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Monday, November 24, 2008

0046: Actus Essendi: Commentary on De Veritate, 1, 1, c

Entry 0046:

The text establishes a clear demarcation between terms derived from the metaphysical principle of essence and terms derived from the metaphysical principle of actus essendi. The major concern here is to clarify the meaning of the transcendental notion of res (thing), a term which derives its content and its transcendental connotation from the quiddity or essence of the thing.

The underlying principle of this doctrine is that, in the real world, one cannot have one of these two metaphysical principles existing without the other being present. In the real world essences exist with the actus essendi, and vice versa, the actus essendi always appears instantiated in an essence. For this reason, the term res (thing) expresses a transcendental notion; it stands for a universal mode of being that follows upon the fact of having an essence. Essences are found in every existing thing without exception.

Thus, from the side of the actus essendi every existing thing is said to be ens and from the side of the essence every existing thing is said to be res.

Monday, November 17, 2008

0045: Essence and Actus Essendi in the National Review/November 3, 2008/Book Review

Entry 0045:

Commenting on the 'Knowability of God' as explained in E. Feser's latest book, the reviewer writes: “This book… explains splendidly… how the distinction between essence and existence in things means that the principle of causality remains unassailable (despite centuries of unsupported proclamations to the contrary)” p. 53,
National Review, Nov 3, 2008.

Here is what Edward Feser writes on p. 104 of his book: “Nothing can cause itself; whatever comes into existence, or more generally whatever must have existence added to its essence in order for it to be real, must be caused by another. This is the principle of causality… Notice that it does not say ‘everything has a cause’… The principle says only that ‘what does not have existence on its own must have a cause.’”

Monday, November 10, 2008

0044: Actus Essendi: The Text from De Veritate, 1, 1, c

Entry 0044:

Here is another text from the "Series of Texts in which Aquinas Explicitly uses the Expression Actus Essendi:"
Probat etiam Philosophus in III Metaphys., quod ens non potest esse genus. Sed secundum hoc aliqua dicuntur addere super ens, in quantum exprimunt modum ipsius entis qui nomine entis non exprimitur.

Quod contingit uno modo ut modus expressus sit modus generalis consequens omne ens in se.

Et hoc affirmative:

Non autem invenitur aliquid affirmative dictum absolute quod possit accipi in omni ente, nisi essentia eius, secundum quam esse dicitur; et sic imponitur hoc nomen res, quod in hoc differt ab ente, secundum Avicennam in principio Metaphys., quod ens sumitur ab actu essendi, sed nomen rei exprimit quidditatem vel essentiam entis.

Monday, November 3, 2008

0043: Pope Benedict XVI on Aquinas (IV)

Entry 0043:

On the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on 31 October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI held a special audience for the members of the Academy. In his address the Roman Pontiff affirmed that “many of our contemporaries today wish to reflect upon the ultimate origin of beings, their cause and their end, and the meaning of human history and the universe.”

Concerning the topic chosen for the Plenary Meeting this year, Scientific Insight into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life, the Holy Father explained the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church. There exists, the Holy Father said, a reading of the world offered by science as well as a reading of the world offered by Christian Revelation. He stressed, however, that the understanding of creation from the side of faith is not opposed to the empirical evidence offered by the sciences.

Going back to the early origins of science, the Holy Father commented that, in its early stages, philosophy offered a somewhat horizontal interpretation of the origin of the world. The early philosophers did not have the concept of “creation” and therefore the genesis of the world was seen as a transformation of one thing into another.

It was not until later that the notion of “creation” was incorporated into philosophical reflection especially with the advent of Christian philosophers. It took, however, centuries of reflection to arrive at the notion of God as Pure Unparticipated Actus Essendi.

In this regard, the Holy Father clarified that, “A decisive advance in understanding the origin of the cosmos was the consideration of being qua being and the concern of metaphysics with the most basic question of the first or transcendent origin of participated being. In order to develop and evolve, the world must first be, and thus have come from nothing into being. It must be created, in other words, by the first Being who is such by essence.”

Then, the Pope continued, “To state that the foundation of the cosmos and its developments is the provident wisdom of the Creator is not to say that creation has only to do with the beginning of the history of the world and of life. It implies, rather, that the Creator founds these developments and supports them, underpins them and sustains them continuously.”

In particular, he said, “Thomas Aquinas taught that the notion of creation must transcend the horizontal origin of the unfolding of events, which is history, and consequently all our purely naturalistic ways of thinking and speaking about the evolution of the world. Thomas observed that creation is neither a movement nor a mutation. It is instead the foundational and continuing relationship that links the creature to the Creator, for He is the cause of every being and all becoming (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q.45, a. 3).”