The Emergence of the Supposit
ABSTRACT: Aquinas held that the metaphysical consideration of beings as being consists in the consideration of being as created, i.e., the consideration of things in their complete reality, and the reduction of this complete reality to its complete cause. When existence displaces form as the primary sense of being, the things act of existing is conceived of as formal with respect to its essence. Consequently, the primary object of metaphysical consideration becomes the complete entity, a composite of essence and existence, and the primary sense of being becomes the subsistence of the complete entity. In Aquinass creationist discourse, the term supposit denotes the concept of the entitative whole or complete entity. What this concept of the supposit adds to the Aristotelian conception of the concrete individual derives from the contingency of existence in every being beyond the first being. The subject of a nature and of categorical accidents is now also conceived of as the subject of a received act of existing. Aquinas reduces the distinctions of finite entities to their possession of acts of existing that are diverse absolutely, in virtue of a privation of the fullness of existence, just as Aristotle reduces formal contrariety to the possession or privation of differences that are diverse absolutely. And as Plato traced the negations constitutive of formal contrariety to a correlative participation between being and otherness, Aquinas analogously traced the distinctions of finite entities to a transcendental duality between participated existence and receiving essence. The necessary participation of each of these principles of finite being in divine and infinite existence constitutes the ultimate metaphysical reduction and horizon of a creationist metaphysics.
Aquinas held that the metaphysical consideration of being as being consists in the consideration of being as created. This becomes clear if one compares his description of metaphysics in the Summa theologiae with his formulations of creation. In his brief history of philosophy, he describes the achievement of metaphysics as follows:
There are two distinct elements from this description of the ratio proper to metaphysics that re-echo in Thomass formulations of creation, namely the consideration of things in their complete reality, according to all that pertains to their existence in any way, and the reduction of this complete reality to its complete cause.(2)
When Thomas addresses the question whether it is necessary that every being be created by God, he begins: " all that in any way is, is from God."(3) He argues that even what derives from the potency of a thing must be created, "if all that pertains to its existence is created."(4) And in comparing creation to generation, he says, "it is greater for something to come to be according to its whole substance, than according to substantial or accidental form."(5) In response to an objection against creation ex nihilo that appeals to Aristotles acceptance of the ancient dictum that nothing comes from nothing, Thomas writes, "the Philosopher in Physics I is speaking of a coming to be in particular, which is from form to form, whether accidental or substantial: now however we are speaking of things according to their emanation from the universal principle of being."(6) Thomas states that the ancient philosophers considered only the emanation of particular effects from particular causes. "Creation," however, "is more perfect than and prior to generation and alteration, for the terminus ad quem is the whole substance of the thing."(7)
In this creationist analogy of being, it is the whole substance of a thing, or the complete entity, that is the object of consideration.(8) When existence displaces form as the primary sense of being, the things act of existing is conceived of as formal with respect to its essence.(9) Consequently the primary object of metaphysical consideration becomes the complete entity, a composite of essence and existence, and the primary sense of being becomes the subsistence of the complete entity, to which primary analogate Thomas subordinates what is first in the ancient analogy of being, namely form:
We must keep in mind that subsisting thing means something more in Thomass existential metaphysics than it does in Aristotles essentialist metaphysics. The composite considered by Aristotle is the material composite constituted from substantial form and primary matter. The composite of Thomass metaphysical reflections can also signify the complete being constituted from an essence and an act of existence. In Thomass creationist purview, the Aristotelian matter-form composite is subsumed under one of the two principles of the entitative composite, namely the essence; thus Thomas, unlike Aristotle, holds that the essence of a material being includes matter in its definition. Accordingly, when Thomas says substance, subsisting thing, subsistence, being, or even thing, he necessarily intends something more than Aristotle. The proper object of Thomass metaphysical consideration did not occur to Aristotle.
In Thomass creationist discourse, the term supposit denotes the concept of the entitative whole or complete entity. This is most clearly seen in the second Quaestio quodlibetalis, qu. 2, ar. 2, in which Thomas expounds at some length why the nature of an angel, although a simple subsisting form that is individual per se, is nonetheless not identical with the angelic supposit. In so doing, Thomas links the concept of the supposit with creation and with the distinction in all creatures between essence and existence:
What this concept of the supposit adds to the Aristotelian conception of the concrete individual derives from the transcendental sense of the accidental in Thomass creationist metaphysics, namely the contingency of existence in every being beyond the first being. The subject of a nature and of categorical accidents is now also conceived of as the subject of a received act of existing. In accordance with the consequent distinction between the things essence and its existence, Thomas distinguishes three senses of accidental, or of what is beyond the nature of the thing: first, accidents that are determinative of the essential principles of the species, e.g., Socrates proper matter; second, accidents which do not determine its essential principles, and are beyond the ratio of the species, e.g., Socrates being white; and third, the existence as such of the thing, i.e., Socrates personal act of existing, his actuality.(12) In a word, the thematization of the contingent existence of individual things calls for the conceptualization of the subject of the individual act of existing.
In defining the subject of metaphysics, Thomas states that metaphysics considers the emanation of all universal being from the first principle, the production of existence absolutely, and existence as such as the most universal effect of the first and most universal cause.(13) Thus formulated, the objects of consideration sound like abstractions. However, to an objection which argues that creation is not properly of the subsisting composite, and cites a claim of the De causis at times invoked by Thomas himself, namely that the first of all created things is existence, Thomas replies as follows:
It is in this sense precisely, I would argue, that we must understand Thomass affirmation of the priority of esse in creation, in the created order, and in the creature: esse is created first in intention, and by this very productive intention is limited for composition with essence.(15) The creation is from nothing other than the Creator, and the distinction, multitude, and formal inequality of things has no cause anterior to or concomitant with the divine intention.(16) These metaphysical truths emerge when the existence of things is first considered in itself, and the necessity is seen of an infinite and subsisting existence, itself necessarily unique, to account for all other existents and modes of existing.
This creationist metaphysics of existence constitutes a response to the same question posed by Parmenides to all philosophers of being, namely how can being be divided? What distinguishes Thomass creationist purview is his consideration of a being according to its whole reality, and in its relation to the cause of the whole of being. Thomas in a way grants to Parmenides his premise: existence, insofar as it is existence, cannot be diverse.(17) Moreover, in chapter 4 of the De ente et essentia, he in fact argues that pure subsisting existence must be absolutely simple and unique. He allows that a division by matter or by formal difference cannot contribute to the distinction of subsisting existence, and concludes that any multiplication of existence can be accounted for only by a partial reception contractive of the infinite intensity of pure existence.(18) Such a reception entails receivers. What does not receive existence, but is existence as such essentially, infinite and subsisting, causes both received existence and what receives it. More precisely, the creator causes them simultaneously when he causes the subsisting creature, the hypostasis or supposit, the complete finite entity.(19) What is created from nothing is a complete entity. Co-created in it are the principles by which it subsists, namely its essence and its existence, and these principles are determinate and determinative only as they are in composition in act as the principles of a complete entity in act.(20)
Aristotlian and Platonic metaphysics was for the most part marked by an essentialism, i.e., the incomplete reduction of beings to their essences, and therefore of the primary sense of being to essence: to be always meant to be some kind. Thus in the ancient metaphysical purview, concerned as it was with giving an account of the articulation of the whole into kinds, the highest sense of being recognized was form, and the actuality of form remained as unquestioned as the existence of the cosmos. The articulation of the cosmos was seen to be as necessary as it was eternal. However, with the creationist affirmation that the existence of the cosmos, even if eternal, is causally contingent, the contingency of the articulations of being realized in it also became evident.
