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Monday, July 25, 2011

0183: Actus Essendi and Existence (V)



Entry 0183: Actus Essendi and Existence (V)



The connotation of existence and the notion of actus essendi are closely related, but they are not equivalent concepts. In the present context it should suffice to say that existence applies to that which exists in any way whasoever, whereas actus essendi applies only to that which exists as a subsisting extramental thing.

The notion of existence reflects the facticity of any state of affairs. Of anything that in any way whatsoever exists, one can say that its existence is a fact.

Actus essendi, on the other hand, refers to an innermost principle which serves as the ultimate ground of all the actuality, perfection, and knowability instantiated in a subsisting extramental thing of nature.

The possession of actus essendi necessarily results in having existence, but among existing things there are many which are not subsisting extramental things.

With reference to God, for example, Aquinas explains that knowledge of the existence of God is not the same as the knowledge of His act of being, that while we cannot know God’s act of being nor His essence, we are able to know the existence of God.

Monday, July 18, 2011

0182: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (XII)




Entry 0182: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (XII)

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


Text

Sciendum est enim quod hoc nomen homo, imponitur a quidditate, sive a natura hominis; et hoc nomen res imponitur a quidditate tantum; hoc vero nomen ens, imponitur ab actu essendi: et hoc nomen unum, ab ordine vel indivisione. Est enim unum ens indivisum. Idem autem est quod habet essentiam et quidditatem per illam essentiam, et quod est in se indivisum. Unde ista tria, res, ens, unum, significant omnino idem, sed secundum diversas rationes.

Translation

For it must be borne in mind that the term "man" is derived from the quiddity or the nature of man, and the term "thing" from the quiddity only; but the term "being" is derived from the 'act of being,' and the term "one" from order or lack of division; for what is one is an undivided being. Now what has an essence, and a quiddity by reason of that essence, and what is undivided in itself, are the same. Hence these three—thing, being, and one—signify absolutely the same thing but according to different concepts.

Commentary

Just as he did in De Veritate, 1, 1, c, in the present text, Aquinas once again clarifies his understanding of the transcendental notion of res (thing), a term which derives its content from the quiddity or essence of the thing.

The underlying principle of this doctrine is this. In the real world one cannot have the metaphysical principle of ‘essence’ in isolation from the metaphysical principle of actus essendi. One cannot have one without the other. In the real world essences exist with the actus essendi, and vice versa, the actus essendi always appears instantiated in an essence. It is for this reason that the term "res" (thing) expresses a transcendental notion; res 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.

It is this inherent unity of the two most fundamental metaphysical principles what allows Aquinas to provide a coherent metaphysical account of the transcendental ‘one’ and the charaterisctic ‘unity’ of a subsisting thing.

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. But it is from the internal inseparability of these two metaphysical principles that every existing thing is said to be unum. Unum is as well a transcedental notion; unum derives its content from the indivisibility of 'essence' 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, July 11, 2011

0181: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (XI)




Entry 0181: The Thirteen Texts in which Aquinas Uses the Expression "Actus Essendi" (XI)

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


Text

Sed quia substantia Angeli non est suum esse -- hoc enim soli Deo competit, cui esse debetur ex seipso, et non ab alio --; invenimus in Angelo et substantiam sive quidditatem eius, quae subsistit, et esse eius, quo subsistit, quo scilicet actu essendi dicitur esse, sicut actu currendi dicimur currere. Et sic dicimus Angelum esse compositum ex quo est et quod est, vel secundum verbum Boetii ex esse et quod est. Et quia ipsa substantia Angeli in se considerata est in potentia ad esse, cum habeat esse ab alio, et ipsum esse sit actus; ideo est in eo compositio actus et potentiae; et sic posset in eo concedi materia et forma, si omnis actus debeat dici forma, et omnis potentia materia. Sed hoc non competit in proposito; quia esse non est actus qui sit pars essentiae, sicut forma; ipsa quidditas Angeli vel substantia est per se subsistens, quod materiae non competit.

Commentary

This segment addresses the issue of the metaphysical identity of the substance of an angel. Two reference points are highlighted, namely, (a) the Aristotelian composition of primary matter and substantial form against (b) Aquinas’ distinction between the metaphysical principles of 'essence' and actus essendi.

With respect to the Aristotelian composition of primary matter and substantial form, the substance of an angel is not at all the result of two components coming together to generate a composite.

The substance of an angel is a substantial form that does not need primary matter to subsist. The substance of an angel is a substantial form that subsists by itself.

In the material world, on the other hand, a substantial form does not exist by itself. In the material world, a substantial form exists in the composite.

With respect to the distinction of 'essence' and actus essendi, the substance of an angel is called 'potency' in the most radical way: ipsa substantia Angeli in se considerata est in potentia ad esse, cum habeat esse ab alio. In other words, in Aquinas' metaphysics, angels can be thought of as not existing.

Of the two meanings of esse, in this context, Aquinas evidently is not referring to the truth of a proposition. The structure of the text unmistakably forces the term "esse" to mean actus essendi.

Here Aquinas departs from Aristotle. For Aquinas, a substantial form is a 'potency' with respect to the actus essendi.

Regardless of whether they are substantial or accidental, and of whether they belong to angels or to material things, all forms are 'potency' with respect to the 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, July 4, 2011

0180: Russell Hittinger on Actus Essendi





Entry 0180: Russell Hittinger on Actus Essendi



In issue no. 184 of First Things (June/July, 2008, p 38) Professor Russell Hittinger writes,

“Speaking at his alma mater, the Angelicum, on the anniversary of Aeterni Patris in 1979, he [Pope John Paul II] said that ‘the philosophy of St. Thomas is a philosophy of being, that is, of the “act of existing” (actus essendi) whose transcendental value paves the most direct way to rise to the knowledge of subsisting Being and pure Act, namely to God.’ In his 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio, he again warned that theology needs both analytic rigor and a sapiential dimension drawn from a philosophy of being.”