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  • Robert Baron

1.2 An Ens quatenus Ens habeat veras & proprie dictas proprietates.

An Ens quatenus Ens habeat veras & proprie dictas proprietates, vera item principia per quae illae proprietates demonstrentur.

Whether Being as Being has what may be called true and proper properties, and likewise the true principles by which those properties are demonstrated.


Section II

An ens in gener sumtum sit objectum metaphysic.

1. Statutum est superiori Sectione Objectum Metaphysicae esse ens reale & positivum, in sua amplitudine acceptum: contra quam sententiam varia afferuntur ab interpretibus argumenta; inter quae maximam difficultatem habet illud, quo ostendere folent, ens reale & positivum in sua amplitudine acceptum non posse in ulla Scientia considerari tanquam subjectum.

Whether Being in general is taken as the object of Metaphysics

1. It has been established in the previous section that the object of Metaphysics is real and positive being, taken in its full extent; against which opinion, various arguments are presented by interpreters. Among these, that argument holds the greatest difficulty, by which they usually try to show that a real and positive being, taken in its full extent, cannot be considered in any Science as a subject.

Negativa opinio ejusque probatio.

2. Ratio illa ita exstrui potest. Quod nulla habet principia, nullas item affectiones, illud nullius Scientiae objectum esse potest. At ens quatenus ens ita se habet. Ergo ens quatenus ens nullius Scientiae, ne dum Metaphysicae objectum esse potest. Minor hujus argum. quoniam duabus partibus constat, per partes probanda est. & primo facile ostendi posse videtur, Ens in sua amplitudine acceptum non habere proprietates de eo demonstrabiles: idque quia affectiones illae vel sunt entia realia, vel entia rationis: at non sunt entia realia, quia omnia entia realia continentur sub ente reali in genere, tanquam inserius sub superiori, vel minus commune sub magis communi; si ergo affectio aliqua entis, ut Unum v. c. sit quid reale, continebitur sub ente reali in genere, tanquam minus commune sub magis communi, atque adeo non reciprocabitur cum ente reali in genere, quod absurdum est & repugnans naturae affectionis. At neque sunt entia rationis, quia scientia realis, ut Metaphysica, non poterit dici versari circa entia rationis; hoc enim repugnat naturae talis Scientiae, ejusque dignitati derogat.

The negative opinion and its proof

2. This argument can be formulated as follows: That which has no principles and no properties (affectiones) cannot be the object of any science. But being, as being, is in such a state. Therefore, being, as being, cannot be the object of any science, not even of Metaphysics. The minor premise of this argument, since it consists of two parts, must be proved in parts. It seems that the first part can be easily demonstrated, namely, that being, understood in its full extent, does not have demonstrable properties. This is because those properties are either real entities or entities of reason. They are not real entities because all real entities are contained under the category of real being, as something subordinate to the higher, or as something less common to that which is more common. Therefore, if any property of being, such as Unity, for example, is a real entity, it would be contained under the category of real being as something less common under the more common. Consequently, it would not be convertible with real being in general, which is absurd and repugnant to the nature of a property. Nor are they entities of reason because a real science, such as Metaphysics, cannot be said to be concerned with entities of reason. This is contrary to the nature of such a science and derogates from its dignity.

​3. Altera pars minoris, qua asserimus ens qua ens nulla habere principia & causas, facile videtur probari, quia Ens in sua amplitudine acceptum complectitur in se omne reale sive sit principium sive affectio, atque adeo nihil reale habet se prius tanquam principium. Quod si quis dicat principia Metaphysica non esse priora ipso ente, sed esse priora affectionibus entis, facile poterit quis urgere, ostendendo non dari causam priorem affectionibus entis: hae enim affectiones entis sicut conveniunt enti in genere, ita conveniunt speciebus entis, Creatori scilicet, & creaturae; atque adeo si hae affectiones habeant certam causam cum attribuuntur enti in genere, habebunt etiam certam causam cum attribuuntur omnibus speciebus entis; at cum attribuuntur Deo nullam habent causam, in Deo enim à parte rei nihil est prius, nihil posterius.