With the assertion of supraformal esse as the primary sense of being, new questions arise about the many senses of being, about the diversity of the many beings acts of being, and about their unity with one another as well as with the infinite originating existence Thomass affirmation of the primacy and infinite intensity of existence determines the dialectic of the one and the many in his thought. His primary existential intuition demands an explanation more ultimate than form and formal contrariety both for the multiplicity of beings and for the manifoldness of being itself .
Whereas in the second chapter of the Categories, Aristotle indicates that the preposition in adequately expresses the full entitative dependence of an accident upon the subject it actuates, in Aquinass existential metaphysics, the preposition is extended in its meaning to the inherence of an act of existing that is prior to the subject it actuates and dependent, not on the subject, but on a transcendent efficient cause:
Thomas states that by his creative agency God is in the creature, enacting the existence of each.(22) These two senses of 'in' namely the presence of the Creator in the creature, and the inherence in the creature of its created act of existence are absent from the Aristotelian metaphysical purview. The meaning of the composite or the supposit in Thomass metaphysics changes accordingly. The view of the entity as an entitative whole composed of an essence and an existenceprinciples really distinct from one another, but both equally proper to the entityconfers two new analogical senses on the preposition in. On the one hand, Thomas employs in to express the relation of the individual nature to the supposits proper existence: " the hypostasis signifies the particular substance not in just any way, but as it is in its complement ."(23) The complement to which Thomas is referring is the supposits proper existence. Its act of existing completes its individual nature. The supposit is what exists, and what is distinct, in the primary sense. Thomas makes this point in reference to persons, which are but supposits of a rational nature:
It is critical to see that for Thomas, the supposit is that which subsists in its nature and in its existence, or that which has the nature and has existence: it is the subsisting one as such constituted from these two principles.(25) Consequently, it is the subject of all predications, including those of the concrete nature.
It is the material supposit which has existence, not the nature; the nature is that by which such a supposit has existence.(27) What subsists is the supposit, and what this subsistence signifies is the supposits relation to its nature. The diversity of a things nature does not suffice to make it a distinct entity among entities; it requires in addition the diversity of a supposit. The supposit is what has the nature.(28)
Thomas makes a further distinction between the supposit, which signifies the individual entity as a formal object of intellectual consideration, and the individual which is beyond the direct apprehension of the human intellect. He distinguishes between a distinct supposit and an indistinct supposit, e.g., between a man and Socrates. In both cases, human nature is understood in the concrete; however, an indistinct supposit is regarded only insofar as it underlies a concrete nature, and not the individuating properties.(29) Thus the supposit is said by Thomas to have the nature understood in the abstract, and to underlie the nature understood in the concrete.
It is precisely Thomass need to name the determinate mode of existing proper to complete entities that calls for this metaphysical concept of the individual.
To recapitulate, the Thomistic distinction between essence and existence generates two, correlative sets of formulae. The first set rests on the preposition in: God is in the creature as the agent cause of its existence; its existence is in the creature more profoundly than all else that is in it; its essence is in the creature as determined to its individual properties; its essence is that according to which and in which the entity has existence; the hypostasis signifies the individual subsisting in a nature; and God creates directly what subsists in its existence. The second set of formulae rests on the verb habere: the creature has its existence (as well as its essence) from God; the creature has existence according to its essence; the hypostasis is what has existence, and what has the nature as such, or else has a relation to the nature as such; in a thing an essence has a singular mode of existence, and in the intellect an intentional mode of existence; the categories name the ways of having existence; and to be perfect is to have existence in some way.(31)
Thomass use of in together with habere to relate a substance, in the sense of a complete entity, to its own existence and its own essence spans his career. The following definition of essence which concludes the first chapter of the De ente et essentia reflects well the usage of the young Thomas: " that according to which and in which a being has existence is called essence ."(32) Likewise, the following quotation of the mature Thomas from the De substantiis separatis represents a precisely formulated statement of the primordial distinction of his existential metaphysics:
there is only one existence as such subsisting through itself; it is therefore impossible that there be besides it any subsisting thing that is only existence. Now everything that is has existence; there is, therefore, in whatever exists besides the first [being] both [its] existence as such as [its] act, and the substance of the thing having existence, as a potency receptive of the act which is existence.(33)
In the language of Aquinas, everything that exists besides subsisting existence is said to have its existence. In each thing, there is its existence and its substance. The things substance stands to the things existence as a receptive potency to its act.(34)
What, according to Aquinas, constitutes the unity of this thing as such? The unity of the supposit is founded upon its existence.(35) "The unity of the person," writes Aquinas, "requires the unity of an existence itself complete and personal."(36) The incommunicability of the supposit derives from the unicity of its existence: "It is impossible that the existence that pertains to the hypostasis as such or to the person in itself be mulitplied in one hypostasis or person: for it is impossible that there not be of one thing one existence."(37) A finite nature exists as really distinct only in a supposit, in virtue of the supposits distinct existence. The supposit subsists in its concrete nature by virtue of this same complete existence. This proper existence, diverse absolutely from every other existence, is the complement of the supposits individual nature. Apart from such existence, the nature is not individual;(38) in itself, a finite nature has no actuality and therefore no absolute distinction. What alone has entitative distinction absolutely is a supposit. Whatever else has actual distinction has it in a supposit, according to a supposits determinate mode of existing, i.e., existing as distinct simply from all others, in virtue of a diversity that derives from the impossibility that of any thing there be more than one existence.
