By Anthony Kenny
Anthony Kenny bargains a severe exam of Thomas Aquinas's influential account of being, arguing that it suffers from systematic confusion. as a result of centrality of the doctrine, this has implications for different components of Aquinas's philosophical approach. Kenny's transparent and incisive learn dispels the confusion and gives philosophers and theologians a advisor during the labyrinth of Aquinas's ontology.
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Extra resources for Aquinas on Being
Now, we are told, we have to investigate how the concept of essence applies to separated substances: namely, the soul, the intelligences, and the ﬁrst cause. Aquinas assumes that his readers know what these are. By ‘the soul’ he means the souls of human beings, in the intermediate state between death and the ﬁnal resurrection to which he and all Christians looked forward. During this period, it was believed, human souls existed disembodied. By ‘the intelligences’ he means both the angels of biblical tradition and the On Being and Essence: II immaterial agencies that in Aristotelian theory were responsible for the movements of the heavens.
Some philosophers have said that God has no essence: this is correct if all it means is that he does not have an essence that is distinct from his esse. 147–54). 28 See below, p. 116. 29 Everything there is has esse; in saying this we make use of a universal concept of esse. But in saying that God is pure esse we do not mean that he is this universal. For the universal concept neither includes or excludes the addition of other characteristics: for instance, if, like Descartes, I say that I am, this neither afﬁrms nor denies that I am an animal with a body.
A thing’s esse cannot be an effect of its nature, because that would mean that the thing was its own cause. So anything whose esse is not identical with its nature derives its esse from something else. 23 Accordingly, Aquinas concludes that the intelligences, which are composed of form and esse, derive their esse from a primary being which is pure esse, and this is the ﬁrst cause, which is God. Throughout this argument, as in the phoenix argument discussed earlier, esse has to be taken as existence.
Aquinas on Being by Anthony Kenny