​3. The second part of the minor premise, in which we assert that being as being has no principles or causes, seems to be easily proven, because Being, taken in its full extent, comprehends within itself everything that is real, whether it be a principle or an affection, and therefore it has nothing real that precedes it as a principle. If someone were to say that the principles of Metaphysics are not prior to being itself but are prior to the properties of being, one could easily respond by showing that there is no prior cause to the affections of being. These affections, as they agree with being in general, also agree with the species of being, both to the Creator and the creatures. Therefore, if these affections have a definite cause when attributed to being in general, they will also have a definite cause when attributed to all species of being. However, when they are attributed to God, they have no cause, for in God, nothing is prior or posterior on the part of the thing (à parte rei).

Responsio Scotistarum ad arg. supra allatum.

4. Cujus difficultatis gravitas effecit ut Interpretes Aristotelis in varias dividerentur sententias. Primo enim Scotistae nonnulli asseruerunt tres illas affectiones entis, Unum, Verum, Bonum, esse quid reale & positivum, ab ipso ente realiter diversum: negabant tamen has affectiones contineri sub ente reali, tanquam quid inferius sub superiori; dicebant enim has affectiones non esse entia, sed modos reales enti superadditos; atque ita putarunt se evitare vim argumenti quoad alteram partem minoris.

The Response of the Scotists to the argument stated above

4. The gravity of this difficulty led interpreters of Aristotle to divide into various opinions. Firstly, several Scotists asserted that these three affections of being—Unity, Truth, and Goodness—are real and positive entities, distinct from being itself. However, they denied that these properties are contained under real being as something subordinate under something higher. They claimed that these properties are not entities but real modes superadded to being. In this way, they believed they could evade the force of the argument concerning the other part of the minor premise.

Responsio Thomistarum quorundam.

5. Secunda sententia suit Thomistarum nonnullorum, qui asseruerunt hasce affectiones esse quid reale & positivum, ab ipso ente re diversum: negarunt tamen aliquid absurdi ex eo sequi, quod affectiones entis ipsum ens essentialiter includant, i. quod affectiones entis sub ente contineantur; putarunt enim hoc non esse incommodum in rebus transcendentibus, quamvis sit incommodum in aliis rebus quae in inferioribus Disciplinis tractantur.

The response of certain Thomists

5. The second opinion was that of several Thomists who asserted that these properties are real and positive entities, distinct from being itself. However, they denied that any absurdity followed from the fact that the properties of being essentially include being itself, meaning that the properties of being are contained under being. They believed that this was not problematic (incommodum) in transcendent things, although it may be problematic (incommodum) in other things dealt with in lower disciplines.

Responsio ipsius Theomae [sic] & Suarii quam amplectimur.

6. Tertia sententia est ipsius S. Thomae, & eorum qui ejus sententiam sequuntur, Javelli scilicet, Soncinatis, & aliorum, praecipue vero eorum qui sunt è Societate Jesu, ut Fonsecae & Suarii; hi enim asserunt affectiones entis esse quidem quid reale realiter conveniens ipsi enti, non tamen esse quid realiter diversum ab ipso ente, & nihil reale superaddere enti, sed tantum negationem vel denominationem extrinsecam.

The response of Thomas himself and of Suarez that we embrace

6.The third opinion is that of St. Thomas himself and those who follow his opinion, such as Giovanni Crisostomo Javelli, Paolo Barbo Soncino, and others, especially those who are part of the Society of Jesus, like Pedro da Fonseca and Francisco Suárez. They assert that the properties of being are indeed real entities that truly agree with being itself, but they are not really distinct from being itself. They do not superadd anything real to being but only an extrinsic negation or denomination.

Explanatio sententiae Thomae.

