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Monday, July 28, 2014

0363: Actus Essendi and the Second Operation
of the Intellect (III)



Entry 0363: Actus Essendi and the Second Operation 

of the Intellect (III) 


Here is how John F.X. Knasas interprets the text from In I Sententiarum, distinction 19, question 5, article 1, ad 7:


“A look at Aquinas’s responsio from which In I Sententiarum, distinction 19, question 5, article 1, ad 7 (cited below) is taken removes any doubt that in Aquinas, the secunda operatio intellectus refers to esse in the actus essendi sense. In the responsio, the esse that founds truth is the same esse from which the name ens is taken. This esse is actus essendi, not the concrete reality.”

See John F.X. Knasas, Being and Some Twentieth-Century Thomists, (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003), 183, footnote no. 15.

Here is the text from In I Sententiarum, distinction 19, question 5, article 1, ad 7:

Ad septimum dicendum, quod cum sit duplex operatio intellectus: una quarum dicitur a quibusdam imaginatio intellectus, quam Philosophus nominat intelligentiam indivisibilium, quae consistit in apprehensione quidditatis simplicis, quae alio etiam nomine formatio dicitur; alia est quam dicunt fidem, quae consistit in compositione vel divisione propositionis: prima operatio respicit quidditatem rei; secunda respicit esse ipsius. Et quia ratio veritatis fundatur in esse, et non in quidditate, ut dictum est, in corp., ideo veritas et falsitas proprie invenitur in secunda operatione, et in signo ejus, quod est enuntiatio, et non in prima, vel signo ejus quod est definitio, nisi secundum quid; sicut etiam quidditatis esse est quoddam esse rationis, et secundum istud esse dicitur veritas in prima operatione intellectus: per quem etiam modum dicitur definitio vera. Sed huic veritati non adjungitur falsitas per se, quia intellectus habet verum judicium de proprio objecto, in quod naturaliter tendit, quod est quidditas rei, sicut et visus de colore; sed per accidens admiscetur falsitas, scilicet ratione affirmationis vel negationis annexae, quod contingit dupliciter: vel ex comparatione definitionis ad definitum, et tunc dicitur definitio falsa respectu alicujus et non simpliciter, sicut definitio circuli est falsa de triangulo; vel in respectu partium definitionis ad invicem, in quibus implicatur impossibilis affirmatio; sicut definitio vacui, quod est locus in quo nullum corpus est; et haec definitio dicitur falsa simpliciter, ut in 5 Metaphysicorum dicitur. Sed hoc non contingit nisi in quidditatibus compositorum: quia in quidditatibus rerum simplicium non deficit intellectus nisi ex hoc quod omnino nihil intelligit, ut in 9 Metaphysicorum dicitur. Secundae autem operationi admiscetur falsitas etiam per se: non quidem quantum ad primas affirmationes quas naturaliter intellectus cognoscit, ut sunt dignitates, sed quantum ad consequentes: quia rationem inducendo contingit errare per applicationem unius ad aliud. Patet igitur ex dictis, in corp. art., quod verum proprie loquendo, quod invenitur tantum in complexis, non impedit conversionem veri et entis: quia quaelibet res incomplexa habet esse suum, quod non accipitur ab intellectu nisi per modum complexionis; et ideo ipsa ratione quam addit verum supra ens, scilicet ordinem ad intellectum, sequitur ista differentia, quod verum sit complexorum, et ens dicatur de re extra animam incomplexa.”


Nothing in this text and nothing in the entire article indicate that Aquinas wants to reduce the meaning of the term esse in this context to only the substantial esse of subsisting extramental things, which is what Aquinas always meant when he used the expression “actus essendi.”

Contrary to what Knasas suggests, Aquinas is fairly explicit in this article about what he means by esse, for he points out that esse has two meanings, one being “uno modo secundum quod ens significat essentiam rerum prout dividitur per decem genera,” and the other being “alio modo secundum quod esse significat compositionem quam anima facit.”

In the whole article it is clear that with the terms “quidditas,” “res” and “esse” Aquinas is not excluding the quidditas of accidents, nor does he want to exclude his understanding that accidents are res, nor his understanding that there is such thing as the esse of accidents.

It is incorrect to say that Aquinas’s responsio in the article—from which In I Sententiarum, distinction 19, question 5, article 1, ad 7 (cited) is taken—“removes any doubt that in Aquinas, the secunda operatio intellectus refers to esse in the actus essendi sense." 

That the second operation of the intellect sometimes has as immediate reference the actus essendi of extramental subsisting things does not mean obviously that this is the only reference that the esse of the second operation has. Nor does this mean that it is through the second operation that the human intellect grasps the actus essendi of extramental subsisting things.




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One Comment:

Professor Knasas pointed out correctly that in my reading of his text, I confused his reference to the responsio with a reference to the reply to the seventh objection. This post has been updated.


December 29, 2016 at 9:06 PM


Monday, July 21, 2014

0362: Causa Essendi versus Actus Essendi



Entry 0362: Causa Essendi versus Actus Essendi 




Aquinas statement “forma dat esse” is interpreted by John F.X. Knasas to mean that the form is the cause of the actus essendi.

