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7/16/2017 11:48 am  #1


Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

Aquinas seems to suggest that our ability to conceive of an essence without knowing whether or not that essence exists, is proof that essence and existence are distinct. For if we knew the entire essence of a thing, we would know whether or not existence belongs to that essence. However, couldn't it be the case that we just don't have a comprehensive knowledge of a particular essence and subsequently don't know whether or not existence belongs to the essence? Furthermore, even if this argument does work, doesn't it only prove a conceptual difference between essence and existence, not a real one?

Also Aquinas says that essence and existence are distinct in particular things because if they weren't then there would only be one thing--namely, pure existence. Particular things are always existence plus some form or existence plus some specific difference, for instance. That is, there are always distinguishing or individuating (like matter) factors that are additional to the existence in particular things. So pure existence, because it has no distinguishing or individuating factors, couldn't be a multiplicity of things. Therefore, multiplicity proves distinction between essence and existence. But, again, I think Aquinas is assuming that the only alternative to beings with a distinct essence and existence is Being itself--that is, essence identified with existence. One could easily, however, view essence and existence as non-distinct in a way that doesn't result in pure existence. It seems to be a false dilemma to say that essence and existence are either distinct or identical.  Why can't we just say that existence can be a part of an essence rather than identified with it? Existence, under this view, would just be a feature of a being. A being could be self-existent without being existence itself, insofar as it has existence as a part of its essence. This would leave the door open, then, for perhaps a first cause that isn't pure Being, but rather one that just has existence as a part among parts.

 

Last edited by RomanJoe (7/16/2017 12:12 pm)

 

7/18/2017 4:01 pm  #2


Re: Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

RomanJoe wrote:

Aquinas seems to suggest that our ability to conceive of an essence without knowing whether or not that essence exists, is proof that essence and existence are distinct. For if we knew the entire essence of a thing, we would know whether or not existence belongs to that essence. However, couldn't it be the case that we just don't have a comprehensive knowledge of a particular essence and subsequently don't know whether or not existence belongs to the essence? Furthermore, even if this argument does work, doesn't it only prove a conceptual difference between essence and existence, not a real one?

Also Aquinas says that essence and existence are distinct in particular things because if they weren't then there would only be one thing--namely, pure existence. Particular things are always existence plus some form or existence plus some specific difference, for instance. That is, there are always distinguishing or individuating (like matter) factors that are additional to the existence in particular things. So pure existence, because it has no distinguishing or individuating factors, couldn't be a multiplicity of things. Therefore, multiplicity proves distinction between essence and existence. But, again, I think Aquinas is assuming that the only alternative to beings with a distinct essence and existence is Being itself--that is, essence identified with existence. One could easily, however, view essence and existence as non-distinct in a way that doesn't result in pure existence. It seems to be a false dilemma to say that essence and existence are either distinct or identical. Why can't we just say that existence can be a part of an essence rather than identified with it? Existence, under this view, would just be a feature of a being. A being could be self-existent without being existence itself, insofar as it has existence as a part of its essence. This would leave the door open, then, for perhaps a first cause that isn't pure Being, but rather one that just has existence as a part among parts.

 

Well I disagree that it would follow that we have to have one hundred a priori certainty to conclude existence is not an essential feature of a thing. As Gyula Klima argues, one can have proper scientific knowledge of a thing without existence entering into the formula. As he states "I do not have to know every place on earth in order to know something is no where on this earth, because I know it is say, on the moon". In this way I think we can have proper enough scientific knowledge to say that Fido is not essentially existence, and perhaps a fact we could appeal to is the fact that Fido came into being, which would provide a fact that allows us to conclude he is not essentially existent. Also the fact that we can have an adequate essential definition without consulting an instant of a kind. Secondly, as Feser states, one can judge a lion as being a animal and not judge it as a kind of cat, which would result in a misjudgement but not a misconception. However, if you judge a Lion to not be a kind of cat you have misconceived it. Yet this is analogous to the fact one can judge falsely that lions do not exist while not misconceiving them. However, if they were not distinct this could not in principle be the case, for if you misjudged a lion as non existent, you would also misconceive of it, which is obviously not an essential part of being a lion. Judging it to be non existent would be as much error in conceiving as judging it to be a non feline.  This I think provides clear evidence that one ought to accept them as distinct. The issue with positing this as a distinction is reason is that the difference in reality is not simply logical, because we are not simply considering these things from two different respects, this is a real feature of the extra mental world we come in contact with and not simply the essence considered under a certain respect. If one thinks that the arguments for the distinction of act and potency are good, then one ought to accept the distinction between essence and existence representing an equally real corresponding layer of reality, with a distinction.

