Emblem of the Papacy SE. Detail from “Triumph of St. The capital theses aquinas on politics and ethics pdf the philosophy of St.
Aquinas’ system as the “Perennial Philosophy”. Aquinas respectfully referred to Aristotle simply as “the Philosopher”. Since act is perfection, it is not limited except through a potency which itself is a capacity for perfection. Hence in any order in which an act is pure act, it will only exist, in that order, as a unique and unlimited act. But whenever it is finite and manifold, it has entered into a true composition with potency.
Consequently, the one God, unique and simple, alone subsists in absolute being. A thing is called a being because of “esse”. God and creature are not called beings univocally, nor wholly equivocally, but analogically, by an analogy both of attribution and of proportionality. In every creature there is also a real composition of the subsisting subject and of added secondary forms, i. Such composition cannot be understood unless being is really received in an essence distinct from it. Besides the absolute accidents there is also the relative accident, relation. Although by reason of its own character relation does not signify anything inhering in another, it nevertheless often has a cause in things, and hence a real entity distinct from the subject.
Yet there is still a twofold composition in the spiritual creature, namely, that of the essence with being, and that of the substance with accidents. However, the corporeal creature is composed of act and potency even in its very essence. These act and potency in the order of essence are designated by the names form and matter respectively. Neither the matter nor the form have being of themselves, nor are they produced or corrupted of themselves, nor are they included in any category otherwise than reductively, as substantial principles. Although extension in quantitative parts follows upon a corporeal nature, nevertheless it is not the same for a body to be a substance and for it to be quantified. For of itself substance is indivisible, not indeed as a point is indivisible, but as that which falls outside the order of dimensions is indivisible. But quantity, which gives the substance extension, really differs from the substance and is truly an accident.
The principle of individuation, i. Thus in pure spirits there cannot be more than one individual in the same specific nature. By virtue of a body’s quantity itself, the body is circumscriptively in a place, and in one place alone circumscriptively, no matter what power might be brought to bear. In the case of the living things, in order that there be in the same subject an essentially moving part and an essentially moved part, the substantial form, which is designated by the name soul, requires an organic disposition, i. Souls in the vegetative and sensitive orders cannot subsist of themselves, nor are they produced of themselves. On the other hand, the human soul subsists of itself.
When it can be infused into a sufficiently disposed subject, it is created by God. By its very nature, it is incorruptible and immortal. This rational soul is united to the body in such a manner that it is the only substantial form of the body. By virtue of his soul a man is a man, an animal, a living thing, a body, a substance and a being. From the human soul there naturally issue forth powers pertaining to two orders, the organic and the non-organic. The organic powers, among which are the senses, have the composite as their subject.
The non-organic powers have the soul alone as their subject. Hence, the intellect is a power intrinsically independent of any bodily organ. Intellectuality necessarily follows upon immateriality, and furthermore, in such manner that the further the distance from matter, the higher the degree of intellectuality. Any being is the adequate object of understanding in general. But in the present state of union of soul and body, quantities abstracted from the material conditions of individuality are the proper object of the human intellect.