7. Quoniam & authoritas tantorum virorum, & solidissimae eorum rationes nos facile in eorum sententiam pertrahunt, ideo operam dabimus ut eorum sententiam perspicue proponamus. Primo ergo, asserunt illas affectiones, unum, verum, bonum, aliquid materiale & aliquid formale includere; materialiter enim significant ipsum ens, formaliter vero aliquid enti superadditum quod in ipso ente non includitur: sic hic caecus, v. c. si respiciamus materiale ejus significatum, est Petrus, aut alius homo; si vero formale significatum, est aliquid superadditum isti homini, caecitas scilicet.

Explanation of the opinion of Thomas

7. Since both the authority of such great men and the very soundness of their reasoning easily lead us to their opinion, we will make an effort to clearly present their opinion. Firstly, they affirm that these affections—Unity, Truth, Goodness—include something material and something formal. Materially, they signify being itself, but formally, they signify something superadded to being that is not included in being itself. For example, if we consider the material aspect of the word “blind,” it signifies Peter or another person, but if we consider the formal aspect, it signifies something added to that man, namely, blindness.

8. Secundo, asserunt illud formale quod superaddunt enti, non esse quid reale & positivum ab ipso ente re diversum, & sic opponunt se duabus primis sentētiis. Ratio qua hoc ostendit Suarius est haec: Subjectum, inquit, hujus Scientiae est Ens in genere, prout complectitur Creatorem & Creaturam: si ergo haec affectiones attribuantur enti in genere, tanquam attributa ab ipso ente re diversa, erunt re diversa ab omnibus speciebus entis; atque adeo, cum attribuuntur Deo, sequetur Unitatem, Bonitatem & Veritatem Dei esse quid reale & positivum ab ipso Deo re diversum: hoc plane absurdum est; quia quidquid in Deo est, est Deus.

​8. Secondly, they assert that the formal aspect they add to being is not a real and positive entity distinct from being itself, thereby opposing the first two opinions. The reason Suárez presents for this is as follows: The subject of this science is being in general, as it comprehends both the Creator and the creature. If, therefore, these affections are attributed to being in general as attributes distinct from being itself, then they would be distinct from all species of being. Consequently, when they are attributed to God, it would follow that the Unity, Goodness, and Truth of God are real and positive entities distinct from God Himself. This is clearly absurd because whatever is in God is God.

9. Hoc argumentum non est efficax contra eos qui negant Deum comprehendi sub Objecto Metaphysicae; est tamen valde efficax contra Scotistas, & contra eos Thomistas, contra quos adsertur; illi enim admittunt Deum comprehendi sub objecto Metaphysicae. Quod ad alios attinet qui id negant, urgere possumus ipsam rationem in argumento primo allatam: illi enim non possunt ostendere, quomodo fieri possit ut affectio alicujus subjecti contineatur sub subjecto tanquam inferius sub superiori; quod enim continetur sub aliquo, cum eo reciprocari nequit.

​9. This argument is not effective against those who deny that God is comprehended under the object of Metaphysics. However, it is indeed quite efficacious against the Scotists and the Thomists against whom it is being asserted, as they admit that God is comprehended under the object of Metaphysics. As for others who deny this, we can press the very same reasoning used in the first argument. They cannot demonstrate how it is possible for a property of a subject to be contained under the subject as something subordinate to something higher, for that which is contained under something cannot be convertible with it.

10. Tertio, dicunt illud formale quod superaddunt, esse vel negationem vel denominationem petitam ab aliquo extrinseco: dicunt v. c. illud formale quod Unum superaddit Enti, esse negationem divisionis; illud vero formale quod Verum & Bonum superaddunt ei, esse denominationem petitam ab intellectu & à voluntate: quomodo autem illud fiat, postea examinabitur, cum agetur de Vero & Bono.

​10. Thirdly, they say that the formal aspect they superadd is either a negation or a denomination taken from something extrinsic. For example, they say that the formal aspect that Unity adds to Being is the negation of division, and the formal aspect that Truth and Goodness add to Being is a denomination taken from the intellect and the will. However, how this occurs will be examined later when we discuss Truth and Goodness.

