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Monday, December 29, 2008

0051: Actus Essendi: Commentary on De Veritate, 1, 1, ad sc 3

Entry 0051: Actus Essendi: Commentary on De Veritate, 1, 1, ad sc 3

It is to be noted that in this text Aquinas uses the term esse to signify actus essendi. This meaning of esse goes beyond the mere fact of existing. This meaning of esse refers to something deeper: it refers to a metaphysical principle, namely, to the metaphysical principle of actus essendi.

After clarifying that from the side of the actus essendi every existing thing is said to be ens and that from the side of the essence every existing thing is said to be res, Aquinas now examines the relationship that exists between ens and quod est.

An existing thing is both ‘that which is’ (quod est) and a thing possessing the ‘act of being’ (ens.)

The point is this: the term ens does not take its meaning from ‘that which is,’ that is to say, from the quod est. The term ens takes its meaning from the metaphysical principle of actus essendi.

Just as laudans (laudantis) is the present active participle for the Latin verb laudare (laudo, laudare, laudavi, laudatus),’ ens (entis) is the present active participle of the Latin verb esse (sum, esse, fui, futurus.)

The term ens (entis) indeed is at times taken to signify ‘that which, in any way whatsoever, is,’ but in the present context Aquinas clearly puts aside this aspect of the meaning of ens to stress the direct relationship that exists between ens and actus essendi.

Monday, December 22, 2008

0050: Actus Essendi: The Text from De Veritate, 1, 1, ad sc 3

Entry 0050: Actus Essendi: the Text from De Veritate, 1, 1, ad sc 3

Here is another text from the "Series of Texts in which Aquinas Explicitly uses the Expression Actus Essendi:"

Cum dicitur: ‘diversum est esse et quod est,’ distinguitur actus essendi ab eo cui ille actus convenit. Nomen autem entis ab actu essendi sumitur, non ab eo cui convenit actus essendi.

Translation:

“In the statement, ‘the term esse is not equivalent to the expression ‘that which is,’” we are saying that the ‘act of being’—which is one of the meanings of term esse—is being distinguished from ‘that, to which that act belongs.’ The term ens—translated as 'being'— refers indeed to the ‘act of being,’ and not to ‘that, whose act it is.’”

Monday, December 15, 2008

0049: Commentary on “The Apprehension of the Act of Being in Aquinas”

Entry 0049: Commentary on “The Apprehension of the Act of Being in Aquinas”


Reference: Orestes J. Gonzalez, “The Apprehension of the Act of Being in Aquinas,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 1994, Vol. 68, pp. 475-500

This article is a professionally written contribution based on a large number of texts from a wide range of Saint Thomas’ works. The author is clearly familiar with Saint Thomas. The texts are cited, often rather extensively, in the original Latin and reflect faithfully the English paraphrase of their meaning given in the main body of the article. There can be no question that the author is a serious and responsible scholar.

The aim of the article is to present and defend an original, in-depth interpretation of Saint Thomas’ own account of the human mind’s grasp of being and of the first principles. No mention is made of the diverse and often incompatible accounts of that process which have been previously given by well known commentators like Gilson and Lonergan. The author, on the contrary, works out his own exposition of Saint Thomas through a painstaking, step by step argument, each stage of which is supported by a copious array of textual citations.

In his exposition of Saint Thomas the author describes carefully the diverse roles assigned by Saint Thomas to the intellectus principiorum, as a natural habit of the passive intellect, the passive intellect itself, the phantasm, and the act of being of the corporeal object first grasped by sense. The intelligibility of that act of being is transmitted to the passive intellect by the species abstracted from the phantasm illuminated by the active intellect. That species, however, appears in company with the mind’s awareness of its own weakened intellectual light, a finite participation in its Creator’s intellectual light. Somewhat like Lonergan, the author points to the role of the intellectus principiorum as a pre-conceptual grasp of the intelligibility of the first principles prior to their explicit verbalization. The author is no Lonerganian, however, since it is the intelligibility of the sensible singular’s act of being, transmitted to the passive intellect by the species, measured against the mind’s grasp of its own weakened intellectual light—the norm of truth inscribed in the intellectus principiorum, the intellectual habit of the first principles—which would ground Saint Thomas’ metaphysics. The author is parting company here with Lonergan and with the Transcendental Thomists.

The article does not make easy reading. Its argument is worked out with exacting care and, to appreciate its full force, the reader must check the Latin footnotes against the argument being presented in the main body of the article itself. That, however, is not a disadvantage in a scholarly article destined for serious readers. The author concludes his presentation with a careful systematic summary.

Reviewer

Monday, December 8, 2008

0048: Actus Essendi: Commentary on De Veritate,1,1,ad 1

Entry 0048: Actus Essendi: Commentary on De Veritate,1,1,ad 1

In this text Aquinas clarifies his understanding of the relationship that exists between “language” and the metaphysical principle of actus essendi. The underlying principle is this: The linguistic expression “est” does not necessarily refer to the metaphysical principle of actus essendi. In the text Aquinas clearly puts aside this aspect of the meaning of “est.” The text concentrates rather on the affirmation of the fact of existence.

Many philosophers define “existence” as “fact.” In realistic terms, when we say, for example, “It is a fact that the moon exists,” we simply acknowledge the presence of something having real, demonstrable existence. Whenever anything exists, its “existence” is a fact. In this context, “existence” is more rigorously defined as the consequence of an actual “state of affairs.” And consequently, a non-actual “state of affairs” is never credited with the connotation of “existence.”

Both artificial and natural things can be conceived as actual “states of affairs.” In an existing car, for example, because all the elements have been harmoniously put together, we find an actual “state of affairs” holding in reality. And, by the same token, a fox, an animal, that we suddenly catched crossing the garden, embodies within its being an actual “state of affairs,” namely, an entirety of internal constituents which holding together by the principle of life make it a living being. Because of the natural arrangement of these internal constituents, the fox exists as much as the car exists. The fox exists in accordance with God’s ordinance; the car exists according to the inventions of the human mind.

When we have evidence of a particular thing actually existing in the world and we proceed to affirm its existence, we are simply translating our knowledge of the fact of existence into a true statement. The statement is true because we affirm the existence of “that which is.” This aspect of the verb “est” does not refer to the metaphysical principle of actus essendi; it refers to an actual “state of affairs,” to the fact of existing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

0047: Actus Essendi: The Text from De Veritate,1,1,ad 1

Entry 0047:

Here is another text from the "Series of Texts in which Aquinas Explicitly uses the Expression Actus Essendi:"

Cum dicitur verum est 'id quod est,' li 'est' non accipitur ibi secundum quod significat actum essendi, sed secundum quod est nota intellectus componentis, prout scilicet affirmationem propositionis significat, ut sit sensus: verum est 'id quod est,' id est cum dicitur esse de aliquo quod est.

Translation:

"In the statement 'The true is that which is,' the word 'is' is not here understood as referring to the act of being, but rather as the mark of the intellectual act of judging, signifying the affirmation of a proposition. The meaning would then be this: 'The true is that which is'--'the true' is had when the existence of 'what is,' is affirmed."