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Monday, June 16, 2008

0023: Two Metaphysical Principles: ‘Essence’ and ‘Act of Being’

Entry 0023:

The doctrine of the actus essendi appears at every turn in the philosophical and theological writings of Aquinas.

Still Aquinas is emphatic in saying that the metaphysical principle of the actus essendi is inseparable from ‘essence’.

At times Aquinas' reflections concentrate more heavily and almost exclusively on the side of the metaphysical principle of ‘essence,’ but often his reflections rely entirely on the metaphysical principle of actus essendi. Nevertheless, throughout his writings, Aquinas crosses from the plane of ‘essence’ to the plane of the actus essendi and vice versa with remarkable facility.

The task of disentangling the nuances in doctrine he thus generates is not an easy
one.

For Aquinas, the ‘act of being’ is the most profound perfection of a thing; it is an internal incommunicable metaphysical principle inseparable from the thing itself, from the ‘essence’ of the thing, and from anything that exists in the thing. No ‘essence’ actually present in nature makes itself known to the intellect without simultaneously making known its proper participation in ‘act of being.’