI O(/US primus. ordinatus anum
In''cnilur autcm habens animam non st' mpcr esse in aCIU opelum vila .... Undc etiam ;0 ddinitione
animae di ci tur quod /trlUS rorporis /KItolt'n uit .. m Imb(ntis. quae lamen p(nemia n07labiidt nni-
"' .. "'." Cf. Ora";,,, .. II, c. I (41lb 15- 16).
150- On argument see Kunde. D/t f &r &rk. pp. l IT- T,,; La conrrowrY. pp.
9J-97 (who<;(; imerprcIJlion differs from mine).




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286 The Essential Structure of Finite Bei ng
possible for the princi ple by means of whi ch il is produced to be pan of the agent 's
essence. In ot her words, in such a case the agen t is not immediately operarive. For
support Thomas IlIrns to natural agency. In the case of subsranrial generation. a
natural agent acts by changing matter with respect to the form that informs it. In
ot her words, the agent introduces a new substantial form into t he matter. This
happens only insofar as the matter is first properly disposed for that form. Only
then will the maner actuall y receive the form. T hus generation (t he inrroduct ion
of the new substantial form) is the termin us of alterat ion (in t his case, a change in
the previous disposit ions of the maner). Hence in such nalliral changes it is neces
sary that what acts immediately from the side of the age", be an accidenral form.
Only such a form will correspond to the disposition introduced into maner. In
other words, beca use the dispositi on whi ch is introduced into maner by an agent
is an accident, the proxi mate principle which introduces th:!.! disposition must itself
also be an accident Y..o
Thomas also remarks thar such an accidental form can aCI only in virtue of a
substanti al form and as its instrument. Otherwise the accidental form would be
incapable of inducing a substanrial fo rm illlo the m:ltter through its aCl ion. For
instance, in the case of the elementS the only evident principles of action are :lctive
and qual iti es. which lhemselves ael in virtue of substantial forms. It is for
this re:lson that such anions terminate nOt only in accidental dispositions, but also
in substantial forms. The only agent which can produce a substance direcdy and
immedi:ue1y th rough its own essence or substance is one that at ts through its es
sence; in such an agent there will be no distinction bern'een iLS essence and its
active power. For Thomas, of course, God alone is such an agelll.
16 1
UllIil this point Thomas's 3rgumem has concemratcd on rhe need for a distinct
aClive power in every case where wh:1I is done or produced is something accidental.
He now includes passive powers. It is evidelH th:lI a passive potency which is di
rC{;tiy ordered to a substantial act is in the genus substance, though by reduction.
And a power which is in potency to an accidental act must be in the genus
accident. but by reduction once again. This foll ows because every genus is divided
by potency and act. BUI it is dear t hat the powers of the sout. whet her active or
passive, are not so named because t hey are directl y ordered to something substaJltial
but rather occause they arc ordered 10 somelhing accidental. For instance, to un
derstand in aCI or to sensc in act involves not substant ial being but accidental bei ng;
:lI1d il is 10 thi s accidental being that rhe powers of intell ect and sense :Ire
tively
160. Leon. 24.1. 109:1p - r6, . NOH' in panicubr; "Quando igirur id quod agirur non pt'ninc! ad
esse rd. imp<)s.\'bil ... e; l quod principium 'luo agirur $i, aJiquid de rrr
mine).
161. Leo". ! 4.1 .' Oo) :,64- ,'h. Thomas also remarh Ihal Ihe lame of hi s scpaUIC
Agrm Imd l.,("!.
,61. l.roll. 1,p.10')"Sj- 197



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292 The Ssenrial Suucrure of Finite Being
Weber also ci tes passages from the Compmdium rhl'o/ogial'. In c. 85 Thomas
writes: imel lect, therefore, by which a human being understands, is the form
of this human being .... Fanher on in lhal same chapter, he remarks: intel-
lective soul , from the natu re of its species has this (characteri sti c), that it be united
to some body as a form .. .. [n c. 87 Thomas stat cs: is therefore necessary for
the agent intellect and the possible intel lect 10 come wgether in the si ngle essence
of Ihe soul ." BUI Ihis passage should be read in context . Earlit:r in c. 87 Thomas has
argut:d that since the agent intclk'Ct and the possi ble int ell ect are formall y united 10
us, it remains to indicalt: that they come wgether in one and the same essence of the
soul. For what is formall y united to a thi ng is unit ed to it either after the manner of
a substantial form, or aller the manner of an accident al form. In the latter case,
each will be all accident of the SOIl 1. In either case, he reasons, the same conclusion
wi ll foll ow, namely, that they come together in the essence of l he soul. m
Since Weber's thesis has been eff(.'Ct iveiy chall enged by OIhers and in consider-
abl e detail, here I shall limi t myself to a few observations. 1M First of all. the texts
we have seen so far am be given a much si mpler interpretat ion. As Thomas has
already reminded us as earl y as hi s Dr vl'rirlll(', one may use the term "intell ect" to
refer to the int ell ective potency or power of Ihe soul , and hence to a power {hat is
di stinct from the soul. Or one may take il as a way of dcsignating rhe imellcctive
soul itself. This is confirmed by the remark from ST I, q. 76, a. " cited above. ,n
184. ... il'lldl!!'Clus igimr quo homo il'llclligil, CSt (orml huius hominis ... (lton.
16). Noo" ,hut Thoma. ;. here ars";"g agai". , who .... ould d"fe"d ,n.,
Itr of Ihe ptmible inlell!!'Cl. AI$<) nOle from neat Ihe end of Ihis chapter: Anima enim i nldlcctiva t x
suac spedei hoc habel U! unialUl alicui t orpori Ul (olma . . . " (p. 110:1\8- 160). Sc:e \'(' H)(Cf,
"I.t:s di!CUS!i ions," p. JOO for cilal;on of Ihe first of Ihese pasg6. HoYo't"Vcr, he should ha\'C abo C; led
lilt StOOnd one; (or il shows ho .... tasily Thomas !nova from .Ipt"iling of Ihe i/lul/eN as Ihe (orm of
Ihi. irniividual man 10 rcferring 10 lilt inu{vaiw Sl}u{:U lhe form which is unilcd 10 a body.
18\. "Oponet igilut quod imellecl'lls (;1 possibilis in una csscmia animac conveniem'
(Lton. Ci ted by "L(;$ di5C1JSlions: p. joo. For T homou al$<) the firsl part of
(pp. 110- (1 1). In c. 88 11>0"':1.1 e:<pb ins how Ihese twO, the agenl and Iht possible intd-
I!'CI. comt logelh., in Ihe single =nce of Ihe 5(J11l. He nOll'o$ il is nOl l1 nfi l1ing fo r ont ;lnd tht
same $OUl l0 be "i n polenlia rcspeclu inldligibilia. prout poni l Llr in e;! intcl-
I!'CIUS possibilis. el ad eJ UI 3C1115. plQ\lI ponitl1! in ea imdlc{:IUS agens" (p. !I1:jj- j6).
As he expiains. t he ptJlency by of which t ht single intellective soul re<civts inlelligible spc<its
is callcd 1 he po:mible i mdlC<l. Th .. f>Ole ncy by .... hi ch il allsl r:lCIS intelligible from phanl:l.lms
is calied Ihe agent inlcli!!'C1 (lints Sl - 58). He on in c. 89 10 to all the power) of Ihe
$Oul, not ing all arc in a CClIain way "rooted in \he soul " ("in .... Sorne, such
Ihe o( the ""gelali"" and .stnsiri,'C part. in t he $Oul as in thei r priaeiple and in rhelXlmpos-
ill' in Iheir subjtct. Others, such IS the powers of lhe intell!!'Cl iv( pari. arc in Ihe soul both :1.1 in
Ihei r principle and as in their subiecl ( I.eon_ 41./11). lUIS do nOI give t h" Ihat
Thomas nuw idcnlifil..J the soul wilh ilS powers.
186.5n' n. 128 above fo' ,ef( ren(tS 10 l.ercvre and AI$<) SC(' RaJJrgnll Iii Itt/rm/ura romiJfira
(11I7l). pp. 6S- 71; F. Van Sl "enh<'rghen. Mlli," Siger dr Brubam (lou""i " . I'>.r;! , 'Sl7]), pp. )57-
60.411- 14.
187. For Ihe from fk wrifllfr. q. 10, a. I, set' n. 1$6 abov..-. For Ihal from ST I, q. 76, a. 1, $<C"
n. 17l.


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296 The Esscnrial ScrucllI re of Finice Being
I. The Distincrion between Matter and Form
Before taking up Thomas's physical and metaphysical approaches to the distinc-
lion beTween maHer and form, it may be helpful for us 10 turn 10 one of hi s
overall discussions of these twO principles. This is to be found in his Dr: principiis
mlturol', and has the additional advantage of bei ng presented in an independently
written work, nm in a commentary on Aristotle.
1
This treati se begi ns with an explanation of the distinction benveen potency and
act. That whi ch can exist but does not is said to exist in potency. That which
already exists is sai d to exi st in actuality. Bm there aTt' tv.'o kinds of existence
(l'Jft}-t he esscntial or substant ial existence of a thing, as for a human being to exist
(t his is to exi sl wi thout qual ification [tisr rimplicim1); and accidental exi stence. as
for a hum'ln being co be white (this is to be ill a qualified sell sc j t'lft Stcundwn

Corresponding to these twO ways in whi ch existence (tift) may be realized, i.e .
as substanti al and as accidental . arc tWO ways in which something may be in po-
tency, For instance, somethi ng may be in pOlency to be a human being. such as
sperm or menstrual flu id. Or something may be in potency to be white, such a
human being. Both lhal which is in potency to substant ial existence and that which
is in potency to accidental exi stence may be described as maller, bIll with this
difference, The kind of maHer which is in potency to substamial existence is re-
fNred to as matter which" qua), whi le the maHer which is in pmency 10
accidental cxistcnce is rather known as matter "in whi chn (i n qua). St ri ctl y speak-
ing, the ki nd of matter which is in potency to accidental existence is known as a
subject. whilt Iha! which is in potency to substantial existence is known as matter
in the proper sense. Thus we nOie that accidents arc said 10 be in, i.e., to inhere in
their subject , but that substant ial form is not described in this way.'
Presumabl y by this final remark Thomas wants to avoid assigni ng to matter
when compared with substantial form the kind of ontological priority substance
enjoys with respeer (0 its acci dent s. Thus, he continues, a subject does not derive
its exi stence from that which to i1. i.e., from itS accidents; but matter does
receive existence from that whi ch to it, si nce in itself i! only has incomplete
being {ml}. Hence while substJnt iai form may be said to give exi stence {me} 10
I. A5 will !)t r<'(:alk-d, Ihi5 work w'!! wtiucn Juring Tho ma5S ti me as BachdOt of Sentences
or poss ibly even carl in "lomU, Saim Tbomili Aquinlls. p. 349. On the qucs-
lion of martn and form i, anticip:I.I<:'1l much of the thinking we shall in Thoma$s laler work!,
ind udi ng h i5 Conltnetw:uics 01' ,he I'hysiu rhe Mrr",,"}!;'"
1 . quod quoddam POle." 05(' licel non "efO es t. IIlud 'llJod pof esf dicit Ut
tiM potentia. illud quod iam cs, dic;tur l'S5(' (!.ron. 4}.3'):1- 8). For Ihe or this
text see Ch. VII ! aWe. fl . 60.
3. u :on. 4}1,):,)- z6.



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300 The Essential Structure of Finite Being
After pointing out that the principles of change are twO in one sense, i.e., if we
take them as the colHrari es, and three in another sense, i.e., if we include the con-
traries and that whi ch underlies, Aristotle cominues:
now st ated the numlxr of the principl es of natur.l1 whi ch are subj"t to
gener-nian, and how the nu mber is reached; and it is dear that tht re must be somet hing
underlying the contraries, and the coruraries mllst be two .... The underlying
can be known by analo!,,}'. For as the bronze is to the statue, the wood to the bed, or the
mJller and the before reiving form to Jlly thing whi ch has form, so is the under-
lying nature TO subst ance, i.e., the 'this' or existent. ' 7
In comment ing on the final pan of the second passage, Thomas remarks that ac-
cording to Ari stotl e prime matter cannot be known in itsclr, si nce whatever is
known is known by means of its form; but prime matter is regarded as standi ng
under every for m. 13m prime mailer is known by analogy, that is, T homas explains,
according to a proportion. Thus we know that wood is differelH from the form of
a bench and from the form of a bed because the wood is now subject to one form,
and now to another. So tOO, when we see that what is ai r now becomes water, we
must conclude that something which existed under t he form of air is now subject
t"O the form of WateT. Therefore, JUSt as wood is different from the form of ... bench
and from the form of a bcd, we conclude , hat the underl yi ng subject is different
from rhe form of wat er and from the form of air. Hence this underlying subjttt is
related to natural subStances in the way bronze is rdared to a statue and wood to a
bcd , and anyt hi ng mat erial Olnd unformed to a ro rm. This underlyi ng subj ect ,
Thomas concludes, is called prime mauer.1 1
Thomas also remarks that prime m:Hlcr is one principle of nature, although it
is not one in the same way as is a determined indi vidual which enjoys a form and
unity in actuality. Prime maHer is said to be a nt' (and to enjoy being) insofar as it
is in potency to form. Thomas also commenl s that form {or mrio} is another prin-
ciple. and that the privation which is conl rary to the form is a third. He refers back
10 his earl ier explanat ion in this lurio of the ways in which these principles may be
regarded as twO and as
17 Su 191a }- Il; English Irms., p. p6.
18. See /11/ PIIJI. , I<"CI. I}, p. S'), n. !IS. in scilu, KCundulIl analogiam, idest
secundum .... Quod igitu, sic habet slIbnanrias naturales, sicU! S(: haber
aes ad 5t :llllarn ( I lignu III ad Icctum. ct quodlibet .,1 ad fo rmam, hoc: dici 111115 CS5C.
pri nlam." Cf. rx pri"cipii} ",,"',.,u. c. 1; (lm. 43.41:78-$S). As A. r"Qrd t has paimed OUI,
Thomas would have us ur;\'c al a knowledge of maner by rollowing twO roUles: (I) by knowing il
in INm) or ,he iorm which 3C1ual i,.e..< il: and (z) by analogy or proportion (LA
du ( on( rr"/, p. l12). For lerercncc to both of these way).see /" {), 1;.j"irau. q. 4, a. 1 (lAln.
100): ... uno modo pcr analogiam $;\"e per proportion.,m. ul dicitur in I Ph)"sicorum . .. al io modo
cognos.:imr pcr fo rm.m, habet in aelU .... " Cf. q. 5, a. j (li7:118- 1.l0) for Ihe KCond
way. Cf. [k q. 10. a. S (Lron.
Ill. In I Pbys., leet. !J. p. S\l, n. 118.



