Form and Being

Form and Being: Studies in Thomistic Metaphysics (Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, Volume 45)

Lawrence Dewan
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt284w0z
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  • Book Info
    Form and Being
    Book Description:

    Contains thirteen essays by Lawrence Dewan on metaphysics, the vision of reality from the viewpoint of being.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1602-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    The present collection of papers, the earliest of which originally appeared in 1980, has been selected from more than a hundred published over the years. If there is a dominant theme in these thirteen, it is the centrality of form in metaphysics. I hope to publish subsequently collections on the doctrine of the act of being, and on natural theology. The general outlook in these papers is fairly uniform, and so I am placing them in a somewhat systematic, rather than chronological, order: from the general to the particular, and from principles to conclusion.

    I begin with a paper providing...

  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Chapter 1 WHAT IS METAPHYSICS?
    (pp. 1-12)

    If the question is the straight “what is metaphysics?” one, then I would reply that it is the “science of being as being.” In order to explain this, I would refer first of all to Plato. In the Theaetetus,¹ distinguishing knowledge from sense perception, Plato presents the soul as comparing things from the viewpoint of being. In the Timaeus² he presents the three ways of existing of the Ideas, the Receptacle, and the Phenomena. And there is the entire enterprise of philosophical education in the Republic, to turn the whole soul toward an interest in being.³ And I think of...

  7. Chapter 2 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO STUDY BEING “AS BEING”?
    (pp. 13-34)

    What does it mean to study being “as being”? Anyone at all familiar with Aristotelian discussion of metaphysics has heard the expression: “the science (or study) of being as being.”² Sometimes, in the mouths of oldsters recalling their student days, it symbolizes a certain gobbledygook or double talk. Sometimes, in the mouths of neophytes, it seems to encapsulate a mysterious enterprise whose promise is extraordinary.

    The mere form of expression should not cause difficulty. To consider a doctor precisely as a doctor is obviously different from the infinity of possible incidental considerations of a doctor. Sentences expressing per accidens considerations...

  8. Chapter 3 ST. THOMAS AND THE SEED OF METAPHYSICS
    (pp. 35-46)

    An interpreter of St. Thomas’s doctrines concerning knowledge, metaphysics, and being itself can hardly avoid discussing the knowledge of ens, which St. Thomas often declares to be the principle of all intellectual knowledge.¹ However, among the interpreters prominent in the last forty years, one can certainly find a considerable variety of opinion in this matter. In a paper published in English translation in 1966, Cornelio Fabro, while laudably insistent on the importance of the issue of the primacy of ens, proposes some views which seem to me particularly foreign to the thought of St. Thomas.² Speaking of “how the mind...

  9. Chapter 4 ST. THOMAS, PHYSICS, AND THE PRINCIPLE OF METAPHYSICS
    (pp. 47-60)

    One twentieth-century school of interpretation of St. Thomas’s philosophical doctrines, the “River Forest” School, holds that physics precedes metaphysics, not merely in the order of learning, but also as providing for metaphysics its proper subject of study, being as being.¹ This it does by proving the existence of immaterial reality. Thomas’s commentaries on Aristotle, as well as his explicit description of intellectual development, run counter to this interpretation. I propose to show that here.

    The late Fr. James Weisheipl, surely representative of the School, in a paper published in 1976,² was aiming to show the need for Aristotelian physics, also...

  10. Chapter 5 ST. THOMAS AND THE PRINCIPLE OF CAUSALITY
    (pp. 61-80)

    Jacques Maritain, looking back over half a century of philosophizing by Thomists, singled out as particularly remarkable Étienne Gilson’s Esprit de la philosophie médiévale and Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s La philosophie de l’être et le sens commun.¹ His interest in this latter work is not surprising when one considers his own Sept leçons sur l’être et les premiers principes de la raison spéculative.² Both books exhibit a fervent interest in and defense of the principles of identity, sufficient reason, finality, and causality.³

    On the other hand, Étienne Gilson did not show this sort of interest in such principles. Rather, especially in...

  11. Chapter 6 ST. THOMAS AND ANALOGY: The Logician and the Metaphysician
    (pp. 81-95)

    The late Charles De Koninck, certainly someone to be revered,¹ said that “analogy is primarily a logical problem, to be used eventually in analogical naming by the metaphysician......”² Ralph McInerny, in many works over the years, and most recently in Aquinas and Analogy, has undertaken to spell this out.³ It is then with considerable hesitation that I propose a criticism of the latter’s position.