Of what is the supposit a subject? On a Thomistic account, it is the subject both of a nature as such and of a complementary and proper act of existing.(39) When Aquinas formulates his primary metaphysical intuition of the intensive infinity of existence as such, and the consequent necessity of a real distinction between essence and existence in any being beyond one, he reduces the distinctions of finite entities to their possession of acts of existing that are diverse absolutely, in virtue of a privation of the fullness of existence, just as Aristotle reduces formal contrariety to the possession or privation of differences that are diverse absolutely. And as Plato traced the negations constitutive of formal contrariety to a correlative participation between being and otherness, Aquinas analogously traced the diversity of finite entities to a transcendental relation between participated existence and receiving essence. The necessary participation of each of these principles of finite being in unreceived and infinite existence constitutes the ultimate metaphysical reduction and horizon of a creationist metaphysics.(40)
Notes(1) "Et ulterius aliqui erexerunt se ad considerandum ens inquantum est ens: et consideraverunt causam rerum non solum secundum quod sunt talia per formas accidentales, nec secundum quod sunt haec per formas substantiales, sed etiam secundum omne illud quod pertinet ad esse illorum quocumque modo." Summa theologiae, in Sancti Thomae de Aquino opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII P.M. edita, Cura et studio Fratrum Praedicatorum (Roma: Editori di San Tommaso, 1881), Ia, qu. 44, ar. 2 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 458). All citations of Thomass works will be to the Leonine editions, unless otherwise indicated. All English translations are my own. Note that I always translate ens as 'being' or 'entity,' using entitative in my commentary as the corresponding adjective, and esse as 'existing' or 'existence,' using existential for the adjective. (2) "The doctrine of creation is bound to modify the notion of metaphysics itself, in that it introduces into the realm of being a first cause to whose causality everything is strictly subjected." E. Gilson, Being and Some Philosophers, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1952), p. 156. (3) " omne quod quocumque modo est, a Deo esse." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 44, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 455). The emphases in all the English translations to follow are added. (4) " si totum quod ad esse ipsius pertinet, creatum est." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 44, ar. 2, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 458). (5) Following is the full Latin text: "Sed contra, maius est fieri aliquid secundum totam substantiam, quam secundum formam substantialem vel accidentalem. Sed generatio simpliciter vel secundum quid, qua fit aliquid secundum formam substantialem vel accidentalem, est aliquid in generato. Ergo multo magis creatio, qua fit aliquid secundum totam substantiam, est aliquid in creato." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 45, ar. 3, s.c. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 467). (6) "Ad primum ergo dicendum quod Philosophus in I Physic. loquitur de fieri particulari, quod est de forma in formam, sive accidentalem sive substantialem: nunc autem loquimur de rebus secundum emanationem earum ab universali principio essendi." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 44, ar. 2, ad 1 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 458). (7) "Et similiter creatio est perfectior et prior quam generatio et alteratio, quia terminus ad quem est tota substantia rei." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 45, ar. 1, ad 2 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 464); cf. Ia, qu. 45, ar. 2, ad 1. (8) Aimé Forest uses the phrase "concrete entity" to describe what I call the 'complete entity': "En définitive, le concret désigne la substance à laquelle l'être est inhérent, c'est-à-dire toute créature." In arguing that, strictly speaking, God is not a concrete entity because his existence is not inherent but rather subsistent, Forest cites the following two passages in Thomas: "'Hoc nomen qui est imperfecte significat Deum quia significat eum per modum cujusdam concretionis et compositionis.' In I Sent., d. 8, q. 1, a. 1. ad 3. 'Ponimus ergo in Deo substantiam et esse, sed substantiam ratione subsistentiae, non ratione substandi, esse vero simplicitatis et complementi, non ratione inhaerentiae quae alteri inhaeret.' De Pot., qu. 1, a. 1." See La structure métaphysique du concret selon saint Thomas d'Aquin, 2nd ed (Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 1956), p. 21. Precisely because every finite being has an inherent existence, it is necessarily complex, and so, as Forest puts it, has a 'structure' (p. 22). I wish to stress that every finite being has its completion in its proper act of existence. And because I want to emphasize that the composite under consideration is not a composite essence but the entitative composite, the actual being composed from an essence and an act of existence, I use the modifier 'complete,' intending by means of it to include the act of existence as the 'completion' of the actually existing substance. Cf. Summa contra gentiles, lb. 2, cp. 53 (ed. Leonina: tm. 13, p. 391, ll. a8-14): "In substantia autem intellectuali creata inveniuntur duo: scilicet substantia ipsa; et esse eius, quod non est ipsa substantia, ut ostensum est. Ipsum autem esse est complementum substantiae existentis: unumquodque enim actu est per hoc quod esse habet." Thomas himself employs the expressions esse completum and ens completum: e.g., " quae quidem virtus non habet esse completum in natura, sed est quid incompletum in genere entis unde habent virtutem non per modum entis completi sed quasi incomplete " (Quaestiones de veritate, qu. 27, ar. 4, ad 4 [ed. Leonina: tm. 22, vl. 3, p. 806, ll. 372-400]). He also uses a term equivalent to 'complete,' namely 'perfect,' to distinguish actual and substantial being from potential and accidental being: "Scire igitur oportet quod diversae rerum species gradatim naturam entis possident. Statim enim in prima entis divisione invenitur hoc quidem perfectum, scilicet ens per se et ens actu: aliud vero imperfectum, scilicet ens in alio et ens in potentia." Summa contra gentiles, lb. 2, cp. 95 (ed. Leonina: p. 568, ll. a15-20). On the other hand, he uses the terms 'concrete' and 'abstract' in the quidditative order to distinguish between two considerations of essence or nature: " cum dicitur, Christus est aliquid quod non est Pater, ly aliquid tenetur non pro ipsa natura humana secundum quod significatur in abstracto [i.e., humanitas], sed secundum quod significatur in concreto [i.e., homo]; non quidem secundum suppositum distinctum [i.e., Iesus], sed secundum suppositum indistinctum [i.e., aliquis homo]; prout scilicet substat naturae, non autem proprietatibus individuantibus." Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 17, ar. 1, ad 4 (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 220); cf. Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 30, ar. 4, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 341), quoted in note 53 below. I use the phrase 'complete entity' to make clear that I am referring to the supposit to which the act of existing pertains, and not simply to the individual nature, whether in abstracto or in concreto. (9) "Esse autem est illud quod est magis intimum cuiuslibet et quod profundius omnibus, cum sit formale respectu omnium quae in re sunt." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 8, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 82). Cf. Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 54, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 5, p. 39): " esse est actualitas substantiae vel essentiae." Cf. also Ia, qu. 4, ar. 1, ad 3 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 50): " ipsum esse est perfectissimum omnium: comparatur enim ad omnia ut actus. Nihil enim habet actualitatem, nisi inquantum est: unde ipsum esse est actualitas omnium rerum, et etiam ipsarum formarum." (10) "Respondeo dicendum quod creari est quoddam fieri, ut dictum est. Fieri autem ordinatur ad esse rei. Unde illis proprie convenit fieri et creari, quibus convenit esse. Quod quidem convenit proprie subsistentibus: sive sint simplicia, sicut substantiae separatae; sive sint composita, sicut substantiae materiales. Illi enim proprie convenit esse, quod habet esse; et hoc est subsistens in suo esse. Formae autem et accidentia, et alia huiusmodi, non dicuntur entia quasi ipsa sint, sed quia eis aliquid est . Sicut igitur accidentia et formae, et huiusmodi, quae non subsistunt, magis sunt coexistentia quam entia; ita magis debent dici concreata quam creata. Proprie vero creata sunt subsistentia." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 45, ar. 4, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 468).
It is interesting to note that in the ellipsis of the above quotation Thomas appeals to the Philosophers observation in Metaphysics 1028:a15-20 that accidents are more properly said to be of being than being. Thomas here extends his reasoning to substantial form, for even in the case of separate form, what is created is the composite of subsisting form and participated esse.(11) "Nam in significatione naturae includitur solum id quod est de ratione speciei; suppositum autem non solum habet haec quae ad rationem speciei pertinent, sed etiam alia quae ei accidunt; et ideo suppositum signatur per totum, natura autem, sive quidditas, ut pars formalis.
In solo autem Deo non invenitur aliquod accidens praeter eius essentiam, quia suum esse est sua essentia, ut dictum est; et ideo in Deo est omnino idem suppositum et natura. In angelo autem non est omnino idem: quia aliquid accidit ei praeter id quod est de ratione suae speciei: quia et ipsum esse angeli est praeter eius essentiam seu naturam; et alia quaedam ei accidunt quae omnino pertinent ad suppositum, non autem ad naturam" (emphasis added). Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 2, ar. 2, co. (ed. Marietti: p. 25). Cf. the sed contra of this same question (ibid.): "SED CONTRA, in omnibus creaturis natura constituit suppositum. Sed nihil constituit seipsum. Ergo in nulla creatura est idem suppositum et natura."
In his reply to an objection that just as existence is not part of the definition of the nature, it should not be part of the quasi-definition of the supposit or singular, Thomas replies that existence nonetheless pertains to the supposit as such, whereas it does not pertain to the nature as such: "Et ideo, licet ipsum esse non sit de ratione suppositi, quia tamen pertinet ad suppositum, et non est de ratione naturae, manifestum est quod suppositum et natura non sunt omnino idem in quibuscumque res non est suum esse." Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 2, qu. 2, ar. 2, ad 2 (ed. Marietti: p. 26).