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JI8 The Essential Structure of Finirc Being
degree of acma[ity to primt': matt er, ont': would thereby compromise the essential
unity of a maner-form compositc. For instance, as Thomas pUIS thi s in his Com-
mentary on MnapbpiCl VIII, Icrt. I , if prime matleT included any proper form in
and of itself. it would enjoy some actuali ty by reason of thar form. When anot her
substantial form was introduced, matter would not receive unqualifi ed or substan-
tia[ bei ng from that form, but onl y some kind of accidctHal bei ng.n Hence, we
may infer, the maner-form composite would nOt be essentially one.
Before ending thi s discussion of prime man er as pure potenti ality, we should
refer to anOlher point. [n many of the t'CXtS we have now examined. Thomas identi-
fi es prime matt cr wit h potentiality. He seems to allow for no disti nction between
prime matt er, on t he one hand, and its potential ity, on the other. By very nature
it is a potcncy to substantial being or [orm. 'I(\ However, there is a difficult passage
in his Commentary on I SmuT/ us (d. 3, q. 4. a. 2. ad 4). There he is m(."Cting an
obje('don against his defense of disdnction between the soul and irs powers. Ac-
cording 10 objection 4, prime mamr is identical with its potency. But JUSt as p'.lssive
potency follows upon prime matter, so does active potency follow upon form,
Therrfore a substant ial form such as the cssenCl' of I he soul must be identified with
irs aCtive potency or power.?!
In Trplying 10 t his object ion, T homas introduces a distinction. If by passive
potency one has ill mind the rel:Hi OIl of matt er 10 fo rm, marreT is not identical
with its p<n cncy; for the essence of matter is not a relat ion. But if one simply has
in mind potency insofar as it is a principle within the genus substance in the scnsc
that potency and act are pri nci ples for every genus. one may identi fY ma rr er with
its potcncy. I'{mee when potency is taken in this second sense, one may say that
prime matt er as a receiving pri nciplc is ident ical with il$ passive potency JUSt as
God is identi cal with hi s active power (powuia). As Thomas points out against the
original objection. t he potency of matter is nOt ordered to operation bllt to receive
a form."z
Whi le Ihis may be an effective repl y to t he opposi ng argument, il raises some
question about Thomas's earl iest understanding of prime maner as ordered to
form. The distinction he has introduced implies that ifby passive potency we have
89. Here he fi Ild$ IUrning 10 5ubstant ial generation and eQrrupl ion in order 10 arrive ar
some knowledge of prime maner. Then Thomas continues: "Si eni m mat eria prima de se haben:1
formam proprialll. IX' urn we! aliquid aet". r'J sie, eum alia forma, nOll
materia per earn sed fiNCI hvc wi illud ens. b sic 0.5('1 gener.llio secundum quid
et non simpliciter" k d. eiL. p. 404, n.
90. for ill,s!ancc, the rursei!"d abo,'" in nn. h. II}, 84. 8S, and 87.
91. M,mdonn,,! cd .. Vol. I. fl. II).
9l. Malldonnel ed" Vol. I. p, 11 7. NOH" "Ad quanulll dicendum. quod. 5i pcr po-
lemiam paMivam inlclligarur rdal io ma! eriae ad formam. runc materia non sua qo.lia
matcriae non eSI Si aUlcm inrclliglrur pou:nrb. secundum quod principium in
SUIl<\um quod polcmia CI sum principia in quolibcl g"nere .. ,sic. dico,
Guod materia eSI ipsa sua polcntia .... "


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)22 The Essemial $lfucrure of Finite Being
therefore, a di vine idca does not correspond to matter alone or 10 form alone. There
is one divine idea for the composi te whole, and it serves ao; a produC[jyc principl e for
the entire composite, including both its maner and its form. How(.'Ver, he adds thai
we may also take a d ivi ne idea in a broader sense as signi fying a simili tude. Ac*
cording to this usage things may have disti nct di vine ideao; if they can be considered
d ist inctly even though they cannot exist separatel y. When taken in thi s broadcr
sense, one may gra nt that there is a divine idea for marrer consi dered in itSelf. ! OJ
In repl yi ng to the third objection in this same ;micle, Thomas once more re-
marks tha t maHer C3n nOi exist ill itSelf, i.e . apart from form. Nonetheless. it can
be considered in terms of it self (ucundllm u) and to that extent can have a divine
likeness or idea.
104
(Thomao;'s remark about matter's being considered in terllls of
it self will have 10 be kept in mind below when we return to thc qucnion of how
we know prime mauer. He docs nOt mean to imply that we have any direct inlell e1:-
lIIal grasp of it. ) But for the moment , it will be enough for us to note that here
Thomas insists Ihat prime maHer is not realized in actual existence except in a
composite. a point whi ch he reit erates in replying to the first objection for the
contrary positi on. He al so offers an imerest ing clarifi cation while repl ying to the
s(:eond objection for the posi tion: st ricdy speaking. prime mall cr docs not
itsclf ha\'e an essence; it is a pan of the essence of the composite whole. to}
I n Summa contra Gmtifn ll , c. 4}, Thomas is arguing against the view of "cett;un
modern who say that God created the maner of all visi ble things, but that
it was then different iated through the agency of an angel by different forms. In one
of his arguments against this posi tion he reasons that prime matter could not have
preexisted in irsdf before all formed bodies, since it is nothing but potency: all
being in acr uali ty comes from some forrn Y" In another argument he reasons that
the firs t introduction of form inm mancr Cl nnOl be produced by an agent whi ch
operat es only through motion: for every moti on to a form is from a determi ned
form to a determined form. But martcr cannot exist without some form and there-
fore some form mUSt be presupposed as present in the matter. 107 Again, therefore,
even though the context is very different, Thomas si mply accepts as a given that
matter cannot exiST without some form. And ao; he indicates in the first argument
we have JUSt considered. this foll ows from his conviction that maner is nothing
but potency.
IO}. Leon. U. I. IU:}'j- H. I i de idea l<K!uamur, non l)(lles t polli quod
materia prima ha!x:,.1 JXr ideam in di51irn:nm ab idc;a fo rm"" .d eomPOjil i, quia idc;a
diela resp;.:;! rem $<"Cundum quod <::il proJucibitis in <::is<: . ... '
104. l>n. 11.1. t I >.:68-7'. Nou: : . .. quamvi5 sC'(;undu III S< eSse non pon;t. t1lmen
$C cons;dcr-ari c\ s;c I)()( tst habere per S<' Thom:t! is 5peaking of 11
divine for matter only in bro3d 5<:nS<'.
lOS. leon. U.t.llz: 76-8l.
106. Ed. c il . p. ' H "Arnplius. aUl" m pr ima non pr-a..-fui5SC pt"r scipsam
cum no n sir nisi potentia nntum: o mnc en;m esse in aem <'.S{,.b -al;qua rorma"
107. Ibid. ( 1tem").



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)28 The Essenrial Structure of Finite Being
Also in the p rirlfipiiJ Thomas commcms that generat ion is a motion IOwards
a form. Gtneration in thc unqualified sense is ordered [0 a substantial form. whi le
genera tion in the qualified sense is ordered to an accidental form. When a sub-
stamial form is introduced, something is said [0 be made in the unqualified
sense. I
Frequemly enough Thomas refers w substalllial form as the act of m;tuer, for
instance in spirituolibUJ (TYotllriJ, a. I , as cited above. At the same time, he holds
that form is limited by maner. 11(, This is another application of hi s conviction that
unrl'Ceived act is unl imit ed. If we find a substantial form in limittd fashi on in a
particular emiry, thi s is because its corresponding princi ple-prime maner-re-
ceives and limits it.
l l1
For Thomas substantial form plays a primary role within the metaphysical
structure or essence of any being, includi ng corporeal entit ies. A thing's type or
kind (species) is det ermined by it s essence. Within the essence of corporeal entities,
a thing's specifi c kind of being is dClcnnined by its substantial form. In the case of
created spiri tual enti ties- angels-a thing's substantial form is identi cal with its
$ubstaOlial
As has already been noted at leas! in passi ng, Thomas ma intains chat bot h mac-
r.er and form aTe included within the essence of a corporeal entity. Accordingly,
each must be incl uded within t he definition of such a thing, AI the same time, he
v.'3S aware that the view that matter is included with in a thing's essence had been
contro\'erred, and that Aristotl e's mind concerning this was also subject to dispute.
Thus in his Cornmenrary on Mnophysia VII , c, 10, Thomas refers to twO major
opinions concerning (he definitions and essences of things. 1:,
Some hold tha t the enrire essence of a species is t he form it sclf, just as they hold
Ih:1l a human being's ent ire essence is to be idcJHifi <.-d with Ihe soul. r"Or this reason
they also maintain thai the of t he whol e" (forma (Ori llJ) a5 signified bya term
such as is to be identi fied with the "form of the part " (forma partil),
as illustrated, for instance, by the name "soul. " Defenders of this view acknowledge
that the twO differ conceptuall y (uC/llIdum rarioll(m). Thus the name "form of the
pan" is appl ied to a substantial fo rm insofar as the latter is vi ewed as perfecting
(Lron. 1..l.3.ILt o: 146-r50): -. .. simi liler mau' ria at c:\ Us;I rormae aliquo modo ill quantum $lIstillet
tl forma at ali'1uo modo c:\us:> maleri"" ill dat t$SI' 1ctu"; sec II. c, H
(td. el l. , p. 147): " ... p<r form1m en im 5urulami a fil proprium 5UKeplivuIll ei u5 quod et";
ST I. '1' 14, a. 1. 1 ( ]..('(IIl. 4.16S): "Forma illquarll um p<rficit maleriam dando ei c:.t,
quodammodo supra ips:ll1\ eff'undi l ur ... -; Dt IllbJlnnlirs wp.mztis, c. 8: igilllr recipit
= aCluale forman1, CI 11011 e convcrso .. ." (I..tOn. 4o.Dwn8-1JO). III tire last
Ihr('(' lexli, tSwrefcrs to the act ofbting.
&c above in Ihis chapler, p. 197 n. 6.
116_ Ed. cit .. p. J71- S in n. J7.
!t 7. &<: nn. p and JII 118. Sec !)..t"U, t _ 4 (I.n>n. 4}.j76:61-89) _
1t9- In VII M((" leer. 9. p. 158. II , 1467.



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)36 The Esse ntia l Srrll crure or Finirc Being
3nd passive powers were not yet ronferrl-d on rhe various pam of t he world in rhe
way they would subsequent ly be dist inguished and ordered. He argues l hat this
suggesti on is possible if one accepts Avicenna's \'iew that dementS remain in a mix-
ture in terms of thei r substant ial forms as regards their primary fSU even though
t hey arC' changed in terms of their secondary mr, i.e" in terms of t heir active and
passive powers. Therefore, he suggests, it is also possible for matter to be subject 10
a given substa.nt ial form without possessing the corresponding active and passive
powers in perfect fashion. l)('
In d. 18. q. I, a. 1 of thi s same Commentary on [I Srntmcrs Thomas wonders
whether and to what extelll the nOlion of seminal reasons is acceptable. He nOtes
that some hold t hat the form of a species is not rl'Ceived in maner excep' by means
of a generic form. Hence that form by reason of whi ch fire is fire is numerically
dist inct fro m that form whereby fire is a body. Some woul d refer to this incomplete
generic form as a reason, because it leaves all incl ination in matter to re-
ceive specific forms. T homas rejectS Ihis approach because every form whi ch comes
to sOlll elhing after its subst antial being (me) can only be an accidental form. If
such a form can be added to something which already enjoys substantial being.
when that for m is removed the' indivi dual subsrance wi ll still remain. , S7 In shOT( ,
here ab>ain, as in our first text, Thomas rejects a Iheory which would defend plural-
ity of substantial forms.
Thomas also offe rs a second version of this argumen t against plurali ty of sub-
stant ial forms. Since every form gives me, and since it is impossible for one and
the same thi ng to have rwo subS[amial acts ofbcing (esse), it follows that if the first
Sll bst'amial form coming 10 maHer gives a suhsr-aillial aCI of being to iI, any second
and superadded form can onl y contribute an acci dental ny. Therefore, and once
again with Avi cenna, he concl udes t hat it is by reason of onc and the same form
t hat fire is fire and fi re is a
As we move forward a few years to t he Dr vrriwfl', in q. Ij, a. 4 we find Thom;u
writing that for the soul to be united to the body no addi tional factor (imrmio) is
required; for this union does nOt depend upon the will of the soul but on ll31Ure.
The soul is not uni ttd to (he body as a form by means of its powers but by its
essence, si nce there is no intermediary between fo rm and maner. Thomas goes on
to ob$eTVe t hat it does not follow from t his that the human soul is united 10 Ihe
body in such fashion 3S 10 be totally dependenl upon the bodily condition. I S' But
of greater int erest fa us here is hi s claim [hat t here is no int ermediary beTWeen form
and maner. Hence there is no inter mediary substantial form between the primary
substant ial form and Ihe matter of a given substance.
156. /l.b.ndonncl cd., vol. 1, p. j lS' "NOle: "Undc possibi lt est 1l\3ttriam ess.>' sub forma substan'
tiali hoc quod habcu CI pm;\';tS in sui complemt nlo ....
157. Ed. Cil" pp. 4jI - p. 158. F..cl. cit. , p. -451, t ilt<! abo\lC in n. ISS.
119. Lron. lZ.l.. -418'109- 41?;UI.



