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Monday, January 26, 2009

0055: Ens, Esse, and Actus Essendi

Entry 0055: Ens, Esse, and Actus Essendi

On 24 January 2009, the Blog “Reality: Reflections on Being and Existence” by Daniel D. De Haan reported this interesting remark on the meaning of esse.

Aquinas compares the meaning of ens and esse to currens and currere.

"For we signify one thing by saying [esse] 'to be,' and something else by saying [ens] 'that-which-is,' just as we also signify one thing when we say [currere] 'to run,' and something else by saying [currens] 'one running.'

“For [currere] 'to run' and [esse] 'to be' are signified in the abstract, just as [albedo] 'whiteness' is; but [ens] 'what-is,' that is, 'a being,' and [currens] 'one running' are signified in the concrete, as is [album] 'a white thing.'"

This ‘to be’ (esse) Aquinas takes to be the act of all acts and the perfection of all perfections.



The remark is taken to be in agreement with the comments I reported on Entry 01-0051.

Monday, January 19, 2009

0054: Actus Essendi: The Text from Summa Theologiae I, 3, 4, ad 2

Entry 0054: Actus Essendi: the Text from Summa Theologiae I, 3, 4, ad 2

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

Ad secundum dicendum quod esse dupliciter dicitur, uno modo, significat actum essendi; alio modo, significat compositionem propositionis, quam anima adinvenit coniungens praedicatum subiecto. Primo igitur modo accipiendo esse, non possumus scire esse Dei, sicut nec eius essentiam, sed solum secundo modo. Scimus enim quod haec propositio quam formamus de Deo, cum dicimus ‘Deus est,’ vera est. Et hoc scimus ex eius effectibus, ut supra dictum est.

Translation:

“The Latin verb ‘esse’ can mean either of two things. It may mean the ‘act of being,’ or it may mean the composition of a proposition effected by the mind in joining a predicate to a subject. Taking ‘esse’ in the first sense, we cannot understand God’s ‘esse’ nor His ‘essence;’ but only in the second sense. We know that this proposition which we form about God when we say ‘God is,’ is true; and this we know from His effects, as said above in Question 2, Article 2.”

Monday, January 12, 2009

0053: Actus Essendi: Commentary on De Veritate, 10, 8, ad 13

Entry 0053: Actus Essendi: Commentary on De Veritate, 10, 8, ad 13

In this text Aquinas makes use of the principle of metaphysical priority. The application of metaphysical priority to the notion of ‘act’ results in the following gradation of acts:

First act:

Pure Act (God)

Second act:

Actus Essendi (the metaphysical principle that goes with ‘essence’)

Third act:

Substantial Form (which exists in both spiritual and material beings)

Fourth act:

Accidental Form (like the intelligence of men and angels)

Fifth act:

Activity of Accidental Forms (like reasoning in man)

Sixth act:

Products of Certain Activities of Accidental Forms (like a conclusion reached after a process of reasoning)


In the text, Aquinas mentions four acts: 1) the actus essendi, 2) the soul--a substantial form, 3) the faculty of the intellect--an accidental form, and 4) the act of understanding--an activity of an accidental form.

Now, from the perspective of the actus essendi, it makes sense to say that the intellectual faculty of man inheres in the soul because the metaphysical principle of actus essendi refers to a self-subsisting individual that is actually existing here and now.

De Veritate, 10, 8, ad 13, expresses this as follows: "The intellective power is a form of the soul with reference to its ‘act of being,’ for it exists in the soul as a property in a subject." (Intellectiva potentia est forma ipsius animae quantum ad actum essendi, eo quod habet esse in anima, sicut proprietas in subiecto.)

But with respect to the activity of the intellectual faculty, the soul could be made the content of our thinking. The intellectual faculty of man can direct its activity towards getting information about our soul. In this sense, the soul informs, ‘gives form,’ to our act of understanding.

Monday, January 5, 2009

0052: Actus Essendi: The Text from De Veritate, 10, 8, ad 13

Entry 0052: Actus Essendi: the Text from De Veritate, 10, 8, ad 13

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

Ad decimumtertium dicendum, quod intellectiva potentia est forma ipsius animae quantum ad actum essendi, eo quod habet esse in anima, sicut proprietas in subiecto; sed quantum ad actum intelligendi nihil prohibet esse e converso.

Translation:

“The intellective power is a form of the soul with reference to its ‘act of being,’ for it exists in the soul as a property in a subject. But there is nothing to prevent the opposite of this, from being true with reference to the act of understanding.”