On Thomass apparently contradictory assertion in Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 3, ar. 3, co., that in immaterial substances the forms themselves are the subsisting supposits, is the following remark of the Marietti editors (ed. Marietti: tm. 1, p. 16, fn. 5): "Loquitur S. Th. de supposito materialiter sumpto, scil. de substantia individua seu subiecto subsistentiae: de eo quod subsistit. Suppositum vero formaliter acceptum, quod includit rationem formalem (nempe subsistentiam) qua suppositum materialiter acceptum est subsistens, in omnibus rebus creatis, etiamsi non componantur ex materia et forma (ut in Angelis), differt realiter a natura etiam individua, quatenus ipsi adiungit existentiam (cfr. I, q. 50, a. 2, ad 3; q. 75, a. 5, ad 4; q. 88, a. 2, ad 4 et alibi, praesertim Quodl. II, q. 2, a. 2)." (12) "Substantiis vero immaterialibus creatis accidunt quidem aliqua praeter rationem speciei quae non sunt determinativa essentialium principiorum, ut dictum est; non tamen accidunt eis aliqua quae sunt determinativa essentiae speciei: quia ipsa natura speciei non individuatur per materiam, sed per seipsam Sed quia non est suum esse, accidit ei aliquid praeter rationem speciei, scilicet ipsum esse, et alia quaedam quae attribuuntur supposito, et non naturae; propter quod suppositum in eis non est omnino idem cum natura." Quaestiones quodlibetales, qu. 2, ar. 2, ad 1 (ed. Marietti: p. 26). I note that the first two senses of accidental perfection follow upon the third: it is in virtue of a distinct act of existence by which a nature exists simply that any other perfections can accrue to it. Cf. Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 9, ar. 2, co. (ed. Marietti: p. 181): "Esse ergo proprie et vere non attribuitur nisi rei subsistenti. Huic autem attribuitur esse duplex. Unum scilicet esse resultans ex his ex quibus eius unitas integratur, quod proprium est esse suppositi substantiale. Aliud esse est supposito attributum praeter ea quae integrant ipsum, quod est esse superadditum, scilicet accidentale; ut esse album attribuitur Socrati ."
I discern in these distinctions of Aquinass considerations of the individual in two orders, i.e., according to existence and according to essence. In the order of essence, the individuals nature is considered either as such, by precisive abstraction, or in the concrete, by non-precisive abstraction; in the concrete, furthermore, the nature may be conceived of as the subject of the individual accidental determinations abstracted from. Thus man is the concept of what has humanity, and what is determined according to the nine accidental predicaments. What is left out of the concept man that is part of the concept of the human supposit is the accident beyond the essential order, i.e., existence: " humanitas significatur per modum partis, eo quod humanitas dicitur qua homo est homo, et sic praecise significat essentialia principia speciei, per quae hoc individuum in tali specie collocatur . Sed homo significatur per modum totius: homo enim dicitur habens humanitatem, vel subsistens in humanitate, sine praecisione quorumcumque aliorum supervenientium essentialibus principiis speciei; quia per hoc quod dico: Habens humanitatem; non praeciditur, qui habet colorem, et quantitatem, et alia huiusmodi" (emphasis added). Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 9, qu. 2, ar. 1 (ed. Marietti: p. 180). The concrete nature is the individual considered as a whole according to essence; the supposit is the individual considered as a whole according to existence, i.e., according as existence pertains to the concrete nature.(13) See Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 45, ar. 5, co.; and Ia, qu. 45, ar. 1, co. (14) " cum dicitur, prima rerum creaturum est esse, ly esse non importat subiectum creatum; sed importat rationem objecti creationis. Nam ex eo dicitur aliquid creatum, quod est ens, non ex eo quod est hoc ens ." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 45, ar. 4, ad 1 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 468). Thus the notion of esse commune arises with the consideration of the creative intention by which the hierarchy of being is constituted as manifold participation in the being of its universal agent cause. (15) For this reason, I find astute Kevin Whites conclusion that a full account of the cause of individuation in Thomass thought must extend to the divine will as the efficient cause, and to the divine essence as the exemplar cause of individuality. See "Individuation in Aquinass Super Boetium De Trinitate, Q. 4," American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 69.4 (1995), pp. 548-50 & 555, et passim. White builds on Owens efforts to reconstruct Thomass theory of individuation from what, aside from Super De trinitate 4.2, are but scattered remarks. Owens identifies a sequence of four principles of individuation existence, form, matter, and quantity and concludes that Aquinas holds existence to be the ultimate cause in the order of being, but quantity to be first in the order of our understanding. See Owens, "Thomas Aquinas (B. CA. 1125; D. 1274)," in Individuation in Scholasticism, ed. Jorge J.E. Gracia (Albany: The State University of New York Press, 1994), pp. 186-87, et passim. In close exegesis of the fuller context of Super De trinitate 4, White draws attention to a noteworthy digression on creation in article one, concluding as follows: "Aquinas thus implies that the ultimate efficient cause of plurality, of individuals and hence of individuation in creation is the divine will and that the exemplar cause of individuation is, so to speak, the divine multi-imitability. Confirmation of this last point is provided by Summa Contra Gentiles I.54, which argues that the divine essence is the proper ratio or exemplar of individual things, and by Summa theologiae 1.15.3 ad 4, which seems to allow that there are divine ideas of individuals" (pp. 549-50). Francis Kovach in his study of the role played in Thomass participation metaphysics by the Neoplatonic principle of the limitation of potency by act similarly concludes that, according to Aquinas, in creation God limits the act of existence in accordance with his creative idea of a determinate mode of being. "The Limitation by Act," pp. 410-11. It is no doubt in this sense that we must understand Aquinass assertion that the divine intellect contains every mode of existing; see, e.g., De substantiis separatis, cp. 9 (ed. Marietti: p. 37, n. 100), and Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 4, ar. 6, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 176). Kovach goes on to say, erroneously I believe, that God limits the act of existing through the potency of an essence ( as though such a potency could have any existence or causality whatever apart from an act of existence).
I submit that the act of existence must be understood to be limited through the divine will efficiently and through the divine essence formally ; it is limited through an essence in the sense of for reception by and composition with that essence, i.e., existence is limited to essence, not as to an existent subject, but for the very constituting of a subject. Regarded apart from a proportionate existence, an essence is a pure exigency or mere possibility. This must be the meaning of creation ex nihilo, i.e., of the production of the whole substance of real, individual entity, in a metaphysics in which an absolute priority of existence is asserted at every point: in creation, in the creative intention, in creatures, and in the creator. Aquinas does not say that essence limits existence. He says that existence is limited to essence, according to essence, for essence as a receptive potency: "Sed omne quod est participatum in aliquo, est in eo per modum participantis: quia nihil potest recipere ultra mensuram suam. Cum igitur modus cujuslibet rei creatae sit finitus, quaelibet res creata recipit esse finitum ." (emphasis added). Super libros Sententiarum, lb. 1, ds. 8, qu. 1, ar. 2, s.c. 2 (ed. Lethielleux: tm. 1, p. 197). Cf. In librum De Causis, lc. 4 (ed. Marietti: p. 29, n. 109): "Intelligentia est composita in suo esse ex finito et infinito, in quantum natura Intelligentiae, infinita dicitur secundum potentiam essendi et ipsum esse quod recipit est finitum" (emphasis added). And what receives esse is constituted in the very giving and determining of esse: "Deus simul dans esse, producit id quod esse recipit: et sic non oportet quod agat ex aliquo praeexistenti." Quaestiones de potentia, qu. 3, ar. 1, ad 17 (ed. Marietti: tm. 2, p. 41). (16) "Est igitur diversitas et inaequalitas in rebus creatis non a casu; non ex materiae diversitate; non propter interventum aliquarum causarum, vel meritorum; sed ex propria Dei intentione perfectionem creaturae dare volentis qualem possibile erat eam habere." Summa contra gentiles, lb. 2, cp. 45 (ed. Leonina: tm. 13, p. 373:b4-9). Cf. Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 47, ar. 1 & 2 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, pp. 485ff). (17) "Esse autem, inquantum est esse, non potest esse diversum: potest autem diversificari per aliquid quod est praeter esse; sicut esse lapidis est aliud ab esse hominis. Sic igitur, si hoc ipsum quod est esse non dividatur differentiis, sicut genus, sed per hoc quod est huius vel illius esse, ut veritas habet; magis est manifestum quod non potest esse per se existens nisi unum." Summa contra gentiles, lb. 2, qu. 52 (ed. Leonina: tm. 13, p. 387:a21-22). Note that Thomas does not here expressly name essence in the explanation of the "diversification" of esse. In fact, although in the first formulation he mentions kinds the existence of a rock is other than the existence of a man in the second one he abstracts from kinds the existence of this or of that thus stressing the fact of the reception as such (per hoc quod ), or the propriety as such of the individual existence ( est huius vel illius), as the reason for its diversification. (18) Thomas makes the same argument for the necessity of a reception in the multiplication of any perfection in Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 44, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 455), as follows: "Deus est ipsum esse per se subsistens. Et iterum ostensum est quod esse subsistens non potest esse nisi unum: si albedo esset subsistens, non posset esse nisi una, cum albedines multiplicentur secundum recipientia. Relinquitur ergo quod omnia alia a Deo non sint suum esse, sed participant esse. Necesse est igitur omnia quae diversificantur secundum diversam participationem essendi, ut sint perfectius vel minus perfecte, causari ab uno primo ente, quod perfectissime est."
