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Aquinas's division of being according to modes of existing.

ONE COULD SAY THAT THE SCIENCE OF METAPHYSICS was born of Parmenides' wondering how to divide being. His reasoning, namely that nothing belonging to being could divide it, and that nonbeing, since it in no way exists, cannot divide anything, set the terms of the problem within which the great Western traditions of Platonic and Aristotelian metaphysics developed. In reply to this Parmenidian challenge to divide being, Plato writes in the Sophist of the participation of being in "the other," and Aristotle in the Metaphysics of a pros hen equivocation of the name "being." In response to the same seminal challenge to divide being, Thomas Aquinas speaks in the Quaestiones de veritate of modes of being (modi entis) and of modes of existing (modi essendi). Yet this terminology is barely acknowledged by Thomistic commentators. (1)

My purpose in this article is to show that there is a properly metaphysical sense of the term "mode" in Aquinas's existential metaphysics that presents a yet unreconnoitered field of discussion in the secondary literature. Further, I want to propose by way of hypothesis that for Aquinas the term's primacy sense is existential determination, and in particular the determination of an individual being's act of existing, and that by analogy he extends the term to essence and to any potential principle of entitative determination. Lastly, I suggest that his concept of modes of existing brings into relief his innovation over his classical sources. When Aquinas posits a sense of being more ultimate than form, namely existence, an account of existential diversity becomes necessary to complete the ancient division of being according to formal differences. The Thomistic concept of a mode of existing arises with an account of the multiplicity of being in terms of existence (esse). This article is but the propaedeutic to a comprehensive and systematic study of the term "mode" in Aquinas's metaphysics. (2)


Analogical Inflections of the Term "Mode." The importance of the term "mode" for Aquinas can be seen from the very beginning of his career. When the young Thomas set to writing his Quaestiones de veritate, he replied to the Parmenidian challenge to divide being as follows:
 [T]hat which the intellect first conceives of as most known and into which
 it resolves all its conceptions is "being" [ens].... [I]t is therefore
 necessary that all other conceptions of the intellect be understood by an
 addition to "being." However nothing can be added to "being" as though
 extraneous ... but some things are said to be added to "being" inasmuch as
 they express a mode of the being itself [modum ipsius entis] that is not
 expressed by the name "being," which happens in two ways. In one way, the
 mode expressed is a certain special mode of being [specialis modus entis];
 for there are diverse degrees of being a being [diversi gradus entitatis],
 according to which are understood diverse modes of existing [diversi modi
 essendi], and according to these modes the diverse categories of things are
 understood: for "substance" does not add to "being" any difference
 designating a certain nature superadded to the being, but by the name of
 substance is expressed a certain special mode of existing [specialis quidam
 modus essendi], namely being through itself, and likewise in the other
 categories. In another way, the mode expressed is a general mode following
 upon every being [modus generalis consequens omne ens]. (3)

Aquinas begins by granting Parmenides his premise: there is nothing extraneous to being that could be added to it so as to divide it. (4) He proceeds to argue, however, that there are nevertheless diverse modes of existing intrinsic to being itself. Beginning with a Neoplatonic construal of the diverse natures of things according to diverse degrees of being (diversi gradus entitatis), he contrasts the determination of a being that results from the superadding of a nature with a determination of it according to modes that express something about the being itself (modi ipsius entis). He then identifies the Aristotelian categories and the Medieval transcendentals as two such modal expressions of being: he calls the categories more specifically modes of existing (modi essendi), and such transcendental properties as "one," "true," and "good," general modes accompanying every being (modi genereralis consequens omne ens). (5)

What exactly does Aquinas mean by "expressing" a mode of the being itself in contradistinction to "superadding" a nature? To answer this question, we must first consider whether to take ens as substantively (perhaps better rendered in English by "a being" or "the being") or participially (with the abstract sense of "being a being"). (6) Is Aquinas here speaking of every being as a being or, as in De veritate question 21, article 1, of being in general (ens universale)? He may well at first intend the term ambivalently, so as to embrace both senses. In either case, De veritate question 1, article I concerns the transcendentals, and by the time Aquinas gets to them it is quite clear that they are substantives: they accompany every being (omne ens). Aquinas goes on to enumerate them as "one" (unum), "good" (bonum), and "true" (verum)--not unity, goodness, and truth. The transcendentals are properties of beings as beings: every being as a being is one, good, true, and so forth.

What would it mean, then, to take being substantively? "The first thing that comes before the intellect is the being." When we first encounter anything, we necessarily first of all judge that it exists: this is some being. Aquinas thus asserts later in this question that the name "being" (ens) is taken from the thing's act of existing (actus essendi). (7) Judging that it exists is the prerequisite of our asking anything else about it: there is something there of which to ask, "What is it?" When we then judge that the being exists in itself rather than in something else--that it is a substance--we judge concerning how it exists, that is, in what way it has existence. Likewise, when we judge that the being is undivided from itself and divided from all else--that it is one--we judge how it exists. Such categorical and transcendental modes of being as "substance" and "one" arise from expressive judgments about the being's being a being, that is, about its existing. By contrast, when we judge that it is a dog, for example, we add something new in kind to our conception of the being, namely quidditative content; we are not simply further expressing or articulating our primary existential judgment. Indeed, Aquinas seems to hold that the primary judgments about a thing's existing and modes of existing precede a clear grasp of what the thing is: "Once it is known whether something exists [an est], it remains to inquire how it exists [quomodo est], in order to know what it is [quid est]." (8)

Thus in response to the Parmenidian challenge to divide being, Aquinas uses the term "mode" in De veritate question 1, article I to distinguish three divisions of being: a predicable division of being according to the genera and species of things; a categorical division of being according to the special modes of existing of things; and a transcendental division of being according to general modes of being, that is, universal properties of every being as a being. Such modal terminology is not a thing only of Aquinas's youth. In his commentary on the Physics, for example, he introduces Aristotle's categories as divisions of being according to modes of existing that are proportional to modes of predicating. (9) Likewise in commenting on Metaphysics book 4, chapter 2, he reorganizes Aristotle's enumeration of senses of being according to four modes of existing: negations and privations, which have no existence except in the mind; generations, corruptions, and motions, which exist with an admixture of nonbeing; qualities, quantities, and properties, which have weak existence; and substances, which have a firm and solid existence. (10)

Yet despite the prominence of the term "mode" in Aquinas's division of being, and in particular of the phrase "mode of existing," there has been no thematic study of the term in the secondary literature. This oversight may be due to the term's commonplace meaning and accordingly high frequency: it means simply "way" and occurs well over 11,460 times in Aquinas's writings. (11) Some commentators pass over the term as a general one, as imprecise as it is useful, or perhaps useful because imprecise. (12) Some acknowledge such phrases as "mode of the receiver" and "mode of the knower" to have metaphysical import but to be flexible and in need of further determination. (13) Many take Aquinas's phrase "mode of existing" as a way of speaking about essence. (14) None of these opinions is based on a thematic study of his use of the term. The term came to my attention in the course of a systematic search for occurrences of an axiom that Aquinas uses throughout his metaphysics: "Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver." In a less frequent but more universal formulation of the axiom that abstracts from reception, "mode" emerges as the principal term: "Whatever is in anything is in it according to the mode of that in which it is." It became clear in the course of my examining some 300 contexts in which Aquinas applies the principle that his concept of modes of existing is the hermeneutical key to understanding the unity of the principle's wide ranging applications. (15) It also became clear that the term "mode" cannot be merely a general and imprecise one for Aquinas but rather must admit of determinate analogical inflection if the principle is to have any significant metaphysical import.

