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...]

Some Anecdotes about St. Thomas Aquinas

Aquinas Statue

One of my FaceBook friends commented the other day that she had trouble liking St. Thomas Aquinas; she couldn't warm up to him. All of the books she saw focussed on his theology and philosophy, and made him seem like a thinking machine rather than a person.In part, this is Thomas' fault. He wasn't concerned with himself, so he didn't write about himself; and while others did, they often were concerned with his writings. As a result, we don't really know that much about him compared with … [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...]

CT 10.3: Essence is no Accident

Not just any sphere, this one is distinguished by its position.

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.(In the previous two posts we looked at what it means for a thing to have an essence (what it is) as distinct from its accidents (the things by which it differs from other members of its species, starting with location); and also at what Thomas means by genus and species. You might want to go back and refresh your memory.) In any being, therefore, in which there … [Read more...]

CT 10.2: Thomist Taxonomy, or What’s a Species?

Genus: Tree.  Specific Difference: Bearing Oranges.  Species: Orange Tree.

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous post, we began to explain what it means for a being to have an essence, so as to understand what Thomas means when he says that God is identical with His Essence. In this post, we continue to provide background to Thomas' words, explaining what he means by definition, genus, and species. In each case, Thomas' notion is considerably more precise tha … [Read more...]

CT 10.1: Identity of God with His Essence

Apple

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Now that Thomas has established that God exists, is eternal and everlasting, and is utterly simple (in the sense of not being composed of distinct, separable parts) he begins to get seriously metaphysical.  That is, he's going to look at the metaphysical notions we apply to the objects of daily experience, and determine the extent to which those notions apply to G … [Read more...]


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