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Monday, October 27, 2008

0042: Actus Essendi: Commentary on In III Sent., 11, 1, 2, ad 2

Entry 0042:

In this text Aquinas addresses the problematic issues that arise when one treats the terms “creature” and “man” as if they were concepts coming form the same kind of intellection.

The initial assumption is that the concept “man” is included within the category of “creatures.” But, if this were the case then, from the affirmation “Christ is man,” one would have to conclude “Christ is a creature.”

The response begins with a flat negation of the initial assumption. Simply expressed, the term “creature” cannot be conceived as a more general and wider category than the category of “man.”

The supporting argument is drawn from the two metaphysical principles “essence” and actus essendi.

The terms “creature” and “creation,” says Aquinas, are rooted on the metaphysical principle actus essendi; not on the metaphysical principle of “essence.” Due to this connection then, the term “creature” does not have the properties of a concept derived from ordinary abstraction.

In other words, just as we do not generate a genus from the metaphysical principle of actus essendi, because the individuals contained in a genus differt according to their actus essendi, so also we do not have a genus behind the term “creature.” The individuals contained within the term “creature” do not have something in common by virtue of having a univocally common “nature,” they are called “creatures” because of their actus essendi.

Christ is a man but Christ is not a creature. In Christ, the uncreated Divine Actus Essendi takes on a human nature and it is this Divine Actus Essendi what makes Christ a real existing human being. The Most Holy Humanity of Christ can be said to be a “creature” only as part of Christ in the uncreated Divine Actus Essendi. Compared to the human nature of ordinary men, the human nature of Christ is not instantiated on account of a substantial human actus essendi.