To illustrate that if the word modus is only taken in the ordinary sense of "way," many of Aquinas's metaphysical assertions lose much of their philosophical force, we can run through a variety of his metaphysical formulations. Let us begin with the following list of short formulations from the prima pars of the Summa theologiae:
 For as long as a thing has existence it is necessary that God be present to
 it according to the mode in which it has existence [secundum modum quo esse
 habet]. (16)

 The perfections of all things pertain to the perfection of existence, for
 they are perfect in some manner or other because they have existence in
 some mode [aliquo modo esse habeant]. (17)

 Everything that is in potency is brought into act according to the mode of
 its existence [secundum modum sui esse]. (18)

 Everything naturally desires existence in its own mode [suo modo esse
 desiderat]. (19)

 The operation of each thing is in accord with the mode of its substance
 [secundum modum substantiae eius]. (20)

 Knowledge is according to the mode of the knower [secundum modum
 cognoscentis]. (21)

 [A thing] is knowable according to the mode of its act [secundum modum sui
 actus]. (22)

 [The receiver] receives according to the mode of its existence [secundum
 modum sui esse]. (23)

In the secunda pars of the Summa theologiae Aquinas offers "determination" as a synonym for "mode" in his division of the species of quality, specifying that the determinations at issue are determinations of existence. He first appeals to a definition of Augustine's: "Mode, as Augustine says in Super Gen. ad litteram, is what measure preestablishes, and therefore it means a certain determination according to some measure." (24) He then goes on to identify two specific modes of existence: the quality of a substance is the difference according to which the potency of matter is determined according to substantial existence; likewise an accidental quality is the difference according to which the potency of a subject is determined according to accidental existence. (25)

In the De veritate, Aquinas extends the term "mode" from accidents to substance in the context of his creationist concern with the conferral and reception of existence:
 [W]henever there is something received, it is necessary that there be a
 mode, because the received is limited according to the receiver; and thus
 since both the accidental and the essential existence of a creature is
 received, mode is found not only in accidents but also in substances. (26)

Note that in considering a perfection as received, one is ipso facto considering it according to a distinct individual existence and not abstractly, as one does when considering the ratio of the perfection in itself. The notion of the mode of a perfection, nature, essence, or form enters in with the consideration of its relation to existence.

However, the term is not restricted to received and finite existence. Aquinas utilizes "mode" as a term of existential distinction even for God: "To be his own subsisting existence is the proper mode of God alone." (27) He even uses the phrase modus existendi in his Trinitarian theology to explain the distinction of divine persons within the unity of the divine nature. (28)

In his mature formulation of participation in the De substantiis separatis, Aquinas distinguishes the universal mode of existing proper to God from the determinate modes of existing proper to species and to individuals within species:
 We must consider that the things that participate existence from the first
 being do not participate in existence according to a universal mode of
 existing, as it is in the lust principle, but particularly, according to a
 certain determinate mode of existing, by which each conforms [convenit]
 either to this genus or this species. For each thing is adapted [adaptatur]
 to one determinate mode of existing in accord with the mode of its
 substance. Moreover the mode of any substance composed from matter and form
 is in accord with the form through which it belongs to a determinate
 species. In this way, therefore, a thing composed from matter and form,
 through its form, comes to be participant of existence itself from God,
 according to a certain proper mode. (29)

Aquinas does not here identify the thing's "mode of existing" with its substance or essence, but rather contraposes two modes: its mode of existing and the mode of its substance. He states that the former accords with the latter. (30) These two modes are correlative: the mode of a thing's essence and the mode of its existence are necessarily proportionate to one another. This proportion constitutes the thing's proper mode--quidam proprius modus.

Aquinas also speaks in the De potentia of the mode of existing proper to the individual being: "There are three things to consider in an individual substance: one is the nature of the genus and species existing in the singulars; second is the mode of existing of such a nature, for the nature of the genus and species exists in the singular substance as proper to this individual, and not as common to many; third is the principle from which this [mode] is caused." (31)

In short, if the term "mode" does not have for Aquinas precise metaphysical significance, then many of his most important metaphysical assertions are tantamount to vagaries. Nor need the term be construed as denoting a general notion simply because it admits, on the one hand, of nontechnical senses, and on the other hand, of analogical inflections. In a word, I submit that the term modus in its properly metaphysical inflections is no less precise for Aquinas than being (ens), existing (esse), or essence (essentia). In fact, he employs the term "mode" most of all to divide analogical notions. In the Quaestiones de potentia, for example, he distinguishes second substance from primary substance in terms of a mode of existing: "[W]hen substance is divided into first and second [substance], it is not a division of the genus into species ... but a division of the genus according to diverse modes of existing.... It is therefore more a division of an analogical notion than of a genus." (32)

The term "mode" emerges precisely with considerations of existence rather than of essence, or rather with considerations of the existential modulations of essence: one same essence has its naturally singular and material mode of existing in things, another intentional and immaterial mode of existing as a universal in the mind of a knower, and an eternal and exemplary mode of existing as a divine idea in the mind of the creator. (33) It is no surprise, therefore, that Aquinas puts the term at the heart of his existential analogy of being: "Since `being' is not predicated univocally of all things, the same mode of existing must not be sought in everything that is said to exist; for some participate existence more perfectly, and some less so." (34) If Aquinas's sundry uses of the term "mode" are in fact governed by his existential analogy of being, then the question that naturally presents itself is: what is the term's primary meaning?


The Primary Analogate. I propose that the primary sense of Aquinas's phrase "mode of existing" is the determination as such of a individual being's act of existing. Such a determination constitutes for him a limitation of existence in general (esse commune) or existence as such (ipsum esse), a "modification" or "qualification" that determines it to or proportions it for an individual essence. To see more clearly that modes of existing refer primarily to acts of existing, let us return briefly to Quaestiones de veritate.

We have seen that in De veritate question 1, article 1 Aquinas understands diverse natures in terms of diverse degrees of being, which he in turn correlates with diverse categorical modes of existing. He thus relates the genera and species that superadd a nature to the being to categorical modes of existing that express something about the being itself. He goes on, however, to distinguish these special categorical modes of existing from transcendental modes of being that accompany every being as a whole. The object of consideration in Aquinas's existential metaphysics--what comes before the intellect first of all and is first of all named a being (ens)--is a composite, the entitative composite of an individual essence and a distinct act of existing. (35) It becomes clear that the real distinction between a being's essence and its act of existing is at the heart of Aquinas's modal divisions of being in De veritate question 1, article I when he states that the term "being" originates with the individual thing's act of existing: "[B]eing [ens] is taken from the act of existing [ab actu essendi], but the name of a thing expresses the being's quiddity or essence." (36)

Thus whereas the quidditative divisions of being according to genera and species follow upon the essences of beings, the categorical divisions of being according to modes of existing follow upon their acts of existing, while the transcendental properties of being follow upon the being taken as a whole, embracing both its essence and its existence. As the name "being" is taken from the act of existing, so the various modes of being are taken from diverse acts of existing. Ultimately, not only categorical modes of existing but all modes of being are predicated in one view or other of a being's act of existing: a being is called a being because it has an act of existing; a being is called a substance because it has its act of existing in itself and not in something else; it is a thing because it has existence conformed to a quiddity or essence; it is one because it has an undivided act of existing; and so on. Each of these articulations of a being's act of existing Thomas Aquinas will call a mode of existing. He holds in fact that "the mode of existing of things is manifold." (37)

In the first article of question 21, Aquinas takes up the theme of the division of being for a second time in the De veritate, and expressly establishes the term "mode" as a term of distinction based on the individual existence of things. In doing so he argues that the categories constitute modes of universal being. These modes are determinations intrinsic to being itself that divide it without adding to it from without. As he will later write in the Summa theologiae, the limitation of being is necessarily based on being itself (that is, on negations of being), unlike the division of a genus by extrinsic differences. (38) Using the term "mode" is Aquinas's way of trying to formulate such an intrinsic diversification of being through correlative negations. He thus makes his own the Platonic and Aristotelian strategy of replying to Parmenides by dividing being from within by relativity, otherness, or contrariety. (39)

It is crucial to see that Aquinas's reasoning in question 21, article I of the Quaestiones de veritate is analogical, that he outlines divisions in the order of essence as a propaedeutic to reasoning analogically about divisions in the order of existence. To argue that the transcendental "good" does not add anything to the transcendental "being," Aquinas begins by distinguishing three ways in which one essence can be added to another essence.