The second argument is answered somewhat in my previous message in the other thread, but I would say if you treat it as a a part of an essence that the whole is completely dependent on, you will be forced to posit the same sort of distinction. I will be quoting Feser a great deal because he gave a talk in my immediate memory. That is, that existence really is the essence, just as if one would posit animality as the part in which the human depends, animality would be the essence. This is obviously absurd, and if this were true one could not distinguish between instances of animals. So one would need to posit an essence as existence plus feature A, which obviously makes it essence not existence, and hence the real distinction comes back into play. If one does not want to accept Leibniz's law, just appeal to experience. The middle ground route ends up amounting to an absurd path, and perhaps one can even know it is absurd introspectively. For if one is to lift up his arm to write a response, he distinguishes between his intellect and will, plus the physical parts which all play a real feature in the process. Plus, as I said in the previous thread, one can know with perfect obviousness that there is no feature present in the essence of a particular object of our experience that allows one to say it any more features existence than a unicorn, even if the unicorn does not have an essential definition that we come in contact with. I think the one who would say this has a mighty big burden here.

Edit: If you wish to skip the video all together, just consult  Feser's Scholastic Metaphysics.

Last edited by Camoden (7/18/2017 4:12 pm)

 

7/20/2017 3:55 am  #3


Re: Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

Camoden wrote:

Well I disagree that it would follow that we have to have one hundred a priori certainty to conclude existence is not an essential feature of a thing. As Gyula Klima argues, one can have proper scientific knowledge of a thing without existence entering into the formula. As he states "I do not have to know every place on earth in order to know something is no where on this earth, because I know it is say, on the moon". In this way I think we can have proper enough scientific knowledge to say that Fido is not essentially existence, and perhaps a fact we could appeal to is the fact that Fido came into being, which would provide a fact that allows us to conclude he is not essentially existent. Also the fact that we can have an adequate essential definition without consulting an instant of a kind. Secondly, as Feser states, one can judge a lion as being a animal and not judge it as a kind of cat, which would result in a misjudgement but not a misconception. However, if you judge a Lion to not be a kind of cat you have misconceived it. Yet this is analogous to the fact one can judge falsely that lions do not exist while not misconceiving them. However, if they were not distinct this could not in principle be the case, for if you misjudged a lion as non existent, you would also misconceive of it, which is obviously not an essential part of being a lion. Judging it to be non existent would be as much error in conceiving as judging it to be a non feline.  This I think provides clear evidence that one ought to accept them as distinct. The issue with positing this as a distinction is reason is that the difference in reality is not simply logical, because we are not simply considering these things from two different respects, this is a real feature of the extra mental world we come in contact with and not simply the essence considered under a certain respect. If one thinks that the arguments for the distinction of act and potency are good, then one ought to accept the distinction between essence and existence representing an equally real corresponding layer of reality, with a distinction.

Thank you. Walls are starting to drop, and I'm beginning to realize that perhaps the denial of distinction between essence and existence is absurd. For one thing, it seems obvious--I can surely know what a thing is without knowing whether or not such a thing exists or has existed. And, as you mention, to incorrectly judge--say--a lion as non-existent is not to ​misconceive what a lion is. This should show, then, that existence isn't identical with essence. Furthermore, both Feser and Oderberg mention argue that we wouldn't be able to think abstractly if existence and essence were the same thing. On this view, each being's existence would be tied to what it is--that is, what is is that it is. But this would imply that one could never abstract and universalize any essence from particulars. Humaness would not exist, only Bob, Frank, Joe, Laura, Jack, Macy (and so on) would exist. The only way we can abstract an essence from particular existents is if the existents' existence (try saying that ten times real fast) were truly distinct from its essence.

Camoden wrote:

The second argument is answered somewhat in my previous message in the other thread, but I would say if you treat it as a a part of an essence that the whole is completely dependent on, you will be forced to posit the same sort of distinction. I will be quoting Feser a great deal because he gave a talk in my immediate memory. That is, that existence really is the essence, just as if one would posit animality as the part in which the human depends, animality would be the essence. This is obviously absurd, and if this were true one could not distinguish between instances of animals. So one would need to posit an essence as existence plus feature A, which obviously makes it essence not existence, and hence the real distinction comes back into play. If one does not want to accept Leibniz's law, just appeal to experience. The middle ground route ends up amounting to an absurd path, and perhaps one can even know it is absurd introspectively. For if one is to lift up his arm to write a response, he distinguishes between his intellect and will, plus the physical parts which all play a real feature in the process. Plus, as I said in the previous thread, one can know with perfect obviousness that there is no feature present in the essence of a particular object of our experience that allows one to say it any more features existence than a unicorn, even if the unicorn does not have an essential definition that we come in contact with. I think the one who would say this has a mighty big burden here.

