2017 | 6 | 99-119
Article title

Struktura bytu w Summa contra Gentiles Tomasza z Akwinu

Title variants
Structure of being in Summa contra Gentiles by Thomas Aquinas
Languages of publication
The answer to the question what being means for Thomas Aquinas in his Summa contra Gentiles is: a composition of existence and essence. Such definition refers in a way (analogously) even to God because Thomas Aquinas says that in the case of God essence is existence, thus expressing the one-elementality and simplicity of His structure. All other beings are composed of existence as an act and essence as potency. Therefore, existence and essence are being’s principles and their relation is like that of act and potency. Existence makes being exist and essence determines what it is. The concept of being according to St. Thomas Aquinas is usually rightly associated with Aristotle’s metaphysics. Thomas Aquinas adopted from Aristotle the concept of act and potency but his view on the structure of being was different than that of the philosopher, who considered form and matter as being’s principles. Together they constituted being understood as what something is. In this structure, form was the act shaping it and matter was potency being shaped. Their effects were limited to determining the identity of being, that is, whether or not it is. Thomas Aquinas recognized that the first principle of being must be the factor that makes being real and only then can one speak of its identity. That is why he proclaimed that the basic structure of being is: existence as the cause of the reality of being and essence as the cause of its identity. Thomas’ proposal is thus different metaphysics than Aristotle’s “first philosophy.” Therefore, Thomism is not Aristotelianism. Composition of form and matter applies to the essence of material beings, determining what they are, i.e. their identity. Thus, one can say that form is an essential act, and matter is essential potency. Therefore, it can be further stated that Aristotle’s metaphysics is a theory of being as essence while Thomas Aquinas’ metaphysics would be the theory of existing being. Thus, it is right to call Stagirite’s approach essentialism in contrast to Thomas’ existential metaphysics
Physical description
  • Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego w Warszawie, Wydział Filozofii Chrześcijańskiej
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.