In the first way, what is added is outside of the essence of the thing to which it is added, in the way that "white" adds to "body." (40) The key point here is that the receiver altogether lacks what it receives. In the second way, what is added is added by contracting or determining that to which it is added, as "man" adds something to "animal": "`animal' is contracted through `man' because that which is determinately and actually contained in the definition of man is contained implicitly and as it were potentially in the definition of animal." Aquinas specifies that this addition by contraction or determination in the case of "animal" does not mean that there is another thing in "man" that is wholly outside the essence of "animal" (that is, added to it from without); rather, "the determination in definition of that which man is said to add to animal is based on some thing [in aliqua re fundatur]." (41) In the third way of adding one thing to another, what is added is not based on any thing in reality, for example, when "blindness" is added to "man"; rather, what is added is added only in thought and is a being only of reason.

Aquinas thus distinguishes between three additions in thought: first, the predicational addition to one essence of another essence really distinct from it in actuality (as in "white animal"); second, the predicational addition to an essence of an intrinsic determination of itself, based on actual natures having that essence (as in "rational animal"); and third, a predicational addition to the essence of a negation of some existing reality (as in "blind animal").

When Aquinas applies this analysis of how one essence can be predicated of another to the question of what the transcendental "good" adds to the transcendental "being," he moves into the order of existence. He begins by making some critical distinctions. First, he distinguishes between two senses of being: universal being (ens universale) and particular being (ens particulare). He asserts that nothing can be added from without to being taken universally, although there can be additions to being conceived of as "a being":
 Nothing can add something to universal being in the first way, although
 there could be some addition in this way to some particular being; for
 there is nothing of any nature which is outside the essence of universal
 being, although something may be outside the essence of this being. (42)

This distinction in modes of consideration is crucial for understanding the existential metaphysics of Aquinas. It is at the heart of his resolution of the Parmenidian challenge to account for the simultaneous unity and multiplicity of being. Where Aristotle argues that Parmenides was simply wrong, Aquinas states that Parmenides was in one way wrong and in another right: if being is considered as it is common to all the categories (ens commune), then it is true that being is one; but being is not one if it is considered only as it pertains to any one category in contradistinction to the others (for example, being as substance versus being as quality). (43)

On Aquinas's account, being can be considered universally and unitarily by abstracting from its actual determination to this and that particular being or way of being, but in such a way that the conception of it implicitly and indeterminately contains everything contained in those actual determinations. (44) Being can also be considered as entitatively determinate, as distinctly realized in particular beings. In the question at hand, De veritate question 21, article 1, in which Aquinas draws a parallel between predications of essences and predications of categories, "mode" emerges as Aquinas's key term of distinction for the individual existences of things:
 However there are some things that are found to add to being in the second
 way, since being is contracted according to the ten categories, each of
 which adds something to being: not any accident, nor any difference which
 is outside the essence of being, but a determinate mode of existing
 [determinatum modum essendi], which is based on the very existence of the
 thing [fundatur in ipsa existentia rei]. (45)

Aquinas is drawing an analogy between determination in the order of existence and determination in the order of essence. Just as a genus is contracted by specific differences to actually determinate species that it contains implicitly and indeterminately, so being taken universally is contracted by determinate modes of existing to categorical divisions intrinsic to it. Further, just as the determination of a genus to a species is based on the natures of real individual things, so the determination of being according to a category is based on real individual existence: fundatur in ipsa existentia rei. It is moreover crucial to understand that for Aquinas to say that categorically determinate modes of existing are based on the existence of things means precisely that these modes are not reducible to the essences of things. They are modes precisely of existing, modes of the participated existence of individual being.

In the following reply to an objection in the Summa theologiae, Aquinas makes an interesting epexegetical remark about his existential terminology:
 [E]xistence itself is of all things the most perfect, for it is related to
 all things as act. For nothing has actuality except insofar as it is, and
 therefore existence itself is the actuality of all things and even of the
 forms themselves.... For when I speak of the existence of man or of horse
 or of any other thing, existence itself is considered formally and as
 received, and not that to which existence belongs. (46)

The "when I speak" of this last sentence signals that Aquinas is consciously employing singular terminology. In contradistinction either to the being or to the essence to which the existence pertains, Aquinas will refer to a thing's qualitatively distinct existence, to its existence as modified and thus susceptible of being considered formale et receptum. (47)

Therefore, even though the thing's mode of existing accords with the form or essence, it is not reducible to it. The existence of a man or of a horse, or else the existence proper to human or equine essence, can be considered formally, as modified existence. (48) Thus the concept of a mode should not be reduced to any of the various principles of being--essence, form, or matter--nor they reduced to it. Rather, a finite mode of existing should be understood as the qualification of existence that is necessary to its union with these principles. To be in composition with essence, whether with a pure form or a material composite, existence must be modified, determined to a certain kind of existence. There is not for Aquinas a parceling out of portions of common existence to this or that. Rather, the existence of a horse is precisely an equine existence, proportionate to equine essence: finite, substantial, material, and so forth. Aquinas asserts the need of such a proportion in any unity in difference: "[T]here is required a proportion of the object to the knowing power, just as of the active [principle] to the passive, and of a perfection to the perfectible." (49) With respect to the relation between a finite being's essence and its existence, I share Maritain's approbation of H. Diepen's formulation that "the act of existing is of itself perfectly adapted and accommodated to the essence which is its formal principle; so perfectly that it can be joined to no other essence in the actuation of the latter." (50)

On the other hand, I disagree with Maritain's approbation of the commentary tradition that sees a mode as a pure terminus in the order of essence, the closing off of the essence that allows it to take possession of its existence. (51) On the contrary, I propose that it is a pure terminus in the order of existence, the qualification of an act of existing that determines it to and for an individual essence. Things do not take possession of existence; they receive it from the creator. The termination that any essence requires is its completion by an act of existing proper to it, by which it is actually constituted the individual essence of a complete being. In the course of discussing persons, for example, Aquinas writes: "Existence pertains to the very constitution of the person, and in this respect has the formality of a limit. Thus the unity of the person requires the unity of a complete and personal existence as such." (52)

A mode of existing is not reducible to essence itself or existence itself, but nor is it a tertium quid. It is a pure terminus in the order of existence, expressive of the intrinsic relation between an individual essence and its correlatively and constitutively proper act of existing. The mode of the being's substance, nature, essence, or form is in potency what its mode of existing is in act, and in accord with the priority of act over potency, mode pertains first to the thing's existence and secondarily to its essence. The mutual accommodation of a being's essence and its existence entailed for its constitution derives ultimately from the act whereby the creator creates the being, the entitative composite of essence and existence. In the passage from chapter 8 of the De substantiis separatis quoted earlier, Aquinas uses the verb convenio to speak of the adaptation of existence to natures, and the verb adapto to speak of the adaptation of a thing to its proper mode of existence. (53) This mutual proportion is the prerequisite of the composition of an essence with its proper existence. It constitutes the mode of the thing and is the measure of its creation.

In his discussion of relative nonbeing, John F. Wippel criticizes interpreters of Aquinas who would reduce essence to a mode of existence understood as a limitation devoid of content, prime among these being W. E. Carlo. (54) I agree with Wippel on the necessity for a definite or specific principle of reception for existence, namely a really distinct essence. I agree with him against Carlo that an essence cannot be reduced to the limitation or specification itself of an act of existence, and that the limitation or specification of existence cannot be effected without a really diverse essence. I nonetheless would grant to Carlo that Aquinas thematizes the limitation or specification as such of an act of existing, irreducible to the essence itself or even to the mode of the essence. In short, I say that if essence is not reducible to a limitation of existence, neither is a limitation of existence identical with an essence. Rather, the mode of a thing's act of existing accords with or is proportioned to the mode of its essence. The mode of the thing itself is this proportion or relation between its essence and its act of existing.

