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Title: Ontology or the Theory of Being
Author: Coffey, Peter
Language: English
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                             Theory of Being


                      Peter Coffey, Ph.D. (Louvain)

      Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, Waynooth College, Ireland

                         Longmans, Green and Co.

              London, New York, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras



General Introduction.
Chapter I. Being And Its Primary Determinations.
Chapter II. Becoming And Its Implications.
Chapter III. Existence And Essence.
Chapter IV. Reality As One And Manifold.
Chapter V. Reality And The True.
Chapter VI. Reality And The Good.
Chapter VII. Reality And The Beautiful.
Chapter VIII. The Categories Of Being. Substance And Accident.
Chapter IX. Nature And Person.
Chapter X. Some Accident-Modes Of Being: Quality.
Chapter XI. Quantity, Space And Time.
Chapter XII. Relation; The Relative And The Absolute.
Chapter XIII. Causality; Classification Of Causes.
Chapter XIV. Efficient Causality; Phenomenism And Occasionalism.
Chapter XV. Final Causes; Universal Order.

The Students
Past And Present
Maynooth College


It is hoped that the present volume will supply a want that is really felt
by students of philosophy in our universities—the want of an English
text-book on General Metaphysics from the Scholastic standpoint. It is the
author’s intention to supplement his _Science of Logic_(1) and the present
treatise on Ontology, by a volume on the Theory of Knowledge. Hence no
disquisitions on the latter subject will be found in these pages: the
Moderate Realism of Aristotle and the Schoolmen is assumed throughout.

In the domain of Ontology there are many scholastic theories and
discussions which are commonly regarded by non-scholastic writers as
possessing nowadays for the student of philosophy an interest that is
merely historical. This mistaken notion is probably due to the fact that
few if any serious attempts have yet been made to transpose these
questions from their medieval setting into the language and context of
contemporary philosophy. Perhaps not a single one of these problems is
really and in substance alien to present-day speculations. The author has
endeavoured, by his treatment of such characteristically “medieval”
discussions as those on _Potentia_ and _Actus_, Essence and Existence,
Individuation, the Theory of Distinctions, Substance and Accident, Nature
and Person, Logical and Real Relations, Efficient and Final Causes, to
show that the issues involved are in every instance as fully and keenly
debated—in an altered setting and a new terminology—by recent and living
philosophers of every school of thought as they were by St. Thomas and his
contemporaries in the golden age of medieval scholasticism. And, as the
purposes of a text-book demanded, attention has been devoted to stating
the problems clearly, to showing the significance and bearings of
discussions and solutions, rather than to detailed analyses of arguments.
At the same time it is hoped that the treatment is sufficiently full to be
helpful even to advanced students and to all who are interested in the
“Metaphysics of the Schools”. For the convenience of the reader the more
advanced portions are printed in smaller type.

The teaching of St. Thomas and the other great Schoolmen of the Middle
Ages forms the groundwork of the book. This _corpus_ of doctrine is
scarcely yet accessible outside its Latin sources. As typical of the
fuller scholastic text-books the excellent treatise of the Spanish author,
Urraburu,(2) has been most frequently consulted. Much assistance has also
been derived from Kleutgen’s _Philosophie der Vorzeit_,(3) a monumental
work which ought to have been long since translated into English. And
finally, the excellent treatise in the Louvain _Cours de Philosophie_, by
the present Cardinal Archbishop of Mechlin,(4) has been consulted with
profit and largely followed in many places. The writer freely and
gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to these and other authors quoted
and referred to in the course of the present volume.


I. REASON OF INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.—It is desirable that at some stage in
the course of his investigations the student of philosophy should be
invited to take a brief general survey of the work in which he is engaged.
This purpose will be served by a chapter on _the general aim and scope of
philosophy_, its distinctive characteristics as compared with other lines
of human thought, and its relations to these latter. Such considerations
will at the same time help to define _Ontology_, thus introducing the
reader to the subject-matter of the present volume.

II. PHILOSOPHY: THE NAME AND THE THING.—In the fifth book of Cicero’s
_Tusculan Disputations_ we read that the terms _philosophus_ and
_philosophia_ were first employed by Pythagoras who flourished in the
sixth century before Christ, that this ancient sage was modest enough to
call himself not a “wise man” but a “lover of wisdom” (φίλος, σοφία), and
his calling not a profession of wisdom but a search for wisdom. However,
despite the disclaimer, the term _philosophy_ soon came to signify
_wisdom_ simply, meaning by this the highest and most precious kind of

Now human knowledge has for its object everything that falls in any way
within human experience. It has _extensively_ a great variety in its
subject-matter, and _intensively_ a great variety in its degrees of depth
and clearness and perfection. _Individual facts_ of the past, communicated
by human testimony, form the raw materials of _historical_ knowledge. Then
there are all the individual things and events that fall within one’s own
personal experience. Moreover, by the study of human language (or
languages), of works of the human mind and products of human genius and
skill, we gain a knowledge of _literature_, and of the _arts_—the fine
arts and the mechanical arts. But not merely do we use our senses and
memory thus to accumulate an unassorted stock of informations about
isolated facts: a miscellaneous mass of mental furniture which constitutes
the bulk of human knowledge in its _least developed_ form—_cognitio
____vulgaris,___ the knowledge of the comparatively uneducated and
unreflecting classes of mankind. We also use our reasoning faculty to
reflect, compare, classify these informations, to interpret them, to
reason about them, to infer from them _general truths_ that embrace
individual things and events _beyond our personal experience_; we try to
explain them by seeking out their _reasons_ and _causes_. This mental
activity gradually converts our knowledge into _scientific_ knowledge, and
thus gives rise to those great groups of systematized truths called the
_sciences_: as, for example, the physical and mathematical sciences, the
elements of which usually form part of our early education. These sciences
teach us a great deal about ourselves and the universe in which we live.
There is no need to dwell on the precious services conferred upon mankind
by discoveries due to the progress of the various _special_ sciences:
mathematics as applied to engineering of all sorts; astronomy; the
physical sciences of light, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, etc.;
chemistry in all its branches; physiology and anatomy as applied in
medicine and surgery. All these undoubtedly contribute much to man’s
_bodily_ well-being. But man has a _mind_ as well as a body, and he is
moreover a _social_ being: there are, therefore, other special
sciences—“human” as distinct from “physical” sciences—in which man himself
is studied in his mental activities and social relations with his
fellow-men: the sciences of social and political economy, constitutional
and civil law, government, statesmanship, etc. Furthermore, man is a
_moral_ being, recognizing distinctions of good and bad, right and wrong,
pleasure and happiness, duty and responsibility, in his own conduct; and
finally he is a _religious_ being, face to face with the fact that men
universally entertain views, beliefs, convictions of some sort or other,
regarding man’s subjection to, and dependence on, some higher power or
powers dwelling somehow or somewhere within or above the whole universe of
his direct and immediate experience: there are therefore also sciences
which deal with these domains, morality and religion. Here, however, the
domains are so extensive, and the problems raised by their phenomena are
of such far-reaching importance, that the sciences which deal with them
can hardly be called special sciences, but rather constituent portions of
the one wider and deeper _general_ science which is what men commonly
understand nowadays by philosophy.

The distinction between the special sciences on the one hand and
philosophy, the general science, on the other, will help us to realize
more clearly the nature and scope of the latter. The special sciences are
concerned with discovering the _proximate_ reasons and causes of this,
that, and the other definite department in the whole universe of our
experience. The subject-matter of some of them is totally different from
that of others: physiology studies the functions of living organisms;
geology studies the formation of the earth’s crust. Or if two or more of
them investigate the same subject-matter they do so from different
standpoints, as when the zoologist and the physiologist study the same
type or specimen in the animal kingdom. But the common feature of all is
this, that each seeks only the reasons, causes, and laws which give a
_proximate_ and _partial_ explanation of the facts which it investigates,
leaving untouched and unsolved a number of deeper and wider questions
which may be raised about the _whence_ and _whither_ and _why_, not only
of the facts themselves, but of the reasons, causes and laws assigned by
the particular science in explanation of these facts.

Now it is those deeper and wider questions, which can be answered only by
the discovery of the _more remote_ and _ultimate_ reasons and causes of
things, that philosophy undertakes to investigate, and—as far as lies
within man’s power—to answer. No one has ever disputed the supreme
importance of such inquiries into the ultimate reasons and causes of
things—into such questions as these, for instance: What is the nature of
man himself? Has he in him a principle of life which is spiritual and
immortal? What was his first origin on the earth? Whence did he come? Has
his existence any purpose, and if so, what? Whither does he tend? What is
his destiny? Why does he distinguish between a right and a wrong in human
conduct? What is the ultimate reason or ground of this distinction? Why
have men generally some form or other of religion? Why do men generally
believe in God? Is there really a God? What is the origin of the whole
universe of man’s experience? Of life in all its manifestations? Has the
universe any intelligible or intelligent purpose, and if so, what? Can the
human mind give a certain answer to any of these or similar questions?
What about the nature and value of human _knowledge_ itself? What is its
scope and what are its limitations? And since vast multitudes of men
_believe_ that the human race has been specially enlightened by God
Himself, by Divine Revelation, to know for certain what man’s destiny is,
and is specially aided by God Himself, by Divine Grace, to work out this
destiny—the question immediately arises: What are the real relations
between reason alone on the one hand and reason enlightened by such
Revelation on the other, in other words between natural knowledge and
supernatural faith?

Now it will be admitted that the special sciences take us some distance
along the road towards an answer to such questions, inasmuch as the truths
established by these sciences, and even the wider hypotheses conceived
though not strictly verified in them, furnish us with most valuable data
in our investigation of those questions. Similarly the alleged fact of a
Divine Revelation cannot be ignored by any man desirous of using all the
data available as helps towards their solution. The Revelation embodied in
Christianity claims not merely to enlighten us in regard to many ultimate
questions which mankind would be able to answer without its assistance,
but also to tell us about our destiny some truths of supreme import, which
of ourselves we should never have been able to discover. It is obvious,
then, that whether a man has been brought up from his infancy to believe
in the Christian Revelation or not, his whole outlook on life will be
determined very largely by his belief or disbelief in its authenticity and
its contents. Similarly, if he be a Confucian, or a Buddhist, or a
Mohammedan, his outlook will be in part determined by what he believes of
their teachings. Man’s conduct in life has undoubtedly many determining
influences, but it will hardly be denied that among them the predominant
influence is exerted by the views that he holds, the things he believes to
be true, concerning his own origin, nature and destiny, as well as the
origin, nature and destiny of the universe in which he finds himself. The
Germans have an expressive term for that which, in the absence of a more
appropriate term, we may translate as a man’s _world-outlook_; they call
it his _Weltanschauung_. Now this world-outlook is formed by each
individual for himself from his interpretation of _his experience as a
whole_. It is not unusual to call this world-outlook a man’s _philosophy
of life_. If we use the term _philosophy_ in this wide sense it obviously
includes whatever light a man may gather from the _special sciences_, and
whatever light he may gather from a divinely revealed _religion_ if he
believes in such, as well as the light his own reason may shed upon a
special and direct study of those ultimate questions themselves, to which
we have just referred. But we mention this wide sense of the term
_philosophy_ merely to put it aside; and to state that we use the term in
the sense more commonly accepted nowadays, the sense in which it is
understood to be distinct from the _special sciences_ on the one side and
from _supernatural theology_ or the systematic study of divinely revealed
religion on the other. Philosophy is distinct from the special sciences
because while the latter seek the proximate, the former seeks the ultimate
grounds, reasons and causes of all the facts of human experience.
Philosophy is distinct from supernatural theology because while the former
uses _the unaided power of human reason_ to study the ultimate questions
raised by human experience, the latter uses _reason enlightened by Divine
Revelation_ to study the contents of this Revelation in all their bearings
on man’s life and destiny.

Hence we arrive at this simple and widely accepted definition of
philosophy: _the science of all things through their ultimate reasons and
causes as discovered by the unaided light of human reason_.(5) The first
part of this definition marks off philosophy from the special sciences,
the second part marks it off from supernatural theology.

    We must remember, however, that these three departments of
    knowledge—scientific, philosophical, and revealed—are not isolated
    from one another in any man’s mind; they overlap in their
    subject-matter, and though differing in their respective
    standpoints they permeate one another through and through. The
    separation of the special sciences from philosophy, though
    adumbrated in the speculations of ancient times and made more
    definite in the middle ages, was completed only in modern times
    through the growth and progress of the special sciences
    themselves. The line of demarcation between philosophy and
    supernatural theology must be determined by the proper relations
    between Reason and Faith: and naturally these relations are a
    subject of debate between philosophers who believe in the
    existence of an authentic Divine Revelation and philosophers who
    do not. It is the duty of the philosopher as such to determine by
    the light of reason whether a Supreme Being exists and whether a
    Divine Revelation to man is possible. If he convinces himself of
    the existence of God he will have little difficulty in inferring
    the _possibility_ of a Divine Revelation. The _fact_ of a Divine
    Revelation is a matter not for philosophical but for historical
    research. Now when a man has convinced himself of the existence of
    God and the fact of a Divine Revelation—the _preambula fidei_ or
    prerequisite conditions of Faith, as they are called—he must see
    that it is eminently reasonable for him to believe in the contents
    of such Divine Revelation; he must see that the truths revealed by
    God cannot possibly trammel the freedom of his own reason in its
    philosophical inquiries into ultimate problems concerning man and
    the universe; he must see that these truths may possibly act as
    beacons which will keep him from going astray in his own
    investigations: knowing that truth cannot contradict truth he
    knows that if he reaches a conclusion really incompatible with any
    certainly revealed truth, such conclusion must be erroneous; and
    so he is obliged to reconsider the reasoning processes that led
    him to such a conclusion.(6) Thus, the position of the Christian
    philosopher, aided in this negative way by the truths of an
    authentic Divine Revelation, has a distinct advantage over that of
    the philosopher who does not believe in such revelation and who
    tries to solve all ultimate questions independently of any light
    such revelation may shed upon them. Yet the latter philosopher as
    a rule not only regards the “independent” position, which he
    himself takes up in the name of “freedom of thought” and “freedom
    of research,” as the superior position, but as the only one
    consistent with the dignity of human reason; and he commonly
    accuses the Christian philosopher of allowing reason to be
    “enslaved” in “the shackles of dogma”. We can see at once the
    unfairness of such a charge when we remember that the Christian
    philosopher has convinced himself _on grounds of reason alone_
    that God exists and has made a revelation to man. His belief in a
    Divine Revelation is a _reasoned_ belief, a _rationabile
    obsequium_ (Rom. XII. 1); and only if it were a blind belief,
    unjustifiable on grounds of reason, would the accusation referred
    to be a fair one. The Christian philosopher might retort that it
    is the unbelieving philosopher himself who really destroys
    “freedom of thought and research,” by claiming for the latter what
    is really an abuse of freedom, namely _license_ to believe what
    reason shows to be erroneous. But this counter-charge would be
    equally unfair, for the unbelieving philosopher does not claim any
    such undue license to believe what he knows to be false or to
    disbelieve what he knows to be true. If he denies the fact or the
    possibility of a Divine Revelation, and therefore pursues his
    philosophical investigations without any regard to the contents of
    such revelation, it is because he has convinced himself on grounds
    of reason that such revelation is neither a fact nor a
    possibility. He and the Christian philosopher cannot both be
    right; one of them must be wrong; but as reasonable men they
    should agree to differ rather than hurl unjustifiable charges and
    counter-charges at each other.

    All philosophers who believe in the Christian Revelation and allow
    its authentic teachings to guide and supplement their own rational
    investigation into ultimate questions, are keenly conscious of the
    consequent superior depth and fulness and certitude of Christian
    philosophy as compared with all the other conflicting and
    fragmentary philosophies that mark the progress of human
    speculation on the ultimate problems of man and the universe down
    through the centuries. They feel secure in the possession of a
    _philosophia __ perennis_,(7) and none more secure than those of
    them who complete and confirm that philosophy by the only full and
    authentic deposit of Divinely Revealed Truth, which is to be found
    in the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The history of philosophical investigation yields no one universally
received conception of what philosophy is, nor would the definition given
above be unreservedly accepted. Windelband, in his _History of
Philosophy_(8) instances the following predominant conceptions of
philosophy according to the chronological order in which they prevailed:
(_a_) the systematic investigation of the problems raised by man and the
universe (early Grecian philosophy: absence of differentiation of
philosophy from the special sciences); (_b_) the practical art of human
conduct, based on rational speculation (later Grecian philosophy: distrust
in the value of knowledge, and emphasis on practical guidance of conduct);
(_c_) the helper and handmaid of the Science of Revealed Truth, _i.e._
supernatural theology, in the solution of ultimate problems (the Christian
philosophy of the Fathers of the Church and of the Medieval Schools down
to the sixteenth century: universal recognition of the value of the
Christian Revelation as an aid to rational investigation); (_d_) a purely
rational investigation of those problems, going beyond the investigations
of the special sciences, and either abstracting from, or denying the value
of, any light or aid from Revelation (differentiation of the domains of
science, philosophy and theology; modern philosophies from the sixteenth
to the nineteenth century; excessive individualism and rationalism of
these as unnaturally divorced from recognition of, and belief in, Divine
Revelation, and unduly isolated from the progressing positive sciences);
(_e_) a critical analysis of the significance and scope and limitations of
human knowledge itself (recent philosophies, mainly concerned with
theories of knowledge and speculations on the nature of the cognitive
process and the reliability of its products).

These various conceptions are interesting and suggestive; much might be
said about them, but not to any useful purpose in a brief introductory
chapter. Let us rather, adopting the definition already set forth, try
next to map out into its leading departments the whole philosophical

general problem of classifying all the sciences built up by human thought
is a logical problem of no little complexity when one tries to work it out
in detail. We refer to this general problem only to mention a widely
accepted principle on which it is usually approached, and because the
division of philosophy itself is a section of the general problem. The
principle in question is that sciences may be distinguished indeed by
partial or total _diversity of subject-matter_, but that such diversity is
not essential, that _diversity of standpoint_ is necessary and sufficient
to constitute distinct sciences even when these deal with one and the same
subject-matter. Now applying this principle to philosophy we see firstly
that it has the same subject-matter as all the special sciences taken
collectively, but that it is distinct from all of them inasmuch as it
studies their data not from the standpoint of the proximate causes, but
from the higher standpoint of the ultimate causes of these data. And we
see secondly that philosophy, having this one higher standpoint throughout
all its departments, is _one_ science; that its divisions are only
material divisions; that there is not a plurality of philosophies as there
is a plurality of sciences, though there is a plurality of departments in
philosophy.(9) Let us now see what these departments are.

If we ask why people seek knowledge at all, in any department, we shall
detect two main impelling motives. The first of these is simply the desire
to know: _trahimur omnes cupiditate sciendi_. The natural feeling of
wonder, astonishment, “_admiratio_,” which accompanies our perception of
things and events, prompts us to seek their causes, to discover the
reasons which will make them _intelligible_ to us and enable us to
_understand_ them. But while the possession of knowledge for its own sake
is thus a motive of research it is not the only motive. We seek knowledge
_in order to use it_ for the guidance of our conduct in life, for the
orientation of our activities, for the improvement of our condition;
knowing that knowledge is power, we seek it in order to make it minister
to our needs. Now in the degree in which it fulfils such ulterior
purposes, or is sought for these purposes, knowledge may be described as
_practical_; in the degree in which it serves no ulterior end, or is
sought for no ulterior end, other than that of perfecting our minds, it
may be described as _speculative_. Of course this latter purpose is in
itself a highly practical purpose; nor indeed is there any knowledge,
however speculative, but has, or at least is capable of having, some
influence or bearing on the actual tenor and conduct of our lives; and in
this sense all knowledge is practical. Still we can distinguish broadly
between knowledge which has no direct, immediate bearing on our acts, and
knowledge that has.(10) Hence the possibility of distinguishing between
two great domains of philosophical knowledge—_Theoretical_ or _Speculative
Philosophy_, and _Practical Philosophy_. There are, in fact, two great
domains into which the data of all human experience may be divided; and
for each distinct domain submitted to philosophical investigation there
will be a distinct department of philosophy. A first domain is the order
_realized_ in the universe independently of man; a second is the order
which man himself _realizes_: _things_, therefore, and _acts_. The order
of the external universe, the order of nature as it is called, exists
independently of us: we merely study it (_speculari_, θεωρέω), we do not
create it. The other or _practical_ order is established by our acts of
_intelligence_ and _will_, and by our _bodily action_ on external things
under the direction of those faculties in the arts. Hence we have a
_speculative_ or _theoretical_ philosophy and a _practical_

the domain of human activities, to the right regulation of which practical
philosophy is directed, we may distinguish two departments of mental
activity, namely _intellectual_ and _volitional_, and besides these the
whole department of _external_, executive or bodily activity. In general
the right regulation of acts may be said to consist in directing them to
the realization of some ideal; for all cognitive acts this ideal is the
_true_, for all appetitive or volitional acts it is the _good_, while for
all external operations it may be either the _beautiful_ or the
_useful_—the respective objects of the fine arts and the mechanical arts
or crafts.

_Logic_, as a practical science, studies the mental acts and processes
involved in discovering and proving truths and systematizing these into
sciences, with a view to directing these acts and processes aright in the
accomplishment of this complex task. Hence it has for its subject-matter,
in a certain sense, _all_ the data of human experience, or whatever can be
an object of human thought. But it studies these data not directly or in
themselves or for their own sake, but only in so far as our acts of
reason, which form its direct object, are brought to bear upon them. In
all the other sciences we employ thought to study the various objects of
thought as things, events, realities; and hence these may be called “real”
sciences, _scientiae reales_; while in Logic we study thought itself, and
even here not speculatively for its own sake or as a reality (as we study
it for instance in Psychology), but practically, as a process capable of
being directed towards the discovery and proof of truth; and hence in
contradistinction to the other sciences as “real,” we call Logic _the_
“rational” science, _scientia rationalis_. Scholastic philosophers express
this distinction by saying that while Speculative Philosophy studies
_real_ being (_Ens Reale_), or the objects of direct thought (_objecta
primae intentionis mentis_), Logic studies the being which is the _product
of thought_ (_Ens Rationis_), or objects of reflex thought (_objecta
secundae intentionis mentis_).(12) The mental processes involved in the
attainment of scientific truth are conception, judgment and inference;
moreover these processes have to be exercised methodically by the combined
application of analysis and synthesis, or induction and deduction, to the
various domains of human experience. All these processes, therefore, and
the methods of their application, constitute the proper subject-matter of
Logic. It has been more or less a matter of debate since the days of
Aristotle whether Logic should be regarded as a department of
philosophical science proper, or rather as a preparatory discipline, an
instrument or _organon_ of reasoning—as the collection of Aristotle’s own
logical treatises was called,—and so as a vestibule or introduction to
philosophy. And there is a similar difference of opinion as to whether or
not it is advisable to set down Logic as the first department to be
studied in the philosophical curriculum. Such doubts arise from
differences of view as to the questions to be investigated in Logic, and
the point to which such investigations should be carried therein. It is
possible to distinguish between a more elementary treatment of
thought-processes with the avowedly practical aim of setting forth canons
of inference and method which would help and train the mind to reason and
investigate correctly; and a more philosophical treatment of those
processes with the speculative aim of determining their ultimate
significance and validity as factors of knowledge, as attaining to truth,
as productive of science and certitude. It is only the former field of
investigation that is usually accorded to Logic nowadays; and thus
understood Logic ought to come first in the curriculum as a preparatory
training for philosophical studies, accompanied, however, by certain
elementary truths from Psychology regarding the nature and functions of
the human mind. The other domain of deeper and more speculative
investigation was formerly explored in what was regarded as a second
portion of logical science, under the title of “Critical” Logic—_Logica
Critica_. In modern times this is regarded as a distinct department of
Speculative Philosophy, under the various titles of _Epistemology_,
_Criteriology_, or the _Theory of Knowledge_.

_Ethics or Moral Philosophy_ (ἤθος, _mos_, _mores_, morals, conduct) is
that department of practical philosophy which has for its subject-matter
all human acts, _i.e._ all acts elicited or commanded by the will of man
considered as a free, rational and responsible agent. And it studies human
conduct with the practical purpose of discovering the ultimate end or
object of this conduct, and the principles whereby it must be regulated in
order to attain to this end. Ethics must therefore analyse and account for
the distinction of _right_ and _wrong_ or _good_ and _bad_ in human
conduct, for its feature of _morality_. It must examine the motives that
influence conduct: pleasure, well-being, happiness, duty, obligation,
moral law, etc. The supreme determining factor in all such considerations
will obviously be _the ultimate end of man_, whatever this may be: his
destiny as revealed by a study of his nature and place in the universe.
Now the nature of man is studied in Psychology, as are also the nature,
conditions and effects of his free acts, and the facilities, dispositions
and forms of character consequent on these. Furthermore, not only from the
study of man in Psychology, but from the study of the external universe in
Cosmology, we amass data from which in Natural Theology we establish the
existence of a Supreme Being. We then prove in Ethics that the last end of
man, his highest perfection, consists in knowing, loving, serving, and
thus glorifying God, both in this life and in the next. Hence we can see
how these branches of speculative philosophy subserve the practical
science of morals. And since a man’s interpretation of the moral
distinctions—as of right or wrong, meritorious or blameworthy, autonomous
or of obligation—which he recognizes as pertaining to his own
actions—since his interpretation of these distinctions is so intimately
bound up with his religious outlook and beliefs, it is at once apparent
that the science of Ethics will be largely influenced and determined by
the system of speculative philosophy which inspires it, whether this be
Theism, Monism, Agnosticism, etc. No doubt the science of Ethics must take
as its data all sorts of moral beliefs, customs and practices prevalent at
any time among men; but it is not a speculative science which would merely
aim at _a posteriori_ inferences or inductive generalizations from these
data; it is a practical, _normative_ science which aims at discovering the
truth as to what is the right and the wrong in human conduct, and at
pointing out the right application of the principles arising out of this
truth. Hence it is of supreme importance for the philosopher of morals to
determine whether the human race has really been vouchsafed a Divine
Revelation, and, convincing himself that Christianity contains such a
revelation, to recognize the possibility of supplementing and perfecting
what his own natural reason can discover by what the Christian religion
teaches about the end of man as the supreme determining principle of human
conduct. Not that he is to take the revealed truths of Christianity as
principles of moral _philosophy_; for these are the principles of the
_supernatural __ Christian Theology_ of human morals; but that as a
Christian philosopher, _i.e._ a philosopher who recognizes the truth of
the Christian Revelation, he should reason out philosophically a science
of Ethics which, so far as it goes, will be in harmony with the moral
teachings of the Christian Religion, and will admit of being perfected by
these. This recognition, as already remarked, will not be a hindrance but
a help to him in exploring the wide domains of the individual, domestic,
social and religious conduct of man; in determining, on the basis of
theism established by natural reason, the right moral conditions and
relations of man’s conduct as an individual, as a member of the family, as
a member of the state, and as a creature of God. The nature, source and
sanction of authority, domestic, social and religious; of the dictate of
conscience; of the natural moral law and of all positive law; of the moral
virtues and vices—these are all questions which the philosopher of Ethics
has to explore by the use of natural reason, and for the investigation of
which the Christian philosopher of Ethics is incomparably better equipped
than the philosopher who, though possessing the compass of natural reason,
ignores the beacon lights of Divinely Revealed Truths.

_Esthetics_, or the _Philosophy of the Fine Arts_, is that department of
philosophy which studies the conception of the _beautiful_ and its
external expression in the works of nature and of man. The arts
themselves, of course, whether concerned with the realization of the
useful or of the beautiful, are distinct from sciences, even from
practical sciences.(13) The _technique_ itself consists in a skill
acquired by practice—by practice guided, however, by a set of practical
canons or rules which are the ripe fruit of experience.(14) But behind
every art there is always some background of more or less speculative
truth. The conception of the _useful_, however which underlies the
mechanical arts and crafts, is not an ultimate conception calling for any
further analysis than it receives in the various special sciences and in
metaphysics. But the conception of the _beautiful_ does seem to demand a
special philosophical consideration. On the subjective or mental side the
esthetic sense, artistic taste, the sentiment of the beautiful, the
complex emotions accompanying such experience; on the objective side the
elements or factors requisite to produce this experience; the relation of
the esthetic to the moral, of the beautiful to the good and the true—these
are all distinctly philosophical questions. Up to the present time,
however, their treatment has been divided between the other departments of
philosophy—psychology, cosmology, natural theology, general metaphysics,
ethics—rather than grouped together to form an additional distinct

which studies the order realized in things apart from our activity,
speculative philosophy, has been variously divided up into separate
departments from the first origins of philosophical speculation.

When we remember that all intellectual knowledge of things involves the
apprehension of _general_ truths or laws about these things, and that this
apprehension of intelligible aspects common to a more or less extensive
group of things involves the exercise of _abstraction_, we can understand
how the whole domain of speculative knowledge, whether scientific or
philosophical, can be differentiated into certain layers or levels, so to
speak, according to various degrees of abstractness and universality in
the intelligible aspects under which the data of our experience may be
considered. On this principle Aristotle and the scholastics divided all
speculative knowledge into three great domains, _Physics_, _Mathematics_
and _Metaphysics_, with their respective proper objects, _Change_,
_Quantity_ and _Being_, objects which are successively apprehended in
three great stages of abstraction traversed by the human mind in its
effort to understand and explain the Universal Order of things.