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Prime Maner and Subslanrial Form H '
Thomas's argument continues. Ifit is by reason of one form that something is
called an :lnimal and by reason of another that it is called a human being, it will
follow that one of these ("animal") cannot be predicated of the other (" human
being") except per (luideliI if the fWO forms nOt ordered to one anot her. If the
forms ordered to one another so that Olle is presupposed for the Olher, one
term could be predicated of the other anI), according ro the second mode of pfr 11'
predicat ion. But neither of these alternatives can be accepted. In fact animal is
pre<iicOit ed of human being per If rather than per flccideflJ. Moreover, human bei ng
is not included in the definition of animal: rather animal is included in the ddini"
lion of hurnan hei ng. And to say human being is an Olnimal " is to emplo)' nOt the
second mode of per u predication (where the subject is in the definition of
but the fim (where the predicate is included in the definition of the
subject). Since a theory of plurality of forms cannot all ow for this. Thomas
concludes that it is rather through one and the $;l rnt: form that something is both
an animal and a human being. In
[n a. 4 Thomas specifi cally asks whether in a human being there is :lny OIher
form in addition to the hum:m soul. T his, tOO, is germane to our inquiry because,
as we have above. one might gram to Thomas that there is numerically
onlrone soul in a human being but still hold that there is at least one other substan
tial form- a form of corporei!y. Thomas replies that a substantial form differs from
an accidental form in a fundamenral respect. An accidental form does not grant
the act of being in the unqualified sense but only Wt of a given kind- acci
dental ("SU. l3eC":l use of this. when an accidental form is introduced intO a substance.
something is said to be made or to be generated only in a qualifi ed sense, nOt in
the unqualifi ed sense. So tOO, when an accidental form departs, something is said
to be corrupted nOI in the unqualified $Cnse but only in a qualifi ed sense (smm-
dum 'flfid) .174
Thomas recalls thaI only substantial form gives the act ofbcing in the unquali-
fi ed sense (substanti alI'Slt) and that it is only through the acquisi ti on or loss of this
that something is generated or corrupted in the unqualified sense. Therefore, if in
addition to the intellective soul some other substantial form were present in matter
by reason of whi ch the subject ill whi ch the soul inheres enjoys being in actualiry,
the soul itself would not give the substantial :ICt ofbcing. This would in turn impl y
that the soul ilsd f is nOt really a substantial form. Hence Thomas remains stead
ily- thal 10 which .somcd\ing i5 amibmro 5("r\"(;5 as Iht 5ubj"t and as for what is
prcdic,m..:! .
17;. !..('Oll. S. HI. Not e: "Ergo Op<lf1tt formam C$<: quam t31 animal..:1 pcr
aliqllid cst homo: alioqui n homo non ven' rwt itt qllod animal, ut sic animal r<"r St" .1 ..
hominc
IN. l ,xm. 5.H1.
In . Ibid.



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350 The Essential Strucrure of Finite Being
In sli lllaler discussions, however, Thom;ls rejects the posit ion of Averroes as
even less acceptable than that of Avicenna. The Averroistic theory implies [hat a
substantial form itself can be changed i.e . that it can undergo intensifi-
ca ti on and remi ssion (or admit of greater and lesser degrees in i[self) . For Thomas's
discussions one may consult Quodlibet I, q. 4, a. t, ad J; ST I, q. 76, :t. 'I. ad 4:
Disputed Questions De anima, q. 9, ad 10. Tn these texts Thomas concludes [hat
the forms of the clemtlllS do not remain actually present in mixtures but only
vi rmally. In other words. they remain insofar as the power of their respective sub-
stantial forms remains in a mixture in the quality of the element. though in weak-
ened degree and. as it were. approaching an intermediary level. 20}
Of more im mediate interest 10 us here, however, is Thomas's steadfast refusal to
allow for the acmal presence of the substantial forms of dements in mixed bodies.
Ifhe was will ing in the fi rst of these discussions to entertain the Avicennian distinc-
t ion berv.een the primary and the secondary being of elementary substantial forms,
he did not then regard this admission as mil itating against his defense of unicity of
subst:l.mi al form in mixed bodies. Subsequently he rejectt.-d both this Aviccnnian
approach :wd the AverroiSlic sol ution (after being:u one point more sympathetic
to the latter). In preference [Q either of these, he developed his own vie'.v about
the conrinuing virtual presence in mixtures of the qualities of the elements. His
apparently changing view about the role of determinate vs. indeterminate dimen-
sions in his explanation of individuation will be examined in the final part of this
chaptcr. Ifr may anti ci pa te that discussion, I will only comment here that his posi-
lion{s) concerning such dimensions never implied that he was defending a plurality
of substantial forms.
Hence one may safely conclude that from the beginning 10 Ihe end of his career
Thomas defended unicity of substantial form in all substance5. If he was wi lling [Q
speak of a form of corport'ity in some early leXtS, his usage of this terminology does
not imply hi s acceplance of plurali ty of substalll ial forms. Ie may well be thai hi5
lerrninology concerning this beca me morc precise as time WCIll 011 and that he
became more sensitive to fhe possible misunderstanding to whi ch some of hi s ea rl i-
!o,. I, q. 76. 3. 4> ad 4. AnN ,eject ing bOlh the Av;unnian and A,,,,,,ui$fi c positions, Thotnu
ideo dicendutn <:St. Philosophum in I fk qu()(l
in mixlo non aCIl1. sc:d v;nU!e. ManetH cnim propriae demcmorum,
licel remimc. in quibus CSt virtu$ {mmarum clementaril.lm- (Leon. s.n.). Cf. Ql.lodlibct I, q . ,
a. t. ad , ",he'e> after the "iews of A"iccnn3 3nd A,crrocs. Thom:u comments: NEt ideo
alilcr dicend"m. secundum I'hilosophum in ! D.: quod FOrm3e miscibilium nun m3-
nent in mix!o acto, sed "i r!u!e. prout scilice! virtllS FOrmac manti in quali!1l.tf de-
mtl1l;lri. licc! et quasi ad mediulll redJc!1I.: quali!1l.s tnim demcntaris agi( in " irtute format
jub$lant;al is . . . - (Lron. 1;J.l. ,SS: '44- t sll. For Qu. dilp. 1k 11,,;ml1, "I. 9. ad '0 sec Leon. 14. z .8\' 4P-
467. Fur Aristotle sce all Gt,uT,lfiqll alld Con-up/ion L c. 10 (P7b 19-jl). For additional discussion
of Thomas's changing views concerning the problem of miXlu,Cj; see Denis, pp. 160- 64_ [)en;s docs
no! find hC:lil'<lI iolu conceming (his in allY way implying he ever "'a"eled conurning
uni city of substantial form (sec' pp. t . 59. (64).


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)62 The Essential Strucwrc ofFinire Being
Unti l this point I have attempted to preserve in English the difference between
the three Latin terms Thomas appl ies to dimensions, i.e., (urmina-
flU). Kindeterminate" (inurmintwu). and (dl'unninnrad In the pres-
ent text , how(.'Ver, the distinction between determinate {urminaIQl'j and deter-
mined (rbtl'rmi ntlltll') seems to have broken down, al leasl by implication. Now we
read thai when dimensions arc consi dered wit hout any determination (deunni-
ntuiojof their dimensions and hence, one assumes by implication, as undetermined
{iruuurminmaej , t hey may be described as indeterminate (imerminl1f1u). This in-
vitt'S us to take indeterminate as equi val ent to undet ermined. And it also invit es us
to take as the opposit e of the indetermina te not only l he determina te (urmintltlu)
but also the determined (dnrrmillQt.1rj , Hence I find it difficult to agree with those
recellt inrerprel ers who sec no real difference between Thomas's appeal to deter-
mined {or determinat e} d imensiOIl S and his appe:t11O Ihose {hat are indeterminate
(or undetennincd). If he has turned 1O indeterminat e or undetermined dimensions
in the prescru [ext, he has dOlle so deliberately and, as we may gat her from other
passages, wit h awa reness of his debt to A\'erroes' terminology in making this
choice.
m
Ifhe will eventually drop thi s and retUrn to determinate or
dClcrmi ned dimensions in accounting for individua tion, ch is, tOO, will point co a
real shift , nO! merel y to a change in his way of expressing him.self.
In the following li nes of Ibis text T homas paims OUt thac maner taken in itself
is nOt the pri nciple of specific or numerical di\'ersity; but JUSt as it is a princi ple for
diversity in genus insofar as it is subject to a common fo rm, SO is it a principle for
numerical diversity insofar as it is subject to indeterminate (imt'rminaris) dimen-
sions. He acknowledges lhal such dimensions are accidents, and therefore, that
numerical di versi ty is sometimes to diversity of matter. and sometimes
10 diversity of accidents by reason of t hese (i ndeterminat e) dimensions. Thomas
apparently accepts bOlh explanat ions when appropriate qualific.Hions arc added.
This impli es that for hilll the principle of individuation is matter, but not merel y
maner. Indeterminate or undetermined dimensions al$O serve as anothe.r and sec-
ondary principle ofindividualionYl! Thomas also adds in a noteworthy commell!
that accidents other than such dimensions arc not themselves the principle of indi -
nmcria cffi eitur <'I $i( formam. 1 si( ex m:ucria CiU$1-
rur diWfsit;lS .o;e<: undl.lm numctum in eadem speck" (Leon. )-, 1).
. .x.r. ror insu nce. J. EMu s. Faith ami !it-imu (Rome, 1\17"', pp. 7S-77. 80-81; Owms.
"Thomas A'luinas: Oimensj"e pp. !89-90. 193- 9 .. . 301- j; Bobik. in lhe
lnd ividl.l31 ion of Bod ily Sub.mrKts. pp. 69-71; Ll doctrine de sai nt pp. 19-)8. For the
ulin Averroes' lerminok>gy;n IX submmr;1l orbi. s n. 11l abo,e.
138. leon. iO.I!S:ljl- 14l. Note, " ... pri ncipium se.:undum numerum prout
' UbcSI dimen.l ion ibus imerm Er idco. CIIIll hae dilllensiolle5 .i m de genere accidenlium, quan.
Ooque divers; .<t"Cu"d,un 0 wnen"ll roouci lllr i n diver:sitJ! em q in
acciden(is, Ct hoc dimrnsionum IH'2ooicl":lrum." Cf. the !exl from In IV &nt .. d. 11. ci tM
below i ll n. 14\.



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368 The Essemial Srrucrure of Finite Being
That Ihis is indeed Thomas's view in Dr writdtt', q. 2, a. 6 is supported by a
simi lar srat emem in q. 10, a. 5. There Thomas writes that it is not matter viewed
in unin:rsal fashion that ser .. es as the principle of individuation, but rather mauer
insofar as it is considered in an individual, thaI is 10 say. designated maner as it
existS under determined (dtt'rmimuis) dimensions.
lu
In Quodlibet 7. q. 4, a. J (Easter (256), Thomas was asked whether God can
make whiteness and somc other corporeal quality exisr withoul quantity, J USt as he
makes quantity exist in the Eucharist without a substantial subject. In discussing
this he distinguishes between the nature of a quality such as whiteness and its indi -
viduation as thi s sensi ble whiteness in disrinCli on from any othcr sensible white-
ness. Hc concludes thaI il is nOt possible for this individuated sensible whiteness
to exist without quantity, even though it is possible for individuated quantity 10
exist by divine power wilhout a substantial subj ect, as in the Eucharist. This is
becausc quanti ty is indi viduated nOt merely by its subject (as are other accidentS).
but also from its posi tion, which is included in the norion of dimensivc quantity.m
Although this u::xt casts 110 li ght on the respective roles of determined and undeter-
mined d imensions in indi vi duation, it shows that dimensions and position con-
tinue to play an importanc role in accollnting for the self-individuating character
of quanti ty.
In Quodlibet 9, q. 6, a. I (Christmas 1257), Thomas faces another theological
question-whether charity may be increased in terms of its csst nce. In considering
this he draws a parallel with changes invol vi ng increase in quanti ty. He notes that
in the case of corporeal growth the esscll ce of quanti ty is not destroyed. si nce inde-
terminate dimension remains. But insofar as the quantit y receives different limits
(urminariolles). it changes from smaller to greater. So t OO, he concludes, the vinue
of charity is not destroyed in its essence if its limi ts or degree change.
n
Whi lc this
teXI does not address the appli cat ion of indeterminate Ot delerminat'e dimensions
to the issue of individuatioll , it does once again illustrate Thomas's willingness ro
distinguish between them at this point in his C<1 reer.
In later texts Thomas makes passing references to the issue of indi viduation,
but usuall y without manifesting any preference for determinat e or indeterminatc
dimensions. For instance, in Summa (omra Grntiln, 13k IV, c. 65 (ca. 1264-126S),
he is again discussi ng the Euchari st. Once more he writes that it is peculiar to cli -
mensi ve quanti ty among all the accident s to be individuated of itself. This is be
cause dimensivc quanti ty incl udes posi tion, thc ordering of pans in a whole, within
its intell igiblc content. Because dirnensivc quantity alone is self-i ndi viduating, thc
lll. Here Thomas whel hel the mind a.n know indi vidual.
He comments Ihal when if is vieww ... materia non elil irnih' iduat;onis pt'incipi um.
sro 5undum quod consideramr maleria in singulari quae est malcri;t signata sub aClenninalis ai
rnensioni bus CI iSltns: enirn forma individuatur. _. " (leon. U.l.l09:18-U).
lH. Uon. lp.l):p-S}.
1\4. Lcon. .. : .. o- 6}.