I am arguing that a mode of existing is the specific determination of an act of existing necessary to its composition with a particular essence. I maintain that Aquinas uses the term modus to name the specification itself that an act of existing has as constituted in relation to an individual essence and as proper to the finite being of which they are the principles. (55) The measure or proportion of an essence and of its existence is prior not in time but in the order of the creator's intention, constituting the very possibility of finite being. A participated existence and its proportionate essence are not and cannot be limited before being joined. Rather their proportion is prior to their composition in the intention of the creative agent which orders them to one another and proportionately limits them to one another in creating the being of which they are the principles. This colimitation is the prerequisite of their being the composite principles of a complete being. (56) The finite being is what the creator creates; its individual essence and determinate existence are cocreated and determined to one another in its creation.

The term modus belongs to Aquinas's metaphysics of existence. He holds that the existence of each individual thing is unique, so that "the perfection of one thing cannot exist in another according to the determinate existence that it had in that thing." (57) It is the diversity of the supposit, the complete individual being, that "makes other" absolutely--Aquinas asserts that diversity of nature does not suffice to do so:
 "Other" [aliud] means diversity of substance. However not only the nature,
 but also the supposit is called substance, as is said in Book V of the
 Metaphysics. And so diversity of nature does not suffice to call something
 other simply, unless there be diversity according to supposit. But
 diversity of nature "makes other" [only] in a certain respect, namely
 according to nature, if there is no diversity of supposit. (58)

The distinctions of both essential and accidental differences are actual only in virtue of the determinate existence of a real supposit, of a complete and actually distinct individual being. (59) Aquinas's use of the term "mode" to refer to this ultimate determination and primary distinction of being, namely the distinction of a real individual being, is his primary use of the term. He thus asserts that God gives to each creature its own proper mode of existing, is in each one according to its proper mode, and knows the proper mode of each. (60) Indeed, we have seen that Aquinas applies this term of existential distinction to God himself: "[I]t is the proper mode of existing of God alone that he be his own subsisting existence." (61) Aquinas does not speak of the mode of infinity, or of creatureliness, or of materiality; he speaks of infinite or finite modes of existing, material or spiritual modes of existing, substantial or accidental modes of existing, and so forth. The modes of existing are for Aquinas the modes of existing of things.


Aquinas's Need for a New Term of Distinction. The notion of a mode first emerges as a metaphysical rubric when form is not taken for granted in the consideration of being but rather is relativized by a more ultimate act, namely the act of existing. One can see this relativizing of form in Aquinas's reasoning in the De substantiis separatis concerning the meaning of nonbeing:
 If by saying "nonbeing" [non ens] I only exclude existing actually [esse in
 actu], then form considered in itself is nonbeing but participates in
 existence [esse participans]. If however "nonbeing" not only excludes
 actually existing but also the act or form by which anything participates
 in existence, then matter is nonbeing; furthermore, a subsisting form is
 not nonbeing but is an act, which is the form, participating in the
 ultimate act, which is existence. (62)

There is for Aquinas a sense of being more ultimate than form and in terms of which form must be understood, namely existence. Nonetheless, it is critical to understand that in this Thomistic metaphysical shift, form is not swallowed up in existence. I maintain that it is a serious misinterpretation to understand a Thomistic modus essendi as a theoretical substitute for or successor to Aristotelian form, or even as a way of understanding form or essence within a metaphysics of existence. (63) Existence is received in and limited to anything according to its mode. (64) The mode of a thing's form, essence, or nature is that essence's proportionate capacity for existence, its distinct possibility for a participation in and articulation of the intrinsically infinite perfection of existence. The mode of an essence is that according to which existence of a particular degree or quality is due to it. It is for this reason that actual beings can be measured against the mode proper to their form, essence, or nature: "[F]or according to the mode in which [something] is complete in its act is the mode of the magnitude of its power." (65)

The mode according to which a form, nature, or essence participates existence is intrinsic to it. In this sense, form is not any more questionable for Aquinas than it was for the ancients. Form as the answer to the question about being different remains ultimate. Form becomes questionable in the Thomistic purview only as the ultimate answer to the question about actually being. When Aquinas contextualizes the Aristotelian assertions about form, which he accepts, with the assertion that form as act does not exhaust existence, which is the actuality itself of all acts, he extends the purview of metaphysics. He also thereby generates a new set of questions. The ancients, for example, asked how a unitary form is multiplied. Aquinas must ask of existence not only how it is multiplied but also diversified, and integrate this question and a response with the former question and response.

To speak of the mode of existing proper to a specific form, or else of an individual form's mode of existing, is to make the problem of the one and the many, the same and the other, refer to existence first and to form secondarily and derivatively. To speak of how the one perfection of existence is realized in many subjects according to manifold modes is to speak about something different from, albeit not unrelated to, how one form comes to exist in many individuals or to different degrees. Thus, the Aristotelian assertion that form is the principle of difference remains as ultimate for Aquinas as for Aristotle as replies to the original queries. However, with the horizon of existence understood as the ultimate and formally infinite act, the diversity of the forms themselves must be explained in terms of the transcendental participation of all finite entity and principles of entity in the universal perfection of existence as well as in the infinite subsisting existence of God, the universal cause of finite existence.

If form is the ultimate principle of quidditative difference, then mode is for Aquinas a transcendental concept of existential difference: difference in the sense of the distinction as such of acts of existing, which in any being but God require a formal principle of reception for their determination and distinction. Aquinas uses the term "mode" analogically to express the manifold diversity of existence. He can thus use the term to express difference not only among beings, and among kinds of beings and ways of being, but also between uncreated subsisting being and created beings, where the difference is not one of form and form but of form and absence of form, for the very absence of a duality of essence and existence distinguishes the divine existence from all other existence.

By calling modus Aquinas's transcendental term of existential distinction, we guard against a reduction of the notion to that of measure of existence. With respect to a creature, its mode of existing is the determination of its act of being in both senses of that word: it is a limitation of the fullness of existence, and at the same time an articulation, a determination of existence to some kind of being and way of existing. understanding modes of existing as modifications of existence on an analogy with quality rather than as measures of existence on an analogy with quantity is more consonant with Aquinas's existential metaphysics and its adverbial discourse.

Even though the Latin word modus more commonly means "way" than "measure," the tendency of commentators is to look to the second sense for a metaphysical analogue. (66) The notion of measures of existence seems to accord with the Neoplatonic notion of degrees of being. Moreover this notion seems to find textual support in Aquinas's explications of the Augustinian triplet modus, species, et ordo in terms of the scriptural triplet mensura, pondus, et ordo. (67) However, I think that such ad litteram discussions should take second place to his frequent use of the term ex professo. Furthermore, I think that the secondary sense of measure should be interpreted in light of the primary sense of "way." On this interpretation, "mode of existing" for Aquinas means measure more in the sense of proportion than of quantity or degree. An essence's existence is measured in the sense of being proportioned to it.

This interpretation can even find textual support in some of Aquinas's ad litteram discussions of Augustine's use of mode in the sense of measure. Thus in his consideration in the Summa theologiae of whether the formality (ratio) of good consists, as Augustine says, in mode, species, and order, Aquinas identifies the mode of a form as the commensuration of its principles required for its perfection:
 [For] something to be perfect and good, it is necessary that it have a
 form, the things which are prerequisite for it, and the things which follow
 upon it. Prerequisite for a form is the determination or commensuration of
 its principles, whether of the material ones, or of the ones that effect
 it, and this is signified through mode; thus is it said that the measure
 preestablishes the mode. (68)

We have here a notion of mode as measure in the sense of a prerequisite commensuration or proportion. "Nothing can receive what is beyond its measure." (69) A form's mode predetermines the existence it is capable of receiving; its mode expresses the determination and commensuration of its principles that it requires to exist. When God creates a complete being, he causes the existence of the creature in accord with and simultaneously with its essence. A thing's existence has a mode in accord with its form. A thing's mode is, together with the formality of its species and its order to its end, constitutive of its existence and goodness. (70)