And as a matter of fact perhaps the first great common and most obvious
feature which strikes the mind reflecting on the visible universe is the
feature of all-pervading change (κίνησις), movement, evolution, progress
and regress, growth and decay; we see it everywhere in a variety of forms,
mechanical or local change, quantitative change, qualitative change, vital
change. Now the knowledge acquired by the study of things under this
common aspect is called _Physics_. Here the mind abstracts merely from the
individualizing differences of this change in individual things, and fixes
its attention on the great, common, sensible aspect itself of visible

But the mind can abstract even from the sensible changes that take place
in the physical universe and fix its attention on a _static_ feature in
the changing things. This static element (τὸ ἀκίνητον), which the
intellect apprehends in _material_ things as naturally inseparable from
them (ἀκίνητον ἀλλ᾽ οὐ χωριστόν), is their _quantity_, their extension in
space. When the mind strips a material object of all its visible, sensible
properties—on which its mechanical, physical and chemical changes
depend—there still remains as an object of thought a something formed of
parts outside parts in three dimensions of space. This _abstract_
quantity, _quantitas intelligibilis_—whether as continuous or
discontinuous, as _magnitude_ or _multitude_—is the proper object of

But the mind can penetrate farther still into the reality of the material
data which it finds endowed with the attributes of change and quantity: it
can eliminate from the object of its thought even this latter or
mathematical attribute, and seize on something still more fundamental. The
very essence, substance, nature, being itself, of the thing, the
underlying subject and root principle of all the thing’s operations and
attributes, is something deeper than any of these attributes, something at
least mentally distinct from these latter (τὸ ἀκίνητον και χωριστόν): and
this something is the proper object of man’s highest speculative
knowledge, which Aristotle called ἡ πρώτη φιλοσοφία, _philosophia prima_,
the _first_ or _fundamental_ or _deepest_ philosophy.(15)

But he gave this latter order of knowledge another very significant title:
he called it _theology_ or _theological science_, ἐπιστήμη θεολογίκή, by a
denomination derived _a potiori parte_, from its nobler part, its
culmination in the knowledge of God. Let us see how. For Aristotle _first
philosophy_ is the science of _being and its essential attributes_.(16)
Here the mind apprehends its object as _static_ or abstracted from change,
and as _immaterial_ or abstracted from quantity, the fundamental attribute
of material reality—as ἀκίνητον καὶ χωριστόν. Now it is the substance,
nature, or essence of _the things of our direct and immediate experience_,
that forms the proper object of this highest science. But in these things
the substance, nature, or essence, is not found in _real and actual_
separation from the material attributes of change and quantity; it is
_considered_ separately from these only by an effort of mental
abstraction. Even the nature of man himself is not wholly immaterial; nor
is the spiritual principle in man, his soul, entirely exempt from material
conditions. Hence in so far as first philosophy studies the being of the
things of our direct experience, its object is immaterial only
_negatively_ or _by mental abstraction_. But does this study bring within
the scope of our experience any being or reality that is _positively and
actually_ exempt from all change and all material conditions? If so the
study of this being, the Divine Being, will be the highest effort, the
crowning perfection, of _first philosophy_; which we may therefore call
the _theological_ science. “If,” writes Aristotle,(17) “there really
exists a substance absolutely immutable and immaterial, in a word, a
Divine Being—as we hope to prove—then such Being must be the absolutely
first and supreme principle, and the science that attains to such Being
will be theological.”

In this triple division of speculative philosophy into Physics,
Mathematics, and Metaphysics, it will naturally occur to one to ask: Did
Aristotle distinguish between what he called Physics and what we nowadays
call the special physical sciences? He did. These special _analytic_
studies of the various departments of the physical universe, animate and
inanimate, Aristotle described indiscriminately as “partial” sciences: αἱ
ἐν μέρει ἐπιστημάι—ἐπιστημαὶ ἐν μέρει λεγόμεναι. These descriptive,
inductive, comparative studies, proceeding _a posteriori_ from effects to
causes, he conceived rather as a preparation for scientific knowledge
proper; this latter he conceived to be a _synthetic_, deductive
explanation of things, in the light of some common aspect detected in them
as principle or cause of all their concrete characteristics.(18) Such
synthetic knowledge of things, in the light of some such common aspect as
change, is what he regarded as scientific knowledge, meaning thereby what
we mean by philosophical knowledge.(19) What he called _Physics_,
therefore, is what we nowadays understand as _Cosmology_ and

Mathematical science Aristotle likewise regarded as science in the full
and perfect sense, _i.e._ as philosophical. But just as we distinguish
nowadays between the special physical and human sciences on the one hand,
and the philosophy of external nature and man on the other, so we may
distinguish between the special mathematical sciences and a Philosophy of
Mathematics: with this difference, that while the former groups of special
sciences are mainly inductive the mathematical group is mainly deductive.
Furthermore, the Philosophy of Mathematics—which investigates questions
regarding the ultimate significance of mathematical concepts, axioms and
assumptions: unity, multitude, magnitude, quantity, space, time, etc.—does
not usually form a separate department in the philosophical curriculum:
its problems are dealt with as they arise in the other departments of

Before outlining the modern divisions of Metaphysics we may note that this
latter term was not used by Aristotle. We owe it probably to Andronicus of
Rhodes († 40 B.C.), who, when arranging a complete edition of Aristotle’s
works, placed next in order after the _Physics_, or physical treatises,
all the parts and fragments of the master’s works bearing upon the
immutable and immaterial object of the _philosophia prima_; these he
labelled τὰ μετὰ τὰ (βιβλία) φυσικα, _post physica_, the books _after the
physics_: hence the name _metaphysics_,(21) applied to this highest
section of speculative philosophy. It was soon noticed that the term, thus
fortuitously applied to such investigations, conveyed a very appropriate
description of their scope and character if interpreted in the sense of
“_supra_-physica,” or “_trans_-physica”: inasmuch as the object of these
investigations is a _hyperphysical_ object, an object that is either
positively and really, or negatively and by abstraction, beyond the
material conditions of quantity and change. St. Thomas combines both
meanings of the term when he says that the study of its subject-matter
comes naturally _after_ the study of physics, and that we naturally pass
from the study of the sensible to that of the suprasensible.(22)

The term _philosophia prima_ has now only an historical interest; and the
term _theology_, used without qualification, is now generally understood
to signify _supernatural_ theology.

THEOLOGY.—Nowadays the term _Metaphysics_ is understood as synonymous with
speculative philosophy: the investigation of the being, nature, or
essence, and essential attributes of the realities which are also studied
in the various special sciences: the search for the _ultimate_ grounds,
reasons and causes of these realities, of which the proximate explanations
are sought in the special sciences. We have seen that it has for its
special object that most abstract aspect of reality whereby the latter is
conceived as changeless and immaterial; and we have seen that a being may
have these attributes either by mental abstraction merely, or in actual
reality. In other words the philosophical study of things that are really
material not only suggests the possibility, but establishes the actual
existence, of a Being that is really changeless and immaterial: so that
metaphysics in all its amplitude would be _the philosophical science of
things that are negatively_ (by abstraction) _or positively_ (in reality)
_immaterial_. This distinction suggests a division of metaphysics into
_general_ and _special_ metaphysics. The former would be the philosophical
study of _all_ being, considered by mental abstraction as immaterial; the
latter would be the philosophical study of the really and positively
changeless and immaterial Being,—God. The former would naturally fall into
two great branches: the study of _inanimate_ nature and the study of
_living_ things, _Cosmology_ and _Psychology_; while special metaphysics,
the philosophical study of the _Divine_ Being, would constitute _Natural
Theology_. These three departments, one of special metaphysics and two of
general metaphysics, would not be three distinct philosophical sciences,
but three departments of the one speculative philosophical science. The
standpoint would be the same in all three sections, _viz._ _being_
considered as _static and immaterial_ by _mental abstraction_: for
whatever _positive_ knowledge we can reach about being that is really
immaterial can be reached only through concepts derived from material
being and applied analogically to immaterial being.

_Cosmology_ and _Psychology_ divide between them the whole domain of man’s
immediate experience. Cosmology, utilizing not only the data of direct
experience, but also the conclusions established by the analytic study of
these data in the physical sciences, explores the origin, nature, and
destiny of the material universe. Some philosophers include among the data
of Cosmology all the phenomena of vegetative life, reserving sentient and
rational life for Psychology; others include even sentient life in
Cosmology, reserving the study of human life for Psychology, or, as they
would call it, Anthropology.(23) The mere matter of location is of
secondary importance. Seeing, however, that man embodies in himself all
three forms of life, vegetative, sentient, and rational, all three would
perhaps more naturally belong to Psychology, which would be the
philosophical study of life in all its manifestations (ψυχή, the vital
principle, the soul). Just as the conclusions of the physical sciences are
the data of Cosmology, so the conclusions of the natural or biological
sciences—Zoology, Botany, Physiology, Morphology, Cellular Biology,
etc.—are the data of Psychology. Indeed in Psychology itself—especially in
more recent years—it is possible to distinguish a positive, analytic,
empirical study of the phenomena of consciousness, a study which would
rank rather as a special than as an ultimate or philosophical science; and
a synthetic, rational study of the results of this analysis, a study which
would be strictly philosophical in character. This would have for its
object to determine the origin, nature and destiny of living things in
general and of man himself in particular. It would inquire into the nature
and essential properties of living matter, into the nature of the subject
of conscious states, into the operations and faculties of the human mind,
into the nature of the human soul and its mode of union with the body,
into the rationality of the human intellect and the freedom of the human
will, the spirituality and immortality of the human soul, etc.

But since the human mind itself is the natural instrument whereby man
acquires _all_ his knowledge, it will be at once apparent that the study
of the phenomenon of _knowledge_ itself, of the _cognitive_ activity of
the mind, can be studied, and must be studied, not merely as a natural
phenomenon of the mind, but from the point of view of _its special
significance as representative_ of objects other than itself, from the
point of view of _its validity or invalidity_, _its truth or falsity_, and
with the special aim of determining the scope and limitations and
conditions of its objective validity. We have already referred to the
study of human knowledge from this standpoint, in connexion with what was
said above concerning Logic. It has a close kinship with Logic on the one
hand, and with Psychology on the other; and nowadays it forms a distinct
branch of speculative Philosophy under the title of _Criteriology_,
_Epistemology_, or the _Theory of Knowledge_.

Arising out of the data of our direct experience, external and internal,
as studied in the philosophical departments just outlined, we find a
variety of evidences all pointing beyond the domain of this direct
experience to the supreme conclusion that there exists of necessity,
distinct from this directly experienced universe, as its Creator,
Conserver, and Ruler, its First Beginning and its Last End, its _Alpha_
and _Omega_, One Divine and Infinite Being, the Deity. The existence and
attributes of the Deity, and the relations of man and the universe to the
Deity, form the subject-matter of _Natural Theology_.

the Aristotelian and scholastic conception speculative philosophy would
utilize as data the conclusions of the special sciences—physical,
biological, and human. It would try to reach a deeper explanation of their
data by synthesizing these under the wider aspects of change, quantity,
and being, thus bringing to light the ultimate causes, reasons, and
explanatory principles of things. This whole study would naturally fall
into two great branches: General Metaphysics (_Cosmology_ and
_Psychology_), which would study things exempt from quantity and change
not really but only by mental abstraction; and Special Metaphysics
(_Natural Theology_), which would study the positively immaterial and
immutable Being of the Deity.

This division of Metaphysics, thoroughly sound in principle, and based on
a sane and rational view of the relation between the special sciences and
philosophy, has been almost entirely(24) supplanted in modern times by a
division which, abstracting from the erroneous attitude that prompted it
in the first instance, has much to recommend it from the standpoint of
practical convenience of treatment. The modern division was introduced by
Wolff (1679-1755), a German philosopher,—a disciple of Leibniz (1646-1716)
and forerunner of Kant (1724-1804).(25) Influenced by the excessively
deductive method of Leibniz’ philosophy, which he sought to systematize
and to popularize, he wrongly conceived the metaphysical study of reality
as something wholly apart and separate from the inductive investigation of
this same reality in the positive sciences. It comprised the study of the
most fundamental and essential principles of being, considered in
themselves; and the deductive application of these principles to the three
great domains of actual reality, the corporeal universe, the human soul,
and God. The study of the first principles of being in themselves would
constitute _General Metaphysics_, or _Ontology_ (ὄντος-λόγος). Their
applications would constitute three great departments of _Special
Metaphysics_: _Cosmology_, which he described as “transcendental” in
opposition to the experimental physical sciences; _Psychology_, which he
termed “rational” in opposition to the empirical biological sciences; and
finally Natural Theology, which he entitled _Theodicy_
(Θεός-δίκη-δικαιόω), using a term invented by Leibniz for his essays in
vindication of the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence notwithstanding
the evils of the universe.

    “The spirit that animated this arrangement of the departments of
    metaphysics,” writes Mercier, “was unsound in theory and
    unfortunate in tendency. It stereotyped for centuries a disastrous
    divorce between philosophy and the sciences, a divorce that had
    its origin in circumstances peculiar to the intellectual
    atmosphere of the early eighteenth century. As a result of it
    there was soon no common language or understanding between
    scientists and philosophers. The terms which expressed the most
    fundamental ideas—matter, substance, movement, cause, force,
    energy, and such like—were taken in different senses in science
    and in philosophy. Hence misunderstandings, aggravated by a
    growing mutual distrust and hostility, until finally people came
    to believe that scientific and metaphysical preoccupations were
    incompatible if not positively opposed to each other.”(26)

    How very different from the disintegrating conception here
    criticized is the traditional Aristotelian and scholastic
    conception of the complementary functions of philosophy and the
    sciences in unifying human knowledge: a conception thus eloquently
    expressed by NEWMAN in his _Idea of a University_:—(27)

    “All that exists, as contemplated by the human mind, forms one
    large system or complex fact.... Now, it is not wonderful that,
    with all its capabilities, the human mind cannot take in this
    whole vast fact at a single glance, or gain possession of it at
    once. Like a short-sighted reader, its eye pores closely, and
    travels slowly, over the awful volume which lies open for its
    inspection. Or again, as we deal with some huge structure of many
    parts and sides, the mind goes round about it, noting down, first
    one thing, then another, as best it may, and viewing it under
    different aspects, by way of making progress towards mastering the
    whole.... These various partial views or abstractions ... are
    called sciences ... they proceed on the principle of a division of
    labour.... As they all belong to one and the same circle of
    objects, they are one and all connected together; as they are but
    aspects of things, they are severally incomplete in their relation
    to the things themselves, though complete in their own idea and
    for their own respective purposes; on both accounts they at once
    need and subserve each other. And further, the comprehension of
    the bearings of one science on another, and the use of each to
    each, and the location and limitation and adjustment and due
    appreciation of them all, one with another, this belongs, I
    conceive, to a sort of science distinct from all of them, and in
    some sense, a science of sciences, which is my own conception of
    what is meant by Philosophy....”

Without in any way countenancing such an isolation of metaphysics from the
positive sciences, we may, nevertheless, adopt the modern division in
substance and in practice. While recognizing the intimate connexion
between the special sciences and metaphysics in all its branches, we may
regard as _General Metaphysics_ all inquiries into the fundamental
principles of _being_ and of _knowing_, of _reality_ and of _knowledge_;
and as _Special Metaphysics_ the philosophical study of physical nature,
of human nature, and of God, the Author and Supreme Cause of all finite
reality. Thus, while special metaphysics would embrace Cosmology,
Psychology, and Natural Theology, general metaphysics would embrace
Ontology and Epistemology. These two latter disciplines must no doubt
investigate what is in a certain sense one and the same subject-matter,
inasmuch as _knowledge_ is knowledge of reality, nor can the _knowing
mind_ (the _subjectum cognoscens_) and the known reality (the _objectum
cognitum_) be wholly separated or studied in complete isolation from each
other. Yet the whole content of human experience, which forms their common
subject-matter, can be regarded by mental abstraction from the two
distinct standpoints of the knowing mind and the known reality, and can
thus give rise to two distinct sets of problems. Epistemology is thus
concerned with the truth and certitude of human knowledge; with the
subjective conditions and the scope and limits of its validity; with the
subjective or mental factors involved in knowing.(28) Ontology is
concerned with the objects of knowledge, with reality considered in the
widest, deepest, and most fundamental aspects under which it is conceived
by the human mind: with the being and becoming of reality, its possibility
and its actuality, its essence and its existence, its unity and plurality;
with the aspects of truth, goodness, perfection, beauty, which it assumes
in relation with our minds; with the contingency of finite reality and the
grounds and implications both of its actual existence and of its
intelligibility; with the modes of its concrete existence and behaviour,
the supreme categories of reality as they are called: substance,
individual nature, and personality; quantity, space and time, quality and
relation, causality and purpose. These are the principal topics
investigated in the present volume. The investigation is confined to
fundamental concepts and principles, leaving their applications to be
followed out in special metaphysics. Furthermore, the theory of knowledge
known as _Moderate Realism_,(29) the Realism of Aristotle and the
Scholastics, in regard to the validity of knowledge both sensual and
intellectual, is assumed throughout: because not alone is this the true
theory, but—as a natural consequence—it is the only theory which renders
the individual things and events of human experience really intelligible,
and at the same time keeps the highest and most abstract intellectual
speculations of metaphysics in constant and wholesome contact with the
concrete, actual world in which we live, move, and have our being.

the beginner, will find the investigations in this volume rather abstract;
but if he remembers that the content of our intellectual concepts, be they
ever so abstract and universal, is really embodied in the individual
things and events of his daily experience, he will not be disposed to
denounce all ultimate analysis of these concepts as “unprofitable” or
“unreal”. He will recognize that the reproach of “talking in the air,”
which was levelled by an eminent medieval scholastic(30) at certain
philosophers of his time, tells against the metaphysical speculations of
Conceptualism, but not against those of Moderate Realism. The reproach is
commonly cast at _all_ systematic metaphysics nowadays—from prejudices too
numerous and varied to admit of investigation here.(31) The modern
prejudice which denies the very possibility of metaphysics, a prejudice
arising from Phenomenism, Positivism, and Agnosticism—systems which are
themselves no less metaphysical than erroneous—will be examined in due

But really in order to dispel all such misgivings one has only to remember
that metaphysics, systematic or otherwise, is nothing more than a man’s
reasoned outlook on the world and life. Whatever his conscious opinions
and convictions may be regarding the nature and purpose of himself, and
other men, and the world at large—and if he use his reason at all he must
have some sort of opinions and convictions, whether positive or negative,
on these matters—those opinions and convictions are precisely that man’s
metaphysics. “Breaking free for the moment from all historical and
technical definition, let us affirm: _To get at reality_—this is the aim
of metaphysics.” So writes Professor Ladd in the opening chapter of his
_Theory of Reality_.(33) But if this is so, surely a systematic attempt to
“get at reality,” no matter how deep and wide, no matter how abstract and
universal be the conceptions and speculations to which it leads us, cannot
nevertheless always and of necessity have the effect of involving us in a
mirage of illusion and unreality.

    Systematic metaphysics—to quote again the author just referred
    to—(34) is ... the necessary result of a patient, orderly,
    well-informed, and prolonged study of those ultimate problems
    which are proposed to every reflective mind by the real existences
    and actual transactions of selves and of things. Thus considered
    it appears as the least abstract and foreign to concrete realities
    of all the higher pursuits of reason. Mathematics is abstract;
    logic is abstract; mathematical and so-called “pure” physics are
    abstract. But metaphysics is bound by its very nature and calling
    always to keep near to the actual and to the concrete. Dive into
    the depths of speculation indeed it may; and its ocean is
    boundless in expanse and deep beyond all reach of human plummets.
    But it finds its place of standing, for every new turn of daring
    explanation, on some bit of solid ground. For it is actuality
    which it wishes to understand—although in reflective and
    interpretative way. To quote from Professor Royce: “The basis of
    our whole theory is the bare, brute fact of experience which you
    have always with you, namely, the fact: _Something is real._ Our
    question is: What is this reality? or, again, What is the
    ultimately real?”(35)

The wonderful progress of the positive sciences during the last few
centuries has been the occasion of prejudice against metaphysics in a
variety of ways. It is objected, for instance, that metaphysics has no
corresponding progress to boast of; and from this there is but a small
step to the conclusion that all metaphysical speculation is sterile. The
comparison is unfair for many reasons. Research into the ultimate grounds
and causes of things is manifestly more difficult than research into their
proximate grounds and causes. Again, while the positive sciences have
increased our knowledge mainly in extent rather than in depth, it is
metaphysics and only metaphysics that can increase this knowledge in its
unity, comprehensiveness, and significance.

A positive increase in our knowledge of the manifold data of human
experience is not the aim of metaphysics; its aim is to give an ultimate
meaning and interpretation to this knowledge. It is not utilitarian in the
narrower sense in which the positive and special sciences are utilitarian
by ministering to our material needs; but in the higher and nobler sense
of pointing out to us the bearing of all human knowledge and achievement
on our real nature and destiny. True, indeed, individual leaders and
schools of metaphysics have strayed from the truth and spoken with
conflicting and uncertain voices, especially when they have failed to
avail themselves of Truth Divinely Revealed. This, however, is not a
failure of metaphysics but of individual metaphysicians. And furthermore,
it is undeniable withal, that the metaphysical labours of the great
philosophers in all ages have contributed richly to the enlightenment and
civilization of mankind—particularly when these labours have been in
concord and co-operation with the elevating and purifying influences of
the Christian religion. Of no metaphysical system is this so entirely true
as of that embodied in Scholastic Philosophy. The greatest intellect of
the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas, gave to this philosophy an expression
which is rightly regarded by the modern scholastic as his intellectual
charter and the most worthy starting-point of his philosophical
investigations. The following passage from an eminent representative of
modern scholastic thought(36) is sufficiently suggestive to admit of

    Amid the almost uninterrupted disintegration of systems during the
    last three centuries, the philosophy of St. Thomas has alone been
    able to stand the shock of criticism; it alone has proved
    sufficiently solid and comprehensive to serve as an intellectual
    basis and unifying principle for all the new facts and phenomena
    brought to light by the modern sciences. And unless we are much
    mistaken, those who take up and follow this philosophy will come
    to think, as we do, that on the analysis of mental acts and
    processes, on the inner nature of corporeal things, of living
    things, and of man, on the existence and nature of God, on the
    foundations of speculative and moral science, none have thought or
    written more wisely than St. Thomas Aquinas. But though we place
    our programme and teaching under the patronage of the illustrious
    name of this prince of scholastics, we do not regard the Thomistic
    philosophy as an ideal beyond possibility of amelioration, or as a
    boundary to the activity of the human mind. We do think, however,
    on mature reflection, that we are acting no less wisely than
    modestly in taking it as our starting-point and constant standard
    of reference. This we say in answer to those of our friends and
    enemies who are occasionally pleased to ask us if we really do
    mean to lead back the modern mind into the Middle Ages, and to
    identify philosophy _simply_ with the thought of any _one_
    philosopher. Manifestly, we mean nothing of the kind. Has not Leo
    XIII., the great initiator of the new scholastic movement,
    expressly warned us(37) to be mindful of the present: “Edicimus
    libenti gratoque animo recipiendum esse quidquid sapienter dictum,
    quidquid utiliter fuerit a quopiam inventum atque excogitatum”?

    St. Thomas himself would be the first to rebuke those who would
    follow his own philosophical opinions in all things against their
    own better judgment, and to remind them of what he wrote at the
    head of his _Summa_: that in philosophy, of all arguments that
    based on human authority is the weakest, “locus ab auctoritate quæ
    fundatur super ratione humana, est infirmissimus.”(38)

    Again, therefore, let us assert that respect for tradition is not
    servility but mere elementary prudence. Respect for a doctrine of
    whose soundness and worth we are personally convinced is not
    fetishism; it is but a rational and rightful tribute to the
    dominion of Truth over Mind.

    Modern scholastics will know how to take to heart and profit by
    the lessons of the seventeenth and eighteenth century
    controversies; they will avoid the mistakes of their predecessors;
    they will keep in close contact with the special sciences
    subsidiary to philosophy and with the views and teachings of
    modern and contemporary thinkers.(39)

An overweening confidence in the power of the special sciences to solve
ultimate questions, or at least to tell us all that can be known for
certain about these problems, a confidence based on the astonishing
progress of those sciences in modern times, is the source of yet another
prejudice against metaphysics. It is a prejudice of the half-educated
mind, of the camp-followers of science, not of its leaders. These latter
are keenly conscious that the solution of ultimate questions lies entirely
beyond the methods of the special sciences. Not that even the most eminent
scientists do not indulge in speculations about ultimate problems—as they
have a perfect right to do. But though they may be themselves quite aware
that such speculations are distinctly metaphysical, there are multitudes
who seem to think that a theory ceases to be metaphysical and becomes
scientific provided only it is broached by a scientific expert as distinct
from a metaphysician.(40) But all sincere thinkers will recognize that no
ultimate question about the totality of human experience can be solved by
any science which explores merely a portion of this experience. Nay, the
more rapid and extensive is the progress of the various special sciences,
the more imperative and insistent becomes the need to collect and collate
their separate findings, to interrogate them one and all as to whether and
how far these findings fit in with the facts and conditions of human life
and existence, to determine what light and aid they contribute to the
solution of the great and ever recurring questions of the _whence_? and
_whither_? and _why_? of man and the universe. One who is a sincere
scientist as well as an earnest philosopher has written _à propos_ of this
necessity in the following terms:—

    The farther science has pushed back the limits of the discernible
    universe, the more insistently do we feel the demand within us for
    some satisfactory explanation of the whole. The old, eternal
    problems rise up before us and clamour loudly and ever more loudly
    for some newer and better solution. The solution offered by a
    bygone age was soothing at least, if it was not final. In the
    present age, however, the problems reappear with an acuteness that
    is almost painful: the deep secret of our own human nature, the
    questions of our origin and destiny, the intermeddling of blind
    necessity and chance and pain in the strange, tangled drama of our
    existence, the foibles and oddities of the human soul, and all the
    mystifying problems of social relations: are not these all so many
    enigmas which torment and trouble us whithersoever we turn? And
    all seem to circle around the one essential question: Has human
    nature a real meaning and value, or is it so utterly amiss that
    truth and peace will never be its portion?(41)

A final difficulty against philosophical research is suggested by the
thought that if the philosopher has to take cognizance of all the
conclusions of all the special sciences his task is an impossible one,
inasmuch as nowadays at all events it would take a lifetime to become
proficient in a few of these sciences not to speak of all of them.

There is no question, however, of becoming proficient in them; the
philosopher need not be a specialist in any positive science; his
acquaintance with the contents of these sciences need extend no farther
than such established conclusions and such current though unverified
hypotheses as have an immediate bearing on ultimate or philosophical

Moreover, while it would be injurious both to philosophy and to science,
as is proved by the history of both alike, to separate synthetic from
analytic speculation by a divorce between philosophy and science; while it
would be unwise to ignore the conclusions of the special sciences and to
base philosophical research _exclusively_ on the data of the plain man’s
common and unanalysed experience, it must be remembered on the other hand
that the most fundamental truths of speculative and practical philosophy,
the truths that are most important for the right and proper orientation of
human life, can be established and defended independently of the special
researches of the positive sciences. The human mind had not to await the
discovery of radium in order to prove the existence of God. Such supreme
truths as the existence of God, the immortality of the human soul, the
freedom of the human will, the existence of a moral law, the distinction
between right and wrong, etc., have been _always_ in possession of the
human race. It has been, moreover, confirmed in its possession of them by
Divine Revelation. And it has not needed either the rise or the progress
of modern science to defend them. These fundamental rational truths
constitute a _philosophia perennis_: a fund of truth which is, like all
truth, _immutable_, though our human insight into it may develop in depth
and clearness.