Great information here. I've consulted Feser's Scholastic Metaphysics on this problem but perhaps I missed something. I believe I'm understanding it correctly now. So basically if existence was just a part of an essence (let's say the human Ron), then Ron exists in and of himself. Ron cannot not exist because existence is part of his essence. This sounds pretty straightforward conceptually until you begin teasing out its metaphysical implications. Ron's essence, some might suppose, would look like Humanity+Rationality+Existence, but this wrongly conceives of Ron's Humanity and Rationality as parts which are ontologically separate from Existence. Rather, Ron's essence would look like this: Existence from which flows Humanity and Rationality. That is, Humanity and Rationality, since they both are real actual things, depend on Existence. Existence, then, is the true epicenter of Ron's being, Existence is Ron. This would mean, then, that Ron can't really have Humanity and Rationality as part of his essence because that would make his essential purity as Pure Existence something particular, something that is Existence + Essence. All of this would seem to entail that existence can never be merely a part of an essence because if it were to be so, then it would just envelop the entire essence and we would get essence identified existence. So there's no middle ground between a essence distinct from existence and essence identical to existence. 

One could argue, however, that all essential properties depend on their existence. For instance, Edward Feser's Humanity and Rationality depends on his existence insofar as they both wouldn't exist if he didn't have existence in the first place. Therefore, like Ron, Feser's existence is, at the fundamental level, truly what he is. 

I guess one could object to this argument by stating that Feser doesn't truly have existence as part of his essence, or that Humanity and Rationality don't truly depend on an existence that can be called solely Feser's existence. This is because Feser has derivative existence, and he owes his existence to deeper levels of reality, and ultimately a First Cause. So Feser's Humanity and Rationality don't really belong Feser's Existence, anymore than they belong to the oxygen in the room keeping Feser alive, or the atomic and subatomic structures that sustain that oxygen in being, or the fundamental laws of the universe. In short, Feser's existence is not really his and Humanity and Rationality do not, on the vast scale of things, rely solely on Feser-in-being. Rather they rely, ultimately, on Being itself, the First Cause, the Prime Mover. 
 

Last edited by RomanJoe (7/20/2017 3:57 am)

     Thread Starter
 

7/20/2017 11:32 am  #4


Re: Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

Also Camoden, I would love to hear what you think about this argument for two distinct existential principles (essence and existence) put forward by W Norris Clarke in his book One and Many. Basically he argues (pages 80-81 if you happen to have the book) that the world is evidently made up of a multiplicity of beings. All of these beings are similar insofar as they have being. All are one with regards to their existence, they share being, they make up the singular concept of reality. All of them are joined together in the all embracing singular community of the real order. But, at the same time, their similarity in being is also set against their dissimilarity in being this particular being and that particular being. That is, we seem to recognize that all beings are one with regards to being in being, but are many with regards to being a particular type of being. Now similarity and dissimilarity can't be both grounded in a single metaphysical principle because they are contraries. If multiplicity and oneness was due to a single principle then something would be dissimilar with others for the same reason it is similar to others. This is unintelligible. Therefore there must be two distinct principles to ground oneness (that it is) and multiplicity or particular existence (what it is).

Also Clarke makes a good point that if we attempt to collapse dissimilarity and similarity into one metaphysical principle then we would get absurdities. For instance, if Donald Trump exists for the same reason that he exists as Donald Trump, then all things that exist would be Donald Trump since, on this view, being a particular being isn't separate from merely being.

     Thread Starter
 

8/07/2017 1:16 am  #5


Re: Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

RomanJoe wrote:

Aquinas seems to suggest that our ability to conceive of an essence without knowing whether or not that essence exists, is proof that essence and existence are distinct.
 

Without having read much Aquinas in particular, the impression I have gotten has been the opposite: Instead of arguing for the distinction of existence and essence by way of imagining essences regardless of existence, it's rather natural to conceive (and even perceive) existents without having any clue as to their essence.