It is true that Aquinas often invokes the quantitative analogy offered by Aristotle between the hierarchy of forms and the order of numbers. However, there is implicit in this comparison the all-important disanalogy that what is added in the case of forms to yield a new species is not the same each time, as the unit is added each time to yield a new number, but rather what is added are increasingly noble and qualitatively per se diverse perfections. In the following passage of his commentary on the Liber de causis, Aquinas reduces the Aristotelian principles of quidditative gradation to the possession or privation of irreducibly diverse formal differences:
 [T]hings that differ formally differ according to a certain contrariety:
 for contrariety is difference according to form, as the Philosopher says in
 Book X of the Metaphysics. However in the case of contraries, there is
 always one more excellent and one less excellent, as is said in book I of
 the Physics. And this is the case because the first contrariety is
 privation and possession, as is said in Book X of the Metaphysics. And for
 this reason in Book VII of the Metaphysics the Philosopher says that the
 forms of things are like numbers, which are diversified in kind by the
 addition of one upon another. (71)

I propose that Aquinas saw that the contrariety of possession and privation asserted as necessary by Aristotle in the hierarchy of forms extends with analogical and equal necessity to the order of existence: there cannot be diversity without contrariety. (72) In his existential account of diversity in his commentary on Boethius's De trinitate, Aquinas reduces the Aristotelian contrariety of having and not having perfections to a more primary contrariety of being and nonbeing:
 It is not possible for being to be divded from being insofar as it is
 being; for nothing is divided from being except nonbeing. And therefore
 this being is not divided from that being unless it is because there is
 included in this being the negation of that being.... Therefore, just as a
 being is immediately discovered to be one insofar as it is undivided, so
 too the plurality of prior and simple things is discovered immediately
 after the division of being and non being. The notion of diversity follows
 on this plurality inasmuch as there remains in it the force of its cause,
 namely the opposition of being and nonbeing. (73)

For Aquinas, the absolute diversity of the simple differentiae that constitute the species of the hierarchy of natures reduces to a contrariety of being and nonbeing (ens et non ens). Each simple being imitates the first cause in a different way by being like it in one way and not being like it in another way. Each has within itself as a consequence both the negation of the first cause's infinite mode of being and the negation of every other being's finite mode of being. The same opposition or contrariety of being and nonbeing that obtains among complete beings and their constitutive differences obtains within each being between its essence and existence. Essence is the principle of partial negation that makes possible the diversification or "modification" of existence. According to Aquinas, existence as such could not be diversified without essence as a contrary principle of differential negation. (74) Aquinas uses the term "mode" precisely to thematize these diversifications of existence.

The various kinds of determination treated in Aquinas's thought are necessary to a creationist metaphysics in which God is one with his existence and it is impossible that there be more than one unparticipated existence. (75) For God to create is for him to cause an act of existing according to a mode determined by his creative idea, a mode that is both an articulation and a limitation: "For the very fact that the creature has a substance modified and limited shows that it is from some principle." (76) The same creaturely mode that expresses the creature's deficiency relative to the unqualified perfection of its infinite source enunciates also its proper perfection within the created whole, a whole which is a better expression of the infinite source for all its diverse beings and manifold modes of existing. (77) The proper modes of existing of things that distinguish creatures from one another are moreover preeminently attributable to their principle according to a unique divine mode: "[W]hatever of perfection is in any creature, wholly preexists and is contained in God according to an eminent mode." (78)

The term "mode" belongs to the metaphysical account of the articulation of existence and primarily to the articulation of an individual thing's existence:
 [E]very existence is according to some form: and therefore according to
 every existence of a thing, there follows upon it a mode, species, and
 order;, such that a man has a species, mode, and order, insofar as he is a
 man; and similarly, insofar as he is white, he has a mode, species, and
 order; and insofar as he is virtuous, and insofar as he is knowing, and
 according to all the things which are said of him. (79)

It is precisely because there is a mode consequent upon every kind of created good as well as upon every being that the term "mode" admits of such universal and various application. (80) The term is flexible, not because it is so indefinite, but rather because it is so precise. Aquinas will use it to name the entitative distinction of whatever is being considered, whether it be Socrates as distinct from Plato, man as distinct from horse, a substance as distinct from an accident, subsistence as distinct from inherence, material being as distinct from immaterial, the good as distinct from the true, the creator as distinct from the creature, and so on. In every case, what is signified is the distinction of the thing with a view to its proper actuality, that is, to its existence.

In sum, in the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas the account of the whole of being in terms of essential differences has its necessary complement in an account of it in terms of distinctions of existence. The modes of being are the ways of having existence, and so are the ways in which, in reply to Parmenides, Thomas Aquinas divides being. Such divisions of being have God as their ultimate cause: "Therefore just as the divine wisdom is the cause of the distinction of things for the sake of the perfection of the universe, so too is it the cause of its inequality." (81) Ultimately, the diversity of being is due to the first cause's limiting the act of existing in accord with his exemplary ideas of finite modes of existing, in each instance creating at once, and necessarily at once, both the participated act and the potency proportioned to receive the act: "In giving existence, God at the same time produces that which receives existence." (82) According to Aquinas, the manifold mode of existing of things reduces ultimately to the intention of the first being to communicate and represent its goodness in other beings. (83)

(1) The remarks of commentators on the concept of modes of existing in Aquinas's thought tend to be incidental and somewhat peremptory--that is, not based on any systematic explication of texts. See, for example, Joseph Owens, An Elementary Christian Metaphysics (Houston: Center for Thomistic Studies, 1985), who cites philosophically "sterile" christological controveries (p. 152). Owens also criticizes a commentary tradition embraced by Maritain which sees a mode as completing an essence (see note 51 below). For other citations, see notes 12 and 63 below. The importance of this concept for Aquinas's metaphysics became clear to me in the course of lexicological research on the principle Quod recipitur in aliquo est in eo per modum recipientis (see note 15 below), during which I learned that Lawrence Dewan had been studying the concept of modes of existing in Aquinas for some time. He gave a paper at the 32nd International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University (1997) entitled "The Individual as a Mode of Being according to Thomas Aquinas." In this paper, he tends to emphasize the notion of "measures" of being, based on Aquinas's comments on the Augustian triplet modus, species, et ordo; on these points, see my remarks at notes 24 and 67-70 below.

(2) The study is a work in progress. Using the computerized lexicology of Roberto Busa with his Thomae Aquinatis opera omnia, cum hypertextibus in CD-ROM, 2d ed. (Milan, 1993), I am doing a systematic review of Aquinas's use of the term modus-i in connection with other metaphysically significant terms, such as modus substantiae, modus essentiae, modus formae, modus materiae, modus essendi, modus existendi, modus entis, modus agentis, modus patientis, modus recipientis, modus rei, and so on. For publications of my methodology, see note 15 below.

(3) Translated from Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, in S. Thomae Aquinatis, Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII. P. M. edita, ed. Fratres Ordinis Praedicatorum (Rome and Paris, 1882-), q. 1, a. 1 (tm. 22, vol. 1, p. 5, ll. 100-25). All further citations will be of the Leonine edition according to tome (tm.), volume (vol.), page (p.), and lines (ll.), as applicable, unless otherwise indicated. All English translations are my own. Note that I always translate ens as "being" or "entity" and esse as "existing" or "existence."

(4) In his Super Boetium De trinitate, q. 4, a. 1, Aquinas says that since nothing is divided from being except nonbeing, one being is divided from another only because there is included in it the negation of the other being. Likewise, in the Summa contra gentiles II, chap. 52, Aquinas says that existence insofar as it is existence cannot be diverse, but can be diversified only through something beyond existence, as the existence of a rock is other than the existence of a man. That he is attempting to reply to Parmenides' dilemma with a concept of relative negation or contrariety is clear enough (see note 72 below); for additional remarks, see notes 43, 72, and 73 below.

