Monday, November 24, 2014

Aristotle accipit esse pro quidditate

Entry 0380: Aristotle accipit esse pro quidditate

When addressing the issue of what Aquinas meant by the term “ens,” Jan A. Aertsen remarks that it is through the notion of “actuality” that Aquinas’s conception of ens is best understood. According to Aertsen, Aquinas explicitly distinguishes himself from Aristotle precisely on this, that for Aquinas esse means actus entis whereas for Aristotle esse means quiddity. Thus Aertsen writes:

“The distinctive feature of Thomas’s understanding of being is the notion of ‘actuality.’ In his own judgment he differs in this respect from Aristotle, who conceived ‘being’ as the quiddity of something:

“‘Philosophus non accepit esse secundum quod dicitur actus entis (…), sed accipit esse pro quidditate, vel ratione, quam significat definitio’ (Aquinas, In III Sententiarum, distinction 8, question 1, article 5, ad 2).”

See J. A. Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals: The Case of Thomas Aquinas (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996), 185-186.