Tuesday, January 04, 2011

'The Fundamental Truth of Christian Philosophy': The Identity of Existence and Essence in God


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Part Two: The Structure of the Arguments (Based on the Text)
(See Part One.)

[Argument for the Real Distinction, in Angels, between their Essence and their Existence.]

Major: Whatever is not in the concept of the essence or quiddity comes from beyond the essence and makes a composition with the essence.
Minor: Existence is not in the concept of the essence.
Conclusion: Therefore, existence comes from beyond the essence and makes a composition with the essence.

Proof of the Major: Because no essence can be undersood without the things that are its parts.
Proof of the Minor: An essence or quiddity can be understood without understanding anything about its existence: I can understand what a man is or what a phoenix is and nevertheless not know whether either has existence in reality.


[Argument for Why there Could be at most One Being Whose Essence and Existence are Identical.]

Major: There can be no plurification of something except by the addition of some difference.
Minor: But if we posit a thing that is existence only, such that it is subsisting existence itself, this existence will not receive the addition of a difference.
Conclusion: Hence, it remains that a thing that is its own existence cannot be other than one.

Explanation of the major through examples: as the nature of a genus is multiplied in its species; or as, since the form is received in diverse matters, the nature of the species is multiplied in diverse individuals; or again as when one thing is absolute and another is received in something else, as if there were a certain separate heat that was other than unseparated heat by reason of its own separation.
Proof of the Minor: For then the thing would be not subsisting existence but material existence.


[Argument for a Being Whose Essence and Existence are Identical, i.e., God.]

Major of the First Part: Everything that pertains to a thing either is caused by the principles of its own nature, or else comes from some extrinsic principl.
Minor of the First Part: Now, it cannot be that existence itself is caused by the very form or quiddity of the thing (I mean as by an efficient cause),
Conclusion of the First Part: Therefore, everything the existence of which is other than its own nature has existence from another.

Major of the Second Part: Everything that has existence through another is reduced to that which is through itself as to a first cause.
Minor of the Second Part: Everything the existence of which is other than its own nature has existence from another.
Conclusion of the Second Part: Therefore, everything the existence of which is other than its own nature is reduced to that which is through itself as to a first cause (i.e., there is something that is the cause of existing in all things in that this thing is existence only).

Explanation of the Major of the First Part Through Examples: as risibility in man, or light in the air from the influence of the sun.
Proof of the Minor of the First Part: Because then the thing would be its own efficient cause, and the thing would produce itself in existence, which is impossible.

Proof of the Major of the Second Part: Otherwise, we would have to go to infinity in causes, for everything that is not existence alone has a cause of its existence, as said above.
Proof of the Minor of the Second Part: This is the conclusion of the first part.


[Summary of All Three Arguments.]

"It is clear, therefore, that the intelligences are form and existence and have existence from the first being, which is existence alone, and this is the first cause, which is God."

(See Part One.)
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