(5) For a historical overview of the rise of the doctrine of the transcendentals in the Middle Ages as well as a comprehensive study of Aquinas's own doctrine, see Jan A. Aertsen, Medieval Philosphy and the Transcendentals: The Case of Thomas Aquinas (New York: E. J. Brill, 1996), especially 25-48. Aertsen conducts a close analysis of De veritate q. 1, a. 1 in chapter 2, "Aquinas's General account of the Transcendentals," noting that the text is often cited but seldom analyzed. In neither his translation nor his analysis does Aersten distinguish between modes of existing (modi essendi)and modes of being (modi entis); see, for example, pages 88, 93, and 104. Likewise, although he rightly emphasizes the "modal explication" of Aquinas's treatment (p. 107), Aertsen does not interpret this crucial modus terminology in light of the distinction between essence and existence Aquinas adverts to in the text (see note 36 below), but rather in terms of "contractions" of being, relying upon another text, namely Summa theologiae I, q. 5, a. 3, ad 1. I think that his particular interpretation of this other text betrays Aquinas's whole point in De veritate q. 1, a. 1, namely, that categorical modes of existing and transcendental modes of being express something about the being itself, in contradistinction to the way in which natures superadd to it, as I shall explain further. John F. Wippel also does a close analysis of De veritate q. 1, a. 1 in "Truth in Thomas Aquinas," Review of Metaphysics 43 (1989): 307-21. Like Aertsen, he renders both modus essendi and modus entis as "mode of being" in his translations and explications; he carefully follows Aquinas's use of the term modus in his paraphrasing, but does not remark on its significance (see especially p. 308).

(6) For this distinction, see Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 25, q. 1, a. 4; compare d. 22, q. 1, a. 1. As we shall see, in Quaestiones de veritate, q. 21, a. 1, Aquinas distinguishes between ens particulare and ens universale; he predicates the categorical modes of existing of the latter but says that they are based on the existence of things. See my remarks at notes 42-5 below.

(7) For a citation, see note 36 below.

(8) "Cognito de aliquo an sit, inquirendum restat quomodo sit, ut sciatur de eo quid sit"; Summa theologiae I, q. 3 (tm. 4, p. 35).

(9) See Commentaria in octo libros Physicorum Aristotelis, bk. 3, chap. 3, lc. 5 (tm. 2, p. 114 n. 15).

(10) See In Metaphysicam Aristotelis commentaria, ed. M.-R. Cathala (Turin: Marietti, 1935), bk. 4, lc. 1, p. 183 n. 540.

(11) This is the figure given for occurrences of the lemma modus-i in Thomae Aquinatis opera omnia, cum hypertextibus in CD-ROM; this figure, however, does not include occurrences of the dative and ablative form modo, which because of their high frequency are grouped with those of the homographic adverb under a single pseudo lemma modo (frequency 16,891).

(12) This judgment about the term's metaphysical import is implicit in assessments of the Thomistic axiom "Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver," in which "mode of the receiver" is the salient concept. M.-D. Chenu calls this axiom a vague common sense statement applicable to any kind of recipient. See Toward understanding St. Aquinas, trans. A.-M. Landry and Hughes (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1964), 186-7. Robert Pasnau writes, "By mode Aquinas means to refer in the most general way to the characteristics and conditions of the recipient"; Pasnau, "Aquinas and the Content Fallacy," The Modern Schoolman 75 (1998): 296. In a similar vein, a reviewer of an article on the axiom submitted by me to another journal asserted that the phrase "mode of the recipient" is intentionally vague: "Mode, in other words, can mean virtually anything."

(13) This is the judgment of R. J. Henle on the "modus formulae" that Aquinas uses in applying to questions of knowledge the "principle of reception" mentioned in the preceding note; see St. Aquinas and Platonism (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1956), 331-3.

(14) See note 63 below for citations.

(15) For a general account of my initial computerized research on this principle and a summary of its philosophical results, see my "Thomistic Axiomatics in an Age of Computers," History of Philosophy Quarterly 16 (1999): 249-76; for indices and a fully detailed account of my subsequently revised research methodology and statistical analyses, see my "Four Indices for the Thomistic Principle Quod recipitur in aliquo est in eo per modum recipientis," Mediaeval Studies 60 (1998): 315-67. In his careful textual survey of two closely related principles, namely, "Unreceived act is Unlimited," and "Act is not limited except by a distinct potency that receives it," John. F. Wippel faithfully represents Aquinas's use of the term "mode" but without offering any particular comment or intepretation; he does not distinguish "mode of existing" from "mode of being" in his translations or commentary. See "Thomas Aquinas and the Axiom that Unreceived Act is Unlimited," Review of Metaphysics 51 (1998): 538, 542, 543, 554, 556, and especially 550-1.

(16) Summa theologiae I, q. 8, a. 1 (tm. 4, p. 82). Compare Quaestiones de potentia, q. 3, a. 3.

(17) Summa theologiae I, q. 4, a. 2 (tm. 4, p. 52).

(18) Summa theologiae I, q. 7, a. 4, ad 1 (tm. 4, p. 79).

(19) Summa theologiae I, q. 75, a. 6 (tm. 5, p. 204).

(20) Summa theologiae I, q. 50, a. 2 (tm. 5, p. 6).

(21) Summa theologiae I, q. 14, a. 1, ad 3 (tm. 4, p. 167).

(22) Summa theologiae I, q. 14, a. 3 (tm. 4, p. 170).

(23) Summa theologiae I, q. 75, a. 6 (tm. 5, p. 204).

(24) Summa theologiae I-II, q. 49, a. 2 (tm. 6, p. 311). I think that it would be a mistake to take one's bearings on the Thomistic concept of modes of existing from such comments on Augustine's terminology. Rather these texts should support analyses of the abundant passages where Aquinas uses the term ex professo. For a caveat about interpreting "mode of existing" as "measure of existence," see my remarks at notes 66-70 below.

(25) Summa theologiae I-II, q. 49, a. 2 (tm. 6, p. 311).

(26) Quaestiones de veritate, q. 21, a. 6, ad 5 (tm. 22, vol. 3, p. 610, ll. 179-85).

(27) "Solius autem Dei proprius modus essendi est ut sit suum esse subsistens"; Summa theologiae I, q. 12, a. 4 (tm. 4, p. 121). Compare Scriptum super libros Sententiarum, ed. R. P. Mandonnet and M. F. Moos, 4 vols. (Paris: Lethielleux, 1929-47), 1:866: "Deus enim est in rebus temporaliter per modum rerum, sed res ab aeterno in Deo per modum Dei"; and Summa theologiae I, q. 14, a. 1, ad 3 (tm. 4, p. 167): "cum modus divinae essentiae sit altior quam modus quo creaturae sunt."

(28) See Quaestiones de potentia, q. 2, a. 1, ad 13; q. 2, a. 5, ad 4 and ad 5; q. 3, a. 15, ad 17.

(29) De substantiis separatis seu de angelorum natura ad Fratrem Reginaldum socium suum carissimum, in Divi Thomae Aquinatis Opuscula Philosophica, ed. Raymundi M. Spiazzi (Turin and Rome: Marietti, 1954), chap. 8 (p. 34 n. 88).

(30) Pace L.-B. Geiger, La participation dans la philosophie de s. Aquinas d'Aquin (Paris: Vrin, 1942), 247. For Geiger's participation in the capitulation to essentialism by his reducing modes of existing to essences, see note 63 below.

(31) Quaestiones de potentia, in S. Thomae Aquinatis Quaestiones Disputatae, ed. Bazzi, et al., 9th ed., rev. (Turin and Rome: Marietti, 1949), q. 9, a. 2, ad 1 (tm. 2, p. 228).

(32) Quaestiones de potentia, q. 2, ad 6 (from the Marietti edition, tm. 2, p. 228).

(33) For citations, see the Subject and Corollary indices (s. v. "Knowledge") of my "Four Indices" cited in note 15 above.

(34) De substantiis separatis, chap. 8 (Marietti, p. 33 n. 86). Compare Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 22, q. 1, a. 3, ad 2 (from the Lethielleux edition, tm. 1, p. 538): "aliter dividiturr aequivocum, analogum et univocum. Aequivocum enim dividitur secundum res significata, univocum vero dividitur secundum diversas differentias; sed analogum dividitur secundum diversos modos. Unde cum ens praedicetur analogice de decem generibus, dividitur in ea secundum diversos modos."

