Today’s Aquinas: Infinity and Imperfection, or God and the Oaks

Two imperfect birds.  But they'll grow.

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Just because something is infinite doesn't mean that it is infinitely perfect—depending on how you define "infinite" and how you define "perfect".  I can imagine an infinite patchwork quilt, infinitely long and infinitely wide, that contains an infinite number of stitching errors.  It might be perfectly huge, and yet by no means perfect.But as Thomas expla … [Read more...]

CT 19: Infinite Power of God

Bread: more act, less potency

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Having now established that God is infinite, and having distinguished between this and a purely mathematical notion of infinity, Thomas now goes on to say what it means for God to be infinite.The further inference is drawn that God is infinite in power. For power is consequent upon a thing’s essence; anything whatever possesses a power of activity consonant wi … [Read more...]

CT 18: The Infinity of God According to Essence

Living bodies on inanimate bodies

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous chapter, Thomas showed that God does not exist bodily according to His essence (the Incarnation is a separate concern).  And then he says, perhaps surprisingly,This leads to the question of God’s infinity.We think of a body as the physical part of a human being or animal.  In Aristotelian terms, though, a body is any material thing th … [Read more...]

CT 17: God Neither the Form of a Body nor a Force in a Body

Apples

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.And so we continue the long march through the categories, showing that God isn't any of the normal things of our experience.  We've shown in the past that God isn't a species predicated of individuals, so He isn't the essence of an individual being.  We've shown that God isn't a body that has an essence.  And now we see that God isn't something that pertains to a … [Read more...]

CT 16: God Not A Body

These bodies clearly don't move by themselves.

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.A body, in philosophical terms, is a material thing that takes up space.  Stones, trees, dogs, and human beings are all bodies, that being the most general physical genus on the Tree of Porphyry.  God, however, is not this kind of thing.It is evident, further, that God Himself cannot be a body. For in every body some composition is found, since a body has part … [Read more...]

CT 15: The Unicity of God

Individuals univocally called "dogs".

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Now we begin to see the payoff from the dry metaphysics of the previous three chapters as Thomas proves that there is only one God.The conclusion is evident that there can be but one God. If there were many gods, they would be called by this name either equivocally or univocally.To use a word equivocally is simply to use it with multiple unrelated mean … [Read more...]

CT 13: God Not A Genus

Not just any animals, these are puppies!

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous chapter, Thomas showed that God's essence can not be represented as a genus and a specific difference, and thus God is not a species within a genus.  Now he goes on to show that God isn't a genus, either.  It does not strike me as likely that He could be, mind you, but Thomas is always thorough.Let me note again: these terms, genus and spec … [Read more...]

CT 12: God Not Contained Under Any Genus

Einstein, a genius, fails to find God under any genus

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous chapter, Thomas shows that God's essence is simply existence itself, ipsum esse, a point he'd been working up to for some chapters.  In this chapter and several that follow, he's concerned to prove some corollaries, and to situate God within certain traditional metaphysical categories—or, more accurately, to show that He is a special case, and … [Read more...]

CT 11: Identity of Essence and Existence in God

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find pictures to illustrate metaphysical concepts?

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Having noted that God is His essence, Thomas continues,God’s essence cannot be other than His existence. In any being whose essence is distinct from its existence, what it is must be distinct from that whereby it is. For in virtue of a thing’s existence we say that it is, and in virtue of its essence we say what it is. This is why a definition that signifies a … [Read more...]


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