Download PDF by Anthony John Patrick Kenny: Aquinas on being

By Anthony John Patrick Kenny

ISBN-10: 0198238479

ISBN-13: 9780198238478

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In the case of everyday compound objects, where the notions of matter and form are really at home, matter, obviously enough, is a material cause, and form, equally obviously, is a formal cause. But matter is the material cause not of the form, but of the compound; equally, form is the formal cause not of the matter, but of the compound. The best we can say of their mutual causal relationship is this: the matter makes the form to be the form of this individual; and the form makes the matter to be matter of this particular kind.

The nature and characteristics of the objects we see and feel are all embedded in matter: they are transitory and not stable, individual and not universal. They are, in Aquinas’ terms, only potentially thinkable or intelligible, not actually so. To make them actually thinkable, the active intellect abstracts from their corruptible and individuating matter and creates concepts that are universal and necessary. 2 Aquinas draws on this theory to establish the immateriality of the intellect. 3 The argument from the immateriality of ideas to the immateriality of the intellect is not spelt out: perhaps there is a tacit appeal to a principle that like is known by like.

Aquinas rejects Plato’s Forms in favour of Tom, Dick, and Harry’s concepts. 33 The species dog does not exist in reality, and it is no part of being a dog to be a species, even though dogs are a species. But if being a species were part of what it was to be a dog, then Fido would be a species. When we say that dogs are a species, 31 Si quaeratur utrum ista natura sic considerata possit dici una vel plures, neutrum concedendum est, quia utrumque est extra intellectum humanitatis, et utrumque potest sibi accidere.

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Aquinas on being by Anthony John Patrick Kenny


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