(35) Aquinas denies that there can be any direct intellectual apprehension of material singulars; but he nonetheless holds that there is an intellectual conception of the individual being or supposit. See Summa theologiae I, q. 30, a. 4; III, q. 17, aa. I and 2; Quaestiones de quolibet, ql. 2, q. 2, a. 2. The reader should note that I follow the line of Thomistic interpretation that takes Aquinas to assert a real and necessary distinction between essence and existence in every finite being. For comments and citations of other lines of interpretation, see Wippel, "Unreceived Act is Unlimited," 534-5; for treatments of primary texts, see his Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas (Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1984), 107-62.

(36) Quaestiones de veritate, q. 1, a. 1 (tm. 22, vol. 1, p. 5, ll. 137-9); compare ad 3. See also Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 25, q. 1, a. 4, and In Metaphysicam commentaria, bk. 4, lc. 2.

(37) "Est autem multiplex modus essendi rerum"; Summa theologiae I, q. 12, a. 4 (tm. 4, p. 120). Aquinas's use of the singular here may at first seem odd. It suggests to me a transcendental notion of existential distinction. Just as we might assert that "being is multiple" to affirm that there are many beings, so Aquinas affirms that "the way in which things exist is multiple" to affirm that there are multiple determinations of existence.

(38) "Therefore in being, by reason of its commonness, it is the case that the privation of being is based in being, which is not the case in privations of special forms, such as sight or whiteness or any other of this sort." It is note-worthy that Aquinas makes this statement in response to an objection concerning the opposition of the transcendentals unum and multitudo. See Summa theologiae I, q. 11, a. 2 (tm. 4, p. 110).

(39) I discuss this strategy further at notes 71-3 below.

(40) Quaestiones de veritate, q. 21, a. 1 (tm. 22, vol. 3, p. 592, ll. 90-4).

(41) Quaestiones de veritate, q. 21, a. I (tm. 22, vol. 3, p. 592, ll. 94-110).

(42) Quaestiones de veritate, q. 21, a. I (tm. 22, vol. 3, pp. 592-3, ll. 124-9).

(43) See In libros Physicorum, bk. 3, chap. 3, lc. 5 (tm. 2, p. 114 n. 15); and In Metaphysicam, bk. 4, lc. 1 (Marietti, p. 183 n. 540).

(44) In Summa theologiae I, q. 4, a. 1, ad 3, and a. 2, ad 3, Aquinas makes a parallel distinction between existence considered as such (ipsum esse) and existence considered as participated (esse participatum), stating that existence as such does contain within itself all other perfections (which do not and cannot add anything to being), but existence as it is received and formal (ipsum esse ut receptum et formale) does not contain all the perfections of being.

(45) Quaestiones de veritate, q. 21, a. 1 (tm. 22, vol. 3, p. 593, ll. 129-36). Note that the meaning of this passage is much clarified by the Leonine edition's correction of ipsa existentia rei in lieu of ipsa essentia rei; compare Quaestiones disputatae, 9th ed., rev. (Turin and Rome: Marietti, 1953), tm. 1, vol. 1, p. 376.

(46) Summa theologiae I, q. 4, a. 1, ad 3 (tm. 4, p. 50).

(47) Compare this to Aristotle's analogical extension of the term "quality" to substance: "Yet species and genus do not merely indicate quality, like the term `white'; ... but species and genus determine the quality with reference to a substance: they signify substance qualitatively differentiated." See Categoriae, trans. E. M. Edghill, in The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon (New York: Random House, 1941), 5.3615-23.

(48) For such a use of the adjective "modified" by Aquinas, see note 76 below.

(49) Summa theologiae I, q. 88, a. 1, ad 3 (tm. 5, p. 366).

(50) Jacques Maritain, "On the Notion of Subsistence," Appendix 4 in Distinguish to unite or The Degrees of Knowledge, trans. G. B. Phelan (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959), 434 n. 1; compare H. Diepen, "La critique du Baslieme selon saint Thomas d'Aquin," Revue thomiste 50 (1950): 115 and 304.

(51) In Existence and the Existent (New York: Pantheon Books, 1948), Maritain follows Cajetan and John of St. Thomas in distinguishing subsistence from essence and existence both; he describes subsistence as the termination in the order of essence of a given nature, allowing it to take possession of the act of existing for which it is created and which transcends it (p. 64). I would argue, rather, that subsistence, as a mode of existing, pertains to the act of existing, which confers upon the essence the perfection of subsisting. For another interpretation, see Owens, Elementary Christian Metaphysics, 152.

(52) "Nam esse pertinet ad ipsam constitutionem personae: et sic quantum ad hoc se habet in ratione termini. Et ideo unitas personae requirit unitatem ipsius esse completi et personalis"; Summa theologiae III, q. 19, a. 1, ad 4 (tm. 11, p. 242).

(53) Quoted at note 29 above.

(54) See "Thomas Aquinas on the Distinction and Derivation of the Many from the One: A Dialectic Between Being and Nonbeing," Review of Metaphysics 38 (1985): 585-90. Compare W. E. Carlo: "Essence is not something extrinsic to existence which limits and determines it ... but essence is rather the place where existence stops.... There is nothing in an existent which is not existence. Essence is the intrinsic limitation of esse, the crystallization of existence, bordered by nothingness. This is why Aquinas can speak of essence as nonbeing. This is why it is not so much created but rather con-created. This is why it is a coexistent rather than an existent"; The Ultimate Reducibility of Essence to Existence in Existential Metaphysics (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966), 103-4.

(55) pace Carlo: "This is what we mean when we say that essence is the intrinsic limitation of existence. It is not that which limits esse, it is the limitation of esse, it is not that which receives, determines and specifies esse, it is the very specification itself of existence"; The Ultimate Reducibility of Essence, 104. The reader can infer from my formulations that although I hold to the necessity of a real diversity of essence and existence, I nonethelss take issue with the common formulation that essence limits existence. Aquinas, rather, almost always makes this assertion in the passive voice: existence is limited according to essence. Wippel defends the common formulation at length in "Thomas Aquinas and the Axiom that Unreceived Act is Unlimited." My disagreement with his readings are beyond the scope of this article and matter for another, projected article.

(56) Compare Summa theologiae I, q. 45, a. 4 (tm. 4, p. 468): "Existing pertains properly to that which has existence, that is, what is subsisting by its own existence. However forms and accidents and other things of this sort are not called beings as though they themselves exist, but because by them something exists ... and so they ought to be called cocreated rather than created. Properly speaking subsisting things are what are created." This analysis holds for a thing's essence and its act of existing as for any form or accident. Compare Quaestiones de potentia, q. 3, a. 1, ad 17 (Marietti, tm. 2, p. 41): "In giving existence God at the same time produces that which receives existence."

(57) Quaestiones de veritate, q. 2, a. 2 (tm. 22, vol. 1, p. 44, ll. 134-6). Compare Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 8, q. 5, a. 2, ag. 2 (Lethielleux, tm. 1, p. 227): "cum unius rei sit unicum esse"; Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 35, q. 1, a. 4 (Lethielleux, tm. 1, p. 819): "unum esse non est nisi in una re"; Quaestiones de potentia, q. 7, a. 3 (Marietti, tm. 2, p. 193): "esse uniuscujusque rei est ei proprium et distinctum ab esse cujuslibet alterius rei"; Summa theologiae III, q. 17, a. 2 (tm. 11, p. 222): "quia impossibile est quod unius rei non sit unum esse."

(58) Summa theologiae III, q. 17, a. 1, ad 7 (tm. 11, p. 220).

(59) "Thomas Aquinas's definition of an individual could not be clearer. There are, he says, two elements in the ratio or notion of an individual: one is that an individual is a being in actuality, and the other is that it is undivided in itself, but divided from all else"; Kevin White, "Individuation in Aquinas's Super Boetium De Trinitate, Q. 4," American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 69, no. 4 (1995): 1; for the requirement of actuality, White cites Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 4, d. 12, q. 1, a. 1, qa. 3, ad 3. The unity of the supposit or complete entity accordingly derives from its existence: "sed esse est id in quo fundatur unitas suppositi"; Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 9, q. 2, ad 2 (Marietti, p. 181). It is in virtue of the distinct act of existence by which a nature exists simply that any other accidental perfections can accrue to it. See Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 9, a. 2; Summa theologiae III, q. 17, a 2 (tm. 11, p. 222); and Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 35, q. 1, a. 4 (Lethielleux, tm. 1, p. 819).