Cf. Super libros Sententiarum, lb. 1, ds. 43, qu. 1, ar. 2, so. (ed. Lethielleux: tm. 1, p. 1005): "Impossibile est autem aliquam essentiam creatam esse infinitam, eo quod esse suum non est absolutum et subsistens, sed receptum in aliquo. Si enim esset esse absolutum, non differet ab esse divino. Non enim potest esse pluralitas alicujus naturae, sicut albedinis vel vitae, nisi hoc modo quod unum sit absolutum, et aliud alteri conjunctum, vel utrumque in diversis receptum, eo quod substantia uniuscujusque rei est semel, ut ex V Metaphys., text. 15, patet ." That Thomas should buttress such Platonic reasoning with an Aristotelian citation is curious indeed. He is capitalizing on the ambivalence of substantia which can mean the entitys subsistence, its essence, quiddity, or form in order to coopt Aristotles assertion of the intrinsic unicity of each form which Aquinas does not hold to in an argument for the necessity of a reception and composition to account for the unicity of any finite existence. (19) I agree fully with Maritains emphasis on the importance of the supposit: " we may even say that subjects occupy all the room there is in the Thomist universe, in the sense that, for Thomism, only subjects exist, with the accidents which inhere in them, the action which emanates from them, and the relations which they bear to one another. Only individual subjects exercise the act of existing. What we call subject St. Thomas called suppositum. Essence is that which a thing is; suppositum is that which has an essence, that which exercises existence and action actiones sunt suppositorum that which subsists. Here we meet the metaphysical notion which [is] the true the existential foundation of Thomist metaphysics, the notion of subsistence." Jacques Maritain, Existence and the Existent, tr. L. Galantiere and G. Phelan (New York: Pantheon Books, 1948), pp. 62-63. Maritain describes supposits as the trans-objective subjects of the trans-objective act of existence (pp. 23-24). He moreover follows Cajetan and John of St. Thomas in distinguishing subsistence from essence and existence both, describing subsistence as the termination in the order of essence of a given nature, allowing it to take possession of the act of existing for which it is created and which transcends it (p. 64). I would argue, rather, that subsistence is a mode of existing and therefore pertains to the act of existing, which confers the perfection of subsistence upon the essence in accord with the priority of existence and of the order of existence in Thomass metaphysics. Things do not "take possession" of existence they receive it. The termination that an essence requires is in the order of actuality and derives from a proper act of existence, by which it is constituted a complete entity or supposit: "Nam esse pertinet ad ipsam constitutionem personae: et sic quantum ad hoc se habet in ratione termini. Et ideo unitas personae requirit unitatem ipsius esse completi et personalis" (emphasis added). Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 19, ar. 1, ad 4 (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 241). (20) Cf. Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 45, ar. 4, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 468), as quoted in fn. 9 above. (21) "Quandiu igitur res habet esse, tandiu oportet quod Deus adsit ei, secundum modum quo esse habet. Esse autem est illud quod est magis intimum cuiuslibet, et quod profundius omnibus inest: cum sit formale respectu omnium quae in re sunt ." Summa theologiae, qu. 8, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 82). Thomas also uses the verb inesse to signify the supervening of accidental existence upon a being over and above its substantial existence: "Quia etiam in his quorum esse non est subsistens, quod inest existenti praeter esse eius, est quidem existenti unitum, non autem est unum cum esse eius; nisi per accidens, inquantum est unum subjectum habens esse et id quod est praeter esse ." Summa contra gentiles, lb. 2, cp. 52 (ed. Leonina: tm. 13, p. 387:a10-15). Cf. Owens, Elementary Christian Metaphysics, p. 76: "In Aristotelian doctrine the full entitative dependence of an accident is upon the substance it actuates. Such entitative dependence, for Aristotle, is sufficiently expressed by the preposition "in", if the preposition is given the sense assigned it in the second chapter of the Categories [2, 1a24-25]. In a philosophy where being is regarded as significantly prior to natural substance, however, the situation becomes more complicated. This priority indicates that the basic dependence of existential act is not upon the subject it actuates. It may inhere in that subject, in the sense of actuating it. Nevertheless, it is accepted as prior to it. The primary dependence of existential act, therefore, is not expressed by the preposition "in," as it was for Aristotle." By the "primary dependence of existential act" I take Owens to mean its dependence on the creator. (22) Super libros Sententiarum, lb. 1, ds. 37, qu. 1, ar. 1, so. (ed. Lethielleux: tm. 1, p. 858): "Deus est unicuique intimus, sicut esse proprium rei est intimum ipsi rei, quae nec incipere nec durare posset, nisi per operationem Dei per quam suo operi coniungitur ut in eo sit;" and ad 1: " quamvis essentia divina non sit intrinseca rei quasi pars veniens in constitutionem ejus; tamen est intra rem quasi operans et agens esse uniuscujusque rei ." Emphasis added. (23) " hypostasis significat substantiam particularem non quocumque modo, sed prout est in suo complemento " .Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 2, ar. 3, ad 2 (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 30).
The analogous predication of substance in Aquinass writings presents significant problems of interpretation. " nomen substantiae, quod secundum proprietatem significationis respondet hypostasi, aequivocatur apud nos, cum quandoque significet essentiam, quandoque hypostasim ." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 29, ar. 2, ad 2 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 330). See Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 29, ar. 2, ad 2 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 330); cf. corpus: " secundum Philosophum, in V Metaphys., substantia dicitur dupliciter. Uno modo dicitur substantia quidditas rei, quam significat definitio . Alio modo, dicitur substantia subiectum vel suppositum quod subsistit in genere substantiae. Et hoc quidem, communiter accipiendo, nominari potest et nomine significante intentionem: et sic dicitur suppositum. Nominatur etiam tribus nominibus significantibus rem, quae quidem sunt res naturae, subsistentia et hypostasis, secundum triplicem considerationem substantiae sic dictae. Secundum enim quod per se existit et non in alio, vocatur subsistentia: illa enim subsistere dicimus, quae non in alio, sed in se existunt. Secundum vero quod supponitur alicui naturae communi, sic dicitur res naturae; sicut hic homo est res naturae humanae. Secundum vero quod supponitur accidentibus, dicitur hypostasis vel substantia. Quod autem haec tria nomina significant toto genere substantiarum, hoc nomen persona significat in genere rationalium substantiarum." See the importannt remarks in ch. 7, fn. 19, and ch. 11, fn. 13, on a parallel treatment in Super libros Sententiarum, lb. 1, ds. 23, qu. 1, ar. 1.
