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Monday, October 31, 2011

0197: Beauty and Being



Entry 0197: Beauty and Being


"The beauty that perdures in the midst of the world's ceaseless becoming excites in the soul a longing for the infinite beauty that it reflects." (1)

(1) David Bentley Hart, "The Mirror of the Infinite: Gregory of Nyssa on the Vestigia Trinitatis," in Re-Thinking Gregory of Nyssa, edited by Sarah Coakley, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), p.118.

Monday, October 24, 2011

0196: The Aristotle of Aquinas and Actus Essendi


Entry 0196: In preapration


Monday, October 17, 2011

0195: John F. Wippel on Actus Essendi (IV)



Entry 0195: Remarks by Professor John F. Wippel on the Originality of Aquinas’ Understanding of Actus Essendi


“Thomas views esse as the actuality of all acts and the perfection of all perfections, thereby introducing his understanding of it as intensive act or as the actus essendi.

“This, too, should be recognized as another important non-Aristotelian element of his [Aquinas'] metaphysics, and one which has been traced back to Dionysius and also to the Liber De Causis and to Proclus as likely influences.

“Nonetheless, Thomas's own understanding of this notion is original.” (1)


(1) John F. Wippel, Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas II (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2007), 10.

Monday, October 10, 2011

0194: The Uniqueness of the Transcendental Perfection of Actus Essendi

Entry 0194: Actus Essendi and Existence (II)

The Uniqueness of the Transcendental Perfection of Actus Essendi


The transcendental perfection of actus essendi has something unique to it, namely, that it cannot be conceived other than as pertaining to what actually exists as a subsisting extramental thing.

The notion of any other transcendental perfection, on the other hand, remains logically coherent regardless of whether or not the perfection has being, regardless of whether or not the perfection is instantiated in the real world—in what has actual existence.

By contrast, the notion of actus essendi changes radically if it is not understood as the innermost perfection of what actually exists as a subsisting extramental thing.

In other words, ‘existence’ is inseparable from the perfection of actus essendi.

Any of the transcendental perfections can be made the object of thought without considering whether or not the perfection exists in the real world. Not with actus essendi.

The perfection of actus essendi cannot be made the object of thought without considering that this perfection is the perfection of the real world.

The notion of actus essendi forces the mind to think of the real. No other notion, none of the notions of the other transcendental perfections, is so tied to the real as to be, even in thought, inseparable from the thought of the real itself.

And yet the notion of actus essendi cannot be reduced to ‘existence.’ ‘Existence’ is not something in which a thing can participate.


See Battista Mondin, “L’Oggeto e il metodo della metafisica secondo Aristotele e secondo S. Tommaso,” Sapienza, vol. 55, no. 2, 2002, pp. 129-153.

Monday, October 3, 2011

0193: Rudi A. te Velde on the Difference between Existence and "Actus Essendi"



Entry 0193: Actus Essendi and Existence (VIII)

Rudi A. te Velde on the Difference between Existence and "Actus Essendi"


In his book, Participation and Substantiality in Thomas Aquinas, Rudi A. te Velde writes,

It is not at all clear that ‘existence’ can be regarded as a universal perfection in which things can be said to participate.

It is true that, for Thomas [Aquinas], esse is connected with actual existence. But this does not mean that the notion of actus essendi can be harmlessly rendered by ‘act of existence.’

‘Existence’ may be more familiar and better known than the abstract esse, but it is also more restricted in its use, it seems to me.

One can say that a particular man, for instance Socrates, exists, but does it make sense to say that existence is received in human nature, by which it is contracted?

Existence is not something in which a thing can participate. It presupposes the distinct nature or quiddity to which it belongs, in such a way that the nature itself is of a different order than its actual existence.

Rudi A. te Velde, Participation and Substantiality in Thomas Aquinas, (Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1995), 185.