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Monday, February 1, 2010

0107: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (I)


Entry 0107: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (I)


I. In I Sent., 8, 1, 1, c

II. In I Sent., 8, 4, 2, ad 2

III. In I Sent., 8, 5, 2, c

IV. In III Sent., 11, 1, 2, ad 2

V. De Veritate, 1, 1, c

VI. De Veritate, 1,1, ad 1

VII. De Veritate, 1, 1, ad sc 3

VIII. De Veritate, 10, 8, ad 13

IX. Summa Theologiae, I, 3, 4, ad 2

X. De Potentia, 7, 2, ad 1

XI. Quaestiones Quodlibetales, 9, 4, 1, c

XII. In Metaphysicorum, 4, 2, No. 6

XIII. In De Hebdomadibus, 2



Commentary on Text I: In I Sent., 8, 1, 1, c

Text

Cum in omni quod est sit considerare quidditatem suam, per quam subsistit in natura determinata, et esse suum, per quod dicitur de eo quod est in actu, hoc nomen res imponitur rei a quidditate sua, secundum Avicennam, hoc nomen qui est vel ens imponitur ab ipso actu essendi. Cum autem ita sit quod in qualibet re creata essentia sua differat a suo esse, res illa proprie denominatur a quidditate sua, et non ab actu essendi, sicut homo ab humanitate. In Deo autem ipsum esse suum est sua quidditas: et ideo nomen quod sumitur ab esse, proprie nominat ipsum, et est proprium nomen ejus: sicut proprium nomen hominis quod sumitur a quidditate sua.


Commentary

In the text Aquinas addresses the issue of whether or not Qui est (He Who Is) is the proper name of God. The text highlights the familiar contrast between the metaphysical principle of actus essendi and the metaphysical principle of ‘essence.’ Here Aquinas begins with the things of nature where the 'essence' of the thing limits the actus essendi.

Accordingly, it is not on the basis of the actus essendi of the things of nature that we say what a thing is. It is the metaphysical principle of ‘essence’ what allows us to say what a thing of nature is.

God, however, is the only one in whom there is just one metaphysical principle, the actus essendi, and this metaphysical principle is his ‘essence.’

Names related to the principle of actus essendi are therefore most properly said of God because in Him and only in Him ‘essence’ puts no limit to the actus essendi—in God ‘essence’ and actus essendi are one and the same metaphysical principle.

Thus, just as the name ‘man’ is the proper term to refer to certain ‘living beings’ because the name ‘man’ is taken from their ‘essence,’ Qui est is the proper name of God because, as far as we are able to do so, with the expression Qui est we refer to God’s ‘essence,’ to His actus essendi.

As explained earlier, the Latin est has more than one meaning, and when applied to the things of nature, if there is direct and immediate contact with an individual real sensible thing, est signifies the actus essendi, not the ‘essence’ of the thing.

Now in the case of God we ordinarily do not have direct and immediate experience of Him, but still, the name Qui est, when applied to God, is applied in the way est is applied to the things of nature, that is to say, it is applied to God as coming from His actus essendi.

And properly so, because it turns out that this is equivalent to saying what God is, as if the name Qui est were taken as coming from His ‘essence.’ Qui est is the proper term to refer to God because ultimately the reference of Qui est is God's 'essence,' His actus essendi.



Note on Translation: The expression "actus essendi" is translated into English as "act of being," into Italian as "atto di essere," into French as "acte d'ĂȘtre," into Spanish as "acto de ser," and into German as "Akt des Seins" ("Seinsakt.")