But while this is so it is none the less true that philosophy, to be
progressive in its own order, must take account of every new fact and
conclusion brought to light in every department of scientific—and
historical, and artistic, and literary, and every other sort of—research.
And this for the simple reason that every such accession, whether of fact
or of theory, is an enlargement of human experience; as such it clamours
on the one hand for philosophical interpretation, for explanation in the
light of what we know already about the ultimate grounds and causes of
things, for admission into our world-outlook, for adjustment and
co-ordination with the previous contents of the latter; while, on the
other hand, by its very appearance on the horizon of human experience it
may enrich or illumine, rectify or otherwise influence, this outlook or
some aspect of it.(42)

If, then, philosophy has to take account of advances in every other
department of human research, it is clear that its mastery at the present
day is a more laborious task than ever it was in the past. In order to get
an intelligent grasp of its principles in their applications to the
problems raised by the progress of the sciences, to newly discovered facts
and newly propounded hypotheses, the student must be familiar with these
facts and hypotheses; and all the more so because through the medium of a
sensational newspaper press that has more regard for novelty than truth,
these facts and hypotheses are no sooner brought to light by scientists
than what are often garbled and distorted versions of them are circulated
among the masses.(43)

Similarly, in order that a sound system of speculative and practical
philosophy be expounded, developed, and defended at the present time, a
system that will embrace and co-ordinate the achieved results of modern
scientific research, a system that will offer the most satisfactory
solutions of old difficulties in new forms and give the most reasonable
and reliable answers to the ever recurring questionings of man concerning
his own nature and destiny—it is clear that the insufficiency of
individual effort must be supplemented by the co-operation of numbers. It
is the absence of fulness, completeness, adequacy, in most modern systems
of philosophy, their fragmentary character, the unequal development of
their parts, that accounts very largely for the despairing attitude of the
many who nowadays despise and turn away from philosophical speculation.
Add to this the uncertain voice with which these philosophies speak in
consequence of their advocates ignoring the implications of the most
stupendous fact in human experience,—the Christian Revelation. But there
is one philosophy which is free from these defects, a philosophy which is
in complete harmony with Revealed Truth, and which forms with the latter
the only true _Philosophy of Life_; and that one philosophy is the system
which, assimilating the wisdom of Plato, Aristotle and all the other
greatest thinkers of the world, has been traditionally expounded in the
Christian schools—the _Scholastic_ system of philosophy. It has been
elaborated by no one man, and is the original fruit of no one mind. Unlike
the philosophies of Kant or Hegel or Spencer or James or Comte or Bergson,
it is not a “one-man” philosophy. It cannot boast of the novelty or
originality of the many eccentric and ephemeral “systems” which have
succeeded one another so rapidly in recent times in the world of
intellectual fashion; but it has ever possessed the enduring novelty of
the _truth_, which is ever ancient and ever new. Now although this
philosophy may have been mastered in its broad outlines and applications
by specially gifted individuals in past ages, its progressive exposition
and development, and its application to the vastly extended and
ever-growing domains of experience that are being constantly explored by
the special sciences, can never be the work of any individual: it can be
accomplished only by the earnest co-operation of Christian philosophers in
every part of the civilized world.(44)

In carrying on this work we have not to build from the beginning. “It has
sometimes been remarked,” as Newman observes,(45) “when men have boasted
of the knowledge of modern times, that no wonder we see more than the
ancients because we are mounted upon their shoulders.” Yes; the
intellectual toilers of to-day are heirs to the intellectual wealth of
their ancestors. We have tradition: not to despise but to use, critically,
judiciously, reverently, if we are to use it profitably. Thomas Davis has
somewhere said that they who demolish the past do not build up for the
future. And we have the Christian Revelation, as a _lamp_ to our _feet_
and a _light_ to our _paths_(46) in all those rational investigations
which form the appointed task of the philosopher. Hence,

    Let knowledge grow from more to more,
      But more of reverence in us dwell;
      That mind and soul, according well,
    May make one music as before,
    But vaster.(47)


(Lat. _ens_; Gr. ὤν; Ger. _Seiend_; Fr. _étant_) as present participle of
the verb _to be_ (Lat. _esse_; Gr. ἔιναι; Ger. _Sein_; Fr. _être_) means
_existing_ (_existens_, _existere_). But the participle has come to be
used as a noun; and as such it does not necessarily imply actual existence
_hic et nunc_. It does indeed imply some relation to actual existence; for
we designate as “being” (in the substantive sense) only whatever we
conceive as actually existing or at least as capable of existing; and it
is from the participial sense, which implies actual existence, that the
substantive sense has been derived. Moreover, the intelligible use of the
word “being” as a term implies a reference to some actually existing
sphere of reality.(48) It is in the substantive meaning the term will be
most frequently used in these pages, as the context will show. When we
speak of “a being” in the concrete, the word has the same meaning as
“thing” (_res_) used in the wide sense in which this latter includes
persons, places, events, facts and phenomena of whatsoever kind. In the
same sense we speak of “a reality,” this term having taken on a concrete,
in addition to its original abstract, meaning. “Being” has also this
abstract sense when we speak of “the being or reality of things”. Finally
it may be used in a collective sense to indicate the sum-total of all that
is or can be—all reality.

(_a_) The notion of being, spontaneously reached by the human mind, is
found on reflection to be the _simplest_ of all notions, defying every
attempt at analysis into simpler notions. It is involved in every other
concept which we form of any object of thought whatsoever. Without it we
could have no concept of anything.

(_b_) It is thus the first of all notions _in the logical order_, _i.e._
in the process of rational thought.

(_c_) It is also the _first_ of all notions _in the chronological order_,
the first which the human mind forms in the order of time. Not, of course,
that we remember having formed it before any other more determinate
notions. But the child’s awakening intellectual activity must have
proceeded from the simplest, easiest, most superficial of all concepts, to
fuller, clearer, and more determinate concepts, _i.e._ from the vague and
confused notion of “being” or “thing” to notions of definite modes of
being, or kinds of thing.

(_d_) This direct notion of being is likewise the _most indeterminate_ of
all notions; though not of course entirely indeterminate. An object of
thought, to be conceivable or intelligible at all by our finite minds,
must be rendered definite in some manner and degree; and even this widest
notion of “being” is rendered intelligible only by being conceived as
positive and as contrasting with absolute non-being or nothingness.(49)

    According to the Hegelian philosophy “pure thought” can apparently
    think “pure being,” _i.e._ being in absolute indeterminateness,
    being as not even differentiated from “pure not-being” or absolute
    nothingness. And this absolutely indeterminate confusion (we may
    not call it a “synthesis” or “unity”) of something and nothing, of
    being and not-being, of positive and negative, of affirmation and
    denial, would be conceived by our finite minds as the objective
    correlative of, and at the same time as absolutely identical with,
    its subjective correlative which is “pure thought”. Well, it is
    with the human mind and its objects, and how it thinks those
    objects, that we are concerned at present; not with speculations
    involving the gratuitous assumption of a Being that would
    transcend all duality of subject and object, all determinateness
    of knowing and being, all distinction of thought and thing. We
    believe that the human mind can establish the existence of a
    Supreme Being whose mode of Thought and Existence transcends all
    human comprehension, but it can do so only as the culminating
    achievement of all its speculation; and the transcendent Being it
    thus reaches has nothing in common with the monistic ideal-real
    being of Hegel’s philosophy. In endeavouring to set out from the
    high _a priori_ ground of such an intangible conception, the
    Hegelian philosophy starts at the wrong end.

(_e_) Further, the notion of being is the _most abstract_ of all notions,
poorest in intension as it is widest in extension. We derive it from the
data of our experience, and the process by which we reach it is a process
of abstraction. We lay aside all the differences whereby things are
distinguished from one another; we do not consider these differences; we
prescind or abstract from them mentally, and retain for consideration only
what is common to all of them. This common element forms the explicit
content of our notion of being.

It must be noted, however, that we do not _positively exclude_ the
differences from the _object_ of our concept; we cannot do this, for the
simple reason that the differences too are “being,” inasmuch as they too
are modes of being. Our attitude towards them is _negative_; we merely
abstain from considering them explicitly, though they remain in our
concept implicitly. The separation effected is only mental, subjective,
notional, formal, negative; not objective, not real, not positive. Hence
the process by which we narrow down the concept of being to the more
comprehensive concept of this or that generic or specific mode of being,
does not add to the former concept anything really new, or distinct from,
or extraneous to it; but rather brings out explicitly something that was
implicit in the latter. The composition of being with its modes is,
therefore, only _logical_ composition, not real.

On the other hand, it would seem that when we abstract a generic mode of
being from the specific modes subordinate to the former, we _positively
exclude_ the differentiating characteristics of these species; and that,
conversely, when we narrow down the genus to a subordinate species we do
so by _adding on_ a differentiating mode which was not contained even
implicitly in the generic concept. Thus, for example, the differentiating
concept “rational” is not contained even implicitly in the generic concept
“animal”: it is added on _ab extra_ to the latter(50) in order to reach
the specific concept of “rational animal” or “man”; so that in abstracting
the generic from the subordinate specific concept we prescind
_objectively_ and _really_ from the differentiating concept, by positively
excluding this latter. This kind of abstraction is called objective, real,
positive; and the composition of such generic and differentiating modes of
being is technically known as _metaphysical_ composition. The different
modes of being, which the mind can distinguish at different levels of
abstraction in any specific concept—such as “rational,” “sentient,”
“living,” “corporeal,” in the concept of “man”—are likewise known as
“metaphysical grades” of being.

    It has been questioned whether this latter kind of abstraction is
    always used in relating generic, specific, and differential modes
    of being. At first sight it would not appear to be a quite
    satisfactory account of the process in cases where the generic
    notion exhibits a mode of being which can be embodied only in one
    or other of a number of alternative specific modes by means of
    _differentiae_ not found in any things lying outside the genus
    itself. The generic notion of “plane rectilinear figure” does not,
    of course, include explicitly its species “triangle,”
    “quadrilateral,” “pentagon,” etc.; nor does it include even
    implicitly any definite one of them. But the concept of each of
    the differentiating characters, _e.g._ the _differentia_
    “three-sidedness,” is unintelligible except as a mode of a “plane
    rectilinear figure”.(51) This, however, is only accidental, _i.e._
    due to the special objects considered;(52) and even here there
    persists this difference that whereas what differentiates the
    species of plane rectilinear figures is not explicitly and
    formally plane-rectilinearity, that which differentiates finite
    from infinite being, or substantial from accidental being, is
    itself also formally and explicitly _being_. But there are other
    cases in which the abstraction is manifestly objective. Thus, for
    example, the differentiating concept “rational” does not even
    implicitly include the generic concept “animal,” for the former
    concept may be found realized in beings other than animals; and
    the differentiating concept “living” does not even implicitly
    include the concept “corporeal,” for it may be found realized in
    incorporeal beings.

(_f_) Since the notion of being is so simple that it cannot be analysed
into simpler notions which might serve as its _genus_ and _differentia_,
it _cannot_ strictly speaking _be defined_. We can only describe it by
considering it from various points of view and comparing it with the
various modes in which we find it realized. This is what we have been
attempting so far. Considering its fundamental relation to existence we
might say that “Being is that which exists or is at least capable of
existing”: _Ens est id quod existit vel saltem existere potest._ Or,
considering its relation to its opposite we might say that “Being is that
which is not absolute nothingness”: _Ens est id quod non est nihil
absolutum._ Or, considering its relation to our minds, we might say that
“Being is whatever is thinkable, whatever can be an object of thought”.

(_g_) The notion of being is so universal that it transcends all actual
and conceivable determinate modes of being: it embraces infinite being and
all modes of finite being. In other words it is _not itself a generic, but
a transcendental notion_. Wider than all, even the widest and highest
genera, it is not itself a genus. A genus is determinable into its species
by the addition of differences which lie outside the concept of the genus
itself; being, as we have seen, is not in this way determinable into its

OR TO HAVE “BEING”?—A generic concept can be predicated _univocally_,
_i.e._ in the same sense, of its subordinate species. These latter differ
from one another by characteristics which lie outside the concept of the
genus, while they all agree in realizing the generic concept itself: they
do not of course realize it in the same way,(53) but as such it is really
and truly in each of them and is predicated in the same sense of each. But
the characteristics which differentiate all genera and species from one
another, and from the common notion of being, in which they all agree, are
likewise _being_. That in which they differ is being, as well as that in
which they agree. _Hence we do not predicate _“being”_ univocally of its
various modes._ When we say of the various classes of things which make up
our experience that they are “real” (or “realities,” or “beings”), we do
not apply this predicate in altogether the same sense to the several
classes; for as applied to each class it connotes the whole content of
each, not merely the part in which this agrees with, but also the part in
which it differs from, the others. Nor yet do we apply the concept of
“being” in a totally different sense to each separate determinate mode of
being. When we predicate “being” of its modes _the predication is not
merely equivocal_. The concept expressed by the predicate-term “being” is
not totally different as applied to each subject-mode; for in all cases
alike it implies either actual existence or some relation thereto. It only
remains, therefore, that we must regard the notion of being, when
predicated of its several modes, _as partly the same and partly
different_; and this is what we mean when we say that _the concept of
being is analogical, that being is predicated analogically of its various

Analogical predication is of two kinds: a term or concept may be affirmed
of a variety of subjects either by analogy _of attribution_ or by analogy
_of proportion_. We may, for instance, speak not only of a man as
“healthy,” but also of his food, his countenance, his occupation, his
companionship, etc., as “healthy”. Now health is found really only in the
man, but it is _attributed_ to the other things owing to some extrinsic
but real connexion which they have with his health, whether as cause, or
effect, or indication, of the latter. This is analogy of attribution; the
subject of which the predicate is properly and primarily affirmed being
known as the primary analogue or _analogum princeps_, those to which it is
transferred being called the _analogata_. It underlies the figures of
speech known as metynomy and synechdoche. Now on account of the various
relations that exist between the different modes of being, relations of
cause and effect, whole and part, means and end, ground and consequence,
etc.—relations which constitute the _orders_ of existing and possible
things, the _physical_ and the _metaphysical_ orders—being is of course
predicated of its modes by _analogy of attribution_; and in such
predication infinite being is the primary analogue for finite beings, and
the substance-mode of being for all accident-modes of being.

Inasmuch, however, as being is not merely attributed to these modes
extrinsically, but belongs to all of them intrinsically, it is also
predicated of them by _analogy of proportion_. This latter sort of analogy
is based on similarity of relations. For example, the act of understanding
bears a relation to the mind similar to that which the act of seeing bears
to the eye, and hence we say of the mind that it “sees” things when it
understands them. Or, again, we speak of a verdant valley in the sunshine
as “smiling,” because its appearance bears a relation to the valley
similar to that which a smile bears to the human countenance. Or again, we
speak of the parched earth as “thirsting” for the rains, or of the devout
soul as “thirsting” for God, because these relations are recognized as
similar to that of a thirsty person towards the drink for which he
thirsts. In all such cases the analogical concept implies not indeed the
same attribute (differently realized) in all the analogues (as in univocal
predication) but rather a similarity in the relation or proportion in
which each analogue embodies or realizes some attribute or attributes
peculiar to itself. Seeing is to the eye as understanding is to the mind;
smiling is to the countenance as the pleasing appearance of its natural
features is to the valley. Rain is to the parched earth, and God is to the
devout soul, as drink is to the thirsty person. It will be noted that in
all such cases the analogical concept is affirmed primarily and properly
of some one thing (the _analogum princeps_), and of the other only
secondarily, and relatively to the former.

Now, if we reflect on the manner in which being is affirmed of its various
modes (_e.g._ of the infinite and the finite; or of substance and
accident; or of spiritual and corporeal substances; or of quantities, or
qualities, or causes, etc.) we can see _firstly_ that although these
differ from one another _by all that each of them is, by the whole being
of each_, yet there is an all-pervading similarity between the relations
which these modes bear each to its own existence. All have, or can have,
actual existence: each according to the grade of perfection of its own
reality. If we conceive infinite being as the cause of all finite beings,
then the former exists in a manner appropriate to its all-perfect reality,
and finite beings in a manner proportionate to their limited realities;
and so of the various modes of finite being among themselves. Moreover, we
can see _secondly_, as will be explained more fully below,(54) that being
is affirmed of the finite by virtue of its dependence on the infinite, and
of accident by virtue of its dependence on substance.(55) Being or reality
is therefore predicated of its modes by _analogy of proportion_.(56)

Is a concept, when applied in this way, one, or is it really manifold? It
is not simply one, for this would yield univocal predication; nor is it
simply manifold, for this would give equivocal predication. Being,
considered in its vague, imperfect, inadequate sense, as involving some
common or similar proportion or relation to existence in all its
analogues, is one; considered as representing clearly and adequately what
is thus similarly related to each of the analogues, it is manifold.

Analogy of proportion is the basis of the figure of speech known as
metaphor. It would be a mistake, however, to infer from this that what is
thus analogically predicated of a number of things belongs intrinsically
and properly only to one of them, being transferred by a mere extrinsic
denomination to the others; and that therefore it does not express any
genuine knowledge on our part about the nature of these other things. It
does give us real knowledge about them. Metaphor is not equivocation; but
perhaps more usually it is understood not to give us real knowledge
because it is understood to be based on resemblances that are merely
_fanciful_, not real. Still, no matter how slender and remote be the
proportional resemblance on which the analogical use of language is based,
in so far forth as it has such a _real_ basis it gives us real insight
into the nature of the analogues. And if we hesitate to describe such a
use of language as “metaphorical,” this is only because “metaphor” perhaps
too commonly connotes a certain transferred and improper extension of the
meaning of terms, based upon a _purely fanciful_ resemblance.

All our language is primarily and _properly_ expressive of concepts
derived from the sensible appearances of material realities. As applied to
the suprasensible, intelligible aspects of these realities, such as
substance and cause, or to spiritual realities, such as the human soul and
God, it is analogical in another sense; not as opposed to univocal, but as
opposed to _proper_. That is, it expresses concepts which are not formed
directly from the presence of the things which they signify, but are
gathered from other things to which the latter are necessarily related in
a variety of ways.(57) Considering the origin of our knowledge, the
material, the sensible, the phenomenal, comes first in order, and moulds
our concepts and language primarily to its own proper representation and
expression; while the spiritual, the intelligible, the substantial, comes
later, and must make use of the concepts and language thus already

If we consider, however, not the order in which we get our knowledge, but
the order of _reality_ in the objects of our knowledge, being or reality
is primarily and more properly predicated of the infinite than of the
finite, of the Creator than of the creature, of the spiritual than of the
material, of substances than of their accidents and sensible
manifestations or phenomena. Yet we do not predicate being or reality of
the finite, or of creatures, in a mere transferred, extrinsic, improper
sense, as if these were mere manifestations of the infinite, or mere
effects of the First Cause, to which alone reality would properly belong.
For creatures, finite things, are in a true and proper sense also real.

    Duns Scotus and those who think with him contend that the concept
    of being, derived as it is from our experience of finite being, if
    applied only analogically to infinite being would give us no
    genuine knowledge about the latter. They maintain that whenever a
    universal concept is applied to the objects in which it is
    _realized intrinsically_, it is affirmed of these objects
    _univocally_. The notion of being, in its most imperfect,
    inadequate, indeterminate sense, is, they say, _one and the same_
    in so far forth as it is applicable to the infinite and the
    finite, and to all the modes of the finite; and it is therefore
    predicated of all univocally.(58) But although they apply the
    concept of being univocally to the infinite and the finite, _i.e._
    to God and creatures, they admit that the _reality_ corresponding
    to this univocal concept is _totally different_ in God and in
    creatures: that God differs by _all that He is_ from creatures,
    and they by _all that they are_ from Him. While, however, Scotists
    emphasize the formal oneness or identity of the indeterminate
    common concept, followers of St. Thomas emphasize the fact that
    the various modes of being differ totally, by all that each of
    them is, from one another; and, from this radical diversity in the
    modes of being, they infer that the common concept should not be
    regarded as _simply_ the same, but only as _proportionally_ the
    same, as expressive of a _similar relation_ of each intrinsically
    different mode of reality to actual existence.

    Thomists lay still greater stress, perhaps, upon the second
    consideration referred to above, as a reason for regarding being
    as an analogical concept when affirmed of Creator and creature, or
    of substance and accident: the consideration that the finite is
    _dependent_ on the infinite, and accident on substance. If being
    is realized in a true and proper sense, and intrinsically, as it
    undoubtedly is, in whatever is distinguishable from nothingness,
    why not say that we should affirm being or reality of all things
    “either as a genus in the strict sense, or else in some sense not
    analogical but proper, after the manner in which we predicate a
    genus of its species and individuals?... Since the object of our
    universal idea of being is admitted to be really in all things, we
    can evidently abstract from what is proper to substance and to
    accident, just as we abstract from what is proper to plants and to
    animals when we affirm of these that they are living things.”(59)

    “In reply to this difficulty,” Father Kleutgen continues,(60) “we
    say in the first place that the idea of being is in truth less
    analogical and more proper than any belonging to the first sort of
    analogy [_i.e._ of attribution], and that therefore it approaches
    more closely to generic concepts properly so called. At the same
    time the difference which separates both from the latter concepts
    remains. For a name applied to many things is analogical if what
    it signifies is realized _par excellence_ in one, and in the
    others only subordinately and dependently on that. Hence it is
    that Aristotle regards predication as analogical when something is
    affirmed of many things (1) either because these have a certain
    relation to some one thing, (2) or because they depend on some one
    thing. In the former case the thing signified by the name is
    really and properly found only in one single thing, and is
    affirmed of all the others only in virtue of some real relation of
    these to the former, whether this be (_a_) that these things
    merely resemble that single thing [metaphor], or (_b_) bear some
    other relation to it, such as that of effect to cause, etc.
    [metonymy]. In the latter case the thing signified by the name is
    really in each of the things of which it is affirmed; but it is in
    one alone _par excellence_, and in the others only by depending,
    for its very existence in them, on that one. Now the object of the
    term _being_ is found indeed in accidents, _e.g._ in quantity,
    colour, shape; but certainly it must be applied primarily to
    substance, and to accidents only dependently on the latter: for
    quantity, colour, shape can have being only because the corporeal
    substance possesses these determinations. But this is not at all
    the case with a genus and its species. These differ from the
    genus, not by any such dependence, but by the addition of some
    special perfection to the constituents of the genus; for example,
    in the brute beast sensibility is added to vegetative life, and in
    man intelligence is added to sensibility. Here there is no
    relation of dependence for existence. Even if we considered human
    life as that of which life is principally asserted, we could not
    say that plants and brute beasts so depended for their life on the
    life of man that we could not affirm life of them except as
    dependent on the life of man: as we cannot attribute being to
    accidents except by reason of their dependence on substance. Hence
    it is that we can consider apart, and in itself, life in general,
    and attribute this to all living things without relating it to any
    other being.”(61)

    “It might still be objected that the one single being of which we
    may affirm life primarily and principally, ought to be not human
    life, but absolute life. And between this divine life and the life
    of all other beings there is a relation of dependence, which
    reaches even to the very existence of life in these other beings.
    In fact all life depends on the absolute life, not indeed in the
    way accident depends on substance, but in a manner no less real
    and far more excellent. This is entirely true; but what are we to
    conclude from it if not precisely this, which scholasticism
    teaches: that the perfections found in the various species of
    creatures can be affirmed of these in the same sense (_univocé_),
    but that they can be affirmed of God and creatures only

    “From all of which we can understand why it is that in regard to
    genera and species the analogy is in the things but not in our
    thoughts, while in regard to substance and accidents it is both in
    the things and in our thoughts: a difference which rests not
    solely on our manner of conceiving things, nor _a fortiori_ on
    mere caprice or fancy, but which has its basis in the very nature
    of the things themselves. For though in the former case there is a
    certain analogy in the things themselves, inasmuch as the same
    nature, that of the genus, is realized in the species in different
    ways, still, as we have seen, that is not sufficient, without the
    relation of dependence, to yield a basis for analogy in our
    thoughts. For it is precisely because accident, as a determination
    of substance, presupposes this latter, that being cannot be
    affirmed of accident except as dependent on substance.”

    These paragraphs will have shown with sufficient clearness why we
    should regard being not as an univocal but as an analogical
    concept, when referred to God and creatures, or to substance and
    accident. For the rest, the divergence between the Scotist and the
    Thomist views is not very important, because Scotists also will
    deny that being is a genus of which the infinite and the finite
    would be species; finite and infinite are not _differentiae_
    superadded to being, inasmuch as each of these differs _by its
    whole reality_, and not merely by a determining portion, from the
    other; it is owing to the limitations of our abstractive way of
    understanding reality that we have to conceive the infinite by
    first conceiving being in the abstract, and then mentally
    determining this concept by another, namely, by the concept of
    “infinite mode of being”(62); the infinite, and whatever
    perfections we predicate formally of the infinite, transcend all
    _genera_, _species_ and _differentiae_, because the distinction of
    being into infinite and finite is prior to the distinction into
    genera, species and differentiae; this latter distinction applying
    only to finite, not to infinite being.(63)

The observations we have just been making in regard to the analogy of
being are of greater importance than the beginner can be expected to
realize. A proper appreciation of the way in which being or reality is
conceived by the mind to appertain to the data of our experience, is
indispensable to the defence of Theism as against Agnosticism and

3. REAL BEING AND LOGICAL BEING.—We may next illustrate the notion of
being by approaching it from another standpoint—by examining a fundamental
distinction which may be drawn between _real being_ (_ens reale_) and
_logical being_ (_ens rationis_).

We derive all our knowledge, through external and internal sense
perception, from the domain of actually existing things, these things
including our own selves and our own minds. We form, from the data of
sense-consciousness, by an intellectual process proper, mental
representations of an abstract and universal character, which reveal to us
partial aspects and phases of the natures of things. We have no intuitive
intellectual insight into these natures. It is only by abstracting their
various aspects, by comparing these in judgments, and reaching still
further aspects by inferences, that we progress in our knowledge of
things—gradually, step by step, _discursivé_, _discurrendo_. All this
implies reflection on, and comparison of, our own ideas, our mental views
of things. It involves the processes of defining and classifying,
affirming and denying, abstracting and generalizing, analysing and
synthesizing, comparing and relating in a variety of ways the objects
grasped by our thought. Now in all these complex functions, by which alone
the mind can _interpret rationally_ what is given to it, by which alone,
in other words, it can know reality, the mind necessarily and inevitably
forms for itself (and expresses in intelligible language) a series of
concepts which have for their objects only the _modes_ in which, and the
_relations_ by means of which, it makes such gradual progress in its
interpretation of what is given to it, in its knowledge of the real. These
concepts are called _secundae intentiones mentis_—concepts of the second
order, so to speak. And their objects, the modes and mutual relations of
our _primae intentiones_ or direct concepts, are called _entia
rationis_—logical entities. For example, _abstractness_ is a mode which
affects not the reality which we apprehend intellectually, but the concept
by which we apprehend it. So, too, is the _universality_ of a concept, its
communicability or applicability to an indefinite multitude of similar
realities—the “_intentio universalitatis_,” as it is called—a mode of
concept, not of the realities represented by the latter. So, likewise, is
the _absence_ of other reality than that represented by the concept, the
_relative nothingness or non-being_ by contrast with which the concept is
realized as positive; and the _absolute nothingness or non-being_ which is
the logical correlative of the concept of being; and the static,
unchanging self-identity of the object as conceived in the abstract.(64)
These are not modes of reality _as it is_ but _as it is conceived_. Again,
the manifold logical relations which we establish between our
concepts—relations of (extensive or intensive) identity or distinction,
inclusion or inherence, etc.—are logical entities, _entia rationis_:
relations of genus, species, differentia, proprium, accidens; the
affirmative or negative relation between predicate and subject in
judgment;(65) the mutual relations of antecedent and consequent in
inference. Now all these logical entities, or _objecta secundae
intentionis mentis_, are relations established by the mind itself between
its own thoughts; they have, no doubt, a foundation in the real objects of
those thoughts as well as in the constitution and limitations of the mind
itself; but they have themselves, and can have, no other being than that
which they have as products of thought. Their sole being consists in
_being thought of_. They are necessary creations or products of the
thought-process as this goes on in the human mind. We see that it is only
by means of these relations we can progress in understanding things. In
the thought-process we cannot help bringing them to light—and thinking
them after the manner of realities, _per modum entis_. Whatever we think
we must think through the concept of “being”; whatever we conceive we must
conceive as “being”; but on reflection we easily see that such entities as
“nothingness,” “negation or absence or privation of being,”
“universality,” “predicate”—and, in general, all relations established by
our own thought between our own ideas representative of reality—can have
themselves no reality proper, no actual or possible existence, other than
that which they get from the mind in virtue of its making them objects of
its own thought. Hence the scholastic definition of a logical entity or
_ens rationis_ as “that which has objective being merely in the
intellect”: “_illud quod habet esse objective tantum in intellectu, seu
... id quod a ratione excogitatur ut ens, cum tamen in se entitatem non
habeat_”.(66) Of course the mental process by which we think such
entities, the mental state in which they are held in consciousness, is
just as real as any other mental process or state. But the entity which is
thus held in consciousness has and can have no other reality than what it
has by being an object of thought. And this precisely is what
distinguishes it from _real being_, from _reality_; for the latter,
besides the ideal existence it has in the mind which thinks of it, has, or
at least can have, a real existence of its own, independently altogether
of our thinking about it. We assume here, of course—what is established
elsewhere, as against the subjective idealism of phenomenists and the
objective idealism of Berkeley—that the _reality_ of _actual_ things does
not consist in their being perceived or thought of, that their “_esse_” is
not “_percipi_,” that they have a reality other than and independent of
their actual presence to the thought of any human mind. And even purely
possible things, even the creatures of our own fancy, the fictions of
fable and romance, _could_, absolutely speaking and without any
contradiction, have an existence in the actual order, in addition to the
mental existence they receive from those who fancy them. Such entities,
therefore, differ from _entia rationis_; they, too, are _real_ beings.