For example, we (humans) can be perfectly sure that there are things we don't know about. That's things that we can say that exist, but we cannot describe their essence, so existence and essence are different.

RomanJoe wrote:

For if we knew the entire essence of a thing, we would know whether or not existence belongs to that essence.
 

Is existence a predicate?

 

8/28/2017 2:40 pm  #6


Re: Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

I will state my view on this subject as interlinear numbered comments in the relevant passage of St. Thomas Aquinas, On Being and Essence [1]:

Whatever is not included in the understanding of an essence or quiddity

1. The understanding of an essence is not the essence, but a mental representation thereof.
2. Let E be an instance of "whatever is not included in the understanding of an essence or quiddity".

is coming to it from outside, entering into composition with the essence;

3. Per 1, the composition is of E (or rather the mental representation of E) and the understanding of an essence, not of E and the essence itself.

for no essence can be understood without its parts.

4. This shows that E is conceptually different from essence, not that it is really different. In scholastic terms, it shows a distinction of reason and not a real distinction.

But every essence can be understood without even thinking about its existence, for I can understand what a man or a phoenix is, and not know whether it actually exists in the nature of things.

5. Correct. The understanding of an essence is independent from the knowledge about the actual existence of entities of that essence.

Therefore, it is clear that existence is distinct from essence,

6. No, what is clear is that the understanding of an essence is distinct from the knowledge of the actual existence of entities of that essence. Thus, the quoted passage shows a conceptual distinction between essence and existence, not a real distinction.

The point is that an essence is actually present only in an actual entity of that essence. E.g, once mammoths became extinct, the essence of a mammoth was not present anywhere. Therefore, to show that essence and existence are really distinct, we must show that they fulfill the “separability criterion”, according to which two things are really distinct if they are separable and one can exist without the other [2].

At this point we must distinguish between contingent existence and subsistent Existence (which I capitalize following a suggestion by Pope John Paul II [3]). Since it's clear that subsistent Existence is the divine Essence, the discussion is restricted to the distinction between created essences and contingent existence. Thus, let's see if they fulfill the separability criterion:

- Can there be contingent existence without an associated created essence? Clearly not.

- Can there be a created essence without contingent existence? Yes, as that is precisely the case of the human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, which exists by the Subsistent Act of Being of the Logos.  That is, Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that each divine Person is the divine Essence. Thomism, in turn, affirms that the divine Essence is the Subsistent Act of Being Itself (Ipsum Esse Subsistens), so that each divine Person is the Subsistent Act of Being.  Therefore, the assumption of a human nature by a divine Person means that such human nature exists, from the moment of its creation, by the Subsistent Act of Being which that divine Person eternally Is.

In contrast, the position that the human nature, or essence, of Jesus exists by its own contingent act of being gives rise to two serious problems:

A. Why would the "complete, per se subsistent, separate substance of a rational nature" of Jesus' Humanity not be a human person?

B. Why did Jesus say "before Abraham came to be, I Am." (Jn 8:58) and not "before Abraham came to be, I Am in my divine nature."?

The only way to avoid these problems is to posit that in Jesus there is only one Act of Being, the eternal, Subsistent Act of Being of the Son. Therefore his human essence or nature does not exist by a created, contingent act of being, but by the Subsistent Act of Being of the Son. This case, in which a created essence does not exist by its own contingent act of being, shows that there is a real distinction between created essence and contingent esse.

The last part of this post is an abridged version of another post of mine from 2015 [4].

References

[1] http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/Blackwell-proofs/MP_C30.pdf

[2] http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2011/03/formal-distinction.html

[3] http://totus2us.com/teaching/jpii-catechesis-on-god-father-creator/the-god-of-infinite-majesty/

[4] http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=121

 

Last edited by Johannes (8/28/2017 2:44 pm)

 

9/27/2017 2:30 pm  #7


Re: Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

Hello Johannes and Roman Joe (RJ I recognize your name from Edward Feser's blog). I just joined this forum today. I hope this thread can continue now that the last post is from a month ago.

Joe, what Johannes says seems to get at a key distinction that I don't find in your beginning posts in this thread; maybe I missed it in what you wrote. You talk about conceiving of a unicorn but not knowing whether any unicorns exist. An important metaphysical point in Aquinas' doctrine that God's essence is identical with His existence is that the distinction betw Ess and Ex in creatures is a real distinction, not merely a conceptual distinction. Johannes points this out.