On the one hand, in the order of essence, Thomas accepts the Aristotelian analysis according to which substance may be said of substantial matter, material form, the material composite, and subsisting form. Translating the last two predications in terms of the Thomistic distinction between essence and existence, substance may be said of essences, either with or without precision (cf. De ente et essentia, cp. 2, fine). It may also be said of the definitions of essences. However, Aquinas further extends the term from this order of essence to the order of existence in which entitative wholes composed from essence and existence are considered as wholes secundum omne illud quod pertinet ad esse illorum quocumque modo Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 44, ar. 2 (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 458). In this purview, the complete entity may be called a substance; likewise creation pertains to the production of the whole substance of a thing: maius est fieri aliquid secundum totam substantiam, quam secundum formam substantialem vel accidentalem . Ergo multo magis creatio, qua fit aliquid secundum totam substantiam, est aliquid in creato (Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 45, ar. 3, s.c, ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 467) although Thomas will also use tota substantia to signify a composite essence in contradistinction to its existence, as complete in the quidditative order, e.g., Summa contra gentiles, lb. 2, cp. 54 (ed. Leonina: tm. 13, p. 392:a30-31). Accordingly, when Thomas speaks of the mode of a substance, he is speaking in terms of the entitative whole, the existing thing or existent. The complete entitys actual perfection indicates the mode of the "substance itself," i.e., the essence precisely as the proportionate potency for existence of such a mode: "Unumquodque perficitur secundum modum suae substantiae. Ex modo igitur perfectionis alicuius rei potest accipi modus substantiae ipsius. Modus igitur substantiae intelligentis est quod esse suum sit supra motum, et per consequens supra tempus." Summa contra gentiles, lb. 2, cp. 55 (ed. Leonina: tm. 13, p. 394:b44-45).
(24) " hoc nomen persona communiter sumpta nihil aliud significat quam substantiam individuam rationalis naturae. Et quia sub substantia individua rationalis naturae continetur substantia individua, id est incommunicabilis et ab aliis distincta, tam Dei quam hominis quam etiam angeli, oportet quod persona divina significet subsistens distinctum in natura divina, sicut persona humana significat subsistens distinctum in natura humana; et haec est formalis significatio tam personae divinae quam personae humanae." Quaestiones de potentia, qu. 9, ar. 4, co. (ed. Marietti: tm. 2, p. 233). (25) "Illi enim proprie convenit esse, quod habet esse; et hoc est subsistens in suo esse. Formae autem et accidentia, et alia huiusmodi, non dicuntur entia quasi ipsa sint, sed quia eis aliquid est ." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 45, ar. 4, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 468).
"Individuum autem est quod est ens indistinctum, ab aliis vero distinctum. Persona igitur, in quacumque natura, significat id quod est distinctum in natura illa ." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 29, ar. 4, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 333). Cf. Ia, qu. 29, ar 3, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 331): " persona significat id quod est perfectissimum in tota natura, scilicet subsistens in rationali natura. Persona igitur divina significat relationem ut subsistentem. Et hoc est significare relationem per modum substantiae quae est hypostasis subsistens in natura divina; licet subsistens in natura divina non sit aliud quam natura divina." Thus common to the meaning of divine person and created person is that they signify that which subsists in the nature; the difference between them is that in the created and finite person, that which subsists is really other than the nature in which it subsists, whereas the divine subsistent is identical with that nature in which it is said to subsist. This last qualification, which expresses the disanalogy entailed in predicating person of the divine nature, indicates that Thomass theory of the supposit or subsisting individual is required by his creationist distinction between a finite entitys existence and its nature or essence. Because every finite being must be composite, every finite being is composed, says Aquinas (pace Ferrariensis), from its substance and its existence. See Summa contra gentiles, lb. 2, cp. 54 (ed. Marietti: tm. 13, p. 392), and the commentary of Ferrariensis.(26) " tantum hypostasis est cui attribuuntur operationes et proprietates naturae, et ea etiam quae ad naturae rationem pertinent in concreto: dicimus enim quod hic homo ratiocinatur, et est risibilis, et est animal rationale. Et hac ratione hic homo dicitur esse supponitur his quae ad hominem pertinent, eorum praedicationem recipiens." Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 2, ar. 3, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 30). (27) "Esse autem pertinet ad hypostasim et ad naturam: ad hypostasim quidem sicut ad id quod habet esse; ad naturam autem sicut ad id quo aliquid habet esse; natura enim significatur per modum formae, quae dicitur ea aliquid est, sicut albedine est aliquid album, et humanitate est aliquis homo."Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 17, ar. 2, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 222); cf. ad 1: " esse consequitur naturam, non sicut habentem esse, sed sicut qua aliquid est: personam autem, sive hypostasim, consequitur sicut habentem esse." Cf. Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 2, qu. 2, ar 1, co. (ed. Marietti: p. 24): "Nulla enim creatura est suum esse, sed est habens esse Et ideo in qualibet creatura est aliud ipsa creatura quae habet esse, et ipsum esse eius; et hoc est quod Boëtius dicit in lib. de Hedbomad., quod in omni eo quod est citra primum, aliud est esse et quod est." As the hypostasis names what has existence, it also names what has the nature as such; see following footnote. (28) "Sed si intelligatur corpus perfectum per animam absque hypostasi habente utrumque, hoc totum compositum ex anima et corpore, prout significatur nomine humanitatis, non significatur ut quod est, sed ut quo aliquid est. Et ideo ipsum esse est personae subsistentis, secundum quod habet habitudinem ad talem naturam: cuius habitudinis causa anima, inquantum perficit humanam naturam informando corpus" (emphasis added). Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 17, ar. 2, ad 4 (ed. Leonina: tm 11, p. 223).
"Aliter tamen habens humanitatem significatur per hoc nomine homo: et aliter per hoc nomen Iesus, vel Petrus. Nam hoc nomen homo importat habentem humanitatem indistincte: sicut et hoc nomen Deus indistincte importat habentem deitatem. Hoc tamen nomen Petrus, vel Iesus, importat distincte habentem humanitatem, scilicet sub determinatis individualibus proprietatibus " (emphasis added). Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 17, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm 11, pp. 219-20).
"In qualibet autem creatura invenitur differentia habentis et habiti. In creaturis namque compositis invenitur duplex differentia, quia ipsum suppositum sive individuum habet naturam speciei, sicut homo humanitatem, et habet ulterius esse: homo enim nec est humanitas nec est esse suum In substantiis vero simplicibus est una tantum differentia, scilicet essentiae et esse. In Angelis enim quodlibet suppositum est sua natura non est autem suum esse; unde ipsa quidditas est in suo esse subsistens." Quaestiones de potentia, qu. 7, ar. 4, co. (ed. Marietti: tm. 2, p. 195).
"Esse autem proprie rei subsistentis est: nam forma quae non subsistit, dicitur esse solum quia ea aliquid est. Persona autem, vel hypostasis, significatur per modum subsistentis: natura autem significatur per modum formae in qua aliquid subsistit." Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 35, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 351).