    What the reality of purely possible things is we shall discuss
    later on. Actually existing things at all events we assume to be
    _given_ to the knowing mind, not to be _created_ by the latter.
    Even in regard to these, however, we must remember that the mind
    in knowing them, in interpreting them, in seeking to penetrate the
    nature of them, is not purely passive; that reality as known to
    us—or, in other words, our knowledge of reality—is the product of
    a twofold factor: the subjective which is the mind, and the
    objective which is the extramental reality acting on, and thus
    revealing itself to, the mind. Hence it is that when we come to
    analyse in detail our knowledge of the nature of things—or, in
    other words, the natures of things as revealed to our minds—it
    will not be always easy to distinguish in each particular case the
    properties, aspects, relations, distinctions, etc., which are
    _real_ (in the sense of being there in the reality independently
    of the consideration of the mind) from those that are merely
    _logical_ (in the sense of being produced and superadded to the
    reality by the mental process itself).(67) Yet it is obviously a
    matter of the very first importance to determine, as far as may be
    possible, to what extent our knowledge of reality is not merely a
    mental _interpretation_, but a mental _construction_, of the
    latter; and whether, if there be a constructive or constitutive
    factor in thought, this should be regarded as interfering with the
    validity of thought as representative of reality. This problem—of
    the relation of the _ens rationis_ to the _ens reale_ in the
    process of cognition—has given rise to discussions which, in
    modern times, have largely contributed to the formation of that
    special branch of philosophical enquiry which is called
    Epistemology. But it must not be imagined that this very problem
    was not discussed, and very widely discussed, by philosophers long
    before the problem of the validity of knowledge assumed the
    prominent place it has won for itself in modern philosophy. Even a
    moderate familiarity with scholastic philosophy will enable the
    student to recognize this problem, in a variety of phases, in the
    discussions of the medieval schoolmen concerning the concepts of
    matter and form, the simplicity and composition of beings, and the
    nature of the various distinctions—whether logical, virtual,
    formal, or real—which the mind either invents or detects in the
    realities it endeavours to understand and explain.

4. REAL BEING AND IDEAL BEING.—The latter of these expressions has a
multiplicity of kindred meanings. We use it here in the sense of “being
_known_,” _i.e._ to signify the “esse _intentionale_,” the mental
presence, which, in the scholastic theory of knowledge, an entity of
whatsoever kind, whether real or logical, must have in the mind of the
knower in order that he be aware of that entity. A mere logical entity, as
we have seen, has and can have no other mode of being than this which
consists in being an object of the mind’s awareness. All real being, too,
when it becomes an object of any kind of human cognition whatsoever—of
intellectual thought, whether direct or reflex; of sense perception,
whether external or internal—must obtain this sort of mental presence or
mental existence: thereby alone can it become an “objectum _cognitum_”.
Only by such mental mirroring, or reproduction, or reconstruction, can
reality become so related and connected with mind as to reveal itself to
mind. Under this peculiar relation which we call cognition, the mind, as
we know from psychology and epistemology, is not passive: if reality
revealed itself immediately, as it is, to a purely passive mind (were such
conceivable), the existence of error would be unaccountable; but the mind
is not passive: under the influence of the reality it forms the
intellectual concept (the _verbum mentale_), or the sense percept (the
_species sensibilis expressa_), in and through which, and by means of
which, it attains to its knowledge of the real.

But prior (ontologically) to this _mental_ existence, and as partial cause
of the latter, there is the _real_ existence or being, which reality has
independently of its being known by any individual human mind. Real being,
then, as distinguished here from ideal being, is that which exists or can
exist extramentally, whether it is known by the human mind or not, _i.e._
whether it exists also mentally or not.

    That there is such real being, apart from the “thought”-being
    whereby the mind is constituted formally knowing, is proved
    elsewhere; as also that this _esse intentionale_ has modes which
    cannot be attributed to the _esse reale_. We merely note these
    points here in order to indicate the errors involved in the
    opposite contentions. Our concepts are characterized by
    abstractness, by a consequent static immutability, by a plurality
    often resulting from purely mental distinctions, by a universality
    which transcends those distinctions and unifies the variety of all
    subordinate concepts in the widest concept of _being_. Now if, for
    example, we attribute the unifying mental mode of universality to
    real being, we must draw the pantheistic conclusion that all real
    being is one: the logical outcome of extreme realism. If, again,
    we transfer purely mental distinctions to the unity of the
    Absolute or Supreme Being, thus making them real, we thereby deny
    infinite perfection to the most perfect being conceivable: an
    error of which some catholic philosophers of the later middle ages
    have been accused with some foundation. If, finally, we identify
    the _esse reale_ with the _esse intentionale_, and this with the
    thought-process itself, we find ourselves at the starting-point of
    Hegelian monism.(68)

5. FUNDAMENTAL DISTINCTIONS IN REAL BEING.—Leaving logical and ideal being
aside, and fixing our attention exclusively on real being, we may indicate
here a few of the most fundamental distinctions which experience enables
us to recognize in our study of the universal order of things.

(_a_) _Possible or Potential Being and Actual Being._—The first of these
distinctions is that between possibility and actuality, between that which
can be and that which actually is. For a proper understanding of this
distinction, which will be dealt with presently, it is necessary to note
here the following divisions of _actual_ being, which will be studied in
detail later on.

(_b_) _Infinite Being and Finite Beings._—All people have a sufficiently
clear notion of Infinite Being, or Infinitely Perfect Being: though not
all philosophers are agreed as to how precisely we get this notion, or
whether there actually exists such a being, or whether if such being does
exist we can attain to a certain knowledge of such existence. By infinite
being we mean a being possessing all conceivable perfections in the most
perfect conceivable manner; and by finite beings all such beings as have
actually any conceivable limitation to their perfection. About these
nominal definitions there is no dispute; and scholasticism identifies
their respective objects with _God_ and _creatures_.

(_c_) _Necessary Being and Contingent Beings._—Necessary being we conceive
as that being which exists of necessity: being which if conceived at all
cannot be conceived as non-existent: being in the very concept of which is
essentially involved the concept of actual existence: so that the attempt
to conceive such being as non-existent would be an attempt to conceive
what would be self-contradictory. Contingent being, on the other hand, is
being which is conceived not to exist of necessity: being which may be
conceived as not actually existent: being in the concept of which is not
involved the concept of actual existence. The same observations apply to
this distinction as to the preceding one. It is obvious that any being
which we regard as actual we must regard either as necessary or as
contingent; and, secondly, that necessary being must be considered as
absolutely independent, as having its actual existence _from itself_, by
its own nature; while contingent being must be considered as dependent for
its actual existence on some being _other_ than itself. Hence necessary
being is termed _Ens a se_, contingent being _Ens ab alio_.

(_d_) _Absolute Being and Relative Beings._—In modern philosophy the terms
“absolute” and “relative,” as applied to being, correspond roughly with
the terms “God” and “creatures” in the usage of theistic philosophers. But
the former pair of terms is really of wider application than the latter.
The term _absolute_ means, etymologically, that which is loosed,
unfettered, disengaged or free from bonds (_absolutum_, _ab-solvere_,
_solvo_ = _se-luo_, from λύω): that, therefore, which is not bound up with
anything else, which is in some sense self-sufficing, independent; while
the _relative_ is that which is in some way bound up with something else,
and which is so far not self-sufficing or independent. That, therefore, is
_ontologically_ absolute which is in some sense self-sufficing,
independent of other things, _in its existence_; while the ontologically
relative is that which depends in some real way for its existence on
something else. Again, that is _logically_ absolute which _can be
conceived and known by us without reference to anything else_; while the
logically relative is that which we can conceive and know only through our
knowledge of something else. And since we usually name things according to
the way in which we conceive them, we regard as absolute any being which
is _by itself_ and _of itself_ that which we conceive it to be, or that
which its name implies; and as relative any being which is what its name
implies only _in virtue of some relation_ to something else.(69) Thus, a
man is a _man_ absolutely, while he is a _friend_ only relatively to

It is obvious that the primary and general meaning of the terms “absolute”
and “relative” can be applied and extended in a variety of ways. For
instance, _all_ being may be said to be “relative” _to the knowing mind_,
in the sense that all knowledge involves a transcendental relation of the
known object to the knowing subject. In this widest and most improper
sense even God Himself is relative, not however as being, but as known.
Again, when we apply the same attribute to a variety of things we may see
that it is found in one of them in the most perfect manner conceivable, or
at least in a fuller and higher degree than it is found in the others; and
that it is found in these others only with some sort of subordination to,
and dependence on, the former: we then say that it belongs to this
_primarily_ or _absolutely_, and to the others only _secondarily_ or
_relatively_. This is a less improper application of the terms than in the
preceding case. What we have especially to remember here is that there are
many different kinds of dependence or subordination, all alike giving rise
to the same usage.

Hence, applying the terms absolute and relative to the predicate “being”
or “real” or “reality,” it is obvious in the first place that the
_potential_ as such can be called “being,” or “reality” only in relation
to the _actual_. It is the actual that is being _simpliciter_, _par
excellence_; the potential is so only in relation to this.(70) Again,
_substances_ may be termed beings absolutely, while _accidents_ are beings
only relatively, because of their dependence on substances; though this
relation is quite different from the relation of potential to actual
being. Finally all finite, contingent realities, actual and possible, are
what they are only because of their dependence on the Infinite and
Necessary Being: and hence the former are relative and the latter
absolute; though here again the relation is different from that of
accident to substance, or of potential to actual.

Since the order of being includes all orders, and since a being is
_absolutely_ such-or-such in any order only when that being realizes in
all its fulness and purity such-or-such reality, it follows that the being
which realizes in all its fulness the reality of _being_ is the Absolute
Being in the highest possible sense of this term. This concept of Absolute
Being is the richest and most comprehensive of all possible concepts: it
is the very antithesis of that other concept of “being in general” which
is common to everything and distinguished only from nothingness. It
includes in itself all actual and possible modes and grades and
perfections of finite things, apart from their limitations, embodying all
of them in the one highest and richest concept of that which makes all of
them real and actual, _viz._ the concept of Actuality or Actual Reality

    Hegel and his followers have involved themselves in a pantheistic
    philosophy by neglecting to distinguish between those two totally
    different concepts.(71) A similar error has also resulted from
    failure to distinguish between the various modes in which being
    that is relative may be dependent on being that is absolute. God
    is the Absolute Being; creatures are relative. So too is substance
    absolute being, compared with accidents as inhering and existing
    in substance. But God is not therefore to be conceived as the one
    all-pervading substance, of which all finite things, all
    phenomena, would be only accidental manifestations.


6. THE STATIC AND THE CHANGING.—The things we see around us, the things
which make up the immediate data of our experience, not only _are_ or
_exist_; they also _become_, or _come_ into actual existence; they
_change_; they pass out of actual existence. The abstract notion of being
represents its object to the mind in a static, permanent, changeless,
self-identical condition; but if this condition were an adequate
representation of reality change would be unreal, would be only an
illusion. This is what the Eleatic philosophers of ancient Greece
believed, distinguishing merely between being and nothingness. But they
were mistaken; for change in things is too obviously real to be eliminated
by calling it an illusion: even if it were an illusion, this illusion at
least would have to be accounted for. In order, therefore, to understand
reality we must employ not merely the notion of being (something
_static_), but also the notion of becoming, change, process, appearing and
disappearing (something _kinetic_, and something _dynamic_). In doing so,
however, we must not fall into the error of the opposite extreme from the
Eleatics—by regarding change as the adequate representation of reality.
This is what Heraclitus and the later Ionians did: holding that nothing
_is_, that all _becomes_ (πάντα ρέι), that change is all reality, that the
stable, the permanent, is non-existent, unreal, an illusion. This too is
false; for change would be unintelligible without at least an abiding
_law_ of change, a permanent _principle_ of some sort; which, in turn,
involves the reality of some sort of abiding, stable, permanent being.

We must then—with Aristotle, as against both of those one-sided
conceptions—hold to the reality both of being and of becoming; and proceed
to see how the stable and the changing can both be real.

To convince ourselves that they are both real, very little reflection is
needed. We have actual experience of both those elements of reality in our
consciousness and memory of our own selves. Every human individual in the
enjoyment of his mental faculties knows himself as an abiding,
self-identical being, yet as constantly undergoing real changes; so that
throughout his life he is really the same being, though just as certainly
he really changes. In external nature, too, we observe on the one hand
innumerable processes of growth and decay, of motion and interaction; and
on the other hand a similarly all-pervading element of sameness or
identity amid all this never-ending change.

AND ADEQUATE.—It is from our experience of actuality and change that we
derive not only our notion of temporal duration, but also our notion of
_potential being_ or _possibility_, as distinct from that of _actual
being_ or _actuality_. It is from our experience of what actually exists
that we are able to determine what can, and what cannot exist. We know
from experience what gold is, and what a tower is; and that it is
intrinsically possible for a golden tower to exist, that such an object of
thought involves no contradiction, that therefore its existence is not
impossible, even though it may never actually exist as a fact. Similarly,
we know from experience what a square is, and what a circle is; and that
it is intrinsically impossible for a square circle to exist, that such an
object of thought involves a contradiction, that therefore not only is
such an object never actually existent in fact, but that it is in no sense
real, in no way possible.

Thus, _intrinsic_ (or _objective_, _absolute_, _logical_, _metaphysical_)
possibility is the mere non-repugnance of an object of thought to actual
existence. Any being or object of thought that is conceivable in this way,
that can be conceived as capable of actually existing, is called
intrinsically (or objectively, absolutely, logically, metaphysically)
possible being. The absence of such intrinsic capability of actual
existence gives us the notion of the intrinsically (objectively,
absolutely, logically, metaphysically) impossible. We shall return to
these notions again. They are necessary here for the understanding of real
change in the actual universe.

Fixing our attention now upon the real changes which characterize the data
of our experience, let us inquire what conditions are necessary in order
that an intrinsically possible object of thought become here and now an
actual being. It matters not whether we select an example from the domain
of organic nature, of inorganic nature, or of art—whether it be an oak, or
an iceberg, or a statue. In order that there be here and now an actual
oak-tree, it is necessary not only (1) that such an object be
intrinsically possible, but (2) that there have been planted here an
actual acorn, _i.e._ an actual being having in it subjectively and really
the passive potentiality of developing into an actual oak-tree, and (3)
that there be in the actual things around the acorn active powers or
forces capable of so influencing the latent, passive potentiality of the
acorn as gradually to evolve the oak-tree therefrom. So, too, for the (1)
intrinsically possible iceberg, there are needed (2) water capable of
becoming ice, and (3) natural powers or forces capable of forming it into
ice and setting this adrift in the ocean. And for the (1) intrinsically
possible statue there are needed (2) the block of marble or other material
capable of becoming a statue, and (3) the sculptor having the power to
mould this material into an actual statue.

In order, therefore, that a thing which is not now actual, but only
intrinsically or absolutely possible, become actual, there must actually
exist some being or beings endowed with the _active power or potency_ of
making this possible thing actual. The latter is then said to be
_relatively, extrinsically_ possible—in relation to such being or beings.
And obviously a thing may be possible relatively to the power of one
being, and not possible relatively to lesser power of another being: the
statue that is intrinsically possible in the block of marble, may be
extrinsically possible relatively to the skilled sculptor, but not
relatively to the unskilled person who is not a sculptor.

Furthermore, relatively to the same agent or agents, the production of a
given effect, the doing of a given thing, is said to be _physically_
possible if it can be brought about by such agents acting according to the
ordinary course of nature; if, in other words they have the physical power
to do it. Otherwise it is said to be physically impossible, even though
metaphysically or intrinsically possible, _e.g._ it is physically
impossible for a dead person to come to life again. A thing is said to be
_morally_ possible, in reference to free and responsible agents, if they
can do it without unreasonable inconvenience; otherwise it is considered
as morally impossible, even though it be both physically and
metaphysically possible: as often happens in regard to the fulfilment of
one’s obligations.

That which is _both intrinsically and extrinsically possible_ is said to
be _adequately possible_. Whatever is intrinsically possible is also
extrinsically possible in relation to God, who is _Almighty_,

conceive the Infinite Being, Almighty God, as capable of _creating_, or
producing actual being _from nothingness_, _i.e._ without any actually
pre-existing material out of whose passive potentiality the actual being
would be developed. Creative power or activity does not need any
pre-existing subject on which to exercise its influence, any subject in
whose _passive potentiality_ the thing to be created is antecedently

But all other power, all activity of created causes, does require some
such actually existing subject. If we examine the activities of the
agencies that fall within our direct experience, whether in external
nature or in our own selves, we shall find that in no case does their
operative influence or causality extend beyond the production of changes
in existing being, or attain to the production of new actual being out of
nothingness. The forces of nature cannot produce an oak without an acorn,
or an iceberg without water; nor can the sculptor produce a statue except
from some pre-existing material.

    The _natural_ passive potentiality of things is, moreover, limited
    in reference to the active powers of the created universe. These,
    for example, can educe life from the passive potentiality of
    inorganic matter, but only by assimilating this matter into a
    living organism: they cannot restore life to a human corpse; yet
    the latter has in it the capacity to be restored to life by the
    direct influence of the Author of Nature. This special and
    supernatural potentiality in created things, under the influence
    of Omnipotence, is known as _potentia obedientalis_.(72)

This consideration will help us to realize that all reality which is
produced by change, and subject to change, is essentially a mixture of
_becoming_ and _being_, of _potential_ and _actual_. The reality of such
being is not _tota simul_. Only immutable being, whose duration is
_eternal_, has its reality _tota simul_: it alone is _purely actual_, the
“_Actus Purus_”; and its duration is one eternal “_now_,” without
beginning, end, or succession. But mutable being, whose duration in actual
existence is measured by _time_, is actualized only successively: its
actuality at any particular instant does not embody the whole of its
reality: this latter includes also a “_was_” and “_will be_”; the thing
was _potentially_ what it now is _actually_, and it will become actually
something which it now is only potentially; nor shall we have understood
even moderately the nature or essence of any mutable being—an oak-tree,
for example—until we have grasped the fact that the whole reality of its
nature embraces more than what we find of it actually existing at any
given instant of its existence. In other words, we have to bear in mind
that the reality of such a being is not pure actuality but a mixture of
potential and actual: that it is an _actus non-purus_, or an _actus

We have to note well that the _potential being_ of a thing is something
_real_—that it is not merely a _modus loquendi_, or a _modus
intelligendi_. The oak is in the acorn in some true and real sense: the
potentiality of the oak is something real in the acorn: if it were not so,
if it were nothing real in the acorn, we could say with equal truth that a
man or a horse or a house is potentially in the acorn; or, again with
equal truth, that the oak is potentially in a mustard-seed, or a grain of
corn, or a pebble, or a drop of water. Therefore the oak is _really_ in
the acorn—not actually but potentially, _potentia passiva_.

The oak-tree is also really in those _active_ forces of nature whose
influence on the acorn develop the latter into an actual oak-tree: it is
in those causes not actually, of course, but _virtually_, for they possess
in themselves the _operative power_—_potentia activa sive operativa_—to
educe the oak-tree out of the acorn. These two potential conditions of a
being—in the active causes which produce it, and in the pre-existing
actual thing or things from which it is produced—are called each a real or
subjective potency, _potentia realis_, or _potentia subjectiva_, in
distinction from the mere logical or objective possibility of such a

And just as the passive potentiality of the statue is something real in
the block of marble, though distinct from the actuality of the statue and
from the process by which this is actualized, so is the active power of
making the statue something real in the sculptor, though distinct from the
operation by which he makes the statue. If an agent’s _power_ to act, to
produce change, were not a reality in the agent, a reality distinct from
the _action_ of the latter; or if a being’s capacity to undergo change,
and thereby to become something other, were not a reality distinct from
the process of change, and from the actual result of this process—it would
follow not only that the actual alone is real, and the merely possible or
potential unreal, but also that no change can be real, that nothing can
really become, and nothing really disappear.(73)

experience of change in the world that we derive our notions of the
potential and the actual, of active power and passive potentiality. The
term “act” has primarily the same meaning as “action,” “operation,” that
process by which a change is wrought. But the Latin word _actus_ (Gr.
ἐνέργεια, ἐντελέχεια) means rather that which is achieved by the _actio_,
that which is the correlative and complement of the passive potentiality,
the actuality of this latter: that by which potential being is rendered
formally actual, and, by way of consequence, this actual being itself.
“_Potentia activa_” and its correlative “_actus_” might, perhaps, be
appropriately rendered by “_power_” (_potestas agendi_) and “_action_” or
“_operation_”; “_potentia passiva_” and its correlative “_actus_,” by
“_potentiality_” and “_actuality_” respectively.

In these correlatives, the notion underlying the term “actual” is
manifestly the notion of something completed, achieved, perfected—as
compared with that of something incomplete, imperfect, determinable, which
is the notion of the potential. Hence the notions of _potentia_ and
_actus_ have been extended widely beyond their primary signification of
power to act and the exercise of this power. Such pairs of correlatives as
the determinable and the determined, the perfectible and the perfected,
the undeveloped or less developed and the more developed, the generic and
the specific, are all conceived under the aspect of this widest relation
of the potential to the actual. And since we can distinguish successive
stages in any process of development, or an order of logical sequence
among the contents of our concept of any concrete reality, it follows that
what will be conceived as an _actus_ in one relation will be conceived as
a _potentia_ in another. Thus, the disposition of any faculty—as, for
example, the scientific habit in the intellect—is an _actus_ or perfection
of the faculty regarded as a _potentia_; but it is itself a _potentia_
which is actualized in the _operation_ of actually studying. This
illustrates the distinction commonly drawn between an “_actus primus_” and
an “_actus secundus_” in any particular order or line of reality: the
_actus primus_ is that which presupposes no prior actuality in the same
order; the _actus secundus_ is that which does presuppose another. The act
of knowing is an _actus secundus_ which presupposes the cognitive faculty
as an _actus primus_: the faculty being the _first_ or fundamental
equipment of the soul in relation to knowledge. Hence the child is said to
have knowledge “_in actu primo_” as having the faculty of reason; and the
student to have knowledge “_in actu secundo_” as exercising this faculty.

The _actus_ or perfecting principles of which we have spoken so far are
all conceived as presupposing an existing subject on which they supervene.
They are therefore _accidents_ as distinct from _substantial constitutive_
principles of this subject; and they are therefore called _accidental_
actualities, _actus_ “_accidentales_”. But the actual existence of a being
is also conceived as the complement and correlative of its essence: as
that which makes the latter actual, thus transferring it from the state of
mere possibility. Hence existence also is called an _actus_ or actuality:
the _actus_ “_existentialis_,” to distinguish it from the existing thing’s
activities and other subsequently acquired characters. In reference to
these existence is a “first actuality”—“_Esse est actus primus_”; “_Prius
est esse quam agere_”: “Existence is the first actuality”; “Action
presupposes existence”—while each of these in reference to existence, is a
“second actuality,” an _actus secundus_.

When, furthermore, we proceed to examine the constitutive principles
essential to any being in the concrete, we may be able to distinguish
between principles which are determinable, passive and persistent
throughout all essential change of that being, and others which are
determining, specifying, differentiating principles. In water, for
example, we may distinguish the passive underlying principle which
persists throughout the decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen,
from the active specifying principle which gives that substratum its
specific nature as water. The former or material principle (ὕλη,
_materia_) is _potential_, compared with the latter or formal principle
(μορφή, εἶδος, ἐντελέχεια, _forma_, _species_, _actus_) as _actual_. The
concept of _actus_ is thus applied to the essence itself: the _actus_
“_essentialis_” or “_formalis_” of a thing is that which we conceive to be
the ultimate, completing and determining principle of the essence or
nature of that thing. In reference to this as well as the other
constitutive principles of the thing, the actual existence of the thing is
a “second actuality,” an _actus secundus_.

In fact all the constitutive principles of the essence of any existing
thing, and all the properties and attributes involved in the essence or
necessarily connected with the essence, must all alike be conceived as
logically antecedent to the existential _actus_ whereby they are
constituted something in the actual order, and not mere possible objects
of our thought. And from this point of view the existence of a thing is
called the ultimate actualization of its essence. Hence the scholastic
aphorism: “_Esse est ultimus actus rei_”.

The term _actus_ may designate that complement of reality by which
potential being is made actual (_actus_ “_actuans_”), or this actual being
itself (_actus_ “_simpliciter dictus_”). In the latter sense we have
already distinguished the Being that is immutable, the Being of God, as
the _Actus Purus_, from the being of all mutable things, which latter
being is necessarily a mixture of potential and actual, an _actus mixtus_.

Now if the essences of corporeal things are composite, if they are
constituted by the union of some determining, formative principle with a
determinable, passive principle—of “form” with “matter,” in scholastic
terminology—we may call these formative principles _actus_
“_informantes_”; and if these cannot actually exist except in union with a
material principle they may be called actus “_non-subsistentes_”: _e.g._,
the formative principle or “_forma substantialis_” of water, or the vital
principle of a plant. If, on the other hand, there exist essences which,
being simple, do not actualize any material, determinable principle, but
subsist independently of any such, they are called _actus_
“_non-informantes_,” or _actus_ “_subsistentes_”. Such, for example, are
God, and pure spirits whose existence is known from revelation. Finally,
there may be a kind of actual essence which, though it naturally
actualizes a material principle _de facto_, can nevertheless continue to
subsist without this latter: such an actual being would be at once an
_actus informans_ and an _actus subsistens_; and such, in fact, is the
human soul.

Throughout all distinctions between the potential and the actual there
runs the conception of _the actual as something more perfect than the
potential_. There is in the actual something positive and real over and
above what is in the potential. This is an ultimate fact in our analysis;
and its importance will be realized when we come to apply the notions we
have been explaining to the study of change.

The notion of grades of perfection in things is one with which everyone is
familiar. We naturally conceive some beings as higher upon the scale of
reality than others; as having “more” reality, so to speak—not
necessarily, of course, in the literal sense of size or quantity—than
others; as being more perfect, nobler, of greater worth, value, dignity,
excellence, than others. Thus we regard the infinite as more perfect than
the finite, spiritual beings as nobler than material beings, man as a
higher order of being than the brute beast, this again as surpassing the
whole vegetable kingdom, the lowest form of life as higher on the scale of
being than inorganic matter, the substance-mode of being as superior to
all accident-modes, the actualized state of a being as more perfect than
its potential state, _i.e._ as existing in its material, efficient and
ideal or exemplar causes. The grounds and significance of this mental
appreciation of relative values in things must be discussed elsewhere. We
refer to it here in order to point out another scholastic aphorism,
according to which the higher a thing is in the scale of actual being, and
the more perfect it is accordingly, the more efficient it will also be as
a principle of action, the more powerful as a cause in the production of
changes in other things, the more operative in actualizing their passive
potentialities; and conversely, the less actual a thing is, and therefore
the more imperfect, the greater its passive capacity will be to undergo
the influence of agencies that are actual and operative around it. “As
passive potentiality,” says St. Thomas,(74) “is the mark of potential
being, so active power is the mark of actual being. For a thing acts, in
so far as it is actual; but is acted on, so far as it is potential.” Our
knowledge of the nature of things is in fact exclusively based on our
knowledge of their activities: we have no other key to the knowledge of
what a thing is than our knowledge of what it does: “_Operari sequitur
esse_”: “_Qualis est operatio talis est natura_”—“Acting follows being”:
“Conduct is the key to nature”.

A being that is active or operative in the production of a change is said
to be the efficient cause of the change, the latter being termed the
effect. Now the greater the change, _i.e._ the higher and more perfect be
the grade of reality that is actualized in the change, the higher too in
the scale of being must be the efficient cause of that change. There must
be a proportion in degree of perfection or reality between effect and
cause. The former cannot exceed in actual perfection the active power, and
therefore the actual being, of the latter. This is so because we conceive
the effect as being produced or actualized _through the operative
influence_ of the cause, and _with real dependence_ on this latter; and it
is inconceivable that a cause should have power to actualize other being,
distinct from itself, which would be of a higher grade of excellence than
itself. The nature of efficient causality, of the influence by which the
cause is related to its effect, is not easy to determine; it will be
discussed at a subsequent stage of our investigations (ch. xi.); but
whatever it be, a little reflection should convince us of the truth of the
principle just stated: that an effect cannot be more perfect than its
cause. The mediæval scholastics embodied this truth in the formula: _Nemo
dat quod non habet_—a formula which we must not interpret in the more
restricted and literal sense of the words _giving_ and _having_, lest we
be met with the obvious objection that it is by no means necessary for a
boy to have a black eye himself in order to give one to his neighbour!
What the formula means is that an agent cannot give to, or produce in, any
potential subject, receptive of its causal influence, an actuality which
it does not itself possess virtually, or in its active power: that no
actuality surpassing in excellence the actual perfection of the cause
itself can be found thus virtually in the active power of the latter.
There is no question of the cause or agent transferring bodily as it were
a part of its own actuality to the subject which is undergoing change(75);
nor will such crude imagination images help us to understand what real
change, under the influence of efficient causality, involves.(76) An
analysis of change will enable us to appreciate more fully the real
difficulty of explaining it, and the futility of any attempt to account
for it without admitting the real, objective validity of the notions of
actual and potential being, of active powers or forces and passive
potentialities in the things that are subject to change.