Johannes, just today I was trying to figure out what is entailed by Aquinas' contention that this distinction is a real distinction. I am heartened that what I came up with is in line with your separability criterion, i.e. that if Ess and Ex are really distinct in creatures, a 'separability criterion' must be fulfilled. I agree that there cannot be contingent existence without an associated created essence.

I was hoping that you would give an example of a created essence that doesn't exist, i.e. w/o an associated act of existing. You did, but your example is taken from orthodox Christology. Can you give another example, one not taken from theology? I would think that there are no essences that do not exist (I'm leaving out 'created'). As you point out, there is no essence of a mammoth anywhere; frozen corpses do not count because the life functions are not carried on. I would think that fictional entities like unicorns by definition do not in fact have essences, because unicorns are not substances. There is no matter and no soul. It doesn't help to point to a model or statue of a unicorn, because that is an artifact, and Aquinas teaches that artifacts are configured only with accidental form, not with substantial form (cf. Stump, Aquinas p. 39).

So to me so far, it is not clear that the separability criterion is in fact met. So it's not clear that there is a *real* distinction between essence and existence.  It is also not clear that the separability criterion is met in the case of substances, as it must be if Aquinas is authorized to treat them, as he does, as potentialities that are actualized by acts of existing.

But Feser in Scholastic Metaphysics, pp. 242ff, rejects the separability criterion. He says, 242, that Scotus and Suarez maintained it. Thomists, says Feser, deny that a real distinction entails separability but insist that it is a real one.

I have not digested Feser's summary of arguments for this position. Anything you'd like to say about it at this point will be welcome.

ETA: on 247-249 Feser summarizes an Aristotelian argument made by David Twetten. Feser says Twetten says the Aristotelian will resist adding a third principle, act of existing, to form and matter because the configuration of matter by form in a substance just is a substance, which ipso facto exists. There is no real distinction by which an act of existing has to be added.

That's another thing I had thought! I flatter myself that I'm not as dumb as I'd thought I was about A-T metaphysics. Feser's reply doesn't seem super strong because he relies on 1) appeals to what Aquinas needs for his doctrine about angels; 2) assumption that unicorns etc. have real essences. But then Feser outlines Twetten's own rebuttal to the Aristotelian argument. Before I've thought it through carefully, this rebuttal strikes me as inadequate because it seems to fail to recognize what work is being done by "cause" in the notion, formal cause. But I need to ruminate more on this.

Last edited by ficino (9/27/2017 2:50 pm)

 

9/28/2017 1:53 pm  #8


Re: Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

ficino wrote:

Hello Johannes and Roman Joe (RJ I recognize your name from Edward Feser's blog). I just joined this forum today. I hope this thread can continue now that the last post is from a month ago.

Hi Ficino. Yes, this forum allows dormant threads to be reactivated for a very reasonable fee, for which you will shortly receive an invoice in your inbox. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png


ficino wrote:

I was hoping that you would give an example of a created essence that doesn't exist, i.e. w/o an associated act of existing. You did, but your example is taken from orthodox Christology. Can you give another example, one not taken from theology? I would think that there are no essences that do not exist (I'm leaving out 'created'). As you point out, there is no essence of a mammoth anywhere; frozen corpses do not count because the life functions are not carried on. I would think that fictional entities like unicorns by definition do not in fact have essences, because unicorns are not substances. There is no matter and no soul. It doesn't help to point to a model or statue of a unicorn, because that is an artifact, and Aquinas teaches that artifacts are configured only with accidental form, not with substantial form (cf. Stump, Aquinas p. 39).

So to me so far, it is not clear that the separability criterion is in fact met. So it's not clear that there is a *real* distinction between essence and existence.  It is also not clear that the separability criterion is met in the case of substances, as it must be if Aquinas is authorized to treat them, as he does, as potentialities that are actualized by acts of existing.

No, I cannot think of any other example apart from the Incarnation. To note, Jesus' created human nature does Exist, but by the Act of Being of the Word.

My approach to this issue is analogous to the scientific approach to a natural science, say physics, in which theories are validated according to their consistency with observations. A theory can be elegant and logically self-consistent, but if it is inconsistent with observations, it is discarded. If it is consistent with observations, it remains the only game in town until a new theory is developed which is at least as consistent with observations as the former, in which case both theories are valid and you can choose whichever you prefer, until new observations prompt you to discard one (or both) of them.

The role of final arbiter between theories, which in physics belongs to observations, in my approach to this issue belongs to a revealed truth: that Jesus' human nature is not a human person and, moreover, that Jesus said "before Abraham came to be, I Am." (Jn 8:58) and not "before Abraham came to be, I Am in my divine nature." Therefore, my adoption of a philosophical framework depends first and foremost on its degree of consistency with that revealed truth.