" alterum importat diversitatem accidentis: et ideo diversitas accidentis sufficit ad hoc quod aliquid simpliciter dicatur alterum. Sed aliud importat diversitatem substantiae. Substantia autem dicitur non solum natura, sed etiam suppositum: ut dicitur in V Metaphys. Et ideo diversitas naturae non sufficit ad hoc quod aliquid simpliciter dicatur aliud, nisi adsit diversitas secundum suppositum. Sed diversitas naturae facit aliud secundum quid, scilicet secundum naturam, si non adsit diversitas suppositi." Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 17, ar. 1, ad 7 (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 220).(29) " cum dicitur, Christus est aliquid quod non est Pater, ly aliquid tenetur non pro ipsa natura humana secundum quod significatur in abstracto, sed secundum quod significatur in concreto; non quidem secundum suppositum distinctum, sed secundum suppositum indistinctum; prout scilicet substat naturae, non autem proprietatibus individuantibus." Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 17, ar. 1, ad 4 (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 220). The nature considered in concreto should be distinguished from the nature considered as individual, parallel to the difference Thomas asserts here between an indistinct and a distinct supposit. An individual nature must be understood as a being in act, individual in the complete and primary sense, in virtue of the distinction of a proper act of existing; cf. fns. 44-47 below. An individual nature is the nature of a real, distinct supposit, a nature composed with its individual act of existing. The nature in concreto, although abstracted without precision from this distinct supposit, is nonetheless an abstraction. It abstracts from the real individual properties of the distinct supposit because it abstracts from the individual act of existing, and thereby from the real entitative unity and individuality which the distinct supposit has through its act of existing: "Nam esse pertinet ad ipsam constitutionem personae: et sic quantum ad hoc se habet in ratione termini. Et ideo unitas personae requirit unitatem ipsius esse complete et personalis" Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 19, ar. 1, ad 4 (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 241). The notion of the indistinct supposit or indefinite individual adds to the notion of the common nature the notion of a determinate mode of existing: "Nomina enim generum vel specierum, ut homo vel animal, sunt imposita ad significandum ipsas naturas communes . Sed individuum vagum, ut aliquis homo, significat naturam communem cum determinato modo existendi qui competit singularibus, ut scilicet sit distinctum ab aliis" Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 30, ar. 4, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 341). Cf. Owens, Elementary Christian Metaphysics, p. 152, fn. 15, who quotes the second Quodlibetal: " and therefore although being itself is not in the notion of a supposit, nevertheless because it pertains to the supposit and is not in the notion of its nature, it is clear that supposit and nature are not entirely the same whereever a thing is not its own being. St. Thomas, Quodl., II, 4, ad 2m. A supposit, therefore, is not an individuated nature abstracted without precision from its being, but is the individuated nature considered as existing (De Pot., IX, 2, ad 13m) or subsisting (ST, III, 16, 12, ad 2m)." (30) Thomas introduces this passage by asserting that there is a common ratio expressed by the notion of an individuum vagum: "Et ideo dicendum est quod etiam in rebus humanis hoc nomen persona est commune communitate rationis, non sicut genus vel species, sed sicut individuum vagum. Nomina enim generum vel specierum, ut homo vel animal, sunt imposita ad significandum ipsas naturas communes; non autem intentiones naturarum communium, quae significantur his nominibus genus vel species. Sed individuum vagum, ut aliquis homo, significat naturam communem cum determinato modo existendi qui competit singularibus, ut scilicet sit per se subsistens distinctum ab aliis. Sed in nomine singularis designati, significatur determinatum distinguens, sicut in nomine Socrates haec caro et hoc os." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 30, ar. 4, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 341). (31) "Omnes autem perfectiones pertinent ad perfectionem essendi: secundum hoc enim aliqua perfecta sunt, quod aliquo modo esse habent." Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 4, ar. 2, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 52). Cf. Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 4, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 4, p. 50): "Secundum hoc enim dicitur aliquid esse perfectum, secundum quod est actu: nam perfectum dicitur cui nihil deest secundum modum suae perfectionis." (32) " sed essentia dicitur secundum quod per eam et in ea ens habet esse." De ente et essentia, cp. 1 (ed. Leonina: tm. 43, p. 370:53-54). The hermeneutic by which Thomas expands upon the traditional Aristotelian analysis of material entities into form and matter with his notion of existence as a distinct principle correlative to essence in every finite being is well illustrated at the heart of ch. 2, which concerns what essence means in the case of composite substances. Citing Boethius and Avicenna for the position that ousia signifies the composite, Thomas states that ousia meant among the Greeks what essentia means among the Latins: ousia enim apud Graecos, idem est quod essentia apud nos . I note that Thomas translates ousia as essentia, and not as ens. Proceeding beyond his authorities, Thomas then makes an appeal to reason, and speaks of the esse of the composite substance. Thomas associates the term ens and res with the composite, and asserts esse to be of the composite and essentia to be that according to which the thing is said to be, and by which it is denominated an ens: "Huic etiam ratio concordat, quia esse substantie composite non est tantum forme neque tantum materie, sed ipsius compositi; essentia autem est secundum quam res esse dicitur. Unde oportet ut essentia qua res denominatur ens non tantum sit forma neque tantum materia, sed utrumque, quamuis huiusmodi esse suo modo sola forma sit causa" (emphases added). De ente et essentia, cp. 2 (ed. Leonina: tm. 43, p. 371:50-57).
I note further that Thomass assertion that essentia autem est secundum quam res esse dicitur argues for the translation of per as according to in the definition of essence Thomas concludes to in ch. 1: sed essentia dicitur secundum quod per eam et in ea ens habet esse. Note also the qualification Thomas adds to his assertion that the form is the cause of the composites existence: suo modo sola forma sit causa.(33) " ipsum igitur esse per se subsistens est unum tantum: impossibile est igitur quod praeter ipsum sit aliquid subsistens quod sit esse tantum. Omne qutem quod est, esse habet; est igitur in quocumque praeter primum et ipsum esse tamquam actus; et substantia rei habens esse tamquam potentia receptiva huius acts quod est esse." De substantiis separatis, cp. 8 (ed. Leonina: tm. 40, p. D55:180-87). I note that in contrast to the above quotations, Thomas uses substantia in this passage to signify the essence in contradistinction to the existence, rather than to signify the complete entity that has existence according to an essence. (34) Thomas thus uses the term res to name the entitative whole whose entitative principles are being distinguished and related; cf. Summa theologiae, Ia, qu. 61, ar. 1, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 5, p. 106): "Solus enim Deus est suum esse: in omnibus autem aliis differt essentia rei et esse eius "
Owens uses thing to name essence as opposed to existence, i.e., he speaks of a distinction between a thing and its existence in order to emphasize that the real distinction applies to real, individual entity. For his justification, see "Stages and Distinction in De ente: A Rejoinder," The Thomist 45 (1981), p. 102; p. 119, fn. 28. Owens acknowledges that Thomas will speak of a things having its nature and its having its being, and will distinguish between a things essence and its being; Owens further acknowledges that the transcendental res is conceptually opposed to ens and not to esse. Recognizing moreover that "a thing has to be regarded as composed of itself and what is other than itself: componitur ex seipso et alio Quodl. , II, 3, ad 1m," Owens nevertheless wishes to interpret Thomistic formulae such as Nulla res est suum esse (Quaestiones de veritate, qu. 1, ar. 4, ad 4) as opposing an individuated essence to its existence, rather than the entitative whole to its own actuality. I maintain that Thomass point is, rather, that no finite being is entitatively simple, and thus it is reducible to entitative parts: " unumquodque eorum intellectu resolvitur in id quod est et in suum esse " De substantiis separatis, cp. 9 (ed. Leonina: tm. 40, p. D57:112-14). I agree fully with Owens emphasis that the real distinction must be understood to pertain to the real individual entity. However, to conceive of one of its principles, namely its essence, as individual apart from its composition with its correlative principle in the real individual entity is tantamount to reifying the essence. Or else it is in effect to carry over the Aristotelian notion of entity as essence, and to make of Thomistic esse a reification of the fact of an essences existence. Opposing the nature as conceived in non-precisive abstraction (human being) to the nature conceived in precisive abstraction (humanity), Owens wants to say that natures as they exist in reality, i.e., as individuated, "coincide with the thing itself" (p. 102). The point, however, is that they are individual precisely as they exist in reality, i.e., as composed with the things proper esse, which as its actuality must also "coincide" with the existing thing. (35) " sed esse sit id in quo fundatur unitas suppositi ." Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 9, qu. 2, ad 2 (ed. Marietti: p. 181). (36) Its existence pertains to the very constitution of the person: "Nam esse pertinet ad ipsam constitutionem personae: et sic quantum ad hoc se habet in ratione termini. Et ideo unitas personae requirit unitatem ipsius esse completi et personalis." Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 19, ar. 1, ad 4 (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 241). (37) "Sed illud esse quod pertinet ad ipsam hypostasim vel personam secundum se, impossibile est in una hypostasi vel persona multiplicari: quia impossibile est quod unius rei non sit unum esse." Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 17, ar. 2, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 222). Cf. Super libros Sententiarum, lb. 1, ds. 35, qu. 1, ar. 4, co. (ed. Lethielleux: tm. 1, p. 819): " cum in re duo sit considerare: scilicet naturam vel quidditatem rei, et esse suum, oportet quod in omnibus univocis sit communitas secundum rationem naturae, et non secundum esse; quia unum esse non est nisi in una re; unde habitus humanitatis non est secundum idem esse in duobus hominibus."