10. ANALYSIS OF CHANGE.—_Change_ (_Mutatio_, _Motus_, μεταβολή, κίνησις)
is one of those simplest concepts which cannot be defined. We may describe
it, however, as _the transition of a being from one state to another_. If
one thing entirely disappeared and another were substituted for it, we
should not regard the former as having been changed into the latter. When
one thing is put in the place of another, each, no doubt, undergoes a
change of place, but neither is changed into the other. So, also, if we
were to conceive a thing as absolutely ceasing to exist, as lapsing into
nothingness at a given instant, and another as coming into existence out
of nothingness at the same instant (and in the same place), we should not
consider this double event as constituting a real change of the former
thing into the latter. And although our _senses_ cannot testify to
anything beyond _sequence_ in sense phenomena, our _reason_ detects in
real change something other than a total substitution of things for one
another, or continuous total cessations and inceptions of existence in
things. No doubt, if we conceive the whole phenomenal or perceptible
universe and all the beings which constitute this universe as essentially
contingent, and therefore dependent for their reality and their actual
existence on a Supreme, Necessary Being who created and conserves them,
who at any time may cease to conserve any of them, and produce other and
new beings _out of nothingness_, then such absolute cessations and
inceptions of existence in the world would not be impossible. God might
_annihilate_, _i.e._ cease to conserve in existence, this or that
contingent being at any instant, and at any instant _create_ a new
contingent being, _i.e._ produce it in its totality from no pre-existing
material. But there is no reason to suppose that this is what is
constantly taking place in Nature: that all change is simply a series of
annihilations and creations. On the contrary, the modes of being which
appear and disappear in real change, in the transition of anything from
one state to a really different state of being, do not appear _de novo_,
_ex nihilo_, as absolute beginnings out of nothingness; or disappear
_totaliter_, _in nihilum_, as absolute endings or lapses of reality into
nothingness. The real changes which take place in Nature are due to the
operation of natural causes. These causes, being finite in their operative
powers, cannot create, _i.e._ produce new being from nothingness. They
can, however, with the concurrence of the Omnipotent Being, modify
existing modes of being, _i.e._ make actual what was only potential in
these latter. The notion of change is not verified in the conception of
successive annihilations and creations; for there is involved in the
former concept not merely the notion of a real difference between the two
_actual_ states, that before and that after the change, but also the
notion of some _potential_ reality persisting throughout the change,
something capable of being actually so and so before the change and
actually otherwise after the change. For real change, therefore, we
require (1) two positive and really different states of the same being, a
“_terminus a quo_” and a “_terminus ad quem_”; and (2) a real process of
transition whereby something potential becomes actual. In creation there
is no real and positive _terminus a quo_; in annihilation there is no real
and positive _terminus ad quem_; these therefore are not changes in the
proper sense of the term. Sometimes, too, change is affirmed, by purely
extrinsic denomination, of a thing in which there is no real change, but
only a relation to some other really changing thing. In this sense when an
object unknown or unthought of becomes the actual object of somebody’s
thought or cognition, it is said to “change,” though the transition from
“unknown” to “known” involves no real change of state in the object, but
only in the knowing subject. If thought were in any true sense
“constitutive” of reality, as many modern philosophers contend, the change
in the object would of course be real.

Since, therefore, change consists in this, that a thing which is actually
in a given state ceases to be actually such and begins to be actually in
another state, it is obvious that there persists throughout the process
some reality which is in itself potential and indifferent to either actual
state; and that, moreover, something which was actual disappears, while
some new actuality appears, in this persisting potentiality. The abiding
potential principle is called the _matter_ or _subject_ of the change; the
transient actualizing principles are called _forms_. Not all these “forms”
which precede or result from change are necessarily positive entities in
themselves: they may be mere _privations_ of other forms (“_privatio_,”
στέρησις): not all changes result in the acquisition of a new degree of
positive actual being; some result in loss of perfection or actuality.
Still, even in these cases, the state characterized by the less perfect
degree of actuality has a determinate actual grade of being which is
proper to itself, and which, as such, is not found actually, but only
potentially, in the state characterized by the more perfect degree of
actuality. When, then, a being changes from a more perfect to a less
perfect state, the actuality of this less perfect state cannot be
adequately accounted for by seeking it in the antecedent and more perfect
state: it is not in this latter state _actually_, but only _potentially_;
nor do we account for it by saying that it is “equivalently” in the
greater actuality of the latter state: the two actualizing principles are
really distinct, and neither is wholly or even partially the other. The
significance of this consideration will appear presently in connection
with the scholastic axiom: _Quidquid movetur ab alio movetur_.

Meanwhile we must guard against conceiving the potential or material
factor in change as a sort of actual but hidden core of reality which
itself persists unchanged throughout; and the formative or actualizing
factors as superficially adorning this substratum by constantly replacing
one another. Such a substitution of imagination images for intellectual
thought will not help, but rather hinder, all accurate analysis. It is not
the potential or material factor in things that changes, nor yet the
actualizing or formal factors, but the things themselves; and if “things”
are subject to “real change” it is manifest that this fact can be made
intelligible, if at all, only by intellectually analysing the things and
their changes into constitutive principles or factors which are nor
themselves “things” or “changes”. Were we to arrive only at principles of
the latter sort, so far from explaining anything we would really only have
pushed back the problem a step farther. It may be that none of the
attempts yet made by philosophers or scientists to offer an ultimate
explanation of change is entirely satisfactory,—the scholastic explanation
will be gradually outlined in these pages,—but it will be of advantage at
least to recognize the shortcomings of theories that are certainly

We are now in a position to state and explain the important scholastic
aphorism embodying what has been called the Principle of Change
(“_Principium Motus_”): _Quidquid movetur, ab alio movetur_: “Whatever
undergoes change is changed by something else”. The term _motus_ is here
taken in the wide sense of any real transition from potentiality to
actuality, as is evident from the alternative statements of the same
principle: _Nihil potest seipsum reducere e potentia in actum_: “Nothing
can reduce itself from potentiality to actuality,” or, again, _Potentia,
qua talis, nequit per semetipsam ad actum reduci, sed reducitur ab alio
principio in actu_: “The potential as such cannot be reduced by itself to
the actual, but only by some other already actual principle”.(77) This
assertion, rightly understood, is self-evidently true; for the state of
passive potentiality, as such, involves the absence of the correlative
actuality in the potential subject; and since the actual, as such,
involves a perfection which is not in the potential, the latter cannot
confer upon itself this perfection: nothing can be the adequate principle
or source of a perfection which is not in this principle or source: _nemo
dat quod non habet_.

We have already anticipated the objection arising from the consideration
that the state resulting from a change is sometimes in its totality less
perfect than the state which existed prior to the change. Even in such
cases there results from the change a new actuality which was not in the
prior state, and which cannot be conceived as a mere part or residue of
the latter, or regarded as equivalently contained in the latter. Even
granting, as we must, that the net result of such a change is a loss of
actuality or perfection in the subject of change, still there is always a
gain which is not accounted for by the loss; there is always a new actual
state which, as such, was not in the original state.

A more obvious objection to the principle arises from the consideration of
vital action; but it is based on a misunderstanding of the principle under
discussion. Living things, it is objected, move themselves: their _vital_
action is spontaneous and immanent: originating within themselves, it has
its term too within themselves, resulting in their gradual development,
growth, increase of actuality and perfection. Therefore it would appear
that they move and perfect themselves; and hence the so-called “principle
of change” is not true universally.

In reply to all this we admit that vital action is immanent, remaining
within the agent to perfect the latter; also that it is spontaneous,
inasmuch as when the agent is actually exercising vital functions it need
not be actually undergoing the causal influence of any other created
agent, or actually dependent on any such agent. But it must, nevertheless,
in such action, be dependent on, and influenced by, _some actual being
other than itself_. And the reason is obvious: If by such action it
increases its own actual perfection, and becomes actually other than it
was before such action, then it cannot have given itself the actuality of
this perfection, which it possessed before only potentially. No doubt, it
is not merely passively potential in regard to such actual perfections, as
is the case in non-vital change which results in the subject from the
transitive action of some outside cause upon the latter. The living thing
has the active power of causing or producing in itself these actual
perfections: there is interaction between its vital parts: through one
organ or faculty it acts upon another, thus educing an actuality, a new
perfection, in this other, and thus developing and perfecting its own
being. But even considered as active it cannot be the adequate cause of
the actuality acquired through the change. If this actuality is something
_really_ over and above the reality of its active and passive potential
principles, then it remains true that change implies the influence of an
actual being other than the subject changed: _Quid quid movetur, ab alio

    The question here arises, not only in reference to vital agents,
    but to _all finite, created causes_: Does the active cause of
    change (together with the passive potentiality of the subject of
    change, whether this subject be the agent itself as in immanent
    activity, or something other than the agent as in transitive
    activity),—does this active power account _adequately_ for the new
    actuality educed in the change? It obviously does not; for the
    actuality acquired in the change is, as such, a new entity, a new
    perfection, in some degree positively surpassing the total reality
    of the combined active powers and passive potentialities which it
    replaces. In other words, if the actuality resulting from the
    change is not to be found in the immediate active and passive
    antecedents of the change, then we are inevitably referred, for an
    adequate explanation of this actuality, to some actual being above
    and beyond these antecedents. And to what sort of actual being are
    we referred? To a being in which the actuality of the effect
    resides only in the same way as it resides in the immediate active
    and passive antecedents of the change, that is _potentially_? No;
    for this would be useless, merely pushing the difficulty one step
    farther back. We are obliged rather to infer the existence of an
    Actual Being in whom the actuality of the said effect resides
    _actually_: not formally, of course, as it exists in itself when
    it is produced through the change; but eminently, _eminenter_, in
    such a way that its actualization outside Himself and under His
    influence does not involve in Him any loss of perfection, any
    increase of perfection, or any manner of change whatsoever. We are
    compelled in this way to infer, from the existence of change in
    the universe of our direct experience, the existence of a
    transcendent Immovable Prime Mover, a _Primum Movens Immobile_.
    All the active causes or principles of change which fall under our
    notice in the universe of direct experience are themselves subject
    to change. None of them causes change in any other thing without
    itself undergoing change. The active power of finite causes is
    itself finite. By educing the potentiality of other things into
    actuality they gradually use up their own energy; they diminish
    and lose their active power of producing effects: this belongs to
    the very nature of finite causes as such. Moreover, they are
    themselves passive as well as active; interaction is universal
    among the finite causes which constitute the universe of our
    direct experience: they all alike have passive potentiality and
    undergo change. Now, if any one finite cause in this system cannot
    adequately account for the new actuality evolved from the
    potential in any single process of change, neither can the whole
    system adequately account for it. What is true of them
    distributively is true of them taken all together when there is
    question of what belongs to their nature; and the fact that their
    active powers and passive potentialities _fall short_ of the
    actuality of the effects we attribute to them is a fact that
    appertains to their very nature as finite things. The phenomenon
    of continuous change in the universe involves the continuous
    appearance of _new actual being_. To account for this constant
    stream of actuality we are of necessity carried beyond the system
    of finite, changing being itself; we are forced to infer the
    existence of a source and principle which must itself be purely
    actual and exempt from all change—a Being who can cause all the
    actuality that results from change without losing or gaining or
    changing in any way Himself, because He possesses all finite
    actuality in Himself in a supereminent manner which transcends all
    the efforts of finite human intelligence to comprehend or
    characterize in any adequate or positive manner. The scholastics
    expressed this in the simple aphorism: _Omne novum ens est a Deo_.
    And it is the realization of this profound truth that underlies
    their teaching on the necessity of the Divine _Concursus_, _i.e._
    the influence of the Infinite First Cause or Prime Mover
    permeating the efficiency of all finite or created causes. Here,
    for example, is a brief recent statement of that doctrine:—

    “If we must admit a causal influence of these things [of direct
    experience] on one another, then a closer examination will
    convince us that a finite thing can never be the adequate cause of
    any effect, but is always, metaphysically regarded, only a
    part-cause, ever needing to be completed by another cause. Every
    effect is—at least under one aspect, at least as an
    effect—something new, something that was not there before. Even
    were the effect contained, whether formally or virtually, in the
    cause, it is certainly not identical with this latter, for if it
    were there would be no causality, nothing would ‘happen’. In all
    causing and happening, something which was heretofore only
    possible, becomes real and actual. But things cannot determine
    themselves to influence others, or to receive the influence of
    others, since they are not dependent in their being on one
    another. Hence the necessary inference that all being, all
    happening, all change, requires the concurrence of an Absolute
    Principle of being. When two things act on each other the Absolute
    Being must work in and with them, the same Absolute Being in
    both—to relate them to each other, and supplement their natural

    “Such is the profound teaching about the Divine Concursus with
    every creature.... God works in all and with all. He permeates all
    reality, everywhere; there is no being beyond Him or independent
    of His conserving and concurring power. Just as creatures are
    brought into being only through God’s omnipotence, and of
    themselves have no independent reality, so do they need the
    self-same ever-present, all-sustaining power to continue in this
    being and develop it by their activity. Every event in Nature is a
    transitory, passing phenomenon, so bound up with conditions and
    circumstances that it must disappear to give place to some other.
    How could a mode of being so incomplete discharge its function in
    existence without the concurrence of the First Cause?”(78)

We have seen now that _in the real order_ the potential presupposes the
actual; for the potential cannot actualize itself, but can be actualized
only by the action of some already actual being. Nor can we avoid this
consequence by supposing the potential being to have had no actual
beginning in time, but to be eternally in process of actualization; for
even so, it must be eternally actualized _by some other actual being_—a
position which Aristotle and some scholastics admit to be possible.
Whether, then, we conceive the actualization as beginning in time or as
proceeding from all eternity, it is self-contradictory to suppose the
potential as capable of actualizing itself.

It is likewise true that the actual precedes the possible _in the order of
our knowledge_. The concept of a thing as possible presupposes the concept
of that thing as actual; for the possible is understood to be possible
only by its intelligible relation to actual existence. This is evidently
true of extrinsic possibility; but our knowledge even of the intrinsic
possibility of a thing cannot be the first knowledge we possess in the
order of time. Our first knowledge is of the actual; for the mind’s first
cognitive act must have for object either itself or something not itself.
But it knows itself as a consciously acting and therefore actual being.
And it comes to know things other than itself only by the fact that such
other things act upon it either immediately or mediately through
sense-consciousness; so that in every hypothesis its first known object is
something actual.(79)

    The priority of the actual as compared with the potential in the
    real order, suggests a proof of the existence of God in the manner
    indicated above. It also affords a refutation of Hegelian monism.
    The conception of the world, including all the phenomena of mind
    and matter, as the gradual self-manifestation or evolution of a
    potential being eternally actualizing itself, is a
    self-contradictory conception. Scholastics rightly maintain that
    the realities from which we derive our first most abstract and
    transcendental notion of being in general, are actual realities.
    Hegelians seize on the object of this notion, identify it with
    pure thought, proclaim it the sole reality, and endow it with the
    power of becoming actually everything. It is manifest, therefore,
    that they endow purely potential being with the power of
    actualizing itself.

    Nor can they fairly avoid this charge by pointing out that
    although their starting-point is not actual being (with which the
    scholastic philosophy of being commences), yet neither is it
    possible or potential being, but being which has neither of these
    determinations, being which abstracts from both, like the real
    being of the scholastics (7, 13). For though real being can be _an
    object of abstract human thought_ without either of the predicates
    “existent” or “non-existent,” yet it cannot be anything _in the
    real order_ without either of them. There it must be either
    actually existent or else merely potential. But Hegelians claim
    absolutely indeterminate being to be _as such_ something in the
    real order; and though they try to distinguish it from potential
    being they nevertheless think of it as potential being, for they
    distinctly and repeatedly declare that it can become all things,
    and does become all things, and is constantly, eternally
    transforming itself by an internal dialectic process into the
    phenomena which constitute the worlds of mind and matter.
    Contrasting it with the abstract “inert” being which they conceive
    to be the object of the traditional metaphysics, they endow
    “indeterminate being” with the active power of producing, and the
    passive potentiality of becoming, actually everything. Thus, in
    order to show _a priori_ how this indeterminate being must evolve
    itself by internal logical necessity into the world of our direct
    and immediate experience, they suppose it to be subject to change
    and to be at the same time self-actualizing, in direct opposition
    to the axiom that potential reality, reality which is subject to
    change, cannot actualize itself: _Quidquid movetur ab alio
    moveatur oportet_.

11. KINDS OF CHANGE.—Following Aristotle,(80) we may recognize a broad and
clear distinction between four great classes of change (μεταβολή,
_mutatio_) in the phenomena of our sense experience: local change (κίνησις
κατὰ τόπον, φορά, _latio_); quantitative change (κατὰ τὸ πόσον, ἀύζησις ἤ
φθίσις, _augmentatio vel diminutio_); qualitative change (κατὰ τὸ ποίον,
ἀλλοίωσις, _alteratio_); and substantial change (κατ᾽ οὐσίαν, γένεσις ἤ
φθορά). The three former are accidental, _i.e._ do not reach or affect the
essence or substance of the thing that is changed; the fourth is
substantial, a change of essence. Substantial change is regarded as taking
place instantaneously, as soon as the condition brought about by the
accidental changes leading up to it becomes naturally incompatible with
the essence or nature of the subject. The accidental changes, on the other
hand, are regarded as taking place gradually, as realizing and involving a
succession of states or conditions in the subject. These changes,
especially when they take place in corporeal things, are properly
described as movement or motion (_motus_, _motio_). By movement or motion
in the strict sense we therefore mean any change which takes place
gradually or successively in a corporeal thing. It is only in a wider and
improper sense that these terms are sometimes applied to activity of
whatsoever kind, even of spiritual beings. In this sense we speak of
thoughts, volitions, etc., as movements of the soul, _motus animae_; or of
God as the Prime Mover ever in motion, the _Primum Movens semper in motu_.

With local change in material things, as also with quantitative change,
growth and diminution of quantity (mass and volume), everyone is perfectly
familiar. From the earliest times, moreover, we find both in science and
philosophy the conception of matter as composed of, and divisible into,
ultimate particles, themselves supposed to admit of no further real
division, and hence called _atoms_ (ἄ-τομος, τέμνω). From the days of
Grecian atomism men have attempted to show that all change in the Universe
is ultimately reducible to changes of place, order, spatial arrangement
and collocation, of those hypothetical atomic factors. It has likewise
been commonly assumed that change in mass is solely due to change in the
number of those atoms, and change in volume (of the same mass) to the
relative density or closeness with which the atoms aggregate together;
though some have held—and it is certainly not inconceivable—that exactly
the same material entity, an atom let us say, may be capable of _real_
contraction and expansion, and so of _real_ change of volume: as distinct
from the _apparent_ contraction and expansion of bodies, a change which is
supposed to be due to change of density, _i.e._ to decrease or increase in
the dimensions of the pores or interstices between the smaller constituent
parts or molecules. However this may be, the attempts to reduce all change
in physical nature to mere _mechanical_ change _i.e._ to spatial motions
of the masses (_molar_ motions), the molecules (_molecular_ motions), and
the atoms or other ultimate components of matter (whether vibratory,
undulatory, rotatory or translational motions), have never been

Qualitative change is wider than material change, for it includes changes
in spiritual beings, _i.e._ in beings which are outside the category of
quantity and have a mode of existence altogether different from the
extensional, spatial existence which characterizes matter. When, for
instance, the human mind acquires knowledge, it undergoes qualitative
change. But matter, too, has qualities, and is subject to qualitative
change. It is endowed with _active_ qualities, _i.e._ with powers, forces,
energies, whereby it can not merely perform mechanical work by producing
local changes in the distribution of its mass throughout space, but also
produce physical and chemical changes which seem at least to be different
in their nature from mere mechanical changes. It is likewise endowed with
_passive_ qualities which appear to the senses to be of various kinds,
differing from one another and from the mechanical or quantitative
characteristics of size, shape, motion, rest, etc. While these latter are
called “primary qualities” of bodies—because conceived to be more
fundamental and more closely inherent in the real and objective nature of
matter—or “common sensibles” (_sensibilia communia_), because perceptible
by more than one of our external senses—the former are called “secondary
qualities,” because conceived to be less characteristic of the real and
objective nature of matter, and more largely subjective products of our
own sentient cognitive activity—or “proper sensibles” (_sensibilia
propria_), because each of them is apprehended by only one of our external
senses: colour, sound, taste, odour, temperature, material state or
texture (_e.g._ roughness, liquidity, softness, etc.). Now about all these
perceived qualities and their changes the question has been raised: Are
they, as such, _i.e._ as perceived by us, really in the material things or
bodies which make up the physical universe, and really different in these
bodies from the quantitative factors and motions of the latter? Or, as
such, are they not rather partially or wholly subjective
phenomena—products, at least in part, of our own sense perception, states
of our own consciousness, having nothing really corresponding to them in
the external matter of the universe beyond the quantitative, mechanical
factors and motions whereby matter acts upon our faculties of sense
cognition and produces these states of consciousness in us? This is a
question of the first importance, the solution of which belongs to
Epistemology. Aristotle would not allow that the objective material
universe can be denuded, in the way just suggested, of qualities and
qualitative change; and scholastic philosophers have always held the same
general view. What we have to note here, however, in regard to the
question is simply this, that even if the world of matter were thus
simplified by transferring all qualitative change to the subjective domain
of consciousness, the reality of qualitative change and all the problems
arising from it would still persist. To transfer qualitative change from
object to subject, from matter to mind, is certainly something very
different from explaining it as reducible to quantitative or mechanical
change. The simplification thus effected would be more apparent than real:
it would be simplifying the world of matter by transferring its complexity
to the world of mind. This consideration is one which is sometimes lost
sight of by scientists who advance mechanical hypotheses as ultimate
explanations of the nature and activities of the physical universe.

If all material things and processes could be ultimately analysed into
configurations and local motions of space-occupying atoms, homogeneous in
nature and differing only in size and shape, then each of these ultimate
atomic factors would be itself exempt from intrinsic change as to its own
essence and individuality. In this hypothesis there would be really no
such thing as _substantial_ change. The collection of atoms would form an
immutable core of material reality, wholly simple and ever actual. Such an
hypothesis, however, is utterly inadequate as an explanation of the facts
of life and consciousness. And even as an account of the processes of the
inorganic universe it encounters insuperable difficulties. The common
belief of men has always been that even in this domain of reality there
are fundamentally different _kinds_ of matter, kinds which differ from one
another not merely in the shape and size and configuration and arrangement
of their ultimate _actual_ constituents, but even in the very substance or
nature of these constituents; and that there are some material changes
which affect the actual substance itself of the matter which undergoes
them. This belief scholastics, again following Aristotle, hold to be a
correct belief, and one which is well grounded in reason. And this belief
in turn involves the view that every type of actual material
entity—whether merely inorganic, or endowed with life, or even allied with
a higher, spiritual mode of being as in the case of man himself—is
_essentially composite_, essentially a synthesis of _potential_ and
_actual_ principles of being, and therefore capable of _substantial_
change. The actually existing material being scholastics describe as
_materia secunda_, the ὕλη ἐσχάτη of Aristotle; the purely potential
factor, which is actualized in this or that particular kind of matter,
they describe as _materia prima_, the ὕλη πρώτη of Aristotle; the
actualizing, specifying, formative principle, they designate as _forma
substantialis_ (εἶδος). And since the purely potential principle cannot
actually exist except as actualized by some formative principle, all
substantial change or transition from one substantial type to another is
necessarily both a _corruptio_ and a _generatio_. That is, it involves the
actual disappearance of one substantial form and the actual appearance of
another. Hence the scholastic aphorism regarding substantial change:
_Corruptio unius est generatio alterius_: the corruption or destruction of
one kind of material thing involves the generation of another kind.

The concepts of _materia prima_ and _forma substantialis_ are concepts not
of phenomenal entities directly accessible to the senses or the
imagination, but of principles which can be reached only mediately and by
intellect proper. They cannot be pictured in the imagination, which can
only attain to the sensible. We may help ourselves to grasp them
intellectually by the analogy of the shapeless block of marble and the
figure educed therefrom by the sculptor, but this is only an analogy: just
as the statue results from the union of an _accidental_ form with an
existing matter, so this matter itself, the substance _marble_, is
composed of a _substantial_ form and a primordial, _potential_ matter. But
there the analogy ceases.

Furthermore, when we consider that the proper and primary objects of the
human intellect itself are corporeal things or bodies, and that these
bodies actually exist in nature only as composite substances, subject to
essential or substantial change, we shall realize why it is that the
concept of _materia prima_ especially, being a mediate and negative
concept, is so difficult to grasp; for, as the scholastics describe it,
translating Aristotle’s formula, it is in itself _neque quid, neque
quantum, neque quale, neque aliquid eorum quibus ens determinatur_.(81)
But it is through intellectual concepts alone, and not through imagination
images, that we may hope to analyse the nature and processes even of the
world of corporeal reality; and, as St. Thomas well observes, it was
because the ancient Greek atomists did not rise above the level of
thinking in imagination images that they failed to recognize the
existence, or explain the nature, of substantial change in the material
universe(82): an observation which applies with equal force to those
scientists and philosophers of our own time who would fain reduce all
physical processes to mere mechanical change.

Those, then, are the principal kinds of change, as analysed by Aristotle
and the scholastics. We may note, finally, that the distinction between
_immanent_ and _transitive_ activity is also applied to change—that is, to
change considered as a process, not to the result of the change, to change
_in fieri_, not _in facto esse_. Immanent movement or activity (_motio_,
_actio immanens_) is that of which the term, the educed actuality, remains
within the agent—which latter is therefore at once both _agens_ and
_patiens_. Vital action is of this kind. Transitive movement or activity,
on the other hand (_motio_, _actio transiens_), is that of which the term
is some actuality educed in a being other than the agent. The _patiens_ is
here really distinct from the _agens_; and it is in the former, not in the
latter, that the change takes place: _actio fit in passo_. All change in
the inorganic universe is of this sort (101).


12. EXISTENCE.—In the preceding chapters we examined reality in itself and
in its relation to change or becoming. We have now to examine it in
relation to its actual existence and to its intrinsic possibility (7,

_Existing_ or _being_ (in the participial sense: esse, _existere_, τὸ
εἶναι) is a simple, indefinable notion. A being is said to exist when it
is not merely possible but actual, when it is not merely potential in its
active and passive causes but has become actual through those causes
(_existere_: _ex-sisto_: _ex-stare_: to stand forth, distinct from its
causes); or, if it have no causes, when it simply is (_esse_),—in which
sense God, the Necessary, purely Actual Being, simply _is_. Thus,
existence implies the notion of actuality, and is conceived as that by
which any thing or essence _is, distinct from nothingness, in the actual
order_.(83) Or, again, it is _the actuality of any thing or essence_.
About any conceivable being we may ask two distinct questions: (_a_) What
is it? and (_b_) Does such a being actually exist? The answer to the
former gives us the _essence_, what is presented to the mind through the
concept; the answer to the latter informs us about the actual _existence_
of the being or essence in question.

To the mind of any individual man the real existence (as also the real
essence) of any being whatsoever, not excepting his own, can be known only
through its ideal presence in his mind, through the concept or percept
whereby it becomes for him a “known object,” an _objectum cognitum_. But
this actual presence of known being to the knowing mind must not be
confounded with the real existence of such being (4). Real being does not
get its real existence in our minds or from our minds. Our cognition does
not produce, but only discovers, actually existing reality. The latter, by
acting on the mind, engenders therein the cognition of itself. Now all our
knowledge comes through the senses; and sense cognition is excited in us
by the direct action of material or phenomenal being on our sense
faculties. But through sense cognition the mind is able to attain to a
knowledge both of the possibility and of the actual existence of
suprasensible or spiritual realities. Hence we cannot describe existence
as the power which material realities have to excite in us a knowledge of
themselves. Their existence is prior to this activity: _prius est esse
quam agere_. Nor can we limit existence to material realities; for if
there are spiritual realities these too have existence, though this
existence can be discerned only by intellect, and not by sense.

13. ESSENCE.—In any existing thing we can distinguish _what the thing is_,
its _essence_, from its actual _existence_. If we abstract from the actual
existence of a thing, not considering whether it actually exists or not,
and fix our attention merely on _what the thing is_, we are thinking of
its _real essence_. If we positively exclude the notion of actual
existence from our concept of the essence, and think of the latter as not
actually existing, we are considering it formally as a _possible essence_.
There is no being, even the Necessary Being, whose essence we cannot think
of in the former way, _i.e._ _without including_ in our concept the notion
of actual existence; but we cannot without error _positively exclude_ the
notion of actual existence from our concept of the Necessary Being, or
think of the latter as a _merely possible_ essence.