(60) "Although he gives existence to all creatures in general, nevertheless he gives to each creature a proper mode of existing; and thus insofar as he is in all things by his essence, presence, and power, he is found to be in different things differently and in each according to its proper mode"; Quaestiones de veritate, q. 10, a 11, ad 8 (tm. 22, vol. 2, p. 337, ll. 290-6). Compare Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 38, q. 1, a. 2 (Lethielleux, tm. 1, p. 901): "God does not only know the thing, but the proper mode of the thing; he knows therefore that there are diverse modes in diverse things." See also a. 3.

(61) See Summa theologiae I, q. 12, a. 4, quoted in note 27 above.

(62) De substantiis separatis, chap. 8 (tm. 40, p. D55, ll. 236-44).

(63) This opinion is a common one, although I know of no comprehensive or systematic study of the term "mode" to support it: "The being and truth of material realities is rehabilitated by an Aristotelian form become a Thomistic modus essend."; R. J. Henle, Saint Thomas and Platonism (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1956), 318. "The modes of being to which St. Aquinas refers [ST, I-II, 85, 4c; De Ver., XXI, 6, ad 5m] are finite essences in general, both accidental and substantial, insofar as essences are limitations of being"; Owens, Elementary Christian Metaphysics, 152 n. 13. "[L]a notion de modus est caracteristique de l'inegalite formelle. Elle traduit tres exactement cette diversite purement qualitative a l'interieur d'une unite non univoque"; L.-B. Geiger, La participation dans la philosophie de s. Thomas d'Aquin, 242. "In contrast, every act other than the act of existing, that is, every form or quidditative act, is an act limited of itself [De pot. 7,3, resp.] insofar as it is, primordially, a creative idea of a certain mode of being [De vet. 3,2,ad 6; ST I, 15,2c]"; Francis J. Kovach, "St. Thomas Aquinas: The Limitation of Potency by Act," in Atti Dell'VIII Congresso Tomistico Internazionale (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1982), 5:405. "[T]he species, and especially the individuals, are considered no longer on a purely logical level but rather as modes of being in concrete reality"; Cornelio Fabro, "The Intensive Hermeneutics of Thomistic Philosophy," Review of Metaphysics 27 (1974): 485.

(64) "[E]sse enim recipitur in aliquo secundum modum ipsius, et ideo terminatur, sicut et quaelibet alia forma, quae de se communis est, et secundum quod recipitur in aliquo, terminatur ad illud"; Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 8, q. 2, a. 1 (Lethielleux, tm. 1, p. 202).

(65) Summa contra gentiles I, chap. 43 (tm. 13, p. 124, ll. a1-42).

(66) An extreme case of this is Carlo: "The ultimate reducibility of essence to esse provides a natural, intrinsic proportion between essence and esse. If essence is a mode of esse, then the essence varies with the degree, or to put it crudely, the amount of esse. Essences are as it were quanta of existence. There is therefore no need of an artificial adaptation or accommodation of essence and esse as reciprocal causes, related as metal to mold or the interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Such a proportion flows naturally from the very structure of being, intrinsic to esse"; The Ultimate Reducibility, 102 n. 2. The converse of Carlo's reduction of essence to modes of existence is a reduction by other commentators of modes of existence to essence; see note 63 above. I maintain that both reductions are betrayals of Aquinas's existential insight, namely, that the very possibility of finite being and multiplicity of being requires a duality within being of essence and existence.

(67) See Summa theologiae I, q. 45, a. 7 (tm. 4, p. 476); compare Quaestiones de veritate, q. 21, a. 6 (tm. 22, vol. 3, p. 608), and Summa theologiae I, q. 5, a. 5 (tm. 4, p. 63). Of principal interest here for the interpretation of Aquinas's exegesis of this triplet is that he consistently associates the term modus with existence in contradistinction precisely to species as denoting form. See, for example Quaestiones de veritate, q. 21, a. 6, s.c. 4 (tm. 22, vol. 3, p. 608, ll. 93-5); q. 21, a. 6, ad 3 (tm. 22, vol. 3, p. 609, ll. 164-70); and q. 21, a. 6, so. (tm. 22, vol. 3, p. 609, ll. 138-48).

(68) Summa theologiae I, q. 5, a. 5 (tm. 4, p. 63).

(69) "[N]ihil potest recipere ultra mensuram suam"; Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 8, q. 1, a. 2 (Lethielleux, tm. 1, p. 197).

(70) Summa theologiae I, q. 5, a. 5, ad 2 (tm. 4, p. 63).

(71) In Librum de causis, lc. 4 (Marietti, pp. 249-50 n. 115).

(72) On Aquinas's derivation of diversity and plurality from the contrariety between being and nonbeing, see his Super Boetium De trinitate, q. 4, a. 1. For a close reading of this text, see John F. Wippel, "Thomas Aquinas on the Distinction and Derivation of the Many from the One," 563-90.

(73) Sancti Thomae de Aquino Exposition super librum Boethii de trinitate, ed. Bruno Decker (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1955), pp. 135-6, ll. 5-8, 23-4, and 1-3.

(74) This theme well exceeds the scope of this paper. For a resume of relevant texts, see John F. Wippel, "Metaphysics," in the Cambridge Companion to Thomas Aquinas, ed. Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

(75) See, for example, Super libros Sententiarum, bk. 1, d. 8, q. 2, a. 1; Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 3, q. 8, a. 1; Quaestiones de potentia, q. 7, a. 2, ad 3; De spiritualibus creaturis, a. 1; In librum Boetii De hebdomadibus expositio, lc. 2; Super librum De causis expositio, lc. 4.

(76) "Nam hoc ipsum quod creatura habet substantiam modificatam et finitam, demonstrat quod sit a quodam principio"; Summa theologiae I, q. 93, a. 6 (tm. 5, p. 407). Although we have seen Aquinas apply the term modus to divine being, he will sometimes use the term in treatments of creation and participation to contradistinguish the finite being of creatures from the infinity of the Creator: "Quolibet enim alio nomine determinatur aliquis modus substantiae rei; sed hoc nomen QUI EST, nullum modum essendi determinat, sed se habet indeterminate ad omnes, et ideo nominat ipsum pelagius substantiae infinitum"; Summa theologiae I, q. 13, a. 11 (tm. 4, p. 162). Such formulations, however, are uncommon. With respect to analogical discourse about God, they may be seen as part of the via negativa, in which the notion of determination is purged of the limitation it connotes when said of any finite act of existence. However, one must deny of God not only the finite determination of created being but also the infinite indetermination of matter and of mere possibility. Thus in the via eminentiae, the term "mode," purged of the connotation of limitation, is used by Aquinas to attribute to God actuality, distinction from creatures, and a unique determination to infinite subsistence. See Quaestiones quodlibetales, ql. 7, q. 1, a. 1, ad 1.

(77) On the greater perfection of the creation for the multiplicity and diversity of beings, see Summa theologiae I, q. 47, aa. 1-2. For a treatment of this theme in Aquinas's writings, see Oliva Blanchette, The Perfection of the Universe According to Aquinas: A Teleological Cosmology (University Park, Penn.: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992).

(78) Summa theologiae I, q. 14, a. 6 (tm. 4, p. 176).

(79) Summa theologiae I, q. 5, a. 5, ad 3 (tm. 4, p. 63).

(80) Summa theologiae I-II, q. 85, a. 4 (tm. 7, p. 114).

(81) Summa theologiae I, q. 47, a. 2 (tm. 4, p. 487).

(82) "Deus simul dans esse, producit id quod esse recipit: et sic non oportet quod agat ex aliquo praeexistenti"; Quaestiones de potentia, q. 3, a. 1, ad 17 (Marietti, tm. 2, p. 41).

(83) I am grateful for the particular goodness of Kevin White and Jeff Haus in commenting on drafts of this paper.
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Author:Tomarchio, John
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Date:Mar 1, 2001
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