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Thomas Aquinas Metaphysics: Catholic Theology And The Quest For The Cause For Being

1417 words - 6 pages

Metaphysics comes from the Greek terms μετά, or metá, meaning above beyond or after, and φυσικά, or physiká, meaning physics. So at its roots, Metaphysics is the study of everything that lies above physical reality, and of what relationship those things have with it. However, one question arose repeatedly with almost every major metaphysical thinker, which narrowed the scope of metaphysics' targets. In contemplating that which lies after the corporeal, metaphysical minds began to wonder why things existed at all. After all, if things did not have existence, then there would nothing to consider. So, being and existence, which were before just two metaphysical concepts, became the highest ...view middle of the document...

In this case, and through the rest of his life, Aquinas’ radical involvement of Ancient philosophy delineated philosophy’s track for centuries afterwards, and clarified many important issues in the search for metaphysical truth.
In his reasoning, Aquinas uses many complex and sometimes convoluted terms. For instance, he uses many different terms in describing an object’s being. First of all, essence, also referred to as the quiddity or “whatness”, is the summation of the qualities that can be described by the 10 categories, such as quantity or quality. Essence is also the unity between matter and form that comprises a being which can be comprehended through universals and particulars. There is also the haecceity or “thisness” of an object, which makes an object to be what it is differentiated from other things. Along with those is nature, which indicates what a thing is, and form, which determines a thing to take a certain state. Finally, there is also the distinction between substance and accidence, in which substance is primary existence and accidence is secondary.
Aquinas’ metaphysics begins with the distinction between existence and essence. This differencebecomes clear from the realization that non-existent or imagined things can have essences), which modifies Aristotle’s theory greatly. However, the fact that the two are not completely synonymous does not mean they are not related. Instead, essence contains a being’s existence.Likewise, since form is not dependent on matter for its existence (though the opposite is not true), form can exist without matter.Therefore, pure form must be able to exist in some way.
Though these initial steps might seem slow at first, they are fundamental in Aquinas’ logic. Aquinas continues to propose directly from these propositions into something quite important: the relationship between the existence and essence of God. As was made clear previously, existence is not entirely discrete from essence, but just contained within it. This naturally prompts the question of if this is always the case, and when existence and essence are equivalent if not. As it turns out, the only time this phenomenon occurs is with the Prime Mover. If form can exist without matter, then simple substances, which are substances that are made entirely of form without matter, must be entirely form. Next, something can only be multiplied by adding some sort of change, gains form in matter, or what it consists of can be sorted through into what is receive and what is separate. This, in short, means that a being of a certain kind can only be different from another one if it fulfills one of the prior categories.
Taking this to account, Aquinas notes a few things about God. First, God exists regardless of anything else. This means that nothing can add or separate His existence at all. Next, God is pure existence. Thomas says in his Summa Theologica, "What subsists in God is His existence." This indicates that He cannot gain any sort of...

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