    McInerny’s book takes the form of a rejection of the system of analogical naming proposed by Cajetan, together with a proposal for a much simpler approach. Because Cajetan used in an important way, among other texts...

  12. Chapter 7 THE IMPORTANCE OF SUBSTANCE
    (pp. 96-130)

    Our reason for speaking about science, philosophy, and theology, here at this Summer Institute,² is surely to provide ourselves with as high quality access to the being of things as is possible. All three, science, philosophy, and theology, aim to say something about reality, and the clearer the task assigned to each, the better off we are.

    Since this is a Thomistic Institute, I need not apologize for taking as my guide Thomas Aquinas. Nevertheless, I will be looking to him as a guide in philosophy, as distinct from theology. What I hope to do is highlight the principles of...

  13. Chapter 8 ST. THOMAS, METAPHYSICS, AND FORMAL CAUSALITY
    (pp. 131-166)

    As I have elsewhere had occasion to remark, St. Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle can, if carefully controlled, provide precious indications of how a Thomistic metaphysics ought to be constructed.¹ In the present paper I wish to expose and to some degree explore one such indication. Aristotle, in Metaphysics 3, presents problems which the metaphysical inquirer ought to have in mind, so that in his thinking he will aim at a definite goal and thus will be able to see when the task has been truly accomplished.² The first problem presented is whether the consideration of the...

  14. Chapter 9 ST. THOMAS, METAPHYSICAL PROCEDURE, AND THE FORMAL CAUSE
    (pp. 167-174)

    St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Commentary on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, often showed his interest in the way the doctrine of the Analytics applies to the science of metaphysics.¹ Fr. Joseph Owens in his interpretations of St. Thomas’s metaphysical thought has reflected this interest of Thomas.² In the present paper I will be concerned with one feature of Fr. Owens’s interpretation, viz. his rejection of the view that St. Thomas’s esse, i.e. the aspect of being or existence found in things, has the role of a property of the nature.

    It will be remembered that Aristotle’s schema of scientific demonstration includes...

  15. Chapter 10 ST. THOMAS, FORM, AND INCORRUPTIBILITY
    (pp. 175-187)

    Anyone reading the later writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, for example the Disputed Questions on the Soul, can have no doubt as to the importance accorded, in the argument for the incorruptibility of the human soul, to the doctrine that existence is the inseparable associate of form. It is remarkable, then, that in his early Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, the discussion of the human soul’s incorruptibility makes no mention whatsoever of such a doctrine. This situation calls for investigation.¹

    Let us begin by recalling the elements of the argument for incorruptibility as found in the mature writings....

  16. Chapter 11 ST. THOMAS AND THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN FORM AND ESSE IN CAUSED THINGS
    (pp. 188-204)

    The present paper concerns the oft-stated doctrine of Thomas Aquinas that the act of being attends upon form, just because of the sort of thing form is: “Esse...... per se consequitur ad formam”;¹ “esse secundum se competit formae”;² “esse...... per se convenit formae, quae est actus.”³

    The close relationship between form and esse is of great importance for the understanding of both these targets of metaphysical attention. They are so closely associated that they are most easily confused. Accordingly, my topic is how we know, with Thomas, that they are indeed really, and not merely notionally, distinct.⁴

    St. Thomas is...

  17. Chapter 12 NATURE AS A METAPHYSICAL OBJECT
    (pp. 205-228)

    A paper on nature as a metaphysical object¹ is, as we shall see, a paper on essence.² Is there anything more to say about essence? Essence had a difficult time in the twentieth century, when the insistence was decidedly on existence. It might be wise to begin with a reminder of essence’s right to “equal time.” Since there are actually metaphysicians “out there” who think of essence as a mere limit on actual existence, or as a metaphysical item only needed to make possible the existence of creatures, beings other than the supreme being,³ perhaps the best recommendation of essence...

  18. Chapter 13 THE INDIVIDUAL AS A MODE OF BEING ACCORDING TO THOMAS AQUINAS
    (pp. 229-248)

    Recently Timothy Noone¹ and Kevin White² have published papers touching in different ways on individuation in Thomas Aquinas. Both express a degree of approval of the position of Joseph Owens,³ who holds that for St. Thomas the “global”⁴ explanation of individuation is to be found in the doctrine of esse, the act of being. In the present paper I wish to challenge that Owensian view. To do so, I will first criticize the textual claims of Fr. Owens. Secondly, I will propose a different approach to the issue, less focused on individuation as something requiring a cause or principle, and...

  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-254)
  20. INDEX OF NAMES
    (pp. 255-256)
  21. INDEX OF TOPICS
    (pp. 257-265)