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374 The Essemial Srrucrure of Finite Being
identical concl usions. As Aertsen notes (and as we have seen above in Ch. IV), the
medieval Latin translation of a term from the Arabic text of this work as yliatim
posed a problem for Thomas.!70 The Latin text of the Lib" callJiI indicates that
an int elligence has ylialim because it is and form, and that in like fashion the
soul has yliarim and so does nature. But the First Cause does not. Thomas mistak-
enly thinks ,hat this term comes from the Greek term for matter in its medi-
eval Latin transcription), when in fact the Arabic original rather signifies form or
something like it. Nonetheless, Thomas adapts this meaning sufficiently so as 10
fit it into his own thinking. He interprets it broadly as signifYing either matter or
something that behaves li ke maner, that is, something porenrial or receiving. Thus
he can agree with the Ubrr tU CdUSt S that the quiddiry of a (created) separate eIHiry
or intelligence, bei ng a subsisting form a.nd nOi being identical with its erse, is re-
lated 10 the ersr in whi ch it participates as potl'ncy to acl. So tOO, the soul may be
said 10 have , Iiarim not merely in the sense that it hJ.S (or is) a form (whi ch is in
potency to l:su), but also in the sense thai it has a body of whi ch it is the form. In
like fashion nature (or a natural entity) has ylintim si nce it is really composed of
form and maner. N01 having any participated mr, the First Cause: in no way has
ylintim but is pure em' and, adds Thomas, pure goodne.ssY'
In developing [his point , Thomas notcs that something may be said to be an
indi vidual by reason of the fact Ihal it is not suited to be in many tilings, as is a
universal. But something may nOt be suited to be in many things in twO different
ways. FiTS! of aJl, Ihis may be IX'cause it is determined to rhe si ngle subject in which
it is present. Thus this whiteness, precisely because it is received in this subj ect,
cannot be present in another. Be1:allse this method of explanation cannot proceed
to infi niry, Thomas concl udes that one must arrive at something whose very nature
it is nOllO be received in something clsc. and whi ch is individuated of itsdf. This.
he says. is prime mailer whi ch in corporeal things is a principle of singularity for
them. And this leads him to lhe: second way in whi ch something is not suited to
be multiplied in other things. namely because: it is not of irs nature 10 be in some-
thing else. It is in this way ,hat individuation occurs in separate substances, whi ch
are forms whi ch have mr, as well as in the Fi tst Calise, which is subsisting tiSt it -
170. "Die in del Veruneilung von Il77. Heinrich "on Gent \lnd
ThomOl$ "on Aquin, - in MiJuliu.,wJ .. (iIl 24 (JkrJi,,_New YOlk, (996), pp. cspially
pp. Sc-e our remarks coocerning ,his in eh. IV, n. SI-
l 71. For 11M, Latin le,,1 of the Librr tk ,/lWJis .\('e S4n(ti dt- Aquilll} 11<1'" Librum tk rotusis
rx/>6Sllio, SlIffro:y ro .. p. 57. FOI UJmmemary Iil'e p. Note cspially: "Nam inulh&mrill
hllbn }limim, id e:!"l al iquid mareria!c vel ad modutn maleriae se habcns; dicilUr ("jill Ji;arim ab
quod <'SI maleril.. di.scu.ss ion R. Taylor, T homu the Lib,. tk cllUJil (as cilro in
Ch. IV. n. 51 aho"e); ACrl$<.' n, Thesell, pp. 159- 60; A. Speer, "Ylilllhin quod m principillm
iouiiviJullndi. Zut Dis ku.ssion urn das lndividualionsprinti p im An$(:hlUM an prop. 8{91 de! 'liber
de causis' bei Johannes {Ie Nova 001110, AlbertuS Magnus und Thomas von Aquin,' in Misafiu.lltll
Mfdill(t"<slia 14 (1996). pp. 171-72,



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Argumemarion for God's Existence (Inrroducrion) 381
or unicilY, and other of this kind. These, he expl icitly srarcs, arc
proved in philosophy and arc presupposed by faith ."
Certain comments should be made aOOm this impomnt passage. To begin,
T homas as first among the preambles to fuith that are to be demonstrated the
proof that God exists. There can be no doubt, thererore, tha t Aquinas was con-
vinccd that God's existence can be proved or demonstrated in phil osophy. Stt
ondly, he remarks thaI truths such as God's existence or God's uniqueness- pre-
ambles to faith - arc proved or demonstrated in philosophy and prcsuppo.'\ed by
fa ith. One should not conclude from this either that one cannot believe in God
unl ess one has already demonstrated his exi5[cncc, or thai it is an easy m;l uer to
work out a valid demonstmti on of God's existence. What Thomas is mther
forth here is an ideal for the adult mind whereby one would move from philosophi-
cally demonsrrated conclusions (dtat God exists and other muhs of Ihis kind) to a
mature act of fuith in divinel y revealed lrut h concerning God. The demonstration
that God exists would not of itself be suRl cieO! to establish the truth of revelat ion
for the religious believer. For thi s an act oHaith would also be required.
6
If we rn:ly develop mort' fully one point JUSt made in the preceding paragraph,
while Thomas was convinced (hat unaided human reason can demonsrTale God's
existence, he did nOI regard this as a simple matter. In facl, in Summa col/tm Gm
Sic ergo in ><Icn doct rina phil()SOpll ia PQiiumui t riplieiter uti : pri rno ad demonnr.lndu!l1 Ca
quae sum praeambub iidc; , in fidc $C; re. lit ca quae namr::r.libu$ ntionioo) de Oro
probantur. ut esse. Iftum unum. fr "Iia Imiusmodi "e! de Oro vel de "eaturi$ in philo
sophia probata, quae fides supponi I" (l.eon. 10.99; 148- r54). Since Thom;os does not give" complele
list of other things of this kind which human re:.l5On can demomtr::r.te ahour God, one must turn \0
his to delermine rhi$ in particubl Ca5e5. 5. (or my dfoft to show thaI omnipo.
tence ill one o( tl1C$e truths in "Th",m;os Aquinas on Dcmons!r:lling God's Omnipotence."
imrmatilmalt dr philolophir 51 ( t998). pp. 227-.17. And for a detailed eumin'l.IiQn of fruths
about GOO which Aquin;os al !empu to by philosophiol rowni ng in sec I N. Kre'll'
mann. TiN Mrtaphysit'J ofTiNimo: lI'luiIJIIII Nlltura! nNology iIJ S"mmll C.mrm Gm/ifn I (Ox(ord,
1997)
s. Without wifhing to enter infO a theologi<::l l "n"I)'s;s ofThomu$ understanding of th. an of
f .. ith, il will Ix enough hete for 10 leal1 hi s brief in I'('rilllt(. 'I. 10, a. tl. J: " ...
dicendum quod verit2s sup ... fu ndat"'; si( U! ens in communi (St per $e nOlUm. im et
C'(;"m veri tat cm esse. Non ($t per.c nOtllm nobis cs,.., aliquod primm., ens quod C::1Us.;!
omnis emis hoc vel fido ,'d demon5lntio undc n('(; ($1 per 5C nOlUIll
Ollll1<:m vcriull:m ah aliqua prim2 "nit:ll e csse. Unde non quod deullI ($$e si l per.se Mlum"
( I.eon. MOil: will I ... $:I,d below about views concerning whclher Gnd's
is .self-cvide", . Also .'Ct rcs,l)' 10 arg. " (l ioe< 1 r S- uo). On the diffi cu Itic< i Ilvolvcd
in demonstnt ing God's Ix'Jo .... fot our &\C\Jss;on ofSCG I, c.
6. On Ihe need for Ihe .... ill ((I enlet ;nto the act (lff.,ith sec, fOI instinCt, IKr;llllr. q. 10, 2. Il .
repl)' to uS 6 in rtlntrtlTl''''' (I.eon. 1l.1.Hl:189- JO:). Note: ... quod enim crcdcns a55Cntiat
his quae nOll prQ\'enit ex hoc quod cius sit (ermin3luS ad ilb crcdibilia virtute
aliquorum principiorum. sed ex volun1are, quae indioat ;O(ellC'(;lUm ;ul hoc quod ill is crlit is
"sse,,!;a1 . .. . " /J.! <",riMIt. q. 2. t ( Leon. <'.Sp. Cf. J. F Ross.
"Aquinas orl Bc!id and Knowkdgc," in Lsa}S Honoring A!km B. Wo!ur. W. A. Fr .. nk and G. J,
En,kort!, Cth. (Sl. [Jonavcnturc. N. Y .. pp. l H- t>?


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Argumenrarion for God's Existence (Jruroduction) 399
In his SOIUli oll Bonavent ure again concedes [hat someone may in f.tet deny t haI
God exis15 . And he also arguC"S in other ways for God's existence, especiall y in pre
senting [en self-evi dcnI presuppositions in his "second way" and ,hen reasoning
from them 10 [his concl usion. Even so, he sti ll maintai ns that a human imelleCt
that full y understands the lI1eani ng of ,he name can not dou b, ,hat God
exists and can not thin k of him as not existing. Bonaventure concludes t hat [he
argumentS (which he has prest:nt ed) proving t his art: to be
J n light of Bonavcnlure's di scussions. therefo re. we may more easil y undersrand
why Thomas himself did not hes itate 10 place Anselm's argumentati on within the
broader comexl of arguments offered in support of the daim that God's exi st r nc('
is self-evident or. 10 use Thomas's terminology. known peT sr. The 1: 1 CI that Thomas
di d so. howe\'(' r. does not of i[self imply tiw he fa iled 10 apprecia Te the force of
Ansclm's argumemation for God's existence before subjtcl ing it to criti cism.
Thomas has pointed Oll( ,hat because God's essence is to exist. such argument ati on
would succeed, or Jt least God's ell istence would be evident to us, if we enjoyed
di rect knowledge of the divine csS(: nce or qui ddity. According to T homas's theory
of knowledge, no such knowledge is available 10 us wiThin Ihe present life, :1.1 least
wilhin lhe nJlUral order. Hence he cannol jusl ify any immediate movement from
our undemanding of God as tilat [han which no greater can be thought 10 his
aClUal existence. Given t his, onl y one route remai ns open for tht" philosopher who
woul d ,mive at knowledge of God. One must reason from effects which arc acces-
sible 10 us [0 knowledge of God as their unseen cause.
S6. Ed. ( if . pp . .. For discussion of f h( len "manifeu evid.ent presuppo.i -
lions" ( .... hich he uses 10 (rom to God) pp. 'f6-47 (nn. rr- 20). For more on
Bona"emur,,'s a' Su menlal ion (or God's cxi$fcnc ... espiatl y in Ihe IW\I lUIS we ha"" b<-en "onsid" r-
ing. s: Gilson. /.a phiknophi( d( Saint &"'111("1"'1'(. 3d I. (paris. 1953). PI'" 101- IS.


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Earlier Writings on God's Existence 4j l
preferred personal way of proceeding, whereby one arrives immedia[Cly at a first
and separate immobile mover. He comments that even Aristotle introduces hi s
conclusion disj unctively: either ont' must immediately arrive at a first and sepa rate
and immobile mover, or el se at a self-mover from which one may dl cn reason to a
first and sepa rate immobile 1110ver,8.1 Perhaps in pan because Thomas is presenti ng
these as Aristotle's argumentS, he allows for either side of t he disjuncti on. Either
ahernarive will ultimately lead ro t he same conclusion, the exi stence of a separ:tre
and immobile mover.
Such, therefore, is Thomas's long and laborious presenral ion in sec I, c. 13 of
two argumen15 from motion for God's existence. BOfh arguments are expli citly
drawn from Ari stotl e, c\'cn though Thomas has reorgani zed them in his own fash-
ion. In my opinio n, to some eXl enl each runs the ri sk of ending al best with a
bcsoulcd self-mover of the outennost heavenly sphere rather than with God, at
least when each is placed wi t hin its Aristotelian and medieval physical world-view.
Thomas himself explicidy recognizes thi s difficulry in his presentation of the sec-
ond argument , but it seems that he could have raised it when dealing with t he fi rst
argument from motion as wei!. If, as Thomas has i ndiGlted, Ari stOtle's argumenta-
tion in PJrySiCl VIII leads only to a besouled self-mover, by appeali ng to MrIap},}!-
in XI I Thomas believes that he can enable it to conclude 10 the existence of a
perfectly immobi le fi m mover which is separate and which is As we shall
see in the following chapter. Thomas illlroduces a much simpler and more direct
argument based on motion in ST I, q. 2, a. 3 as his first way.
Thomas concl udes sec I. c. 13 by brieAy pre5eming thrCt'" more arguments for
Cod's existence. The first, whi ch he takes from Ari stotle's Metaphysics II , c. 2. fo-
cuses on the inadequacy of appealing to a regress to infinity in efficient ca uses and
the conse(luent need 1{) conclude to a first cause. 1r might, thereforl', si mply be
reg-arded as anot her way of meet ing that difficulty. However, it is present ed b}'
Thomas as a separatc and self-comaincd argumcm for God's existencc. In all es.scn-
tiallyordered (ordiflluis) efficient causes, the first is the Coluse of the intermediary
and the intl' rmcdiary is the ca use of [he last. This holds whether the intermediary
causes arc Olle or many. And it holds for the reason that when a cause is taken away,
that whi ch it ca uses is also away. In the present case, t herefore. when the first
8J. "Untl .. Cliam AriSIQldes sub di5iun( l ione han, indue;r: quod Kilic\"! op<:>rtcal
.. d sr:.u im dC"cnirc primum mo"cns immobile ".-] mo,'cns scipsunl, ex quo irer urn
ad primum irnlllobik scpar;ttu,n" (ih id. ) . On Thoma rt."cognitit)u of ,hi,
jO!lClion s<:e Owens. "Aquinas rhe ProofrrOnl the ' Physio' ." pp. 133- 34. I }6, I j8, 14}- 44; Kretz-
71w pr. 8.z.- 8J.
84 A.< J ;ndic:ued, Ill)' difficul Iy concerning the first general ... rgumenl fmm mot ion
has CO do wirh Ihe highl y physical way in which Thom3S Ihtre mempIs 10 justify irs fim main
premi$<': rhat whatcn-r is n,,_)\".....:1 mo"cd by ant)rhcr. Only rhe third juslification which he offe.s
for bascl on [nt" bINder rheory of polcmialilY and aClUalil)'- sc.:nls 10 ove rcome [his
limilarion and lhcrdore apply 10 any kind of morion or change. Significantly. Thomu uSt-S
only Ihis rhird approach in jusrifying the si milar in his way in 51' I. q. j.


