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Monday, May 31, 2010

0124: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (VII)

Entry 0124: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (VII)

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


Text

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.’"

Commentary

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.




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.")

Monday, May 24, 2010

0123: The ‘Aristotle of Aquinas’ and the Notion of Actus Essendi (VII)

Entry 0123: In preapration

Monday, May 17, 2010

0122: The ‘Aristotle of Aquinas’ and the Notion of Actus Essendi (VI)

Entry 0122: In preapration

Monday, May 10, 2010

0121: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (VI)

Entry 0121: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (VI)

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 VI: De Veritate, 1, 1, ad 1


Text

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."

Commentary

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
.






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.")

Monday, May 3, 2010

0120: The ‘Aristotle of Aquinas’ and the Notion of Actus Essendi (V)

Entry 0120: The ‘Aristotle of Aquinas’ and the Notion of Actus Essendi (V)

Aquinas knew that, even from before Christianity, philosophers had distinguished two kinds of causation with regard to the "cause of being" of the world:

(1) a causation which is “preservative of being with a beginning in time,” in the sense that there was nothing before the material world was brought into existence by the cause of being; and

(2) a causation which is “preservative of being without a beginning in time,” in the sense that there was never a time when there was nothing in existence because the world is begininglessly eternal.

The former type of causation of being is properly speaking creation. The latter type of causation means only conservation of being.

In the first type of causation there are two actvities, creation and preservation.

In the second type of causation there is only one activity, preservation.

For one thing is the activity that causes the staying in existence of things ‘which have always existed;’ and another, the activity that causes the coming into existence of things ‘which begin to exist for the first time’ out of no pre-existing materials.

The activity of holding in existence a begininglessly eternal world is not creation. And this is the type of causation that Aquinas attributes to 'his Aristotle.'

Here Aquinas explicitly declares himself at variance with 'his Aristotle,' for Aquinas embraces as his own the causation of being with a beginning in time.

A careful reading of Aquinas shows that he is not as imprecise as it may appear on the issue of how the world came to exist. Aquinas’ understanding of the notions involved when addressing this issue and the contexts in which the issue is confronted leave no room for doubt as to where Aquinas stands with respect to other philosophers and as to what he wanted to say himself about the creation of the world.