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Monday, June 2, 2014

0355: Existence versus Actus Essendi (I)



Entry 0355: Existence versus Actus Essendi (I) 



Commentary on In I Sententiarum, distinction 8, question 5, article 2, corpus 

John F. Wippel remarks that in the text from In I Sententiarum, distinction 8, question 5, article 2, corpus, Aquinas uses the expression actus essendi to refer to the metaphysical principle which goes side by side with the metaphysical principle essence.

Here is the text from In I Sententiarum, distinction 8, question 5, article 2, corpus:

In compositis autem ex materia et forma ‘quo est’ potest dici tripliciter. Potest enim dici ‘quo est’ ipsa forma partis, quae dat esse materiae. Potest etiam dici ‘quo est’ ipse actus essendi, scilicet esse, sicut quo curritur, est actus currendi. Potest etiam dici ‘quo est’ ipsa natura quae relinquitur ex conjunctione formae cum materia, ut humanitas; praecipue secundum ponentes quod forma, quae est totum, quae dicitur quidditas, non est forma partis, de quibus est Avicenna.

Wippel explains that in this text Aquinas “contrasts the composition of quiddity and esse (actus essendi) in souls and angels with God’s simplicity… It is quo est taken in this sense (esse = actus essendi) which enters into composition with quiddity or essence in the soul and in angels: … Et hoc modo intelligo in angelis compositionem potentiae et actus, et de ‘quo est’ et ‘quod est’, et similiter in anima. Unde angelus vel anima potest dici quidditas vel natura vel forma simplex, inquantum eorum quidditas non componitur ex diversis; tamen advenit sibi compositio horum duorum, scilicet quidditatis et esse [In I Sent., 8, 5, 2, c]” (John F. Wippel, Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas II, [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2007], 99).

According to Wippel, Aquinas does use the term esse to mean simple facticity, but at times Aquinas uses the term to signify “a thing’s intrinsic act of being esse (actus essendi) which is the ultimate intrinsic explanation for that fact” (Ibid.) In other words, there is in Aquinas “a unique view of esse as an intrinsic actus essendi which enters into composition with essence in finite beings and is really distinct from it” (Ibid., 98)