But apart from the Incarnation, I wholly agree with you that "it's not clear that there is a *real* distinction between essence and existence". Twetten [1], in the best treatment of this subject that I am aware of, concludes that "All nine of Aquinas' arguments for the Real Distinction that we have reviewed seem vulnerable to the Question-Begging Objection. Aquinas seems never to have been aware of the objection." (p. 80). He then proposes an argument of his own, based on hylomorphic theory (pp. 85ff). That argument is of no use to me, first because I hold that hylomorphism is a valid description of entities only when the form in question is spiritual, such as the human soul, and secondly because I also hold that the human soul after death is the same person it was with the body, even though in a diminished state [2], so that his argument would not work for me even in the case of human natures.

Bottom line: the Real Distinction is an assumption, but it is the right assumption for Christians.

ficino wrote:

But Feser in Scholastic Metaphysics, pp. 242ff, rejects the separability criterion. He says, 242, that Scotus and Suarez maintained it. Thomists, says Feser, deny that a real distinction entails separability but insist that it is a real one.

It is clear that the separability criterion is stricter than the traditional Thomistic criteria for the real distinction (let's call them "Feser's criteria" for short). Thus, if A and B are really distinct per the separability criterion, they are also really distinct per Feser's criteria. On the other hand, if A and B are really distinct per Feser's criteria, they may or may not be really distinct per the separability criterion. Then, since I have proved that essence and esse are really distinct per the separability criterion (assuming the Incarnation), they are also really distinct per Feser's criteria.

ficino wrote:

ETA: on 247-249 Feser summarizes an Aristotelian argument made by David Twetten. Feser says Twetten says the Aristotelian will resist adding a third principle, act of existing, to form and matter because the configuration of matter by form in a substance just is a substance, which ipso facto exists. There is no real distinction by which an act of existing has to be added.

That's another thing I had thought! I flatter myself that I'm not as dumb as I'd thought I was about A-T metaphysics. Feser's reply doesn't seem super strong because he relies on 1) appeals to what Aquinas needs for his doctrine about angels; 2) assumption that unicorns etc. have real essences. But then Feser outlines Twetten's own rebuttal to the Aristotelian argument. Before I've thought it through carefully, this rebuttal strikes me as inadequate because it seems to fail to recognize what work is being done by "cause" in the notion, formal cause. But I need to ruminate more on this.

Not having read Feser's SM myself, I can only guess that the basis for his assumption that unicorns have real essences is the traditional Thomistic view that  the form of a known entity resides in the knowing intellect, which I deny [3], holding instead the representationalist view that in intellects there are representations of the essence, not the essence itself. (By "representation" I am referring, using Thomistic terms, to the "intelligible species" and not to the "phantasm".)  In the divine Intellect the representation is perfect, but still a representation, or more exactly an eternal prepresentation.  

Note that, at bottom, the issue is one of definitions:

- If you define, in traditional Thomistic fashion, that what there is in the divine Intellect is the essence, then a created essence can exist without an associated esse, and essence and esse are really distinct per the separability criterion, and therefore also per the traditional Thomistic criteria.

- If you define, in representationalist fashion, that what there is in the divine Intellect is a perfect (p)representation of the essence, then the essence cannot exist without an associated act of being (or Act of Being), which in turn says nothing about whether a created essence and its contingent esse are really distinct (which they are if a created essence can Exist under Esse Subsistens).

So, the only strong argument I see for the real distinction - and IMV an airtight argument at that - is that based on the Incarnation of the Word. In fact, the alternative philosophical accounts of the hypostatic union by Scotus, one of the main deniers of the real distinction (the other being Suarez), is almost incredible, as I show in today's new post in my thread on that subject [4].

References

[1] David B. Twetten, Really distinguishing essence from esse. Proceedings of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics, Volume 6, 2006. Pp 57-94.
Available: http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/SMLM/PSMLM6/PSMLM6.pdf

[2] http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=122

[3] http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=147

[4] http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=121
 

Last edited by Johannes (9/28/2017 1:54 pm)

 

9/29/2017 5:59 am  #9


Re: Problems with essence and existence and their distinction

Johannes, thank you for your remarks about Scotus, about whom I know little. And thank you for the link to Twetten's paper. I had planned to read it, but it is easier to do so now.

Best, f

 

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