11. Quarto, asserunt Unum, Verum & Bonum, sicut materialiter sunt ipsum Ens, ita cum materialiter accipiuntur non esse affectiones entis; at ratione formalis sui significati, sicuti putant eas differre ab ente, aliquid enti superaddere, ita dicunt ratione ejusdem formalis significati, & non alia, esse affectiones entis.

​11. Fourthly, they assert that Unity, Truth, and Goodness, as they are materially identical with Being itself, are not properties of being when understood in a material sense. However, they claim that in terms of their formal significance, which they believe distinguishes them from being, they add something to being. Thus, they say that the affections of being are so stated by reason of the same formal signification, and not otherwise.

12. Quinto, sicut vere dicimus affectiones entis non esse quid positivum ab ente re diversum, ita etiam vere dicimus ratione formalis sui significati non esse quid negativum ab ente re diversum: ut enim postea patebit, cum de Identitate & Diversitate loquemur, non potest realis diversitas intervenire nisi inter ens & ens; quare cum haec tria pro formali non significent aliquod ens, ratione formalis sui significati, non re sed ratione sola ab ente differre dicenda sunt. eodem modo dicimus caecitatem quam hic caecus superaddit Joanni, non esse quid realiter diversum ab ipso Joanne, quoniam non est ens, sed entis negatio.

12. Fifthly, just as we truly say that the properties of being are not something positive distinct from being itself, we also truly say that by the formal significance of their meaning, they are not something negative distinct from being itself. As will become evident later when we discuss Identity and Diversity, real diversity cannot occur except between being and being. Therefore, since these three (Unity, Truth, and Goodness) do not signify any other being in their formal significance, they should be said to differ from being not in reality but in reason alone, in the same way we say that the blindness that the blind person adds to John is not something truly distinct from John himself because it is not a being but a negation of being.

13. Affectiones illae prout non differunt realiter ab ente, ita à parte rei & ante cogitationem mentis non sunt entis affectiones; à nobis tamen ut affectiones concipiuntur. dixi, haec à parte rei non esse affectiones; quia sic à parte rei differrent ab ipso ente: dixi, haec à nobis concipi tanquam affectiones; quia non est incommodum aliquid concipi à nobis ut affectionem, quod realiter non est affectio; sic enim nos concipimus aeternitatem Dei tanquam affectionem, quae pro causa habeat immutabilitatem Dei; quia enim Deus quoad Substantiam mutari non potest, ideo est aeternus.

​13. These properties (affectiones), insofar as they do not truly differ from being, are not properties of being on the part of the thing and prior to the thought of the mind. However, they are conceived by us as properties. I said that they are not properties on the part of the thing because they differ from being itself. I said that they are conceived by us as properties because it is not unfitting for something to be conceived by us as an property even if it is not a real property. Thus, we conceive the eternity of God as a property that has immutability of God as its cause. Since God cannot change as to substance, therefore, etc.

14. Denique, quamvis à parte rei Unum, Verum, Bonum, neque sunt affectiones entis, neque ab ente quid re diversum; sunt tamen quid reale, & non quid ab intellectu confictum, tum quia materialiter sunt ipsum ens, tum quia si respiciamus eorum formale, important ejusmodi negationem & denominationem extrinsecam, quae nullo cogitante enti convenit; ut caecitas etsi non sit ens reale & positivum, realiter tamen convenit homini nullo cogitante.

​14. Finally, although Unity, Truth, and Goodness are not properties of being in reality or something distinct from being itself, they are nonetheless something real and not something fabricated by the intellect. This is because they are materially identical with being itself and because if we consider their formal aspect, they imply such extrinsic a negation or denomination that does not pertain to being in any thinking subject. For example, blindness, although not a real and positive being, nevertheless truly applies to a person even in the absence of any thinking subject.

Resp. ad argumentum assert. 2.