Taken in its widest sense, the essence of a thing (οὐσία, _essentia_, τὸ
τί ἐστι, _quod quid est_, _quidditas_) means _that by which a thing is
what it is_: _id quo res est id quod est_: that which gives us the answer
to the question, What is this thing? _Quid est haec res?_ τί ἐστι τόδε
τι.(84) Now of course any individual thing is what it is just precisely by
all the reality that is in it; but we have no direct or intuitive
intellectual insight into this reality; we understand it only by degrees;
we explore it from various points of view, abstracting and generalizing
partial aspects of it as we compare it with other things and seek to
classify and define it: _ratio humana essentias rerum quasi venatur_, as
the scholastics say: the human mind hunts, as it were, after the essences
or natures of things. Understanding the individual datum of sense
experience (what Aristotle called τόδε τι, or οὐσία πρώτη, and the
scholastics _hoc aliquid_, or _substantia prima_), _e.g._ this individual,
Socrates, first under the vaguest concept of being, then gradually under
the more and more determinate concepts of substance, corporeal, living,
sentient, rational, it finally forms the complex concept of his _species
infima_, expressed by his lowest class-name, “man,” and explicitly set
forth in the definition of his specific nature as a “rational animal”. Nor
does our reason fail to realize that by reaching this concept of the
_specific_ essence or nature of the individual, Socrates, it has not yet
grasped all the reality whereby the individual is what he is. It has
reached what he has in common with all other individuals of his class,
what is essential to him _as a man_; it has distinguished this from the
unanalysed something which makes him _this particular individual_ of his
class, and which makes his specific essence this _individual essence_
(_essentia_ “_atoma_,” or “_individua_”); and it has also distinguished
his essence from those accidental and ever varying attributes which are
not essential to him as a man, and from those which are not essential to
him as Socrates. It is only the unfathomed individual essence, as existing
_hic et nunc_, that is _concrete_. All the mind’s generic and specific
representations of it—_e.g._ of Socrates as a corporeal substance, a
living being, a sentient being, a rational animal—are _abstract_, and all
more or less inadequate, none of them exhausting its knowable reality. But
it is only in so far as the mind is able to represent concrete individual
things by such abstract concepts, that it can attain to _intellectual_
knowledge of their nature or reality. Hence it is that by the term
“essence,” simply and _sine addito_, we always mean the essence as grasped
by abstract generic or specific concepts (ἔιδος, _species_), and as thus
capable of definition (λόγος, _ratio rei_). “The essence,” says St.
Thomas, “is that by which the thing is constituted in its proper genus or
species, and which we signify by the definition which states what the
thing is”.(85) Thus understood, the essence is abstract, and gives the
specific or generic type to which the individual thing belongs; but we may
also mean by essence, the concrete essence, the individual person or thing
(_persona_, _suppositum_, _res individua_). The relations between the
objects of those two concepts of essence will be examined later.

Since the specific essence is conceived as the most fundamental reality in
the thing, and as the seat and source of all the properties and activities
of the thing, it is sometimes defined or described, in accordance with
this notion of it, as the primary constitutive of the thing and the source
of all the properties of the thing. Conceived as the foundation of all the
properties of the thing it is sometimes called _substance_ (οὐσία,
_substantia_). Regarded as the source of the thing’s activities, and the
principle of its growth or development, it is called the _nature_ of the
thing (φύσις, _natura_, from φύω, _nascor_).(86)

Since what makes a thing that which it is, by the same fact differentiates
this thing from every other thing, the essence is rightly conceived as
that which gives the thing its characteristic being, thereby marking it
off from all other being. In reality, of course, each individual being is
distinct by all that it is from every other. But since we get our
intellectual knowledge of things by abstracting, comparing, generalizing,
and classifying partial aspects of them, we apprehend part of the
imperfectly grasped abstract essence of each individual as common to other
classes (generic), and part as peculiar to that class itself
(differential); and thus we differentiate classes of things by what is
only part of their essence, by what we call the _differentia_ of each
class, _distinguishing mentally_ between it and the generic element: which
two are really _one_, really identical, in every individual of the species
thus defined and classified.

But in the Aristotelian and scholastic view of the constitution of any
_corporeal_ thing, there is a danger of taking what is really only part of
the essence of such a thing for the whole essence. According to this view
all corporeal substance is essentially composite, constituted by two
really distinct, substantial principles, primal matter (πρώτη ὕλη,
_materia prima_) and substantial form (ἔιδος, μορφή) united substantially,
as potential and actual principles, to form one composite nature or
essence. Now the kind, or species, or specific type, to which a body
belongs—_e.g._, a horse, an oak, gold, water, etc.—depends upon the
substantial form which actualizes the matter or potential principle. In so
far as the corporeal essence is known to us at all it is known through the
form, which is the principle of all the characteristic properties and
activities of that particular kind of body. Hence it is quite natural that
the εἲδος, μόρφη, or _forma substantialis_ of a body should often be
referred to as the specific essence of the body, though of course the
essence of the body really includes the material as well as the formal

We may look at the essence of any being from two points of view. If we
consider it as it is conceived actually to exist in the being, we call it
the _physical essence_. If we consider it after the manner in which it is
apprehended and defined by our intellects through generic and
differentiating concepts, we call it the _metaphysical essence_. Thus, the
essence of man conceived by the two defining concepts, “rational animal,”
is the metaphysical essence; the essence of man as known to be composed of
the two really distinct substantial principles, soul and body, is the
physical essence. Understood in this way both are one and the same essence
considered from different points of view—as existing in the actual order,
and as conceived by the mind.(87)

The physical essence of any being, understood as the constitutive
principle or principles from which all properties spring, is either
_simple_ or _composite_ according as it is understood to consist of one
such constitutive principle, or to result from the substantial union of
two constitutive principles, a material and a formal. Thus, the essence of
God, the essence of a purely spiritual being, the essence of the human
soul, are physically simple; the essence of man, the essences of all
corporeal beings, are physically composite.

According to our mode of conceiving, defining and classifying essences by
means of the abstract generic and differential grades of being which we
apprehend in them, all essences, even physically simple essences, are
conceived as logically and metaphysically composite. Moreover we speak and
think of their generic and differential factors as “material” and “formal”
respectively, after the analogy of the composition of corporeal or
physically composite essences from the union of two really distinct
principles, matter and form; the analogy consisting in this, that as
matter is the indeterminate principle which is determined and actuated by
form, so the _generic_ concept is the indeterminate concept which is made
definite and specific by that of the _differentia_.(88) But when we think
of the _genus_ of any corporeal essence as “material,” and the
_differentia_ as “formal,” we must not consider these “metaphysical parts”
as really distinct; whereas the “physical parts” of a corporeal substance
(such as man) are really distinct. The genus (animal), although a
metaphysical part, expresses the _whole essence_ (man) in an indeterminate
way; whereas the “matter” which is a physical part, does not express the
whole essence of man, nor does the soul which is also a physical part, but
only both together. Not a little error has resulted from the confusion of
thought whereby _genus_ and _differentia_ have been regarded as material
and formal constitutives in the literal sense of those expressions.

14. CHARACTERISTICS OF ABSTRACT ESSENCES.—When we consider the essences of
things not as actually existing, but as intrinsically possible—the
abstract, metaphysical essences, therefore—we find that when as objects of
our thought they are analysed into their simplest constituents and
compared or related with themselves and with one another they present
themselves to our minds in these relations as endowed with certain more or
less remarkable characteristics.

(_a_) In the first place, being abstract, they present themselves to the
mind as being what they are independently of actual existence at any
particular time or place. Their intelligibility is something apart from
any relation to any actual time or place. Being intrinsically possible,
they might exist at any time or place; but as possible, they are out of
time and out of place—_detemporalized_ and _delocalized_, if we may be
permitted to use such expressions.(89)

(_b_) Furthermore, since the intellect forms its notions of them, through
the aid of the senses and the imagination, from actual realizations of
themselves or their constituent factors, and since it understands them to
be intrinsically possible, or free from intrinsic incompatibility of their
constituent factors, it conceives them to be capable of indefinitely
repeated actualizations throughout time and space—unless it sees some
special reason to the contrary, as it does in the case of the Necessary
Being, and (according to some philosophers) in the case of purely
immaterial beings or pure spirits. That is to say it _universalizes_ them,
and sees them to be capable of existing at any and every conceivable time
and place. This relation of theirs to space is not likely to be confounded
with the _immensity_ or _ubiquity_ of God. But their corresponding
relation to time is sometimes described as _eternity_; and if it is so
described it must be carefully distinguished from the _positive_ eternity
of God, the Immutable Being. To distinguish it from the latter it is
usually described as _negative_ eternity,—this indifference of the
possible essence to actual existence at any particular point of time.

    But apart from this relation which we conceive it as having to
    existence in the order of actual reality, can we, or do we, or
    must we conceive it as in itself an intrinsic possibility _from
    all eternity_, in the sense that it _never began_ to be
    intrinsically possible, and will never cease to be so? Must we
    attribute to it a _positive_ eternity, not of course of actuality
    or existence, but of _ideal_ being, as an object of thought to an
    Eternally Existing Mind? What is this supposed eternal possibility
    of the possible essence? Is it nothing actual: the possible as
    such is nothing actual. But is it anything real? Has it only ideal
    being—_esse ideale_ or _intentionale_? And has it this only in and
    from the human mind, or independently of the human mind? And also
    independently of the _actual_ essences from which the human mind
    gets the data for its thought,—so that we must ascribe to it an
    _eternal_ ideal being? To these questions we shall return

(_c_) Thirdly, essences considered apart from their actual existence, and
compared with their own constitutive factors or with one another, reveal
to the mind relations which the mind sees to be _necessary_, and which it
formulates for itself in _necessary_ judgments,—judgments _in materia
necessaria_. By virtue of the principle of identity an abstract essence is
_necessarily_ what it is, what the mind conceives it to be, what the mind
conceives as its definition. Man, as an object of thought, is
_necessarily_ a rational animal, whether he actually exists or not. And if
he is thought of as existing, he cannot at the same time be thought of as
non-existing,—by the principle of contradiction. An existing man is
necessarily an existing man,—by the principle of identity. These logical
principles are rooted in the nature of reality, whether actual or
possible, considered as an _object of thought_. There is thus a necessary
relation between any complex object of thought and each of the constituent
factors into which the mind can analyse it. And, similarly, there is a
necessary negative relation—a relation of exclusion—between any object of
thought and anything which the mind sees to be incompatible with that
object as a whole, or with any of its constituent factors.

Again, the mind sees necessary relations between abstract essences
compared with one another. Five and seven are _necessarily_ twelve.
Whatever begins to exist actually _must_ have a cause. Contingent being,
if such exists, is _necessarily_ dependent for its existence on some other
actually existing being. If potential being is actualized it _must_ be
actualized by actual being. The three interior angles of a triangle are
_necessarily_ equal to two right angles. And so on.

But is the abstract essence itself—apart from all mental analysis of it,
apart from all comparison of it with its constituent factors or with other
essences—in any sense _necessary_? There is no question of its actual
existence, but only of itself as an object of thought. Now our thought
does not seem to demand _necessarily_, or have a _necessary_ connexion
with, any particular object of which we do _de facto_ think. What we do
think of is determined by our experience of _actual_ things. And the
things which we conceive to be possible, by the exercise of our reason
upon the data of our senses, memory and imagination, are determined as to
their nature and number by our experience of actual things, even although
they themselves can and do pass beyond the domain of actually experienced
things. The only necessary object of thought is reality in general: for
the exercise of the function of thought necessarily demands an object, and
this object must be reality of some sort. Thought, as we saw, begins with
actual reality. Working upon this, thought apprehends in it the
foundations of those necessary relations and judgments already referred
to. Considering, moreover, the actual data of experience, our thought can
infer from these the actual existence of one Being Who must exist by a
necessity of His Essence.

    But, furthermore, must all the possible essences which the mind
    does or can actually think of, be conceived as _necessarily
    possible_ in the same sense in which it is suggested that they
    must be conceived as eternally possible? To this question, too, we
    shall return presently.

(_d_) Finally, possible essences appear to the mind as _immutable_, and
consequently _indivisible_. This means simply that the relations which we
establish between them and their constitutive factors are not only
necessary but immutable: that if any constitutive factor of an essence is
conceived as removed from it, or any new factor as added, we have no
longer the original essence but some other essence. If “animal” is a being
essentially embodying the two objective concepts of “organism” and
“sentient,” then on removing either we have no longer the essence
“animal”. So, too, by adding to these some other element compatible with
them, _e.g._ “rational,” we have no longer the essence “animal,” but the
essence “man”. Hence possible essences have been likened to numbers,
inasmuch as if we add anything to, or subtract anything from, any given
number, we have now no longer the original number but another.(90) This,
too, is only an expression of the laws of identity and contradiction.

    We might ask, however, whether, apart from analysis and comparison
    of an abstract object of thought with its constitutive notes or
    factors, such a possible essence is in itself _immutably_
    possible. This is similar to the question whether we can or must
    conceive such a possible essence as eternally and necessarily

15. GROUNDS OF THOSE CHARACTERISTICS.—In considering the grounds or
reasons of the various characteristics just enumerated it may be well to
reflect that when we speak of the _intrinsic possibility_ of a possible
essence we conceive the latter as something complex, which we mentally
resolve into its constitutive notes or factors or principles, to see if
these are compatible. If they are we pronounce the essence intrinsically
possible, if not we pronounce it intrinsically impossible. For our minds,
absence of internal incompatibility in the content of our concept of any
object is the test of its intrinsic possibility. Whatever fulfils this
test we consider capable of existing. But what about the possibility of
the notes, or factors, or principles themselves, whereby we define those
essences, and by the union of which we conceive those essences to be
constituted? How do we know that those abstract principles or factors—no
one of which can actually exist alone, since all are abstract—can in
certain combinations form _possible_ objects of thought? We can know this
only because we have either experienced such objects as actual, or because
we infer their possibility from objects actually experienced. And
similarly our knowledge of what is impossible is based upon our experience
of the actual. Since, moreover, our experience of the actual is finite and
fallible, we may err in our judgments as to what essences are, and what
are not, intrinsically possible.(91)

If now we ask ourselves what intelligible reason can we assign for the
characteristics just indicated as belonging to possible essences, we must
fix our attention first of all on the fundamental fact that the human
intellect always apprehends its object _in an abstract condition_. It
contemplates the essence apart from the existence in which the essence is
subject to circumstances of time and place and change; it grasps the
essence in a static condition as simply identical with itself and distinct
from all else; it sees the essence as indifferent to existence at any
place or time; reflecting then on the actualization of this essence in the
existing order of things, it apprehends the essence as capable of
indefinite actualizations (except in cases where it sees some reason to
the contrary), _i.e._ it _universalizes_ the essence; comparing it with
its constituent notes or elements, and with those of other essences, it
sees and affirms certain relations (of identity or diversity,
compatibility or incompatibility, between those notes or elements) as
holding good _necessarily_ and _immutably_, and independently of the
actual embodiment of those notes or elements in any object existing at any
particular place or time. All these features of the relations between the
constituents of abstract, possible essences, seem so far to be adequately
accounted for by the fact that the intellect apprehends those essences _in
the abstract_: the data in which it apprehends them being given to it
through sense experience. What may be inferred from the fact that the
human intellect has this power of abstract thought, is another
question(92). But granting that it does apprehend essences in this manner,
we seem to have in this fact a sufficient explanation of the features just
referred to.

We have, however, already suggested other questions about the reality of
those possible essences. Is their possibility, so far as known to us,
explained by our experience of actual things? Or must we think them as
eternally, necessarily and immutably possible? From the manner in which we
must apprehend them, can we infer anything about the reality of an
Eternal, Immutable, Necessary Intelligence, in whose Thought and Essence
alone those essences, as apprehended by our minds, can find their ultimate
ground and explanation? These are the questions we must now endeavour to

BEING, AND FROM NOTHINGNESS.—There have been philosophers who have held
that the actual alone is real, and only while it is actual; that a purely
(intrinsically) possible essence as such is nothing real; that the actual
alone is possible; that the purely possible as such is impossible. This
view is based on the erroneous assumption that whatever is or becomes
actual is so, or becomes so, by some sort of unintelligible fatalistic
necessity. Apart from the fact that it is incompatible with certain truths
of theism, such as the Divine Omnipotence and Freedom in creating, it also
involves the denial of all real becoming or change, and the assertion that
all actuality is eternal; for if anything becomes actual, it was
previously either possible or impossible; if impossible, it could never
become actual; if possible, then as possible it was something different
from the impossible, or from absolute nothingness. Moreover, the
intrinsically possible is capable of becoming actual, and may be
actualized if there exists some actual being with power to actualize it;
but absolute nothingness—or, in other words, the intrinsically
impossible—cannot be actualized, even by Omnipotence; therefore the
possible essence as such is something positive or real, as distinct from
nothingness. Finally, intrinsically possible essences can be clearly
distinguished from one another by the mind; but their negation which is
pure non-entity or nothingness cannot be so distinguished. It is therefore
clear that possible essences are in some true sense something positive or
real. From which it follows that nothingness, in the strict sense, is not
the mere absence or negation of actuality, but also the absence or
negation of that positive or real something which is intrinsic
possibility; in other words that nothingness in the strict sense means
intrinsic impossibility.

Even those who hold the opinion just rejected—that the purely possible
essence as such has no reality in any conceivable sense—would presumably
admit that it is an object of human thought at all events; they would
accord to it the being it has from the human mind which thinks it. It
would therefore be an _ens rationis_ according to this view, having only
the ideal being which consists in its being constituted and contemplated
by the human mind. That it has the ideal being, the _esse ideale_ or _esse
intentionale_, which consists in its being contemplated by the human mind
as an object of thought, no one will deny. But a little reflection will
show, firstly, that this ideal being is something more than the ideal
being of an _ens rationis_, of a mere logical entity; and, secondly, that
a possible essence must have some other ideal being than that which it has
in the individual human mind.

The possible essence is not a mere logical entity; for the latter cannot
be conceived as capable of existing apart from the human mind, in the
world of actual existences (3), whereas the former can be, and is in fact,
conceived as capable of such existence. Its ideal being in the human mind
is, therefore, something other than that of a mere logical entity.

The ideal being which it has in the human mind as an object of thought is
undoubtedly derived from the mind’s knowledge of actual things. We think
of the essences of actually experienced realities apart from their actual
existence. Thus abstracted, we analyse them, compare them, reason from
them. By these processes we can not merely attain to a knowledge of the
actual existence of other realities above and beyond and outside of our
own direct and immediate intuitional experience, but we can also form
concepts of multitudes of realities or essences as intrinsically possible,
thus giving these latter an ideal existence in our own minds. Here, then,
the question arises: Is this the only ideal being that can be ascribed to
such essences? In other words, are essences intrinsically possible because
_we think_ them as intrinsically possible? Or is it not rather the case
that we think them to be intrinsically possible because they are
intrinsically possible? Does our thought constitute, or does it not rather
merely discover, their intrinsic possibility? Does the latter result from,
or is it not rather presupposed by, our thought-activity? The second
alternative suggested in each of these questions is the true one. As our
thought is not the source of their actuality, neither is it the source of
their intrinsic possibility. Solipsism is the _reductio ad absurdum_ of
the philosophy which would reduce all _actuality_ experienced by the
individual mind to phases, or phenomena, or self-manifestations, of the
individual mind itself as the one and only actuality. And no less absurd
is the philosophy which would accord to all _intrinsically possible_
realities no being other than the ideal being which they have as the
thought-objects of the individual human mind. The study of the _actual_
world of direct experience leads the impartial and sincere inquirer to the
conclusion that it is in some true sense a manifestation of mind or
intelligence: not, however, of his own mind, which is itself only a very
tiny item in the totality of the actual world, but of one Supreme
Intelligence. And in this same Intelligence the world of possible essences
too will be found to have its original and fundamental ideal being.

the manner in which we attain to a knowledge of this Intelligence, and of
the ideal being of possible essences in this Intelligence, we may ask
whether, above and beyond such ideal being, possible essences have not
perhaps from all eternity some being or reality proper and intrinsic to
themselves; not indeed the actual being which they possess when actualized
in time, but yet some kind of _intrinsic_ reality as distinct from the
_extrinsic_ ideal being, or _esse intentionale_, which consists merely in
this that they are objects of thought present as such to a Supreme
Intelligence or Mind.

Some few medieval scholastics(93) contended that possible essences have
from all eternity not indeed the existence they may receive by creation or
production in time, but an intrinsic essential being which, by creation or
production, may be transferred to the order of actual existences, and
which, when actual existence ceases (if they ever receive it), still
continues immutable and incorruptible: what these writers called the _esse
essentiae_, as distinct from the _esse existentiae_, conceiving it to be
intermediate between the latter on the one hand and mere ideal or logical
being on the other, and hence calling it _esse diminutum_ or _secundum
quid_. Examining the question from the standpoint of theism, these authors
seem to have thought that since God understands these essences as possible
from all eternity, and since this knowledge must have as its term or
object something real and positive, these essences must have some real and
proper intrinsic being from all eternity: otherwise they would be simply
nothingness, and nothingness cannot be the term of the Divine
Intelligence. But the obvious reply is that though possible essences as
such are _nothing actual_ they must be distinguished as realities, capable
of actually existing, from _absolute nothingness_; and that as thus
distinguished from absolute nothingness they are really and positively
intelligible to the Divine Mind, as indeed they are even to the human
mind. To be intelligible they need not have actual being. They must, no
doubt, be capable of having actual being, in order to be understood as
realities: it is precisely in this understood capability that their
reality consists, for the real includes not only what actually exists but
whatever is capable of actual existence. Whatever is opposed to absolute
nothingness is real; and this manifestly includes not only the actual but
whatever is intrinsically possible.

Realities or essences which have not actual being have only ideal being;
and ideal being means simply presence in some mind as an object of
thought. Scholastic philosophers generally(94) hold that possible essences
as such have no other being than this; that before and until such essences
actually exist they have of themselves and in themselves no being except
the ideal being which they have as objects of the Divine Intelligence and
the virtual being they have in the Divine Omnipotence which may at any
time give them actual existence. One convincing reason for this view is
the consideration that if possible essences as such had from all eternity
any proper and intrinsic being in themselves, God could neither create nor
annihilate. For in that hypothesis essences, on becoming actual, would not
be produced _ex nihilo_, inasmuch as before becoming actual they would in
themselves and from all eternity have had their own proper real being; and
after ceasing to be actual they would still retain this. But creation is
the production of _the whole reality_ of actual being from nothingness;
and is therefore impossible if the actual being is merely produced from an
essence already real, _i.e._ having an eternal positive reality of its
own. The same is true of annihilation. The theory of eternally existing
uncreated _matter_ is no less incompatible with the doctrine of creation
than this theory of eternally real and uncreated forms or essences.

Again, what could this supposed positive and proper reality of the
possible essence be? If it is anything distinct from the mere ideal being
of such an essence, as it is assumed to be, it must after all be _actual_
being of some sort, which would apparently have to be actualized again in
order to have actual existence! Finally, this supposed eternal reality,
proper to possible essences, cannot be anything uncreated. For whatever is
uncreated is God; and since it is these supposed proper realities of
possible essences that are made actual, and constitute the existing
created universe, the latter would be in this view an actualization of the
Divine Essence itself,—which is pantheism pure and simple. And neither can
this supposed eternal reality, proper to possible essences, be anything
created. For such creation would be eternal and necessary; whereas God’s
creative activity is admitted by all scholastics to be essentially free;
and although they are not agreed as to whether “creation from all
eternity” (“_creatio ab aeterno_”) is possible, they are agreed that it is
not a fact.

Possible essences as such are therefore nothing actual. Furthermore, as
such they have in themselves no positive being. But they are not therefore
unreal. They are positively intelligible as capable of actual existence,
and therefore as distinct from logical entities or _entia rationis_ which
are not capable of such existence. They are present as objects of thought
to mind; and to some mind other than the individual human mind. About this
ideal being which they have in this Mind we have now in the next place to

that an impartial study of the _actual_ world will lead to the conclusion
that it is dependent on a Supreme Intelligence; and we have suggested that
in this Supreme Intelligence also possible essences as such have their
primary ideal being (16, 17). When the existence of God has been
established—as it may be established by various lines of argument—from
_actual_ things, we can clearly see, as will be pointed out presently,
that in the Divine Essence all possible essences have the ultimate source
of their possibility. But many scholastic philosophers contend that the
nature and properties of possible essences, as apprehended by the human
mind, furnish a distinct and conclusive argument for the existence of a
Supreme Uncreated Intelligence.(95) Others deny the validity of such a
line of reasoning, contending that it is based on misapprehension and
misinterpretation of those characteristics.

    All admit that it is not human thought that makes essences
    possible: they are intelligible to the human mind because they are
    possible, not _vice versa_.(96) For the human mind the immediate
    source and ground of their intrinsic possibility and
    characteristics is the fact that they are given to it in _actual_
    experience while it has the power of considering them _apart from
    their actual existence_.

    But (1) are they not independent of experienced actuality, no less
    than of the human mind, so that we are forced to infer from them
    the reality of a Supreme Eternal Mind in which they have eternal
    ideal being?

    (2) Is not any possible essence (_e.g._ “water,” or “a triangle”)
    so necessarily what it is that even if it never did and never will
    exist, nay even were there no human or other finite mind to
    conceive it, it would still be what it is (_e.g._ “a chemical
    compound of oxygen and hydrogen,” or “a plane rectilinear
    three-sided figure”)—so that there must be some Necessarily
    Existing Intelligence in and from which it has this necessary
    truth as a possible essence?(97) These essences, as known to us,
    are so far from being grounded in, or explained by, the things of
    our actual experience, that we rather regard the latter as
    grounded in the former. Do we not consider possible essences as
    the prototypes and exemplars to which actual things must conform
    in order to be actual, in order to exist at all?(98)

    (3) Finally, the relations which we apprehend as obtaining between
    them, we see to be necessary and immutable relations. They embody
    necessary truths which are for our minds the standards of all
    truth. Such necessary truths cannot be grounded either in the
    contingent human mind, or in the contingent and mutable actuality
    of the things of our immediate experience. Therefore we can and
    must infer from them the reality of a Necessary, Immutable Being,
    of whose essence they must be imitations.

    If, then, this ideal order of intrinsically possible essences is
    logically and ontologically prior to the contingent actualizations
    of any of them (even though it be posterior to them _in the order
    of our knowledge_, which is based on _actual experience_), there
    must be likewise ontologically prior to all contingent actualities
    (including our own minds) some _Necessary Intelligence_ in which
    this order of possible essences has its ideal being.

    general line of argument indicated in the preceding paragraphs has
    been seriously questioned. Among other criticisms the following
    points have been urged(99):—

    (1) _Actual_ things furnish the basis of irrefragable proofs of
    the existence of God—the Supreme, Necessary, Eternal, Omniscient,
    and Omnipotent Being. But we are here inquiring whether a mind
    which has not yet so analysed actual being as to see how it
    involves this conclusion, or a mind which abstracts altogether
    from the evidence furnished by actual things for this conclusion,
    can prove the existence of such a being from the separate
    consideration of possible essences, their attributes and
    relations. Now it is not evident that to such a mind possible
    essences reveal themselves as having _eternal_ ideal being. Such a
    mind is, no doubt, conscious that it is not itself the cause of
    their possibility. But it sees that actual things _plus_ the
    abstract character of its own thought account sufficiently for all
    their features as it knows them. To the question: Is not their
    ideal being _eternal_? it can only answer: That will depend on
    whether the world of actual things can be shown to involve the
    existence of an Eternal Intelligence. Until this is proved we
    cannot say whether possible essences have any ideal being other
    than that which they have in human minds.

    (2) The actual things from which we get our concepts of possible
    essences do not exist _necessarily_. But, granted their existence,
    we know from them that certain essences are _de facto_ possible.
    They are not _necessarily_ given to us as possible, any more than
    actual things are necessarily given to us as actual. Of course,
    when they are thought of at all, they are, as objects of thought,
    necessarily and immutably identical with themselves, and related
    to one another as mutually compatible or incompatible, etc. But
    this necessity of relations, hypothetical as it is and contingent
    on the mental processes of analysis and comparison, involved as it
    is in the very nature of being and thought, and expressed as it is
    in the principles of identity and contradiction, is just as true
    of actual contingent essences as of possible essences;(100) and it
    is something very different from the sort of necessity claimed for
    possible essences by the contention that they must be conceived as
    having ideal being _necessarily_. The ideal being they have in the
    human mind is certainly not necessary: the human mind might never
    have conceived these possible essences.

    But must the human mind conceive a possible essence as having
    _some_ ideal being _necessarily_? No; unless that mind has already
    convinced itself, from a study of _actual_ things, that an
    Eternal, Necessary, Omniscient Intelligence exists: to which, of
    course, such essences would be eternally and necessarily present
    as objects of thought. If the human mind had already reached this
    conviction it could then see that “even if there were no human
    intellect, things would still be true in relation to the Divine
    Intellect. But if both intellects were, _per impossibile_,
    conceived as non-existent truth would persist no longer.”(101)
    Suppose, therefore, that it has not yet reached this conviction,
    or abstracts altogether from the existence of God as known from
    _actual_ things; and then, further, imagines the actual things of
    its experience and all human intellects and finite intellects of
    whatsoever kind as non-existent: must it still conceive possible
    things as possible? No; possibility and impossibility, truth and
    falsity will now have ceased to have any meaning. After such
    attempted abstraction the mind would have before it only what
    Balmes describes as “the abyss of nothing”. And Balmes is right in
    saying that the mind is unable “to abstract all existence”. But
    the reason of the inability is not, as Balmes contends, because
    when it has removed actual things and finite minds there still
    remains in spite of it a system or order of possible essences
    which forces it to infer and posit the existence of an Eternal,
    Necessary Mind as the source and ground of that order. The reason
    rather is because the mind sees that the known _actual_ things,
    from which it got all its notions of possible essences,
    necessarily imply, as the only intelligible ground of their
    actuality, the existence of a Necessary Being, in whose
    Intelligence they must have been contained ideally, and in whose
    Omnipotence they must have been contained virtually, from all
    eternity. From contingent _actuality_, as known to it, the mind
    can argue to the eternal actuality of Necessary Being, and to the
    impossibility either of a state of absolute nothingness, or of an
    order of purely possible things apart from all actuality.