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Earlier Writings on God's Exist ence 435
This leads him to a discussion of divine et!:rnity in c. 15. In brief, Thomas rca
sons thai because God is completely immutable he mliSt be eternal. ? In the course
of developi ng a series of arguments for this. Thomas al so offers one that is in effect
another argument for God's existence, that is. Olle based on contingency and neces-
sity. We will sec another version of this as the third way of ST J, q. 2, a. 3 below.
In SCG I, c. 15, Ihe argumenr runs as follows. In the worl d we see certain things
which can exist or nOI exist (possibifia n 110 11 mr) or, as Thomas also puts it ,
whi ch afe capable of bei ng gemrat eo and corrupted. But every being of this kind,
every "possible" being, has::t cause. This follows, reasons Thomas. since considered
simply in itsdf any such thing is equally open to existing or not existing; hence, if
it enjoys aemal existence, this can only be owing 10 some cauSt'. But olle cantlot
regress 10 infinity in caused causes. continues Thomas. with a reference back to his
proof of this in c. lJ. Therefore we must acknowledge that there is something which
is a necessary being.'s (By :1 necessary being. Thomas evidently has in mind any
kind of bei ng that is nOt subject 10 gencration and corruption. ) Every nccessary
being eit her depends upon some olher cause for its very necessity, or it does nOt
and is necessary ofitsclf. \Y/e cannot proceed to infini ty with necessary beings which
depend upon something else for their necessity, or to phrase it differently, with
caused necessary beings. Therefore we must conclude to the existence or a first
necessary being which is necessary or itself. And this, Thomas concludes, is God,
si nce he is the first cause, as has already been shown (in c. 13) .96
This argument will undoubtedly strike today's reader as unusual because or the
tWO ways in whi ch it takes the notion of a being, t hat is, as a caused
necessary being and then as the uncaused necessary being. In order to appreciate
Thomas's thinking concerning thi s it is important for us to bear in mind that with
whi ch he has contrasted a necessary being, that is. a possible being. As we have JUSt
seen. by a possible being as he uses it here he has in mind any being which is
capable of being generated or corrupted. Any being which is nOt capabl e of being
genera ted and corrupted is not to be regarded as a possible being but as a necessary
94. 5c-<: Thom:<s's nf'"lIing II) , how God is "N:un omlle <Ju<)(1 illcipi.
vel per rnOlum vet rnur arioncm h<x aUlWl Deum omnino
;mmuubi!cm. F..\\ igi,ur . C;IIcnS pritlci pio Ct kd. ci ' . I" ' 5) .
95. "Amplius. VidemU5 ;11 mundo<Juaed<1m qU<1C SUI\! possibilia euc et li on esse, scilicct genc-
t1Ibil ia CI corruptibilia. Omn( q ,,00 (5t possibilc q Ilia, cum dc sc acqual it cr
sc ad duo, Kilicci cue el 11011 cue, oportct si ei (ssc. 'luod hoc sil ex ali<J "a cau$:!.
ScJ in non esl jn infini lUm. UI probat .... n csl lJ<r r:o.t;OflCITI A,i'I"Idi>. Ergn
oportet po,]( rc qllod sit n<:ceuc - (pp. 15- 16).
96. ' Onme m.cm nc.;.:nsarium vd suac aliunde: vd 11011. est pet
scipsu", Non aUl em procc.lere in infinitum in nt:'C<:.Ssariis q"ac halxm C2l.1sam suac
is Ergo op0rlet ponere aliquod pri mum quod pcr j.Cip.-' um
sarium. E! hoc [ftus CSt: Cum si l cauj.;! Ul osten.um CSI." Thomas immcJiately goes on 10
)how Ihat this being, God, is eternal. anything which b lI e<:essary or itsclf i:l cternal (ed. . cit .
p. to).




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X" The Five Ways
Ai; anyone with even a casual acquainta nce wil h Aquinas's writings is aware, it
is in the Summa rJJt'ologint I, q. l , a. 3 that he presents his best-known formulation
of argurnem:nion for God's exist encc. A number of the argument s we have consid-
ered from his earl ier writ ings foreshadow most if not all of the "five of the
Summa thrologiar. These points of similariry notwithstanding, Thomas gives a per-
sonal and part icular (Ouch to each of the five ways Ihcmseh'cs. Because of thc rda-
t ively taler date of this treatment (ca. 1266--1268), because of the apparently wider
readershi p at which the Summa du %ginr is aimed, and because of the comprehen-
sive way in whi ch the fi ve ways fined together, t hese argumems for God's exis-
tence have received morc attention from Thomas's students than any of hi s other
<:frons 10 establish +
Al same rime, il should be remembered that the of space accorded
to each of t he five ways is relativel y brief and dlat in certain instances, at least ,
fumiliariry with some of Thomas's most fundamental metaphysical options is pre-
supposed by them.
2
Finall y, the quest ion has of len been raised. concerning whether
rhe five ways arc int ended by Thomas to form one developing argument for God's
exis tence. or fi ve di stinct and more or less independent argument s. To put thi s in
J. O n Thomas's imcmion wrile the Summll for begi nm:rs (in thrQlo-gy) Ch. X n.
50, and the referenco Ihcr" to Boy!". To" ,,!!. :l.nd O' Meara. A!!;O sec Wcisheipl. Frillr ThIJm1l1
d "Aquinl1. PP' lt S- I?: /1.'1-0 . Chcnu, InmJduclion a trtutit- dr usim ThomaJ d"Aquin, ld td.
(1I.Iontrral-l':uis. 19H). PI" Weisht ip! also observcs t h:l.l while Thom;u w ClI rry
his purpo:ose of beginni ng slUdcnu in thrQlogy in h'St pari of hi! work, t he
and thi rd partS far from !x-ing a (PI" 111- 13).
1. Some of thif background h;u a!rc:ady Ottn provided abc .... c ill our consideration of eadier
Y"rs iOn5 of argumentation fo r God's n i$(encc in In tS. At the S:l.lll e time. it h good to
in mi na Ihal Thom;u him5("lf sets ways wilhin Iht b2ckground of his own philO5Ophy
mt taphy)ics. T hi$ in t urns ! uggCSts that it is highly procfiiur., ! imply 10 eXl rac! the
fiy .. ways from thciT btmldeT Sl:u ing with in Thollli. ie mt ... ph)l!k s and 10 CXptcl 10. :l$ it .... -ere,
d h .
St:l ll on I



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4,.6 From Finite Being to Uncreared Being
so as to apply i[ 10 only one of these three species. When motion is taken in this
restrieted sense it may in turn Ix divided into motio n in qual ity (aJreration) , mo-
tion in quantity (increase or decrease) . and motion in place {local motion}. Sub-
stantial change (whether generat" ion or corruption) is not motion taken strictly; it
is onl y change (mutatio).l '
To return to Thomas's hrst way, therefore. we would seem to be j ust ified in
regarding motion taken Strictly in any ofils three kinds as a possible starring point
for the argument , i.e., alt eration. local 1l1000ion, and increase or decrease in quanti ty.
If Thomas is using the term broadly so as to equate it with change. we could even
use substant ial change as a possibl e point of departure for [he first way. In f., ct he
will expli ci tl y appeal to generation and corruption in developing hi s third way.
Given all of thi s, I am inclined to limit Ill ot"i on as it appears as the starting point
of dlt, fi TS! way ro some form of mOlion taken stri ctl y. bur to suggest that in rhe
course of justifying the principle of motion- what ever is moved is moved by some-
thing cl se- T homas uses motion broadly enough 10 apply to any re<iunion from
potentiality 10 actualiry. If thi s is correct, it wiU mean that in the second part of
the argument. where he considers a possible regress to infinity, he intends to elimi-
nate any kind of moved mover or changed changer or any seri es of [he same as an
adequate explanation for the observable motion or motions with whi ch his argu-
ment begJ n. As we have al ready seen. he seems to have allowed for a similar broader
understanding of mot ion at a cert3in stage in his second argument from motion
in sec I, c. t3, and perhaps also at one point in hi s first argument. Nonetheless,
the starting point for both of those arguments appears to be motion taken stri ctl y
and, 10 be specifi c, local motion. Perhaps it is because the first way in the Summa
thr% giar begins wit h readily obse rvable phenomena- local motion and al ter-
ation- that Thomas descri bes it as the "more manifest"
Moreover, in hi s elton 10 justify the principl e that whatever is moved is moved
by something else. Thomas d0e5 n OI memion the first two long and involved physi-
cal approaches he had used in Se G l. c. I) . He simply builds his argument on the
difference bcrween potentiality and actuality. 3nd devel ops this reasoning more
full y [han he had done in SeG J, c. IJ. If, as we have suggCSled, this reasoning
as it appears in the Summa (olltm Gr lltiln already points 10 a broader and more
". /" V ""fl. lee . Jl.l. n. 6"'9' "Uhi wnsidu "ndum est quod Ari SIQtd es sup'" in ten io ubi
,not um deli ni ,;t, :I<X<!pil nomen moru. quod est commune omni bus sp<.-.:iebus mU!3-
1 hoc modo 3ccipi! hie nomen m,mnio" il; nlQfum ".:cipil 1Il3giS i ui rle. pro qU3d3m
mU!3' ioniH pcrie." See kcr. J. n. 66, He only lhltt spccioor mll/Ul); n. 662 (rhere is no morr"
in th .. substance bec:l usc 1'1101 ion taken 5' rin ly is bcrwn contraries, :lnd ,here i$ no cont rari -
in t;enus Jubs' :lnce); Iccl . ,. (un l he ,Int:<: kimh of ",orus raken srf icrly).
' 1. Sec my discussion 3001'" in Ch. Xl. n. H. :l nd ,he Inu qUOled in n. 58 (from Ihe Ii,s! :lrgu-
menl in sec; I. c. IJ. and i'i third way of ju5' ifying the cl aim is moved is moved by
J.OIflcl h1ng d.,,); 1\ . 76 (fmm Ihe KCI)ncl argument in sec; I, c. " . 11.\ 10 ,h:!. 1 a
p<: rpC"lu:l 1 .sel f-mover of Ihe outermost heavenly sphere. as apparentl y proposed br Aristot le. mun
s!ill bt moved in rhe o,de, of final c:mu li!)' by a cumpietdy unmo-."J mO,'e, or Goo).


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452 From Finire Being to Uncrcatcd Being
respect 10 poilH 4 it should be noted that at times Thomas uses the language of
first cause and second cause rathet than t hat of principal cause and instrument to
express this relationship bem'een God and ot her agents.!7
In the Summa duologiar 1, q. lOS, a. 5, Thomas makes this same point in slightly
diftc n:1I1 fashion . God works in the activit ies performed by created agent s: (I) by
serving as the final ca use of such agent s; (2) by acting as an efficient ca use of their
opemtions inasmuch as second causes act by reason of the first cause which moves
them 10 act; (J) by gi ving 10 creat ed agent's the furms which arc their principles of
opera tion and by keeping these in being. As 1 have indicated elsewhere, we might
combine inlO one the thi rd and fourth ways ment ioned in the text from the Dr
poumia, as Thomas himself seems to do, and view this as equi valent 10 the second
way of the text from ST I, q. It is thi s particular form of divine c:ausaliry that
is of greatest int erest 10 us here, because it shows that Thomas honors lhe moti on
principle in all cases of crcaturely agency.
It is also important to nOte Thomas's view that if God serves as an effi ciell{ cause
of creaturely operations, including human vol ition, he does so as the first cause.
Created agents arc true causes, and even true principal causes, of their appropriate
operations. Moreover, although this is nOt our primary concern at the moment,
Thomas insists that this di vine causali ty or di vine motion with respect !O free hu-
man operations does not detract from thei r freedom. Essential to Thomas's posi-
tion is dIe point we have just seen above-that God, the first cause, moves created
agents to act in accord with their natures, If he moves natural agents to act in
accord with their natures, that is. necessa ril y, he moves free agents to aCI in accord
with [heir nature, that is,
My reason for introducing t hi s di scussion here is not to examine Thomas's de
fense of human freedom bllt 10 show that in hi s eyes even free human activity does
he is this fourfold way in whi ch God is of (fcued agents 10 volition5 3$ well:
", .. Stquelur quod ips-e in quoli!xt operantt immediate O?<,relor. nOn nelus.. volun
t:!t is et (p, s8).
1.1. Cf. the t(ott from ST J. q, a. s. in n. !8. Cf. Dt writau. q. !4. a. I, ad 5, ci ted in
Ch. Xl. n. 6S
18. Scr ST I. 'I' lOS. a. S (I.<on. ';.476) Cf. ad j. He" Thomas developing his answer fO the
quotion: 'Unum Deus Ol)("reluf in omni operamc." Scr my J\1traphytiral Thmm, p. 160. Also
my rcm.,k there in n. S6 about yiews coneerning God 3 J II,.. proper OlU:>t; tlf nit.
19. For OIher IIS On Ihis conch,ion betWCCfl (:rearoo agents God Stt . fOl inn:l nec, SCG
111 . c. 70 (td. til .. p, 306). This docs 001 one pdr! of l he effe<:1 is ClUsW by God
by the CrealM .. nt. but ruhe. that Ihe ( nt ire effect is to be wigned to God. principal
and to thc !l aw",1 agellf (as all j.mrumcm). rXl f laD where Thomas
Ihis ttl aClingc"ated SCG I. c. 68 (p. 6. ); sec III . cc. 88. 89 (pp. JJ I- j l). No,,:
Ihal Thomu his discussion in c. 89 by 10 the lext from Ihe F.udr-mian Ethia
Vll . e. t4. !'<.Ir teXiS where anempt 5 to t.x:on.cile Ihi s of diyi ne with human
freedom s. fOI & jXJlr-ntii/, q. j, a. 7. ad I j; ad t4 (cd. cit .. p, 59): I. q. 19, a. 8. and ad
J (leon. 'PH); ST I. 'I' 8}. a. t. ad j (Leon. Sj07-8); ST I- II. q, 10. a. 4, ad 1 (Leon. 6.89); Dt
malo, q , 6 (u cited above in n, IS). Fu. discuss ion set' my PI" 1.58-63.