15. Ad primam ergo partem minoris has affectiones entis, si respiciamus eorum materialia, esse entia realia; si eorum formale, etsi non sint proprie entia realia, esse tamen quid realiter enti conveniens, non tamen inde sequitur has proprietates contineri sub ente; id{que} quia non sunt proprietates entis nisi ratione formalis sui significati, ejus autem ratione non sunt entia positiva & realia, sed negationes & denominationes extrinsecae. Ad alteram partem minoris has affectiones de ente demonstrari per ipsam formalem rationem, seu per essentiam entis; quae quidem essentia entis non est realis causa harum affectionum, sed à nobis concipitur tanquam causa, ut ait Suarius. & hoc putat Suarius sufficere ad veram rationem Principii scientifici, quod ostendit exemplo demonstrationum, per quas demonstramus de Deo quod sit aeternus aut immensus: revera enim aeternitas & immensitas Dei sunt ipsa Dei essentia, atque adeo nullam habent se priorem causam; nos tamen acquirere non possumus distinctam cognitionem aeternitatis divinae, nisi concipiamus aeternitatem Dei tanquam ejus affectionem, & ejus immutabilitatem ut rationem propter quam Deo tribuitur aeternitas.

Response to the second assertion of the ​minor premise

15. Therefore, concerning the first part of the minor premise, if we consider the material aspect of these properties of being, they are real entities. If we consider their formal aspect, although they are not strictly real entities, they do correspond to something that truly pertains to being. However, it does not follow from this that these properties are contained within being, because they are not properties of being except in terms of their formal significance. By virtue of their formal significance, they are not positive and real entities, but extrinsic negations and denominations. As for the second part of the minor premise, these properties of being are demonstrated by the formal reason itself or by the essence of being. However, though the essence of being is not the real cause of these properties, it is conceived by us as a cause, as Francisco Suarez says. And Suarez believes that this is sufficient for the true rationale of a scientific principle, which is demonstrated by examples such as demonstrating that God is eternal or immense. Indeed, the eternity and immensity of God are the very essence of God and, therefore, have no prior cause. However, we cannot acquire a distinct knowledge of the divine eternity unless we conceive of it as an property of God and His immutability as the reason for which eternity is attributed to God.

Principia alia complexa alia incomplexa.

16. Observandum est duplicia esse Principia quibus utuntur Metaphysici in demonstrationibus suis; eorum enim alia sunt complexa, alia incomplexa. Complexa sunt primae illae & notissimae veritates, ut loquuntur, quas Metaphysici adhibent ad conclusionem notificandam: ut de omni re verum est affirmare, Impossibile est idem simul esse & non esse. Principia incomplexa sunt ipsae definitiones entium, per quas de entis speciebus demonstramus Metaphysic. affectiones.

Complex and Incomplex Principles

16. It should be noted that Metaphysicians employ two kinds of principles in their demonstrations: complex and incomplex principles. The complex principles are those first and most well-known truths that Metaphysicians use to establish their conclusions, such as “It is true to affirm of every being” and “It is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be.” The incomplex principles, on the other hand, are the very definitions of beings through which we demonstrate the properties of being in the species of beings in Metaphysics.

Quomodo Deus cognoscatur a Metaphysic. & quomodo a Theologo.

17. Ut concludamus hanc Sectionem de Objecto Metaphysicae, notamus Deum longe alio & alio modo considerari in Metaphysica & Theologia: in Theologia enim consideratur Deus prout seipsum in verbo suo patefecit, in Metaphys. vero prout est cognoscibilis lumine Naturae: Metaphysicus enim demonstrat dari primum aliquid ens, quod sit omnium aliorum causa, idque per rationes naturales; deinde progreditur, & ex operibus illius entis, demonstrat illud esse infinitae virtutis; & sic progreditur ad reliquas ejus affectiones.

How God is known from Metaphysician and how by the Theologian

17. To conclude this section on the Object of Metaphysics, we note that God is considered in a far different manner in Metaphysics and Theology. In Theology, God is considered as He has revealed Himself in His word, while in Metaphysics, God is considered as knowable by the light of Nature. The Metaphysician demonstrates the existence of a first being, which is the cause of all other beings, through natural reasoning. Then, progressing further, the Metaphysician demonstrates from the works of that being that it possesses infinite power, and thus proceeds to demonstrate its other affections.



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