    (3) Of course, whether the mind has thus thought out the ultimate
    implications of the actuality of experienced things or not, once
    it has thought and experienced those things it cannot by any
    effort banish the memory of them from its presence: they are there
    still as objects of its thought even when it abstracts from their
    actual existence. But if, while it has not yet seen that their
    actuality implies the existence of a Necessary, Omniscient and
    Omnipotent Being, it abstracts not only from their actual
    existence but from the existence of all finite minds (itself
    included), then in that state, so far as its knowledge goes, there
    would be neither actual nor ideal nor possible being. Nor can the
    fact that an ideal order of possible things still persists in its
    own thought mislead it into concluding that such an ideal order
    really persists in the hypothesis it has made. For it knows that
    this ideal order still persists for itself simply because it
    cannot “think itself away”. It sees all the time that if it could
    effectively think itself away, this ideal order would have to
    disappear with it, leaving nothing—so far as it knows—either
    actual or possible. Mercier has some apposite remarks on this very
    point. “From the fact,” he writes, “that those abstract essences,
    grasped by our abstractive thought from the dawn of our reason,
    have grown so familiar to us, we easily come to look upon them as
    pre-existing archetypes or models of our thoughts and of things;
    they form a fund of predicates by which we are in the habit of
    interpreting the data of our experience. So, too, the
    hypothetically necessary relations established by abstract thought
    between them we come to regard as a sort of eternal system of
    principles, endowed with a sort of legislative power, to which
    created things and intelligences must conform. But they have
    really no such pre-existence. The eternal pre-existence of those
    essence-types, which Plato called the ‘intelligible world,’ the
    τόπος νοητός, and the supposed eternal legislative power of their
    relations, are a sort of mental optical illusion. Those abstract
    essences, and the principles based upon them, are the products of
    our mental activity working on the data of our actual experience.
    When we enter on the domain of _speculative reflection_ ... they
    are there before us; ... but we must not forget that reflection is
    _consequent_ on the spontaneous thought-activity which—by working
    abstractively on the actual data of sensible, contingent,
    changeable, temporal realities—set them up there.... We know from
    psychology how those ideal, abstract essence-types are formed....
    But because we have no actual memory of their formation, which is
    so rapid as practically to escape consciousness in spontaneous
    thought, we are naturally prone to imagine that they are not the
    product of our own mental action on the data of actual experience,
    but that they exist in us, or rather above us, and independently
    of us. We can therefore understand the psychological illusion
    under which Plato wrote such passages as the following: ‘But if
    anyone should tell me why anything is beautiful, either because it
    has a blooming, florid colour, or figure, or anything else of the
    kind, I dismiss all other reasons, for I am confounded by them
    all; but I simply, wholly, and perhaps naïvely, confine myself to
    this, that nothing else causes it to be beautiful, except either
    the presence or communication of that abstract beauty, by whatever
    means and in whatever way communicated; for I cannot yet affirm
    with certainty, but only that by means of beauty all beautiful
    things become beautiful (τῷ καλῷ τὰ καλὰ γίγνεται καλά). For this
    appears to me the safest answer to give both to myself and others,
    and adhering to this I think that I shall never fall [into
    error].... And that by magnitude great things become great, and
    greater things greater; and by littleness less things become
    less.’(102) St. Augustine’s doctrine on the invariable laws of
    numbers, on the immutable principles of wisdom, and on truth
    generally, draws its inspiration from this Platonic

    But this Platonic doctrine, attributing to the abstract essences
    conceived by our thought a reality independent both of our thought
    and of the actual sense data from which directly or indirectly we
    derive our concepts of them, is rejected as unsound by scholastics
    generally. When we have proved from actual things that God exists,
    and is the Intelligent and Free Creator of the actual world of our
    direct experience, we can of course consider the Divine Intellect
    as contemplating from all eternity the Divine Essence, and as
    seeing therein the eternal archetypes or ideas of all actual and
    possible essences. We may thus regard the Divine Mind as the
    eternal τόπος νοητός, or _mundus intelligibilis_. This, of course,
    is not Plato’s thought; it is what St. Augustine substituted for
    Platonism, and very properly. But we must not infer, from this
    truth, that when we contemplate possible essences, with all the
    characteristics we may detect in them, we are contemplating this
    _mundus intelligibilis_ which is the Divine Mind. This was the
    error of the ontologists. They inferred that since possible
    essences, as known by the human mind, have ideal being
    independently of the latter and of all actual contingent reality,
    the human mind in contemplating them has really an intuition of
    them as they are seen by the Divine Intellect Itself in the Divine
    Essence; so that, in the words of Gioberti, the _Primum
    Ontologicum_, the Divine Being Himself, is also the _primum
    logicum_, or first reality apprehended by human thought.(104)

    Now those authors who hold that the ideal order of possible
    essences contemplated by the human mind is seen by the latter, as
    so contemplated, to have some being, some ideal being, really
    independent of the human mind itself, and of the actual contingent
    things from which they admit that the human mind derives its
    knowledge of such essences,—these authors _do not hold_, but
    _deny_, that this independent ideal being, which they claim for
    these essences, is _anything Divine_, that it is the Divine
    Essence as seen by the Divine Intellect to be imitable _ad
    extra_.(105) Hence they cannot fairly be charged with the error of

    Renouncing Plato’s exaggerated realism, and holding that our
    knowledge of the ideal order of possible essences is derived by
    our mind from its consideration of _actual_ things, they yet hold
    that this ideal order is seen to have some sort of being or
    reality independent both of the mind and of actual things.(106)
    This is not easy to understand. When we ask, Is this supposed
    independent being (or reality, or possibility) of possible
    essences the ideal being they have in the Divine mind?—we are told
    that it is not;(107) but that it is something from which we can
    _infer, by reasoning_, this eternal, necessary, and immutable
    ideal being of these same essences in the Divine Mind.

    The considerations urged in the foregoing paragraphs will,
    however, have shown that the validity of this line of reasoning
    from possible essences to the reality of an Eternal, Divine,
    Immutable Intelligence is by no means evident or free from
    difficulties. Of course, when the existence of God has been proved
    from actual things, the conception of the Divine Intelligence and
    Essence as the ultimate source of all possible reality, no less
    than of all actual reality, will be found to shed a great deal of
    new light upon the intrinsic possibility of possible essences.
    Since, however, our knowledge of the Divine is merely analogical,
    and since God’s intuition of possible essences, as imitations of
    His own Divine Essence, completely transcends our comprehension,
    and is totally different from our abstractive knowledge of such
    essences, our conception of the manner in which these essences are
    related to the Divine Nature and the Divine Attributes, must be
    determined after the analogy of the manner in which our own minds
    are related to these essences.

WHICH THE DIVINE ESSENCE IS IMITABLE _ad extra_.—(_a_) The ultimate source
of the _extrinsic_ possibility of all contingent realities is the Divine
Omnipotence: just as the proximate source of the extrinsic possibility of
a statue is the power of the sculptor to educe it from the block of wood
or marble. But just as the power of the sculptor presupposes the
_intrinsic_ possibility of the statue, so does the Divine Omnipotence
presuppose the intrinsic possibility of all possible things. It is not, as
William of Ockam († 1347), a scholastic of the decadent period,
erroneously thought, because God can create things that such things are
intrinsically possible, but rather because they are intrinsically possible
He can create them.

(_b_) Not less erroneous is the _voluntarist_ theory of Descartes,
according to which possible essences are intrinsically possible because
God freely willed them to be possible.(108) The _actuality_ of all created
things depends, of course, on the free will of God to create them; but
that possible essences are what they are, and are related to each other
necessarily as they are, because God has willed them to be such, is
absolutely incredible. Descartes seems to have been betrayed into this
strange error by a false notion of what is requisite for the absolute
freedom and independence of the Divine Will: as if this demanded that God
should be free to will, _e.g._ that two _plus_ two be five, or that the
radii of a circle be unequal, or that creatures be independent of Himself,
or that blasphemy be a virtuous act! The intrinsic possibility of essences
is _not_ dependent on the Free Will of God; the actualization of possible
essences is; but God can will to actualize only such essences as He sees,
from comprehending His own Divine Essence, to be intrinsically possible.
But it derogates in no way from the supremacy of the Divine Will to
conceive its free volition as thus consequent on, and illumined by, the
Divine Knowledge; whereas it is incompatible with the wisdom and sanctity
of God, as well as inconceivable to the human mind, that the necessary
laws of thought and being—such as the principles of contradiction and
identity, the principle of causality, the first principles of the moral
order—should be what they are simply because God has freely willed them to
be so, and might therefore have been otherwise.

    From the fact that we have no direct intuition of the Divine
    Being, some philosophers have concluded that all speculation on
    the relation of God to the world of our direct experience is
    necessarily barren and fruitless. This is a phase of agnosticism;
    and, like all error, it is the exaggeration of a truth: the truth
    being that while we may reach real knowledge about the Divine
    Nature and attributes by such speculation, we can do so only on
    condition that we are guided by analogies drawn from God’s
    creation, and remember that our concepts, as applied to God, are
    analogical (2).

    “We can know God only by analogy with contingent and finite
    beings, and consequently the realities and laws of the contingent
    and finite world must necessarily serve as our term of comparison.
    But, among finite realities, we see an essential subordination of
    the extrinsically possible to the intelligible, of this to the
    intrinsically possible, and of this again to the essential type
    which is presupposed by our thought. Therefore, _a pari_, we must
    consider the omnipotent will of God, which is the first and
    universal cause of all [contingent] existences, as under the
    direction of the Divine Omniscience, and this in turn as having
    for its object the Divine Essence and in it the essential types
    whose intrinsic possibility is grounded on the necessary
    imitability of the Divine Being.

    “When, therefore, in defence of his position, Descartes argues
    that ‘In God willing and knowing are one and the same; the reason
    why He knows anything is because He wills it, and for this reason
    only can it be true: _Ex hoc ipso quod Deus aliquid velit, ideo
    cognoscit, et ideo tantum talis res est vera_’—he is only
    confusing the issue. We might, indeed, retort the argument: ‘In
    God willing and knowing are one and the same; the reason why He
    wills anything is because He knows it, and for this reason only
    can it be good: _Ex hoc ipso quod aliquid cognoscit, ideo vult, et
    ideo tantum talis res est bona_,’ but both inferences are equally
    unwarranted. For, though willing and knowing are certainly one and
    the same _in God_, this one and the same thing is formally and for
    our minds neither will nor intellect, but a reality transcending
    will and intellect, a substance infinitely above any substances
    known to us: ὑπερούσια, _supersubstantia_, as the Fathers of the
    Church and the Doctors of the Schools call it. But of this
    transcendent substance we have no intuitive knowledge. We must
    therefore either abandon all attempts to find out anything about
    it, or else apprehend it and designate it after the analogy of
    what we know from direct experience about created life and mind.
    And as in creatures will is not identical with intellect, nor
    either of these with the nature of the being that possesses them;
    so what we conceive in God under the concept of will, we must not
    identify in thought with what we conceive in Him under the concept
    of intellect, nor may we with impunity confound either in our
    thought with the Nature or Essence of the Divine Being.”(109)

(_c_) Philosophers who deny the validity of all the arguments advanced by
theists in proof of the existence of a transcendent Supreme Being,
distinct from the world of direct human experience, endeavour to account
in various ways for the intrinsic possibility of abstract essences.
Agnostics either deny to these latter any reality whatsoever (16), or else
declare the problem of their reality insoluble. Monists of the materialist
type—who try to reduce all mind to matter and its mere mechanical energies
(11)—treat the question in a still more inadequate and unsatisfactory
manner; while the advocates of idealistic monism, like Hegel and his
followers, refer us to the supposed Immanent Mind of the universe for an
ultimate explanation of all intrinsic possibility. Certainly this must
have its ultimate source in some mind; and it is not in referring us to an
Eternal Mind that these philosophers err, but in their conception of the
relation of this mind to the world of direct actual experience. It is not,
however, with such theories we are concerned just now, but only with
theories put forward by theists. And among these latter it is surprising
to find some few(110) who maintain that the intrinsic possibility of
abstract essences depends ultimately and exclusively on these essences
themselves, irrespective of things actually experienced by the human mind,
irrespective of the human mind itself, and irrespective of the Divine Mind
and the Divine Nature.

As to this view, we have already seen (19) that if we abstract from all
human minds, and from all actual things that can be directly experienced
by such minds, we are face to face either with the alternative of absolute
nothingness wherein the true and the false, the possible and the
impossible, cease to have any intelligible meaning, or else with the
alternative of a Supreme, Eternal, Necessary, Omniscient and Omnipotent
Being, whose actual existence has been, or can be, inferred from the
actual data of human experience. Now the theist, who admits the existence
of such a Being, cannot fail to see that possible essences must have their
primary ideal being in the Divine Intellect, and the ultimate source of
their intrinsic possibility in the Divine Essence Itself. For, knowing
that God can actualize intrinsically possible essences by the creative
act, which is intelligent and free, he will understand that these essences
have their ideal being in the Divine Intellect; that the Divine Intellect
sees their intrinsic possibility by contemplating the Divine Essence as
the Uncreated Prototype and Exemplar of all intrinsically possible things;
and that these latter are intrinsically possible precisely because they
are possible adumbrations or imitations of the Divine Nature.

(_d_) But are we to conceive that essences are intrinsically possible
precisely because the Divine Intellect, by understanding them, makes them
intrinsically possible? Or should we rather conceive their intrinsic
possibility as antecedent to this act by which the Divine Intellect
understands them, and as dependent only on the Divine Essence Itself, so
that essences would be intrinsically possible simply because the Divine
Essence is what it is, and because they are possible imitations or
expressions of it? Here scholastics are not agreed.

Some(111) hold that the intrinsic possibility of essences is _formally_
constituted by the act whereby the Divine Intellect, contemplating the
Divine Essence, understands the latter to be indefinitely imitable _ad
extra_; so that as the actuality of things results from the _Fiat_ of the
Divine Will, and as their extrinsic possibility is grounded in the Divine
Omnipotence, so their intrinsic possibility is grounded in the Divine
Intellect. The latter, by understanding the Divine Essence, would not
merely give an ideal being to the intrinsic possibility of essences, but
would make those essences _formally_ possible, they being only _virtually_
possible in the Divine Essence considered antecedently to this act of the
Divine Intellect. Or, rather, as some Scotists explain the matter,(112)
this ideal being which possible essences have from the Divine Intellect is
not as extrinsic to them as the ideal being they have from the human
intellect, but is rather the very first being they can be said _formally_
to have, and is somehow intrinsic to them after the analogy of the being
which mere logical entities, _entia rationis_, derive from the human mind:
which being is intrinsic to these entities and is in fact the only being
they have or can have.

Others(113) hold that while, no doubt, possible essences have ideal being
in the Divine Intellect from the fact that they are objects of the Divine
Knowledge, yet we must not conceive these essences as deriving their
intrinsic possibility from the Divine Intellect. For intellect as such
presupposes its object. Just, therefore, as possible essences are not
intrinsically possible because they are understood by, and have ideal
being in, the human mind, so neither are they intrinsically possible
because they are understood by, and have ideal being in, the Divine Mind.
In order to be understood actually, in order to have ideal being, in order
to be objects of thought, they must be intelligible; and in order to be
intelligible they must be intrinsically possible. Therefore they are
formally constituted as intrinsically possible essences, not by the fact
that they are understood by the Divine Intellect, but by the fact that
antecedently to this act (in our way of conceiving the matter: for there
is _really_ no priority of acts or attributes in God) they are already
possible imitations of the Divine Essence Itself.

This view seems preferable as being more in accordance with the analogy of
what takes place in the human mind. The speculative intellect in man does
not constitute, but presupposes its object. Now, while _actual_ things are
the objects of God’s _practical science_—the “_scientia visionis_,” which
reaches what is freely decreed by the Divine Will,—_possible_ things are
the objects of God’s _speculative_ science—the “_scientia simplicis
intelligentiae_,” which is not, like the former, productive of its object,
but rather contemplative of objects presented to it by and in the Divine

Why, then, ultimately will the notions “square” and “circle” not coalesce
so as to form one object of thought for the human mind, while the notions
“equilateral” and “triangle” will so coalesce? Because the Essence of God,
the Necessary Being, the First Reality, and the Source of all contingent
reality, affords no basis for the former as a possible expression or
imitation of Itself; in other words, because Being is not expressible by
nothingness, and a “square circle” is nothingness: while the Divine
Essence does afford a basis for the latter; because Necessary Being is in
some intelligible way imitated, expressed, manifested, by whatever has any
being to distinguish it from nothingness, and an “equilateral triangle”
has such being and is not nothingness.

It is hardly necessary to add that when we conceive the Divine Essence,
contemplated by the Divine Intellect, as containing in itself the
exemplars or prototypes of all possible things, we are not to understand
the Divine Essence as the _formal_ exemplar of each, or, _a fortiori_, as
a vast collection of such formally distinct exemplars; but only as
_virtually_ and _equivalently_ the exemplar of each and all. We are not to
conceive that possible essences are seen by the Divine Intellect imaged in
the Divine Essence _as in a mirror_, but rather _as in their supreme
source and principle_: so that they are faint and far off reflections of
It, and, when actualized, become for us the only means we have, in this
present state, for reaching any knowledge of the Deity: _videmus nunc per

CONTINGENT OR CREATED BEINGS.—Passing now from the consideration of
possible essences as such, to the consideration of actually existing
essences, we have to examine a question which has given rise to a great
deal of controversy, partly on account of its inherent difficulty, and
partly because of a multitude of ambiguities arising from confusion of
thought: What is the nature of the distinction between essence and
existence in the actually existing things of our experience?

We have seen already that the _concepts_ of essence and existence are
distinct from each other (12, 13); in other words, that in all cases there
is at least a _logical_ distinction between the essence and the existence
of any being. We must, however, distinguish between created or contingent
beings and the Uncreated, Necessary, Self-Existent Being. The latter
exists _essentially_, eternally, by His own Essence, so that in Him
essence and existence are _really identical_. His essence is _formally_
His Existence; and, therefore, in thinking of His Essence we cannot
positively exclude the notion of existence or think of Him as
non-existent. The distinction between essence and existence, which we find
in our thoughts, is, therefore, when applied to God, a _purely logical_
distinction, due solely to our finite human mode of thinking, and having
no ground or basis or reason in the reality which is the object of our
thought. On this there is complete unanimity among scholastic

But while we conceive that God actually exists by that whereby He is God,
by His Essence Itself, we do not conceive that any created or contingent
being exists by that whereby it is what it is, by its essence. We do not,
for example, regard the essence of Socrates, whether specific or
individual (that whereby he is a _man_, or that whereby he is _this_ man,
Socrates), as that whereby he actually exists. In other words, the essence
of the existing Socrates, being a contingent essence, does not necessarily
demand or imply that it actually exist. Our concept of such an essence
does not include the note of actual existence. Therefore if we find such
an essence actually existing we consider this actually existing essence as
caused or produced, and conserved in existence, by some other being,
_viz._ by the Necessary Being: so that if it were not so created and
conserved it would be a pure possibility and nothing actual.(115) The same
difference between the Necessary Being and contingent beings will be seen
from considering their existence. The abstract concept of existence is
rendered definite and determinate by the essence which it actualizes. Now
every finite essence is of some particular kind; and its existence is
rendered determinate by the fact that it is the existence of a definite
kind of essence. The existence of a contingent being we conceive as the
actuality of its essence; and its essence as a definite potentiality of
existence. Thus if we conceive existence as a perfection it is restricted
by the finite nature of the potentiality which it actualizes. But the
existence of the Necessary Being is the plenitude of actuality, an
existence not restricted by being the existence of any essence that is
determinate because finite, but of an essence that is determinate by being
above all genera and species, by being infinite, by being Itself pure
actuality, in no sense potential but perfectly and formally identical with
actual existence. While, therefore, the essence of the Necessary Being is
a necessarily existing essence, that of a contingent being is not
necessarily existent, but is conceived as a potentiality which has been
_de facto_ actualized or made existent by the Necessary Being, and which
may again cease to be actually existent.(116) On this too there is
unanimity among scholastic philosophers.

We distinguish mentally or logically between the essence of an actually
existing contingent being and its existence; considering the former as the
potential principle, in relation to the latter as the actualizing
principle, of the contingent existing reality. But is the distinction
between such an essence and its existence something more than a logical
distinction? Is it a real distinction? This is the question in dispute.
And in order to avoid misunderstanding, we must be clear on these two
points: firstly, of what essence and existence is there question? and
secondly, what exactly are we to understand by a real distinction in this

22. STATE OF THE QUESTION.—In the first place, there is no question here
of the relation of a _possible_ essence as such to existence. The possible
essence of a contingent being, as such, has no reality outside the Divine
Essence, Intellect, Will, and Omnipotence. Before the world was created
the possible essences of all the beings that constitute it were certainly
really distinct from the actual existence of these beings which do
constitute the created universe. On this point there can be no difference
of opinion. To contend that it is on the eternal reality of the possible
essence that actual existence supervenes, when a contingent being begins
to exist, would be equivalent to contending that it is the Divine Essence
that becomes actual in the phenomena of our experience: which is the error
of Pantheism.

Again, before a contingent thing comes into actual existence it may be
virtually and potentially in the active powers and passive potentialities
of other actually existing contingent things: as the oak, for instance, is
in the passive potentiality of the acorn and in the active powers of the
natural agencies whereby it is evolved from the acorn; or the statue in
the block of marble and in the mind and artistic power of the sculptor.
But neither is there any question here of the relation of such potential
being or essence as a thing has in its causes to the actual existence of
this thing when actually produced. Whatever being or essence it has in its
active and passive causes is certainly really distinct from the existence
which the thing has when it has been actually produced. Nor is there any
doubt or dispute about this point. At the same time much controversy is
due to misunderstandings arising from a confusion of thought which fails
to distinguish between the essence as purely possible, the essence as
virtually or potentially in its causes, and the essence as actually
existing. It is about the distinction between the latter and its existence
that the whole question is raised. And it must be borne in mind that this
essence, whether it is really distinct from its existence or not, is
itself a positive reality from the moment it is created or produced. The
question is whether the creative or productive act—whereby this essence is
placed “outside its causes,” and is now no longer merely possible, or
merely virtual or potential in its causes, but something real _in
itself_—has for its term _one reality_, or _two realities_, _viz._ the
essence as real subjective potentiality of existence, and the existential
act or perfection whereby it is constituted actually existent.(117)

The question is exclusively concerned with the essence which began to
exist when the contingent being came into actual existence, and which
ceases to exist when, or if, this being again passes out of actual
existence; and the question is whether this essence which actually exists
is really distinct from the existence whereby it actually exists. Finally,
the question concerns the essence and existence of any and every actual
contingent reality, whether such reality be a substance or an accident. Of
course it is primarily concerned with the essence and existence of
substances; but it also applies to the essence and existence of accidents
in so far as these latter will be found to be really distinct from the
substances in which they inhere, and to have reality proper to themselves.

next place, what are we to understand by a _real_ distinction in this
matter? Ambiguity and obscurity of thought in regard to the theory of
_distinctions_, and in regard to the application of the theory to the
present question, has been probably the most fertile source of much
tedious and fruitless controversy in this connexion.

Anticipating what will be considered more fully at a later stage (30), we
must note here the two main classes of distinction which, by reflecting on
our thought-processes, we discover between the objects of our thought. The
_real_ distinction is that which exists in things independently of the
consideration of our minds; that which is discovered, but not made, by the
mind; that which is given to us in and with the data of our experience.
For example, the act of thinking is a reality other than, and therefore
_really_ distinct from, the mind that thinks; for the mind persists after
the act of thinking has passed away.

Opposed to this is the mental or logical distinction, which is the
distinction made by the mind itself between two different concepts of one
and the same reality; which is not in the reality independently of our
thought, but is introduced into it by our thought, regarding the same
reality under different aspects or from different points of view. The mind
never makes such a distinction without some ground or reason for doing so.

Sometimes, however, this reason will be found exclusively in the mind
itself—in the limitations of its modes of thought—and not in the reality
which is the matter or object of the thought. The distinction is then said
to be _purely_ logical or mental. Such distinctions are _entia rationis_,
logical entities. An example would be the distinction between the concept
“man” and the concept “rational animal,” or, in general, between any
definable object of thought and its definition; the distinction,
therefore, between the essence and the existence of the Necessary Being is
a purely logical distinction, for in a definition it is the essence of the
thing we define, and existence is of the essence or definition of the
Necessary Being.

Sometimes, again, the reason for making a mental distinction will be found
in the reality itself. What is one and the same reality presents different
aspects to the mind and evokes different concepts of itself in the mind:
though really one, it is virtually manifold; and the distinction between
the concepts of these various aspects is commonly known as a _virtual_
distinction. For example, when we think of any individual man as a
“rational animal,” though our concept of “animal nature” is distinct from
that of “rational nature,” we do not regard these in him as two realities
co-existing or combining to form his human nature, but only as two
distinct aspects under which we view the one reality which is his human
nature. And we view it under these two aspects because we have actual
experience of instances in which animal nature is really distinct and
separated from rationality, _e.g._, in the brute beast. Or, again, since
we can recognize three grades of life in man—vegetative, sentient, and
rational—we conceive the one principle of life, his soul, as virtually
three principles; and so we distinguish mentally or virtually between
three souls in man, although in reality there is only one. Or, once more,
when we think of the Wisdom, the Will, and the Omnipotence of God, we know
that although these concepts represent different aspects of the Deity,
these aspects are not distinct realities in Him; but that because of His
infinite perfection and infinite simplicity they are all objectively one
and the same self-identical reality.

A virtual distinction is said to be _imperfect_ (thus approaching nearer
to the nature of a purely logical distinction) when each of the concepts
whereby we apprehend the same reality only prescinds _explicitly_ from
what is expressed by the other, although one of them is found on analysis
to include _implicitly_ what is expressed by the other. Such is the
distinction between the _being_ and the _life_ of any living thing; or the
distinction between the spirituality and the immortality of the human
soul; or the distinction between _Infinite_ Wisdom and _Infinite_ Power:
the distinction between the divine attributes in general. A virtual
distinction is said to be _perfect_ (thus approaching nearer to the nature
of a real distinction) when neither of the concepts includes either
explicitly or implicitly what is expressed by the other. Such, for
instance, is the distinction between the principle of intellectual life
and the principle of animal or sentient life in man; for not only can
these exist separately (the former without the latter, _e.g._ in pure
spirits, the latter without the former, _e.g._ in brute beasts), but also
it will be found that by no analysis does either concept in any way
involve the other.(118)

Our only object in setting down the various examples just given is to
illustrate the general scholastic teaching on the doctrine of distinction.
In themselves they are not beyond dispute, for the general doctrine of
distinction is not easy of application in detail; but they will be
sufficient for our present purpose. Probably the greatest difficulty in
applying the general doctrine will be found to lie in discriminating
between virtual distinctions—especially perfect virtual distinctions—and
real distinctions.(119) And this difficulty will be appreciated still more
when we learn that a real distinction does not necessarily involve
_separability_ of the objects so distinguished. In other words there may
be, in a composite existing individual being, constitutive factors or
principles, or integral parts, each of which is a positive real entity,
really distinct from the others, and yet incapable of existing separately
or in isolation from the others. “Separability,” says Mercier,(120) “is
one of the signs of a real distinction; but it is neither essential to,
nor a necessary property of the latter. Two separable things are of course
really distinct from each other; but two entities may be really distinct
from each other without being separable or capable of existing apart from
each other. Thus we believe that the intellect and the will in man are
really distinct from each other, and both alike from the substance of the
human soul; yet they cannot exist isolated from the soul.” Therefore, even
though the objects which we apprehend as distinct, by means of distinct
concepts, be understood to be such that they cannot actually exist in
isolation from each other, but only as united in a composite individual
being, still if it can be shown that each of them has its own proper
reality independently of our thought, so that the distinction between them
is not the result of our thought, or introduced by our thought into the
individual thing or being which we are considering, then the distinction
must be regarded as real. If, on the other hand, it can be shown that the
different aspects which we apprehend in any _datum_ by means of distinct
concepts have not, apart from the consideration of the mind, apart from
the analytic activity of our own thought, each its own proper reality, but
are only distinct mental views of what is objectively one and the same
reality, then the distinction must be regarded as logical, not real,—and
this even although there may be in the richness and fulness of that one
reality comparatively to the limited capacity of our minds, as well as in
the very constitution and modes of thought of our minds themselves, a
reason or basis for, and an explanation of, the _multiplicity of concepts_
whereby we attain to an understanding of some _one reality_.