Knasas finds support for his interpretation in the following text from Summa contra gentiles (book II, chapter 54):

"Ad ipsam etiam formam comparatur ipsum esse ut actus. Per hoc enim in compositis ex materia et forma dicitur forma esse principium essendi, quia est complementum substantiae, cuius actus est ipsum esse: sicut diaphanum est aeri principium lucendi quia facit eum proprium subiectum luminis."

That is to say,

“Even to the form itself, esse is compared as act. For in things composed of matter and form, the form is said to be the principle of being—principium essendi—, for this reason: that it is the complement of the substance, whose act is the ipsum esse. Thus, transparency is in relation to the air the principle of illumination, in that it makes the air the proper subject of light.”

Here is how Knasas reads this text: “Aquinas has esse in the actus essendi sense resulting from the principles of things. As I will point out, since judgment grasps esse not by itself but as the act of the thing, then any causes of the thing are in a sense causes of its esse. One of these causes is the form as it determines the matter, and so completes the substance that will then have esse as its act.”

See John F.X. Knasas, Being and Some Twentieth-Century Thomists, (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003), 183, footnote no. 15.

A question can be raised here: Are the constitutive principles of the thing the efficient cause of the actus essendi of the thing?

Knasas seems not to have taken into account the following remarks presented from Cornelio Fabro.

According to Fabro, the formulation “forma dat esse” is taken by Aquinas to be valid only in the predicamental order, and not in the transcendental order. In the transcendental order, Fabro explains, esse is the actus essendi which proceeds from God through participation.

Per San Tommaso invece, che ammette da una parte la creazione di tutte le cose dal nulla e dall’altra tiene salda la distinzione reale metafisica (e non fisica soltanto) di atto e potenza, la formula di forma dat esse se è valida nell’ordine sia essenziale come reale, lo è nell’ordine predicamentale soltanto. Non poteva esserlo in quello trascendentale. Vale a dire, la forma è il principio determinativo e quindi propriamente costitutivo dell’essenza reale perchè è atto della materia, ed è il principio realizzante (l’atto) nell’ordine reale, perchè tutte le attività del concreto fanno capo all’atto primo della sostanza ch’è la forma. Ma nell’ordine trascendentale la forma non è l’esse, ch’è l’actus essendi, il quale procede per partecipazione da Dio” (Cornelio Fabro, Partecipazione e Causalita, [Torino: Società Editrice Internazionale, 1960], 334-335).

Substantial and accidental changes are caused by secondary causes. But the esse of substantial forms is attributed to secondary causes not because secondary causes have the power for the causation of esse abosolutely, but because they act as instruments of the First Cause. The form receives esse. The form does not give esse.

Vi si distinguono tre gradi o piani di causalità: il divenire delle forme (accidentali e sostanziali), l’esse delle forme sostanziali, l’esse come tale. Mentre il primo è riconosciuto in proprio alle cause seconde, il secondo è alle medesime attribuito non per virtù propria ma in quanto operano per virtù e come strumento della Causa Prima” (Ibid., 339). … “La forma riceve e non dà l’esse” (Ibid., 344).

The form can be said to be the cause of esse (esse in the sense of actus essendi) only with the presupposition that the causality of God is intervening and guiding the action of the secondary causes.

La forma può dirsi nel suo ordine veramente causa dell’esse (come actus essendi), una volta beninteso che si presupponga la causalità prima di Dio e l’azione della causalità efficiente seconda” (Ibid., 345). 

Friday, July 18, 2014

0361: Aristotle and Actus Essendi (I)



Entry 0361: Aristotle and Actus Essendi (I)




Professor John F.X. Knasas affirms that Aquinas attributed to Aristotle the notion of actus essendi. Thus Knasas writes:

“As far as I can tell and despite Aquinas’ protestations to the contrary, the historical Aristotle possesses no knowledge of the metaphysical principle of esse, actus essendi. [Footnote:] See [Knasas’s] ‘Aquinas’s Ascriptions of Creation to Aristotle,’ Angelicum 73 (1996): 487-506.”

The statement appears in John F.X. Knasas, Being and Some Twentieth-Century Thomists, (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003), 184. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

0360: The Question 'An Est' and Actus Essendi



Entry 0360: The Question An Estand Actus Essendi 

In Quodlibet 9, question 2, article 2, Aquinas presents the following objection when addressing the issue of whether there is only one esse in Christ:

Unicuique est attribuendum esse de quo convenienter quaeri potest an est. Sed de humana natura potest quaeri an est. Ergo humana natura habet esse proprium in Christo. Et sic est in eo duplex esse, cum etiam divina natura suum esse habeat.”

That is to say:

Esse must be attributed to each and every thing, about which we can fittingly ask an est (‘does it exist?’) But it is possible to ask whether human nature exists; therefore human nature has its own esse in Christ, and thus there is a two-fold esse in Him, since the divine nature also has its esse.”