Moreover, the supposit as the unitary subject of multiply articulable acts of existence is the principle of the entitative wholes integral existence: "Esse ergo proprie et vere non attribuitur nisi rei per se subsistenti. Huic attribuitur esse duplex. Unum scilicet esse resultans ex his ex quibus eius unitas integratur, quod proprium est esse suppositi substantiale. Aliud esse est supposito attributum praeter ea quae integrant ipsum, quod est esse superadditum, scilicet accidentale ." (emphasis added). Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 9, qu. 2, ar. 2, co. (ed. Marietti: p. 181). Cf. Summa theologiae, IIIa, qu. 17, ar. 2, co. (ed. Leonina: tm. 11, p. 222): "Sicut in Socrate ponitur aliud esse secundum quod est albus, aliud secundum quod est homo: quia esse album non pertinet ad ipsum esse personale Socratis. Esse autem capitatum, et esse corporeum, et esse animatum, totum pertinent ad unam personam Socratis: et ideo ex omnibus his non fit nisi unum esse in Socrate" (emphasis added).(38) "Thomas Aquinass definition of an individual could not be clearer. There are, he says, two elements in the ratio or notion of an individual: one is that an individual is a being in actuality, and the other is that it is undivided in itself, but divided from all else." White, "Individuation in Aquinas," p. 1. For the requirement of actuality, White cites Super libros Sententiarum, lb. 4, ds. 12, qu. 1, ar. 1, qa. 3, ad 3: " de ratione individui duo sunt: scilicet quod sit ens actu vel in se vel in alio; et quod sit divisum ab aliis quae sunt vel possunt esse in eadem specie, in se indivisum existens." I note that this last phrase, which in effect specifies existence to be the requisite actuality, encapsulates the definition of an individual: in se indivisum existens. (39) "In qualibet autem creatura invenitur differentia habentis et habiti. In creaturis namque compositis invenitur duplex differentia, quia ipsum suppositum sive individuum habet naturam speciei, sicut homo humanitatem, et habet ulterius esse: homo enim nec est humanitas nec est esse suum . In substantiis vero simplicibus est una tantum differentia, scilicet essentiae et esse. In Angelis enim quodlibet suppositum est sua natura non est autem suum esse; unde ipsa quidditas est in suo esse subsistens." Quaestiones de potentia, qu. 7, ar. 4, co. (ed. Marietti: tm. 2, p. 195). Cf. fns. 10, 11, 19, 35-38 above. (40) Owens in An Elementary Christian Metaphysics (esp. ch. 2-5) formulates the real distinction as between a thing and its existence (rather than as between a things essence and its existence) as though what exists is an individuated nature that has been actuated by an existence accidental to it even if prior to it. Accordingly when he offers a definition of the supposit, he collapses individual and nature "the individuated nature considered as existing (De Pot., IX, 2, ad 13m) or subsisting (ST, III, 16, 12, ad 2m)" and then quotes a definition of Thomass that in fact distinguishes and relates individual and nature with the preposition in "Supposit means an individual subsisting in that nature. ST, III, 2, 2c." Elementary Christian Metaphysics, p. 152, nn. 15 & 13. Moreover, in the passages which Owens cites for his own definition in terms of an individuated nature, Thomas speaks rather in terms of "complete substance": substantia individua, substantia completa per se subsistens separatim ab aliis, and quoddam completum per se existens.
Likewise, to Owens insistence on the accidentality of existence to essence, I find John F. Wippels cautions apposite: Metaphysical Themes, pp. 121-22, fns. 39-41. Though an act of existence may be said to be accidental to any finite nature as such, an individuals possession of its own act of existence is not more accidental to it than its possession of its nature: "Esse enim rei quamvis sit aliud ab ejus essentia, non tamen est intelligendum quod sit aliquod superadditum ad modum accidentis, sed quasi constituitur per principia essentiae. Et ideo hoc nomen Ens quod imponitur ab ipso esse, significat idem cum nomine quod imponitur ab ipsa essentia [sc. Res]." In Metaphysicam commentaria, lb. 4, lc. 2 (ed. Marietti: p. 186, n. 558; cf. n. 553). Cf. Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 12, q. 5, ar. 1 (ed. Marietti: p. 227): "Et sic dico quod esse substantiale rei non est accidens, sed actualitas cuiuslibet formae existentis " Moreover, although in the second Quaestio quodlibetale Thomas calls a things existence accidental on the model of the other determinations that are outside of and therefore accidental to its essence (cf. fns. 10-11 above), he also notes that what thus stands outside of the definition of the essence as such would not stand outside the definition of the individual, were one possible: " determinatio corporis et animae est praeter rationem speciei, et accidit homini in quantum est homo, quod sit ex hac anima et ex hoc corpore; sed convenit per se huic homini, de cuius ratione esset, si definiretur, quod esset ex hac anima et ex hoc corpore ." Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 2, ar. 2, ad 1 (ed. Marietti: p. 26).
In sum, a things possession of its nature is as contingent upon creation as its possession of its existence. Cf. Maritain, Existence and the Existent, p. 66: "God creates existent subjects or supposita which subsist in the individual nature that constitutes them and which receive from the creative influx their nature as well as their subsistence, their existence, and their activity." I maintain that the real individuals act of existence is as proper to it as its nature, and that its nature, which in itself is not individual, is individually the entitys own in virtue of the unicity and propriety of its act of existence. In Thomass creationist metaphysics, essence and existence are equally primary correlative principles of what primarily is, is created, and is known variously called ens, res, unum, aliquid, verum, bonum, and nobile.