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The Five \'V'ays 459
is noc. It is in the course of doing thi s, according to Thomas's own plan. that he
establishes God's simplicity, and then his perfection, infi ni ty, immutability, and
unity, Throughout this discussion Thomas takes il as given Ihal he has already (in
his five ways) proved that God exists. With litis lingering question still in mind, iJ
therefore, we shall now turn 10 Thomas's prcSt"nmt ion of hi s second argument for
God's ('xi s(lmce in 5T I. q. 2 , :1. 3.
2. The Second \Xlay
As Thomas himself tells us. lhis argulllent is based on eflicienl causality. Again
il rakes as ils point of depa rture something thaI is given 10 us in the world of
Sl;' nsible things-the f.'lCt 11131 there is an order of efficient causes. By this Thomas
means that we find [hat cenain things efficiently c:luse other things, and that they
depend on prior causes in order 10 do so. He immediately reasons thaI nothing CJ.n
be the effi cient (.";I1IS(: of for then it would he prior to itself. and this is impos-
sible. If we may supply the reasoning lhaT is implidi, his point is that for somcthing
to (".iUS<: itSelf dJi cientiy. il would have to exist in order to cause (i tself), and yel
would nor exi st, insofa r as it was being caused. FrOIll this he expects us 10 conclude
I haT we do experience causes Ihat arc causcd, lx."C:luse they cannot cause them-
sclves they !THlSt be caused by something el sc.
4
"
If this is gramed, the possihiliry of a series of effi cient causes which are them
selves caused by something else must be faced. Thomas argues that one cannot
regress to infinity in orden'd l' Rictcm causes. As he explai ns, ill such .1n ordered
seri es of effi ciell t causes, the first member is the cause of the inTennediary, and that
in turn is the cause of the laSt member in the series whether there is onl y one
intermediary cause or whether there an' m.1ny But if tllt"rc were no fi rsl anlong
effi cient CHiSes there would be no imermediary causes and therefore no last cause;
for if one takes away a cause. one also eliminates the effect. In;tn infinite series of
caused efficienT causes. there will be no first effici ent cause. Hence there will be no
inll"rme<i iary and no last effect. This is enough for Thomas 10 reject a regress
10 infinity as a viable alternative to a firST dncielH causc.
4S
-1 3. 'i ST I. 'I. j : de .i l. il\qui", ndun. "Iuotnodn '"
dr eo {Iuid Sed tluia dl." 1),;'0 sci ll." non l)OS>umu5 quid si c S<'d quid non sit, non poumus
co",;{kr. fe de [},:,(, quomoJo Ji . S(:d po. iUJ "IuomoJo non .il. I',i 11\0 crgQ Con);,j.,ra"Jum " SI qUQ'
moJo non ,i ,: s<,<:unJ .. " <juumU<!o J " Qbis .,0g"">C" lu, ; '"fI;O, qu"",udo noulinelur" (Leun. 4- J!).
The li 'l!l"ring qursdon ;. Ihis: Al .his po;m ;n ST I. .hal ;5. complc!;' 11; hi s fi, c ways. dOf;S
ThO!lu) think he has demonSfr>l <--.l .h,1 only onf Grn!
.+4- Secunda vi" <-"; 1 CX r.ui<HIC ('fficicm;s, l.wcn;fllll'; cH;m in isti! ...:n, ibilibu) oroi
nem caUS;lIUm efficicnt i"m: nee 13m"n invent!Uf. nc-c CSt p<l'S)ibil". <luOt\ sit d fic'{,lls
sui ipsim: (j uia >jc prj\!) K; P>O. quU<! CSt (Leon. 04.")'
04 }- - Non aUlem CSt quod in CJ Ilsis d licic:-mibus in if( finit u tn. in um n;
bus causis cfficiemibu$ or.!;n3t;,;. prinlum CM mc.!ii. el flll:dhull nt l!himi. s;,'e
s; m plurJ ,i "f unum 13murn: ,Cfll (lf J 3ut,' ", CIlI$.:!. ,"mO"e,u, d fl:Ctus: ergo. $i non fueri, pr;mum



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466 From Finitc Bcing [0 Uncrcared Being
for the generat ion of any and all possible beings.
hl
This, however. would be to in-
traduct' into the third way a different kind of reasoning, based on causali ty, a kind
which we have al ready in the first and second ways in connecti on with a pro-
posed regress to infinity in moved movers or in orderC!d caused causes, and a kind
which will reappear in the second phase of the third way itself (as applied to caused
necessary beings). Whil e such an interpretation is defensible from the metaphysical
standpoint. it would entail a substanrial addit ion to Thomas's text and a serious
recasting of the first pari of the third way. So true is this that one might then doubt
that one was still dealing with Thomas's third way, for the temporal references in
the fi rst parr would now Jose their importance.
6
.!
In order to understand more full y Thomas's procedure in his third way, a num-
ber of recent comillentators have concentr.lted on various possible historical
sources for this argument. Aristotl e. Aviccnna. and Moses Ma imonides have all
been proposed, and not without reason. Nont'theless, careful comparison of these
with the text of Thomas's third way shows that while he must have been influenced
by some of them, cspcrially by AristOtle and Maimonidcs, in penning hi s version
of the argument. he has developed it in his own way.M In shOT!. recourse to such
6z. O .... e:n$ appc::.! l$ 10 the Ari5totrlian procoourr in Mrtapbys;l'f XlI. c. 6, according to which
motion Jnd time: not destructible alld rhe: existence: of St'11llr:ne: !;ub:Slanas.
"Thc suicidal supposition that all things arC p(mibl.$ e:xdudc$ ipJo fo((l1 any e:temal $U(,wion' (p.
"In the: Ar;$!OIe1ian $c:ri<'$ no $c:ries all go backward e:1e:maJly, if aJilhings arc pmsiblcs" (p.
46J). [n his dfor! to defend the argumem agaimt the: charge of a quamifie:r shift. he contends that
the: argument docs not rc:;l$On Ihat bc:au.se -(4rh pmsible was non"e:xisten! at one: time, Ih .. all
things if possibles we:re togelhe:r at Qne lime:.- R:uhcr it rcuons ,hal unive:n:al
iry ('all ha''e the possibility for 1I0n n:istencc') e:ntaih universal non-t:Xi$te:nce" (p. 46,,). But how is
point demonstr:ll ed? Owens argUl'.!' that to propo.se an infinite: regress in time of possible: beings
WQuld presume: gt:lnting the of wmclhing In ordcr to eslablish this. hO .... 'e' e:r. he iJ
introoucing a different kind of rC'Olsoning which in f3e:t leads him to view this as CS$l' ntially
the nme: as that in sec I. c. ' 5 (sec pp. 464-66). In my judgme:nl. hov.'CVcr, Ihis reasoning is miSliing
from the: toa of the third " '1I.y.
63- In filct , the reformulation is so pronou!H:cd ,hat the: third .... ':Iywill no longer be: tlte th ird way
ofST I. 'I ' L, a. ). MorC'Over. unlike: (pp. 46S- 66), [do not regard Ihe: third way:u;t .<t:lnds
in ST r. q. I, ,.., as the:$ame argument as that pre:$c:nte:d in sec t. c. The pr<'$c:nceof
thc tcmporal refncnces in firsl par! of the third and their from the first PUt of the:
argumcm in sec 1. c. t sind iCa\c an cs<:nl ial distinction belween the: rwO. For addi l ional discu$liion
of Ihis difficulty with thr third i .... , an appare:!I1 quantifier as he: describes it , <:e: Kenn)"
TIN Firlt' W;'p. pp. 6J- 6\. While J havc differed with Kenny's vi""" that '/UAlldl1 should be t3ke:n
a.$ referring 10 SQme time: in the futurt' r:uhe:r than to the pasl. his cr it icisms of the: now
unde:r considct:llion rnU51 be t:lkrn I'Criously. For some mhcrs who the v:llidi ty of this Stc:p in
procedure <:e: Sohik. Fim P3r! Of Ihe T hird Way. - pp. T I'ate:r. "The Quc:s_
tion of rhe ValidilY of Ihe Tn-tia ;n Vol. L of Studi cs in I'hilOSQphy and thc History ofl'hiloso-
phy (Washington , D,C.. 1963), !,p. tJ7- 77 (for an utcrnicd critiquc ofbodt of the difficult $13te-
menu in the: argument in light of the dcfe:nsa offered by Connolly and Dq;I' lnnoccmi). On the:
uthe: r hand. D. O'Oonoghue: see:ms to Ix obl ivious 10 thi s difficulty. Sec his "An Analysis of Ihe:
Hrt;1l Via of St. Thomas, - TIN Irish TlNolcziral QU(lrln-/y lO (1953). pp. IZ9-SZ.
64. For a brief resUUle of urlier rwemieth-ce:ntury concerning Aquinas's $Ourccs for
hi$ thitd way.see Kna5as. "'\-hking Se:nS<:' of the Tn-tia Via.- pp. 477-80. For $Ollie who would sec


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472 From Finite Bei ng ro Uncreared Being
upon its mode of being (nsr). Accordingly, I would suggest that by this term
T homas wams 10 signifY the varying degrees of pure ontological perfeClion or ex-
cell ence we di scover in the different beings we experience in the world about us.
JUSt as some share more fully in omological goodness and truth than do others, so
too t hey may be regarded as bei ng more perfeci or more excellent, omologically
speaking, than ot hers. Excell ence (nobilitas) should not be regarded as a dist inct
uanscendental.
7t
This in turn leads 10 another quest ion: Does Thomas wish to restrict the starring
point of the fourth way 10 gradation in transcendental perfections such as truth
and (Interestingly enough, he does not melllion ontological unity.) O r
does he wish 10 include what we mi ght call pure bUI not transcendental perfections
such as lift. knowl edge, will. Whi le nor found wherever bei ng is real ized, such
perfecti ons also admit of degrees and, when freed from alll imimion, may be ap-
plied analogicAlly even 10 God, or so Thomas will maint3in.
7
' These perfecti ons
have the advantage of bei ng readil y recognizable in varying degrees in the worl d
about us. But since Thomas has nOI expli citly singled them out in present ing the
fourth way, it will be bener for us nOt to base hi s argument upon them. For then
one might wonder whether the general princi pl e 10 which he appeals is also in-
tended to apply to them as well as to strictly transcendental perfections. Here,
therefore, 1 shall reslfict the argument to transcendental perfections such as good-
ness and Lruth.
As Thomas cxpn::sses Ihis principle in his leXt, Ihe: more and less are: said of
different things insofar as they approach in diverS(: fashion something which is such
10 thc maximum degree. As some writ ers have pointed out, the exampl e 10 whi ch
Thomas turns hardly proves hi s point. It is unnecessary for us to aSsume thai some-
thing enjoys a m:o::imum degree of heat in order to be aware that one kettle is
honer Ihan another. Nonetheless, since this is only an example drawn from an
outmoded medieval physics, we need not regard it as ccntral to Thomas's argu-
men!. 8/) But we may st ill ask: How does Thomas justifY this general principle? Is it
78. For of sec G:u rigou. Lagrangc. Gxi: His Eximnu lind His N,lfUrt, Vol. t.
1" )06; Van U probkmr, PI" 209, l16. FOl sec 18. Stt ed. cie, p. 19 r Et dico
NOle Ihal in COlllnt Thomas also applies nabilirIV 10 wisdom. While granting
thil. for the of simpliciry I will retHiC! it wilhin Ihe COntCXt of the fourth to tr.lnsandemal
fX'rfeclions. Al.<;(l Wagntl , Dir philasaphiU"lxlI tmplikau. PI" 9j-97. He considers and righrly
rcjecrs idcm ifying !he ncb.u wit h tht beam iful.
79. Sc.: diSC1..lssion of God's U"itnlill, "ila, el //Ohm/IV in ST I. qq. Ii , 18, and 19.
80. Sec Fabro. -Sv;luppo. e Yllorc ddb 'IV Via',- pp. LOI - l; Va n Srttnberghen. u
probf"nr. pp. lL s- r6. As V, n Stttnberghen poinlS (lU!. for A riS!0I1t and medi,""al followers. fire
hot of ilS and !O Ihe maximum degrce. Wh ile they regarded the 5Un a.o; the of h<":lt
in emhl y things, they did no! it as hOI in n. w. where ht corru I:"'bro on Ihi5
deuil ). For full er diKussion sc:e Wagner. pl,,"((JJOph'rrhrn !mp/dra/r, pp. LLS- 11. While he con-
{hat Ihi\ cum pIe would ha\"c been illuminaTing for Thoma.o;s who $harcd his
worldiew. Wagner denieo; Ihar til<: conIToiling principle of rhe lim part of (he fourth way rests
upon .he eumple for its (I" no).



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Quiddira(ive Knowledge orGod and Analogy 503
So 100, God is the di vine principle, and all olher things arc one in him. Thomas's
implied conclusion is that, becausc of this similariry uerween mr and God, rSJr is
the m OSI proper name of God. '
Thomas derives a fi nal argument from Avicenna. If the name "th ing" is applied
10 something by reason of irs quiddity, the name " He who or (ms) is
imposed by reason of the act of beillg (actus (lSmdij. ' r!lOmas reasons l hat oc-causc
a creamre's essence differs from i(S rsll', such j thing is properly named from its
quiddi ry and nor from its aCI of being. BUI God's act of bei ng (rut) and his quiddity
are identi cal. Therefore that name which is deri\'cd from the divine act of being -
" He who is"-names God properl y and is his proper name.'
As Thomas explains in replyi ng 10 the first obj ection, mr is applied 10 God
properl y, not in the sense that it cannOI also belong to Cfeatures, but in Ihe sensc
thaT in God it is not joi ned or mixed with privation or
Thomas's replies to objections 3 and 4 arc particularly interesting. The t hird
objecti on contends that if created wi sdom falls short of the uncreated wisdom, so
docs cre:Hcd rut fall shorl of the uncreated rsSt'. But the name "wisdom" falls short
of signifying perlect ly the divine wisdom since we impose thi s name on God only
in accord with our underSTandi ng of crealt'<i wisdom. The same reaw ning should
apply to t'SIr, il would seem, and therefore to the name " He who Hence the
name "He who is" is not more proper than other names."
In replyi ng Thomas acknowledges thai Ihe name " He who is" does nOt perfectly
signify the di\illc rifr, for it signifi es only accordi ng 10 the mode of somcthing
concrett' and composed. But all ot her names signifY God even more imperfectly.
Thomas illustrates thi s with t he name "wisdom." Suppose J say "God is wise.
M
lk'Cause a form of the verb "to be" appears in this statement , a I\vofold deficiency
applies to il. A first siems from the concret e way in which t'SSt itself signifi es, and
this defi ciency also appli es to the name who is." A second defi Ciency arises
from t he fact that created wisdom necessaril y fall s shon of the full int elli gible con-
tent (rario) of d ivine wisdom; because of thi s, greater imperfect ion is involved in it
and in all other names than in the name who is. " 7 While Thomas's main point
here is to defend the preemi nence of " He who is" among all divine names, he has
also inlroduced an important reason for his view all crcatld names, including
J. EJ. ci r .. p. r9S. For much rhoughr in i"
Thomu's C.()mmenl ... ry on r he !'lime In librum h,"li Dionp ;' [H nomini/J ", r.rpo,itio. Per:>
ed .. c. V. !. p. l JO. nn. 166-169 (DionY5i us) and c. V. leel. !. pp. ljS- )7. nn. 6)1- 641 (Thomas).
4- Ed. (il ., p. 195. NOle especiaJly: -Cum m1<: m 5il quod in qualibcl re w:ara cs5Cnl;a
differal a suo C$st, res illa p. opr ic denominalur a sua, el non ah aClU cucndi . sieul homo
ab In Deo ipsum esse SUllnl esl Sua quiddin.l: el ide<> nomen qUQli sumi lUr
C$S(', ipsum. est proprium __ . Cf Avi..x"n na. Libn phi/mophi"
prim", I, c. S t-d_, Vol. I. pp. H- )'j). Fm 'iCe my Larin Avicenna as a
pp. 67- 69 and n. JI.
5. Ed. ci ,. , 1'1'. 19S- 96. 6. Ed_ d .. ,
7. r:.d. dl., p. ' 96.
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508 From Fi nite Being (0 Uncrc3ted Being
God, we must deny of him the meaning signified by such names (1(1 signijicara),
or in the case of names signifying pun: perfect ions, at least the creaturely way in
which they signify, Even with respect to the latter, something imperfect is implied
by their mode of signif)' ing,H This fi nal point will be developed more fully by
Thomas in Bk [of his Summa {olltra as we shall see below.
b. /11 7rinitate (12)7-1258/59)
Thomas develops very fully his thoughts on the human intellect's possibilities
in knowing God in his Commentary on the Dr Trinirau. [n q. I , a. 2 he asks
whether the human mind can arrive at knowledge of God.
l
< He repl ies Ih:u some-
thing may be known by us in one of m'o ways: (I) through a form which is proper
to tha t thing itself (as when the eye grasps a stone through the spt.'Cies, i.e., form
of the stone), or (2) t hrough a form of something else which is like the thing known
(as when a cause is known through its li kcness in its effect, or a human being
through the form of a picture or image), n As regards the first situation, where a
thing is known through its own form, this may take place through a form which
is simply ident ical with the thing itself, So it is that God knows himself through
his essence and, adds Thomas, so tOO docs an angel know itse1fin this wa)'. Or this
may take place through a form which is derived from the thing itsclf, either by
being abstracted from that thing, or by direct infusion when a form or species is
directly impressed on the mind of the knower by the object known. zt.
As regards our knowledge of God in the present life, in accord with his general
t heory of knowledge Thomas points OUt thai our intellect bears a determi ned rela-
tionship 10 forms it abstracts from sense experience, Hence in this life we cannot
know God through that form which is identi cal with the divi ne essence itself. Such
knowledge is rescrved for t he blessed in the life to come.
27
Even any like ness which
might be directly impressC'd by God on the human intellect in this life would not
be suffi cient (0 make his cssence known to us; for his essence infinitely surpasses
every created form. And, Thomas repeat s, in t hi s life we do not know God by
means of purdy intelligible forms which might be likenesses of be-
causc our imdlect depcnds upon forms abstracted from
l}. Ed. cil., pp. SJS- }6. Cf. E. "l:esst'nce divine Cl fa hum1ine d1nS Ie
Commcnui re sur les de Saim Thom:H: phifolOphi'lur dr Louwi" 51 pp.
'90-91. Alro S('(' Thomas'l reply!O objcction 1 ((d. cil., p. SJ6).
l4. "uttum humana] possit ad [ki nOt;ti1m (Leon.
IS. " ... uno modo per formam propriam, si(ut oculus bpidem pcr 'picm aBo
modo pcr formam aherius si milem libi, l ieu! cognoscilur ,,"ur... [Kr dftttus, et homo
pcl form1m suae im1ginis" (Lwn. SO.84: 48---p),
16. Leon. SO.8,nl-6j. 10 ili umOltc rhe last-mentioned Thomas refe rs to Avicenn1's
lhcory according to which wc know 5<'p.r.ne by direct infusion of notions of them
(i mprruic1ItJ) in our
17. Ed. Cil" p. 84:64-70.
:8. See p. 8470-80.