In the body of the article Aquinas offers the following remark:

Dicendum, quod esse, dupliciter dicitur. … Uno modo, secundum quod est copula verbalis significans compositionem cuiuslibet enuntiationis quam anima facit: unde hoc esse non est aliquid in rerum natura, sed tantum in actu animae componentis et dividentis. Et sic esse attribuitur omni ei de quo potest propositio formari, sive sit ens, sive privatio entis; dicimus enim caecitatem esse. Alio modo esse dicitur actus entis in quantum est ens, idest quo denominatur aliquid ens actu in rerum natura” (Quodlibet 9, question 2, article 2, corpus).

That is to say:

“I answer that the term esse is used in two ways. … It is used in one way, insofar as it is a verbal copula signifying the composition of any enunciation which the mind produces, hence esse taken in this way does not signify something real in nature, but something that exists only in the mind in the act of composing and dividing; and in this sense being (esse) is attributed to everything about which a proposition can be formed, whether it is a subsisting thing in nature (ens) or a privation: for we say that there is blindness. In another way esse means the act of a being (actus entis) of something subsisting in nature (actus entis in quantum est ens), i.e. that by which something is called an actual being (ens actu) in reality.”

In answer to the objection Aquinas writes:

 “Obiectio illa procedit de esse quod in actu animae consistit, quia an est, etiam de caecitate quaeri potest” (Ibid., ad 4).

That is to say:

“That objection proceeds from that esse which consists in an act of the mind, since it is also possible to ask ‘an est’ (‘does it exist?’) of blindness.”

There is a fundamental distinction between (a) the being (esse) which responds to the question whether a thing exists (the question an est) and (b) the being (esse) which refers to the metaphysical principle of actus essendi. The distinction between these two senses of esse was very clear to Aquinas:

Being (esse) is twofold. In one way it is considered as signifying the actus essendi. In another sense esse conveys just the composition of a proposition effected by the mind in joining a predicate to a subject. In this second sense, being (esse) is what answers the question whether a thing exists.

Thus he writes:

Ad secundum dicendum quod ‘esse’ dupliciter dicitur: uno modo, significat actum essendi; alio modo, significat compositionem propositionis, quam anima adinvenit coniungens praedicatum subiecto” (Summa theologiae, part I, question 3, article 4, ad 2, Rome: Leonine edition, 1888, vol. 4, p. 42, lines 31b-35b).

Esse et est significant compositionem propositionis. … Unde veritas propositionis potest dici veritas rei per causam. Nam ex eo quod res est vel non est, oratio vera vel falsa est. … Sciendum est autem quod iste secundus modus comparatur ad primum, sicut effectus ad causam. Ex hoc enim quod aliquid in rerum natura est, sequitur veritas et falsitas in propositione, quam intellectus significat per hoc verbum ‘est’ prout est verbalis copula” (In V Metaphysicorum, lectio 9, paragraphs 11-12, Rome: Marietti edition, 1950, p. 239).

Ista compositio quam significat hoc verbum ‘est,’ non potest intelligi sine componentibus. … Ideo autem dicit quod hoc verbum ‘est’ consignificat compositionem, quia non eam principaliter significat, sed ex consequenti; significat enim primo illud quod cadit in intellectu per modum actualitatis absolute: nam ‘est,’ simpliciter dictum, significat esse actu” (In I Perihermeneias, lectio 5, Rome: Leonine edition, 1989, vol. 1, p. 31, lines 386-396).

Alio modo dicitur ens, quod significat veritatem propositionis, quae in compositione consistit, cuius nota est hoc verbum ‘est,’ et hoc est ens quo respondetur ad quaestionem ‘an est’” (Summa theologiae, part I, question 48, article 2, ad 2, Rome: Leonine edition, 1888, vol. 4, p. 492, lines 10b-14b).

Esse autem pertinere videtur ad quaestionem an est” (De spiritualibus creaturis, article 8, ad 3, Rome: Leonine edition, 2000, vol. 24, p. 83, lines 344-345).

Cum omne quod est praeter essentiam rei dicatur accidens, esse quod pertinet ad quaestionem an est, est accidens” (Quaestiones quodlibetales, no. 2, question 2, article 1, corpus, Rome: Leonine edition, 1996, vol. 25, p. 215, lines 62-63).

Esse secundum quod significat ‘veritatem propositionis’ … potest dici non tantum de his quae sunt in re, sed de his quae sunt in intellectu” (In III Sententiarum, distinction 6, question 2, article 2, ad 5, Paris: M. F. Moos, ed., 1933, vol. 3, p. 240).

Obviously, the term actus essendi has for Aquinas a more restricted meaning than that of esse. Thus, when Aquinas explains what he means by the esse of accidents and by the esse of privations, it is clear that Aquinas is not introducing a second sense of the term actus essendi to be applied to accidents and privations. (See De veritate, question 27, article 1, ad 8. The text can be found in Entry 357, “Existence versus Actus Essendi (II).” See also comments therein.)