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Quidditacivc:' Knowledge of God and Analogy 533
one (unique), i.e., that there is only one God. Si nce these have been discussed in
the previous chapt cr, I would simply note here that of these 3t least the first twO
follow the way of According to Thomas's announced plan, with the
end of q. II he complet es his effort to show how God is not.
Thomas had indi cated that with q. [ 1. h{' would begi n to show how GOO is
known by us. At the beginning of q. 11 Thomas comments thai in whal has gone
before (qq. 3-11) he has considered how God exists when he is si mpl y consi dered
in himself. Now in q. J2. he will seek to delermine how God enters into our knowl -
edge, i.e., how he is known by creatures. I 16 A number of the articles in q. t2 have
\0 do with the knowledge of God which is avai lable 10 Ihe blessed ill the life \0
come. Nonet hel ess, 10 the ext ent that these di scussions cast addi tional light on
Thomas's vi ews concerning how God may be known by liS in thi s life, they, tOO,
will be examined.
In 3. I Thomas simpl y asks whether any created intellect can see God's essence.
Thomas rejects the view of some who hold that no created intellect can ever see
the divine essence. A llllman being's highest happiness must consist in that being's
highest operation, an operation of the intel lect. If the created intellect could never
see God's essence, eirher il would !lever aHain beatitude, or itS beatimde would
consist in something other than God. Thomas rejects thi s position as opposed 10
faith , because the ult imate perfection of a rational creature must bc the principle
of il s being. (Although Thomas does not here spell thi s Out , this appeal !O faith
directly eliminates the second alternative, according 10 which the intellect's happi-
ness would consist in something other than God.) Thomas also rejects thi s as op-
posed 10 reason. He not es that there is in human bei ngs a natural desire to know a
cause once an dfeci is undcTSlOod. If the int el ieci could never reach the
first cause of all things, this natural desire 10 undersland would remain unfulfilled.
Hence on both theological and philosophical grounds Thomas concludes that the
blessed do see God's essence.' 17
Even so, Thomas's replies 10 objections I and 3 indi cat e dm not even {he blessed
can comprehmd the divine essence, although tbey can see it . This point is important
for our purposes, for it suggests that even if a creature may see God's essence, no
11 5. For:l. 15-ee Lron . . 401 07. For 3. j $ p. 1If. Aho $ abo'e. Ch. XI! , /In. [14, 115. I}[, and my
[here or Iht:S<' passages.
u6. q. j. Introduct ion (Leon. 4.35) . From q. Il. Innoduclion. note, "Quia in sUpC"rioribu.
, onsiden.vimus quali[e[ Deus si [ .K<:unduill SCipsUIll, ' d lal consiJ en. ndu III qualite. , it in ' osn itionc
no:;mt, idest quomodo cognO$CIIllI a creal uris" (po 1 14).
11 7. Stt q. Il , 3. 1 (Leon. 4.JJ4- [S) . No[e in p3Tf iculal: " ... 5i nunquam C"osemiam Dei "iderc
POles t inldJIuS crutus, vel nunquanl bcali\ udinem obrinebir, vel in a[ io eius bcati tudo
qU:lm in Deo. Quod est ali cnum a fide .... Similirer est ti lionem . . .. $i mplici -
I tt conccd .. ndum (;S [ quod beari Dei videanl. "' Hank0' rerelS [0 [he kimmen$C" [i[ eralUre
otllhe qut!l; [ioll whel her [here is and of man for bcatirude in Aquin:u" (God
ill Him"if. pp. 83- 84. n. 8). [n addi tion [() ,ho:- rtretcnces he offers there, 1 would recommend
J. !.aporia, LA dNrinh dr k nill,," """,,,i'l( "lim ThomilJ d"Aqui'l (P-His. 1965). For my review
Sprculu", 44 (1969), pp.


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540 From Finire Being [Q Uncrearcd Being
and unqualifi ed, the more properly they may be applied to God. The name " He
who determines no mode of being but stands indeterminately with respect to
all. For this reason, as he agai n reminds us, John Damascene refers to God as having
as if it were a cert ai n infinite and undetermined ocean of substance. Thirdl y,
this name is most proper because of what it consignifi es; for il signifies to exist, 10
be sure. but also to exi St in the present, and ,his is most properly said of God. for
whom t bere is nei t her past nor future.
1l7
UlHil thi s poi nt Thomas's treat menl who as the most appropriate or
proper divine name is consistent with his earl ier discussions. But in his reply 10
objection I he argues th:u this name " He who is" is more proper than the name
"God" with respect to t hat by reason of which it is imposed, i. e., mr, and also wi lh
respect to its mode of signifying and consignifYing. However, as regards [hat which
the name is iml)()Sed to signifY. the name is more proper, since it is intended
10 signifY [he divine nature. And viewed from this perspective, in terms of that
which t he name is imposed to signi f)'. the name (YHWH) is
even more proper: for it is imposed to signify the incommunicable and, if one may
so speak, singular substance of God. 1.;8
In summing up thi s lengt hy di scussion of Thomas's views 011 whether or not we
can know what God is. I would now like to recall the following. From the begin-
ning to the end of his ca reer Thomas has consistently denied to us in this life
quidditativc knowledge of God. We can know that God is, and what God is not,
but not what God is. He has also consistently defended the possibility of some
kind of nonmctaphori ca l prcdieat ion of divine names, and one whi ch we may de-
scribe as proper.
Secondly, I have nOt found in his earlier treatmentS within similar contexts any
explicit admission thai certain namcs may be predicated of God substantially or
esst'ntiall y, .although this is cl early dcfended in ,he De potentia and in t he Summa
thrologiar. As [ have suggested in an t'adi er study, thi s seems to me to be owing, at
least in part . to a greater concern on Thomas's part to avoid in these later works the
extrt'mely nega tive \'icw he has associated wit h Moses Maimonides in particular, .and
I)]. Ed. (i i. , p. 162.
1)8, Ihid. For a hel pful diS(:ussion Stt A. SI. Thomas on Ihe i(red 'Telragram-
nmon': Mrdii1rl'i11 Studin H (1?7!). pr. 175- 86. in his &ing Il nd Knt/wing: Studic in 71""'1111
AqwinllJ Ilnd Lar,., MrdirlJaI PI,ilOJopiJrn (Toromo. (990). pp. 59- 69 (ci red here). Maurer .;;ondudes
,hal rhis .,.iew rhar rhe name Teu .. i$ in One mort' pl<)pcr ro (;o.d , han ,he name
Ht Who is is unique 10 the 5 U""1111 TI"olcgitU (po 6\ ) and itknrifies Maimonides' Guidt;U Thom
a$'s souret fOl t his lat t precisi on (pr. 66-(9). C( L. C1a.,.ell, EI "ombrt propio fk Dios, pp. r.u- . 6. II
should nOTed rhar in a. Il Thom3J ,h;l! alfirm3Ii"e pl'1lpo.silioru em be formed
God wi/hour doi ng any 10 Ihe divine si mpli ciry. n,is follows fl<) m Ihe f..Cl thal our ;nteJlecl
fll un di fferenl notions or ideas (ro"rrprio>ln) in undenrandi ng God. si net ir d(XS nol see him as
ht ;s in himsd( E"cn so. in U5i ng Ihnc difftrtm nolioll$. Ihe human imdkct m:ognitts Ih;ll it is
one and Ihe .same divine rulity which corresponds 10 aU of The imdlecl expre$5d t his (Onccp-
lual plurality by using a distinCl mbjecl and predical c, And il Ihc underl yi ng Teal unily by
composing Ihe .mbjecl prtdic;rl e in a judgmcm (I.eon. 4- 16. ).



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Quiddi lae j"c Knowledge of God and AnaJogy 545
common to other things in ont of fhree ways-univocally, equivoGl. liy, or analogi-
cally. As he will continue to do in hi s later major discussions of this same issue, he
proceeds by el iminating oolh univocal and equivocal predicat ion of knowl edge (or
of any pure perfecti on) of God and of creallites. 1.7
To show that nothing can be said univocally of God and ofa creature, Thomas
builds his argument on his metaphysics of essence and act of being In all cases
where uni vocal predication is appropriate therc must be some kind of commonness
in the order of nature (or esst'nce), but not in the order of the act of being. This
follows because only ont' (substantial ) act of being ca n be found in anyone substan-
tia l entity. Thus the condition of humanity is not realized with the same act of
being in fWO differenl human bei ngs. Therefore. whenever the form signified by a
name is itself, 11m name cannot be predicated univocally. Given this, neither
can being (ms) be predi cated univocall y, since, as Thomas often reminds liS, the
name being (mf) is derived from the verb ror.
I
( ' What we have so fa r is a general
argument against predicating univocally at any level. And this in IU rn is broad-
ened so as !O apply to bei ng (ms) as well. Underlying all of this, of course, is Thom-
as's conviction Chat in creatures essence and act ofheing (tlu)ca.nnot be idelllilled.
Thomas imml-diatcly goes on to apply this thinking 10 the case of the di\'inc
names. The nature or form of whatever is affirmed of God must be identical with
the divine act of being. This is so because God's act ofbcing and nature
are identi cal. Therefore nothing can be prcdic.lIt:d univocall y of God and of any
crealllre. Implied here of course is Thomas's unwavering cOllviction that lht're can
be no composition in God. Also assumed is hi s previous conclusion that the act of
being (mr) can never be predicated univocally of any twO creatures. Hence neither
it nor anything el se call be predicated univocally of a crearure and God; for in God
any ot her pcrfl.'Clicn nHiSI it self Ix: identical with the divine f'lJt". w, Ag;l.in we sec
that the difference in ontologicJI situations-idcntity V5. composition of essence
and a u-grounds the distinction between God and :lIly crealllte, and the rcsulting
impossibilit), of our univocally predicating any n:lIlle of both.
In assessing lhe general argument against univocal predication of mr I am re-
minded of one of the ways in which Thomas argues for the di stinction and COI11-
J)Qsition of cssellCl' and f"SJt" in substances other than God, i.e., the genus argu-
,h,1t Gods know\( dge or Ihing,; o,hn himsd r is proper (em ill (pp. s<"c "
(po 8IR).
147. I II a. 4 Ki( mia suB il uni."oca IIOSllOlt (p. 818). fQCponsc
on p. 819. Stt p. 807 (or ' n"'nl3S'i phr:l..<i nt; o( ,hi, ,\l l<:>l ion.
148. St" p. 819. Note "Huius I";lI io qUi3 cum in rt duo 5il w nsidn:lrt: . ilicel
Ur..\111 .'d lei. CI <sse 5ilLIIII. ()I'(lrl e{ qLlod in OinnibU5 unj.ucis )'i, colnlliuni llU
JUIII I":II;onelll nalur..\, . el nOll S"und um IIlIlIm CSW 11 0 11 CSI in 1111;\ r( . e l iJ oo
p;.'r nomell (";Sf ipsum non pol es! uni,"oc," (OIlH: nirt . plXlpl e!
<tuod <, <i am ell , nOn u"iw-..:e
ideo ( ulll omnium diell lll Ul d,' [ko \"\""1 (orn.:I !il ipsum esse. SII"Jll
<.'S I sua . . . . idoo Ilihil de Dca e! un;,"OCt diei poles t" (pI'.


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Quiddi [arive Knowledge of Cod and Analogy H9
bodies share in the nOfion of corporcit}', body is defined in the same way in its
various applicalions. Hence the logician, who considers meanings only and not t he
order of being, says lhat the name "bodyH is predicated univocally of all bodies,
including the terrestrial (corruptible) and the celestial (incorruptible), But the
metaphysician and the natural philosopher must also take into account the exis-
tence of any nature. They real ize that the existence (mr) of corporei ty is not
the same in terrestrial (or corruptible) and celestial (incorrupt ible) bodies and
therefore deny that the name or anything else is prediC3ted univocal l)' of
the corruptibl e and the incorrupt ible. Even for them. however, this analogy applies
only 10 the order of existence, not 10 rhe order of meaning, l"l (3) Finally, the anal-
ogy may apply both 10 the order of meaning and t he order of existence. This hap-
pens when there is no perfect equalit), either in meaning or in existence. It is in
this way that being {mt} is sai d of substance and acci dent. In such cases the com-
mon nature or perfection must enjoy some existence (mr) in each of the things of
which it is predicated. but one that differs in terms of a greater or lesser degree of
perfecti on. It is al so in this way that truth, good ness, and names of this kind (i,e.,
pure perfections) are sai d analogically of God and of creatu res, Whence it follows
that all of these arc really present in God and in creatures, each with its appropriate
existence, and at the same time, that they are prcsent in varying degrees of perfec-
ti on. Thomas concludes from this that there are ditTerent truths, and each of t hese
must have it s appropriate existence. 1'3
Important for our purposes is the f;lCt that Thomas explicitly applies to the case
of the divine names lhe thi rd kind of analogy he has here distinguished- that
which applies to both the order of meaning and the order of existence. Without
dwelling at lengt h on this passage, therefore. we may assume that in other passages
161. Ibid. NOle: Vd SITundum CI non imcmioncm: el hoc Inti ngil
pi u r.r. parificamur in i mCllI ionc alicuius ( ommu illud commune lion unjus r:llionis
in omnibus. situl omnia corpuF.! p.rific:IJlrur in in. cmionc ... . Un(1c
mCI.physiculll el n";l. lur.ltm. qui considnanl res se<:undum $uum nee hoc noml'n, corpus, ntc
:o!iquid .!iud dicilU' uni\"(xe de corrup. ibili bu5 e. incoffup.ibil ibus ... :
16j. - Vel $t.'Cundum in ICllIionem CI S<.>::undum esse; CI hoc CSI quando parifiaJlUl in iHlen-
fiDne communi, n<:que in ens dici l ur de 5ubstamia el accideme: el de talibus OpO<lCI quod
nalUr.I (,OIlU'HlII;S .Iiquod esse ill ll!loquolille wrum de Qllibu5 di cilU' , diffcrens Slln_
dUIll ral ioncllllllaiDri! vel P'Crfeclionis. EI simililcr di(\). quod ("I CI
hlliu$modi di(' unllIT analogicc de [ko ci crcaillri s. Unde opt)llel quod St"Cundum 11I1Im esse omni.
in [)eo si ll!. rl in c:rclluris St"Cundum u till"c", maioris pcrfc.:1 ionis CI lIli noris: ex lIuO $Ctjuilll r,
Cllrn 11<>" p,,inc ><.-.: undu lIl unum "';5<' UHQhi,!uc. '!I",.J sim , ..,,;caICS" (ibid,). This
bs b<::en subjecI 10 considerable on Ihe p.rt of Thomistic co",memalOrs, bO(h
da"-!ic:ll and r,.. It (("1111"3.1 10 imcll'tC"1 3Iion as SCI fonh i II his {)( '1omi'lum
Ill'lalogill. Sc..., Ch. 1[1 .bove, n. 87 fUf of hi s ifll("fpn:lalion of this 1(");1 and hi s way of
il 10 Thomas's 01 her d'seu.ss inns of analogy. On Thomas's sec M()Illagnes. 1 ... 1 dortr;"r,
p. 61 and n. 100; Mcinerny, TIff Logic of Analogy. pp. 97- 115: Aqu;mu lind Anafov, pp. 5- 14 (on
Cajcl an's of Ihe lexl ); S. M. Ramil"C'L. lorno un famruo IUIO d(" SJmo l omas .wbrC"
[a analogia: !iDpi(llIia S (19U). pp. 166-91 (also of for Ihe poinl abo"r in my
II. rS9), pp. '69- 76.


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Quidditacive Knowledge of God and Analogy 555
In this text Ihere is nei ther a decisive rejecti on of analogy of proportion, nor an
excl usive acceptance of anal ogy of proponionaliry, Proponionaliry is proposed as
an alternali ve war of accounring for a crearure's similitude or likeness 10 God. Even
so, Klubertanz is surely correct when he writes that "the absence of any subsequent
text which teaches proper proport ionality berv.'een God and creatures constitut es
strong evidence that St, Thomas quietl y abandoned this docuine after 1256. lU At
the very least, by the ti me of 01' writau, q. :!) Thomas no longer regards propor-
tionali ry as Ih(, only wl y of accollming for a erealure's likeness 10 God,l"
c. Summll comrn Gt!1I tiles I (1159/60-1264/65)
With this we 1l1;J. }' re!Urn to Thomas's discussion of the di vine names in Ihe
SlImma contra Gentiles. As we saw in the previous section of this Chapter, in Bk I,
c. p, Thomas defends the point (hat a plurality of di vine names is not repugnant
10 God's In cc. J2 and foll owing he explicitly takes up the issue of
univocal , equivocal, and analogi cal predi cation of lhe divine names. In c. 32 itself
he offers a number of argurnellls to show that nothing can be prt'dicated uni vocally
of Gad and of creatures,
The first argument maintains that if the form an effect receives from its cause is
not Ihe saml' in species as Ihe form through which Iha! Cl use acts, a name taken
from that form in the effect cannot be univacall}' of the cause. For in-
st"dnce, according to Thomas's medieval world-view, fire as generat ed by the sun
and the sun itself arc not both said to be hot univocally, But no form whi ch is
Gtuscd by God can attain 10 the species of the divine power it self, for that whi ch
creat ures f('Ceive in divided and partial fashion is present in God in simple and total
fashion, Therefore nothing can be said univ0C2ll y of God and of other things. 1M
This argument is interesting it maintains that specifi c likeness berv,een
th\! form preselll in an effecl and in it s cause is required for univocal predication
of a name of both. And because Thomas has previously denied that God belongs
to any genus or that he (an be designa!ed by any substan\i al difference (and belong
to :my spl'Cies), il will follow th:u the form of no effcci call agree in spe<: ies with its
divine (';;IUS('. Morcover, as Thomas's :lrgumelll here assumes, in c. 28 he has just
prop';', " On this s Klui'K:rUfl7. cited in the p,wing nOte. His remu ks On p. indic ll c .h:..
he dJ. C$ thi s disputed qucstion ('I' 13) J"l.16. i.c .. at roughly the s:nnc lime :l.Hll.:I. . [, As I h3\'C
in n. 181. Wcishcil'l pba:< " . 1) in 1158- 19, and ,hi s sms ,,, mc "" be: ",,,ch li kdy,
since this qUe.$fion na,,,,,,Uy faUs int o Thomas's third as Regent Mas.c, (1!58- 1!j9). h !iC'1.'Cms
unlikely that would b\'e com! "c,I ,h .. Ii'M 1; <:jUC:51 ions of Ih .. [H wril"u i none },(:I ',
18J. Op. d t., p, 94. S my in th .. prf'Ceding nOle the d31e for q. lJ. Since il
P'.:MIl U Ilroport iOl .. lity as 0111)' Ihe ,;ccoud of ,WQ l)(Wible il ;l.1,eady mark.!
O"CI q, It .
H<';IwC\'"" IInlih .. vicw (S pp. 91. , . ), 1 do no< sec tht tCXI from q.
:,. a. 7. 3d 9 indicalin!; an choice fOI
18\. Ed. Leon. man_, pp. Jl- jJ .
86. Ed. cit" 1'. Jj.
,

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560 From Finire Being [Q Uncreared Being
Finally, Thomas reasons that there would be no point in predicating a name of
a thing unl ess we could understand something about (hat thing through the name.
But if all (he names applied to God and creatures were purdy equivocal, such
names would tell us tlOthing abom God; for the meanings of such names are known
to us only insof-ar as they are said of crealUres. It would then be useless for us to
say or to prove of God thaI he is '" being, or good, or anything else of this kind.
lOl
Against this one mi ght reply (hat through names of this kind we onl y know what
God is not. To describe him as living would mean thai he does nOI belong 10 Ihe
class of inanimate things. In response Thomas coulllers Ih:H in thai evem a name
such as "li ving" would at least have t his in common when it is applied to God and
to creatUres, i.e., the negation ofbcing inanimate. Even this is enough to show that
i, is nOt purdy equi vocal, he
tn sum, the added contribution of [his series of arguments against purdy equiv-
ocal predication of the divine names is to show Ihat it fui ls to express the likeness
that obtains betv.-cen crearures and God. This likeness ilsclfhas been esrablished,
Thomas maint ai ns, by reasoning from created things viewed as cffecLS to God as
their cause. And because that reasoning presuppost'S that in some way every effect
is like its cause, the success of such reasoning it sclf undercuts, in Thomas's eyes, any
theory of merel y equivocal predication of such names of cream res and of God.lO
S
Having now eliminated to his own satisfaction both rheori e.s of univOClI :md
purely equivocal predication of the divine names, Thomas concludes in c. H that
such names can only be predicated analogically of creatures and of God. he here
explains, [his means [hat [hey arc applied according to an ordering or relationship
to some onc thing. But analogical predicat ion based on an ordering or relarionship
10 some one thing may happen in tv.'0 different ways. In the first way, this is based
on the fan that many different Ihings all bear a relationship 10 something that is
onto For instance, il is in relationship to ont and the sa me health that an animal is
said to be healthy as its subject. medicine as its efficient cause, food as that which
prescrves it, and urine as its sign. In the .second way, all analogical name is predi -
cated of tv.o things not because they arc both related 10 some third thing, but
because one of them is related to the other. Thus being (ms) is said of substance
and accident because an accident bears a relat ionship 10 substance, not oc-causc
substance and accident aTe both relat ed 10 some third thing. Thomas concludes
that names arc nOt said analogically of God and other things in the first way, be-
l O J. Ibid. Hence argumenl$ J, 4, and 5 are all on the agno.lticislll (hat would
res ult from a (hoory of (he purdy equivOCII Char-Kter of divine names. Not appearing here i5 lhe
31gumcIll from :l.gnosddsm on ('.od's parI Ihal would alfO result , ..... hich Thomas had UsM in [N
,,..ri'au. q. 1., :1. . I!.
!04. Ed. ci! .. p. )4. No!e . . . ad mim.s ol'onebi! quod vivum de o.e..:. tT ( <<"am,i!
d;c!um (:On,....n;a! in ncga!iont: EI s;c IJon er;t pUrl! KqUi VIXllm.-
W'j. (p. 70), (IUOlill
g
a's. I f'oll> our ,hal Mnoel ic Mgull>enl1l -
don now bttu rcinfor.:c-d by argul1\elll . He also comnl("nu !hal this rn=physical
firs! appears in the Summll ('''' tn, Gm,if<'S. p. 70, n. I).


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Quidditative Knowl edge of God and Analogy 571
In concluding this di scussion of an:llogy al Ihe lranscendcntal level, I would
like to ward off a possible mi sunderstanding. An oversi mplifi ed view of Thomas's
position mighl infer from what we ha\'e seen th:\[ the imel1i gibl t" comen! (rmio)
signifi ed by an analogous name such as "good" or or "being" remains exactl y
the same when Wt abstract it from the panicipated way in whi ch it is re:l li zed in
creatures and Ihe unpani cipated way it is present in God. If so, we might then
speak of a common int elligible core or cont ent whi ch is retained by such an ab-
Slractt"d concept of an absol ute perfeCtion. This would remain exactly the same
and would be appl ied 10 God or 10 creatures by the simple addition on our part of
the appropriale mode of being, unparlici p:Hed and unlimited, on the one h:tnd, or
participated and limited, on rhe OIher.
And indeed a long-standing school of Thomi sti c imerpretation $Cems iO view
manen; more or less thi s way, as MOlltagnes has pointed out. Whether such writers
refer to this absrracted concept as a perfecti on in itself, or as an absolute perfection,
or as a t ranscendental analogue, Ihe theory seems to be the same. There is some
fundamental intell igibl e core which we can abstract in the caSt of pure perfections.
This common core seryC$ as a bridge, as it were, which enables us co move from
knowledge of perfections in their fini te and parti ci pated state to such a pure perfec-
li on considered in i!Sel f. and from this co its application co Ihe infinite and unpar-
ti cipated source of all bei ngyt
Howcyer, our examination of Thomas's texts on analogy docs not suppon such
an approach. In his pn:senrarion both of the anal ogy of many 10 one (at the predi ca-
mental level) and of t he analogy of onc to another (at both the predicamental
and Iranscendemallevels), Thomas's texts indicate that the rationfr involved, the
int ell igible corm' nts, are partl y the same and partl y nOt the same. The perfc<ti on
in questi on belongs to one analoga te in primary fashion and to the other or olhen;
in secondary fashion. Our understanding of such a perfection as it is realized in a
secondary analogat e. e.g .. an accident or a creature, al so carri es with it an awareness
of it as ordered co, as related to, and as dependent upon the primary anal ogate,
whether t his be a substance or whet her it be God himself.
Thus at the predi camentallevel. if being is said of an accident such as quanti ty
and of substa nce by the anal ogy of one to another. this is because our understand-
ing of Ihe acci dent necessarily incl udes an understanding of it as ordered co and
dependem upon substance. And the same will hol d if we predi cate being of ""'0
different accidents, because bodl arc relat ed to and depend upon substance (anal.
ogy of many 10 one). It is in substance. of course, thar being is reali zed in primary
I i!. s.:r MOnl3SI1CS. UI dlUrr;nr dr ''"m:{qgir, pr. 9i - 10j. for good exposifion and cri liqu( of
Ihis way or vi(wi ng 311 0011Gc:1'1. NOlc ulliall ), his from l'cnido, IJ ,..;,t,
df limalogit til dogmllliql<r. pp. 189- 90. oS Montaglld. p. 97, 11. 57. uscfulnw; of
book is badly compromised l,y its uncriliClI ;l(t:rPI:l.JlCC of Gajelan's of of
proportion P" rdy nlrinsic.

\
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Quiddil'Jtive Knowledge of God and Analogy 575
deny of God the cre:Hurel y modus JignijiclllJdi we empl oy in predic:ning names of
him. If will never enable us 10 appl y names univocall y to God and creatures but
only analogicall y, at besl. Thesc limimiOIl S ult imately follow from the ontological
situat ion, the r. "1CI that in the order of reality effects are not like God either specifi -
cally or gcneri call y but only "ac<:ording to some kind of analogy ill the way the act
of b<:ing itself is COnl lTl on 10 all (bcings)."l11
1 ~ 1 Ibid.


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