24. SOLUTIONS OF THE QUESTION.—Postponing further consideration of the
serious problems on the validity of knowledge and its relation to reality,
to which those reflections inevitably give rise, let us now return to the
main question: the nature of the distinction between the essence and the
existence of any actually existing contingent being. We need not be
surprised to find that the greatest minds have been unable to reach the
same solution of this question. For it is but a phase of the more general
metaphysical problem—at once both ontological and epistemological—of the
nature of reality and the relation of the human mind thereto. Nor will any
serious modern philosopher who is at all mindful of the wealth of current
controversial literature on this very problem, or of the endless variety
of conflicting opinions among contemporary thinkers in regard to it, be
disposed to ridicule the medieval controversies on the doctrine of
distinction as applied to essence and existence. No doubt there has been a
good deal of mere verbal, and perhaps trifling, argumentation on the
matter: it lends itself to the dialectical skill of the controversialist
who “takes sides,” as well as to the serious thought of the open-minded
investigator. It is not, however, through drawing different conclusions
from the same premisses that conflicting solutions of the question have
been reached, but rather through fundamentally different attitudes in
regard to the premisses themselves which different philosophers profess to
find in the common data of their experience. When we have once grasped
what philosophers mean by a logical or a real distinction as applied to
the relation between essence and existence we shall not get any very
material assistance towards the choice of a solution by considering at
length the arguments adduced on either side.(121)

Those who believe there is a real distinction(122) between the essence and
the existence of all actually existing contingent beings mean by this that
the real essence which comes into actual existence by creation, or by the
action of created causes, is a reality distinct from the existence whereby
it actually exists. The actually existing essence is the total term of the
creative or productive act; but what we apprehend in it under the concept
of _essence_ is really distinct from what we apprehend in it under the
concept of _existence_: the existence being a real principle which
_actualizes_ the essence, and this latter being itself another real
principle which is in itself a positive, subjective _potentiality_ of
existence.(123) Neither, of course, can actually exist without the other:
no actual existence except that of a real essence; no existing essence
except by reason of the existence which makes it actual. But these two
real principles of existing contingent being, inseparable as they are and
correlative, are nevertheless distinct realities—distinct in the objective
order and independently of our thought,—and form by their union a really
_composite_ product: the existing thing.

    We might attempt to illustrate this by the analogy of a body and
    its shape or colour. The body itself is really distinct from its
    actual shape and colour: it may lose them, and yet remain the same
    body; and it may acquire other shapes and colours. At any time the
    body has actually some particular shape and colour; but that by
    which it is formally so shaped and coloured is something really
    different from the body itself. Furthermore, before the body
    _actually_ possessed this particular shape and colour, these were
    in it _potentially_: that is to say, there were then in the body
    the real, passive, subjective potentialities of this particular
    shape and colour. So too _that by which_ a real (contingent)
    essence actually exists (_i.e._ the existential _act_, existence)
    is really distinct from _that which_ actually exists (_i.e._ the
    essence, the _potentiality_ of that existential act). The analogy
    is, however, at best only a halting one. For while it is
    comparatively easy to understand how the passive, subjective
    _potentiality_ of a shape or colour can be _something real_ in the
    _already actually existing_ body, it is not so easy to understand
    how the _potentiality of existence_, _i.e._ the real essence, can
    be anything that is itself real and really distinct from the
    existence.(124) The oak is _really_ in the acorn, for the passive,
    subjective potentiality of the oak is in the actual acorn; but is
    this potentiality anything really distinct from the acorn? or
    should we not rather say that the _actual_ acorn _is potentially_
    the oak, or _is_ the potentiality of the oak? At all events even
    if it is really distinct from the actual acorn, it is in the
    actual acorn. But is it possible to conceive a _real, subjective
    potentiality_ which _does not reside in anything actual_?(125) Now
    if the real essence is really distinct from its existence it must
    be conceived as a _real, subjective potentiality_ of existence.
    Yet it cannot be conceived as a potentiality _in_ anything actual:
    except indeed in the actually existing essence which is the
    composite result of its union with the existential act. It is not
    a real, subjective potentiality antecedently to the existential
    act, and on which the latter is, as it were, superimposed:(126) in
    itself, it is, in fact, nothing real except as actualized by the
    latter; but, as we have already observed, the process of
    actualization, whether by direct creation or by the action of
    created causes, must be conceived as having for its total term or
    effect a composite reality resulting from what we can at best
    imperfectly describe as the union of two correlative, con-created,
    or co-produced principles of being, a potential and an actual,
    really distinct from each other: that whereby the thing _can_
    exist, the potentiality of existence, the essence; and that
    whereby the thing _does_ exist, the actuality of essence, the
    existence. The description is imperfect because these principles
    are not con-created or co-produced separately; but, rather, the
    creation or production of an existing essence, the efficiency by
    which it is “placed outside its causes,” has one single, though
    composite, term: the actually existing thing.

This view, thus advocating a real distinction between essence and
existence, may obviously be regarded as an emphatic expression of the
objective validity of intellectual knowledge. It might be regarded as an
application of the more general view that the objective concepts between
which the intellect distinguishes in its interpretation of reality should
be regarded as representing _distinct realities_, except when the
distinction is seen to arise not from the nature of the object but from
the nature of the subject, from the limitations and imperfections of our
own modes of thought. But in the case of any particular (disputed)
distinction, the _onus probandi_ should lie rather on the side of those
who contend that such distinction is logical, and not real. On the other
hand, many philosophers who are no less firmly convinced of the objective
validity of intellectual knowledge observe that it is possible to push
this principle too far, or rather to err by excess in its application.
Instead of placing the burden of proof solely on the side of the logical
distinction, they would place it rather more on the side of the real
distinction—in conformity with the maxim of method, _Entia non sunt
multiplicanda praeter necessitatem_. And they think that it is an error by
excess to hold the distinction between essence and existence to be real.
This brings us to the second alternative opinion: that the distinction in
question is not real, but only virtual.(127)

According to this view, the essence and the existence of any existing
contingent being are one and the same reality. There is, however, in this
reality a basis for the two distinct objective concepts—of essence and of
existence—whereby we apprehend it. For the contingent being does not exist
necessarily: we see such beings coming into existence and ceasing to
exist: we can therefore think of _what they are_ without thinking of them
as _actually existent_: in other words, we can think of them as possible,
and of their existence as that by which they become actual. This is a
sufficient reason for distinguishing mentally, in the existing being, the
essence which exists and the existence by which it exists.(128) But when
we think of the essence of an actually existing being as objectively
possible, or as potential in its causes, we are no longer thinking of it
as anything real in itself, but only of its ideal being as an object of
thought in our minds, or of the ideal being it has in the Divine Mind, or
of the potential being it has in created causes, or of the virtual being
it has in the Divine Omnipotence, or of the ultimate basis of its
possibility in the Divine Essence. But all these modes of “being” we know
to be really distinct from the real, contingent essence itself which
begins to exist actually in time, and may cease once more to exist in time
when and if its own nature demands, and God wills, such cessation. But
that the real, contingent essence itself which so exists, is something
really distinct from the existence whereby it exists; that it forms with
the latter a really composite being; that it is in itself a real,
subjective potentiality, receptive of existence as another and actualizing
reality, really distinct from it, so that the creation or production of
any single actually existing contingent being would have for its term two
really distinct principles of being, a potential and an actual, essence
and existence, created or produced _per modum unius_, so to speak: for
asserting all this it is contended by supporters of the virtual
distinction that we have no sufficient justifying reason.(129) Hence they
conclude that a real distinction must be denied: _Entia non sunt
multiplicanda praeter necessitatem_.

    Though each of these opinions has been defended with a great deal
    of ability, and an exhaustive array of arguments, a mere rehearsal
    of these latter would not give much material assistance towards a
    solution of the question. We therefore abstain from repeating them
    here. There are only a few points in connexion with them to which
    attention may be directed.

    In the first place, some defenders of the real distinction urge
    that were the distinction not real, things would exist
    essentially, _i.e._ necessarily; and thus the most fundamental
    ground of distinction between God and creatures, between the
    Necessary Being and contingent beings, would be destroyed:
    creatures would be no longer in their very constitution composite,
    mixtures of potentiality and actuality, but would be purely
    actual, absolutely simple and, in a word, identical with the
    Infinite Being Himself. Supporters of the virtual distinction deny
    that those very serious consequences follow from their view. They
    point out that though the existence of the creature is really
    identical with its essence, the essence does not exist necessarily
    or _a se_; the whole existing essence is _ab alio_, is caused,
    contingent; and the fundamental distinction between such a being
    and the Self-Existing Being is in this view perfectly clear. Nor
    is the creature, they contend, purely actual and absolutely
    simple; it need not have existed, and it may cease to exist; it
    has, therefore, a potentiality of non-existence, which is
    inconceivable in the case of the Necessary and purely Actual
    Being; it is, therefore, mutable as regards existence; besides
    which the essences even of the most simple created beings, namely
    pure spirits are composite in the sense that they have faculties
    and operations really distinct from their substance.

    Secondly, it is alleged by some defenders of the real distinction
    that this latter view of the nature of existing contingent reality
    is a cardinal doctrine in the whole philosophical system of St.
    Thomas, and of scholastics generally: so fundamental, in fact,
    that many important doctrines, unanimously held to be true by all
    scholastics, cannot be successfully vindicated apart from it.(130)
    To which it is replied that there are no important truths of
    scholastic philosophy which cannot be defended quite adequately
    apart altogether from the view one may hold on the present
    question; and that, this being the case, it is unwise to endeavour
    to base admittedly true doctrines, which can be better defended
    otherwise, upon an opinion which can at best claim only the amount
    of probability it can derive from the intrinsic merits of the
    arguments by which it is itself supported.(131)

    Before passing from this whole question we must note the existence
    of a third school of thought, identified mainly with the followers
    of Duns Scotus.(132) These authors contend that the distinction
    between essence and existence is not a real distinction, nor yet,
    on the other hand, is it merely a virtual distinction, but one
    which they call _formalis, actualis ex natura rei_, that between a
    reality and its intrinsic modes. It is better known as the
    “Scotistic” distinction. We shall see the nature of it when
    dealing _ex professo_ with the general doctrine of distinctions.

    The multiplicity of these views, and the unavoidable difficulty
    experienced in grasping and setting forth their meaning with any
    tolerable degree of clearness, would suggest the reflection that
    in those controversies the medieval scholastics were perhaps
    endeavouring to think and to express what reality is, apart from
    thought and “independently of the consideration of the mind”—a
    task which, conceived in these terms, must appear fruitless; and
    one which, anyhow, involves in its very nature the closest
    scrutiny of the epistemological problem of the power of the human
    mind to get at least a true and valid, if not adequate and
    comprehensive, insight into the nature of reality.


AND GOODNESS.—So far, we have analysed the notions of Real Being, of
Becoming or Change, of Being as Possible and as Actual, of Essence and
Existence. Before approaching a study of the Categories or _Suprema Genera
Entis_, the highest and widest modes in which reality manifests itself, we
have next to consider certain attributes or properties of being which
reveal themselves as co-extensive with reality itself. Taking human
experience in its widest sense, as embracing all modes that are cognitive
or allied with consciousness, as including intellect, memory, imagination,
sense perception, will and appetite, as speculative, ethical or moral, and
esthetic or artistic,—we find that the reality which makes up this complex
human experience of ours is universally and necessarily characterized by
certain features which we call the _transcendental attributes or
properties of being_, inasmuch as they transcend all specific and generic
modes of being, pervade all its categories equally, and are inseparable
from any datum of experience. We shall see that they are not really
distinct from the reality which they characterize, but only logically
distinct from it, being aspects under which we apprehend it, negations or
other logical relations which we necessarily annex to it by the mental
processes whereby we seek to render it actually intelligible to our minds.

The first in order of these ontological attributes is _unity_: the concept
of that whereby reality considered in itself becomes a definite object of
thought. The second in order is _truth_: which is the conception of
reality considered in its relation to cognitive experience, to intellect.
The third is _goodness_: the aspect under which reality is related as an
object to appetitive experience, to will.

Now when we predicate of any reality under our consideration that it is
“one,” or “good,” or “true”—in the ontological sense to be explained,—that
which we predicate is not a mere _ens rationis_, but something real,
something which is really identical with the subject, and which is
distinguished from the latter in our judgment only by a logical
distinction. The attribution of any of these properties to the subject
does not, however, add anything real to the latter: it adds merely some
logical aspect involved in, or supposed by, the attribution. At the same
time, this logical aspect gives us real information by making explicit
some real feature of being not explicitly revealed in the concept of being
itself, although involved in, and following as a property from, the

There do not seem to be any other transcendental properties of being
besides the three enumerated. The terms “reality,” “thing,” “something,”
are synonymous expressions of the concept of being itself, rather than of
properties of being. “Existence” is not a transcendental attribute of
being, for it is not co-extensive with reality or real being. And although
reality _must_ be “_either_ possible _or_ actual,” “_either_ necessary
_or_ contingent,” “_either_ infinite _or_ finite,” etc., this necessity of
verifying in itself one or other member of any such alternatives is not a
property of being, but rather something essentially rooted in the very
concept of reality itself. Some would regard as a distinct transcendental
attribute of being the conception of the latter as an object of esthetic
contemplation, as manifesting order and harmony, as _beautiful_. This
conception of being will be found, however, to flow from the more
fundamental aspects of reality considered as _true_ and as _good_, rather
than directly from the concept of being itself.

26. TRANSCENDENTAL UNITY.—When we think of anything as one we think of it
as undivided in itself. The unity or oneness of being is the undividedness
of being: _Unum est id quod est indivisum in se: Universaliter quaecunque
non habent divisionem, inquantum non habent, sic unum dicuntur_.(133)
When, therefore, we conceive being as undivided into constitutive parts,
and unmultiplied into repetitions of itself, we conceive it as _a_ being,
as _one_. For the concept of being, formally as one, it does not seem
necessary that we conceive being as _divided or distinct from all other
being_. This second negation, of identity with other being, rather follows
the conception of being as one: being is distinct from other being because
it is already itself one: it is a prior negation that formally constitutes
its unity, namely, _the negation of internal division or multiplication of
itself_: God was truly _one_ from all eternity, before there was any
_other_ being, any created being, distinct from Him. The division or
distinction of an object of thought from whatever is not itself is what
constitutes the notion of _otherness_.(134)

It is manifest that being and unity are really identical, that when we
think of being we think of what is really undivided in itself, that once
we introduce dividedness into the object of our concept we are no longer
thinking of being but of _beings_, _i.e._ of a multitude or plurality each
member of which is a _being_ and _one_. For being, as an object of
thought, is either simple or composite. If simple, it is not only
undivided but indivisible. If composite, we cannot think of it as _a_
being, capable of existing, so long as we think its parts as separate or
divided: only when we think of them as actually united and undivided have
we the concept of _a_ being: and _eo ipso_ we have the concept of being as
one, as a unity.(135)

Hence the scholastic formulæ: _Ens et unum convertuntur_, and _Omne ens
est unum_. The truth embodied in these is so self-evident that the
expression of it may seem superfluous; but they are not mere tautologies,
and in the interests of clear and consistent thinking our attention may be
profitably directed to them. The same remark applies to much in the
present and subsequent chapters on the transcendental attributes of being.

27. KINDS OF UNITY.—(_a_) The unity we have been describing has been
called _transcendental_, to distinguish it from _predicamental_ unity—the
unity which is proper to a special category of being, namely, _quantity_,
and which, accordingly, is also called _quantitative_ or _mathematical_
unity. While the former is common to all being, with which it is really
identical, and to which it adds nothing real, the latter belongs and is
applicable, properly speaking, only to the mode of being which is
corporeal, which exists only as affected by quantity, as occupying space,
as capable of measurement; and therefore, also, this latter unity adds
something real to the being which it affects, namely, the attribute of
quantity, of which unity is the measure and the generating principle.(136)
For quantity, as we shall see, is a mode of being really distinct from the
corporeal substance which it affects. The quantity has its own
transcendental unity; so has the substance which it quantifies; so has the
composite whole, the quantified body, but this latter transcendental
unity, like the composite being with which it is identical, is not a _unum
per se_ but only a _unum per accidens_ (_cf._ _b_, _infra_).

We derive our notion of quantitative or mathematical unity, which is the
principle of counting and the standard of measuring, from dividing
mentally the continuous quantity or magnitude which is one of the
immediate data of sense experience. Now the distinction between this unit
and transcendental unity supposes not merely that quantity is really
distinct from the corporeal substance, but also that the human mind is
capable of conceiving as real certain modes of being other than the
corporeal, modes to which quantitative concepts and processes, such as
counting and measuring, are not _properly_ applicable, as they are to
corporeal reality, but only in an _analogical_ or _transferred_ sense (2).
The notion of transcendental unity, therefore, bears the same relation to
that of quantitative unity, as the notion of being in general bears to
that of quantified or corporeal being.

(_b_) Transcendental unity may be either _essential_ (or _substantial_,
“unum _per se_,” “unum _simpliciter_”), or _accidental_ (“unum _per
accidens_,” “unum _secundum quid_”). The former characterizes a being
which has nothing in it beyond what is essential to it as such, _e.g._ the
unity of any substance: and this unity is twofold—(1) _unity of
simplicity_ and (2) _unity of composition_—according as the substance is
essentially simple (such as the human soul or a pure spirit) or
essentially composite (such as man, or any corporeal substance: since
every such substance is composed essentially of a formative and an
indeterminate principle).(137)

Accidental unity is the unity of a being whose constituent factors or
contents are not really united in such a way as to form one essence,
whether simple or composite. It is threefold: (1) _collective_ unity, or
unity _of aggregation_, as of a _heap_ of stones or a _crowd_ of men; (2)
_artificial_ unity, as of a house or a picture; and (3) _natural_ or
_physical_ unity, as of any existing substance with its connatural
accidents, _e.g._ a living organism with its size, shape, qualities, etc.,
or the human soul with its faculties.(138)

(_c_) Transcendental unity may be either individual (singular, numerical,
concrete, real) or universal (specific, generic, abstract, logical). The
former is that which characterizes being or reality considered as actually
existing or as proximately capable of existing: the unity of an
_individual_ nature or essence: the unity whereby a being is not merely
undivided in itself but incapable of repetition or multiplication of
itself. It is only the individual as such that can actually exist: the
abstract and universal is incapable of actually existing as such. We shall
examine presently what it is that _individuates_ reality, and what it is
that renders it capable of existing actually in the form of “things” or of
“persons”—the forms in which it actually presents itself in our

Abstract or universal unity is the unity which characterizes a reality
conceived as an abstract, universal object by the human intellect. The
object of a specific or generic concept, “man” or “animal,” for example,
is one in this sense, undivided in itself, but capable of indefinite
multiplication or repetition in the only mode in which it can actually
exist—the individual mode. The universal is _unum aptum inesse pluribus_.

Finally, we can conceive any nature or essence without considering it in
either of its alternative states—either as individual or as universal.
Thus conceived it is characterized by a unity which has been commonly
designated as _abstract_, or (by Scotists) as _formal_ unity.

28. MULTITUDE AND NUMBER.—The _one_ has for its correlative the
_manifold_. Units, one of which is not the other, constitute multitude or
plurality. If unity is the negation of actual division in being, multitude
results from a second negation, that, namely, by which the undivided being
or unit is marked off or divided from other units.(139) We have defined
unity by the negation of actual _intrinsic_ dividedness; and we have seen
it to be compatible with _extrinsic_ dividedness, or otherness. Thus the
vague notion of dividedness is anterior to that of unity. Now multitude
involves dividedness; but it also involves and presupposes the intrinsic
undividedness or _unity_ of each constituent of the manifold. In the real
order of things the _one_ is prior to all _dividedness_; but on account of
the sensuous origin of our concepts we can define the former only by
exclusion of the latter. The order in which we obtain these ideas seems,
therefore, to be as follows: “first _being_, then _dividedness_, next
_unity_ which excludes dividedness, and finally _multitude_ which consists
of units”.(140)

The relation of the _one_ to the _manifold_ is that of undivided being to
divided being. The same reality cannot be one and manifold under the same
aspect; though obviously a being may be actually one and potentially
manifold or _vice versa_, or one under a certain aspect and manifold under
another aspect.

From the transcendental plurality or multitude which we have just
described we can distinguish _predicamental_ or _quantitative_ plurality:
a distinction which is to be understood in the same way as when applied to
unity. Quantitative multitude is the actually separated or divided
condition of quantified being. _Number_ is a multitude measured or counted
by unity: it is a _counted_, and, therefore, necessarily a _definite_ and
_finite_ multitude. Now it is _mathematical_ unity that is, properly, the
principle of number and the standard or measure of all counting; and
therefore it is only to realities which fall within the category of
quantity—in other words, to material being—that the concept of number is
properly applicable. No doubt we can and do conceive transcendental unity
after the analogy of the quantitative unity which is the principle of
counting and measuring; and no doubt we can use the transcendental concept
of “actually undivided being” as a principle of enumeration, and so
“count” or “enumerate” spiritual beings; but this counting is only
analogical; and many philosophers, following Aristotle and St. Thomas,
hold that the concepts of _numerical_ multiplicity and _numerical_
distinction are not properly applicable to immaterial beings, that these
latter differ individually from one another _not numerically_, but each by
its whole nature or essence, that is, _formally_.(141)

29. THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE UNIVERSAL.—We have distinguished transcendental
unity into individual and universal (27, _c_). Reality as endowed with
universal unity is reality as apprehended by abstract thought to be
capable of indefinite repetition or multiplication of itself in actual
existence. Reality as endowed with individual unity is reality apprehended
as actually existing, or as proximately capable of actually existing, and
as therefore incapable of any repetition or multiplication of itself, of
any division of itself into other “selves” or communication of itself to
other “selves”. While, therefore, the universal has its reality only in
the individuals to which it communicates itself, and which thus embody it,
the individual has its reality in itself and of its own right, so to
speak: when it actually exists it is “_sui juris_,” and as such
incommunicable, “_incommunicabilis_”. The actually existing individual is
called in Latin a “_suppositum_”—a term which we shall render by the
English “thing” or “individual thing”. It was called by Aristotle the
οὐσία πρωτή, _substantia prima_, “first substance,” or “first essence,” to
distinguish it from the substance or essence conceived by abstract thought
as universal; the latter being designated as οὐσία δέυτερα, _substantia
secunda_, “second substance” or “second essence”.

Now it is a fundamental assumption in Aristotelian and scholastic
philosophy that whatever actually exists, or whatever is real in the sense
that as such it is proximately capable of actual existence, is and must be
individual: that the universal as such is not real, _i.e._ as such cannot
actually exist. And the manifest reason for this assumption is that
whatever actually exists must be, with entire definiteness and
determinateness, its own self and nothing else: it cannot be capable of
division or repetition of itself, of that which it really is, into “other”
realities which would still be “that individual thing”. But reality
considered as universal _is_ capable of such repetition of itself
indefinitely. Therefore reality cannot actually exist as universal, but
only as individual.

    This is merely plain common sense; nor does the idealistic monism
    which appears to attribute reality to the universal as such, and
    which interprets reality exclusively according to the forms in
    which it presents itself to abstract thought, really run counter
    to this consideration; for what it really holds is not that
    universals as such are real, but that they are phases of the
    all-one reality which is itself _one individual being_.

    But many modern philosophers hold that individuality, no less than
    universality, is a form of thought. No doubt “individuality” _in
    the abstract_ is, no less than universality, an object abstracted
    from the data of experience by the mind’s analysis of the latter.
    But this is not what those philosophers mean. They mean that the
    individual as such is not a real datum of experience. From the
    Kantian view that individuality is a purely mental form with which
    the mind invests the datum, they draw the subjectivist conclusion
    that the world, thus interpreted as consisting of “individuals,”
    is a phenomenal or mental product for the objective validity of
    which there can be to man’s speculative reason no sufficient

    To this theory we oppose that of Aristotle and the scholastics,
    not merely that the individual alone is actually existent, but
    that as actually existent and as individual it is actually given
    to us and apprehended by us in internal and external sense
    experience; and that although in the inorganic world, and to some
    extent in the lower forms of life, we may not be able to determine
    for certain what portions of this experience are distinct
    individuals, still in the world of living things generally, and
    especially of the animal kingdom, there can be no difficulty in
    determining this, for the simple reason that here reality is given
    to us in sense experience as consisting of distinct individuals.

At the same time it is true that we can understand these individual
realities, interpret them, read the meaning of them, only by the
intellectual function of judgment, _i.e._ by the analytic and synthetic
activity whereby we abstract and universalize certain aspects of them, and
use these aspects as predicates of the individuals. Now, seeing that
intellectual thought, as distinct from sense experience, apprehends its
objects only as abstract and potentially universal, only as static,
self-identical, possible essences, and nevertheless predicates these of
the concrete, individual, contingent, actually existing “things” of sense
experience, identifying them with the latter in affirmative judgments;
seeing moreover, that—since the intellectual knowledge we thus acquire
about the data of sense experience is genuine and not chimerical—those
“objects” of abstract thought must be likewise real, and must be really in
those individual sense data (according to the theory of knowledge which
finds its expression in Moderate Realism),—there arises immediately the
problem, or rather the group of problems, regarding the relations between
reality as revealed to intellect, _i.e._ as abstract and universal, and
reality as revealed to sense, _i.e._ as concrete and individual. In other
words, we have to inquire how we are to interpret intellectually the fact
that reality, which as a possible essence is _universal_ for abstract
thought, is nevertheless, as actually existing, _individualized_ for
sense—and consequently for intellect reflecting on the data of sense.(142)

the relation between all that intellect can apprehend in the individual,
_viz._ its lowest class essence or specific nature, and its whole nature
as an individual, its _essentia atoma_ or individual nature? We can best
approach this problem by considering first these various abstract
thought-objects which intellect can apprehend in the individual.

What are called the metaphysical grades of being, those positive moments
of perfection or reality which the mind detects in the individual, as, for
instance, substantiality, materiality, organic life, animality,
rationality, individuality, in the individual man—whether we describe them
as “phases” or “aspects” or “formalities” of being—are undoubtedly
distinct objects for abstract thought. Why does it thus distinguish
between them, and express them by distinct concepts, even when it finds
them embodied in a single individual? Because, reflecting on the manner in
which reality presents itself, through sense experience, as actually
existing, it finds resemblances and differences between individually
distinct data. It finds in some of them grades of reality which it does
not find in others, individual, specific, and generic grades; and
some—transcendental—grades common to all. Now between these various grades
of being as found in one and the same individual it cannot be denied that
there exists a logical distinction with a foundation or ground for it in
the individual reality; because the latter, _being more or less similar_
to other individual realities, causes the mind to apprehend it by a number
of distinct concepts: the individuality whereby it differs really from all
other individuals of the same species; the specific, differential and
generic grades of being whereby it is conceptually identified with wider
and wider classes of things; and the transcendental grades whereby it is
conceptually identified with all others. The _similarity_ of really
distinct individuals, which is the _conceptual identity_ of their
_qualities_, is the ground on which we conceptually identify their
_essences_. Now is there any reason for thinking that these grounds of
similarity, as found in the individual, are _really distinct_ from one
another in the latter? They are certainly conceptually distinct
expressions—each less inadequate than the wider ones—of what is really one
individual essence. But we must take them to be all really identical in
and with this individual essence, unless we are prepared to hold
conceptual plurality as such to be real plurality; in which case we should
also hold conceptual unity as such to be real unity. But this latter view
is precisely the error of extreme realism, of reifying abstract concepts
and holding the “_universale a parte rei_”: a theory which leads logically
to monism.(143)

31. INDIVIDUALITY.—The distinction, therefore, between these grades of
being in the individual, is a virtual distinction, _i.e._ a logical
distinction with a ground for it in the reality. This is the sort of
distinction which exists between the specific nature of the individual,
_i.e._ what is contained in the definition of the lowest class to which it
belongs, and its _individuality_, _i.e._ what constitutes its _nature or
essence as an individual_. No doubt the concrete existing individual
contains, besides its individual nature or essence, a variety of
accidental characteristics which serve as marks or signs whereby its
individuality _is revealed to us_. These are called “individualizing
characteristics,” “_notae individuantes_,” the familiar scholastic list of
them being “_forma_, _figura_, _locus_, _tempus_, _stirps_, _patria_,
_nomen_,” with manifest reference to the individual “man”. But though
these characteristics enable us to mark off the individual in space and
time from other individuals of the same class, thus _revealing_
individuality to us in the concrete, it cannot be held that they
constitute the individuality of the nature or substance in each case. If
the human substance, essence, or nature, as found in Socrates, were held
to differ from the human substance, essence, or nature, as found in Plato,
only by the fact that in each it is affected by a different set of
accidents, _i.e._ of modes accidental to the substance as found in each,
then it would follow that this substance is not merely _conceptually_
identical in both, but that it is _really_ identical in both; which is the
error of extreme realism. As a matter of fact it is the converse that is
true: the sets of accidents are distinct because they affect individual
substances already really and individually distinct.

It is manifest that the accidents which are _separable_ from the
individual substance, _e.g._ name, shape, size, appearance, location,
etc., cannot constitute its individuality. There are, however, other
characteristics which are _inseparable_ from the individual substance, or
which are _properties_ of the latter, _e.g._ the fact that an individual
man was born of certain parents. Perhaps it is such characteristics that
give its individuality to the individual substance?(144) To think so would
be to misunderstand the question under discussion. We are not now
inquiring into the _extrinsic_ causes whereby actually existing reality is
individuated, into the _efficient_ principles of its individuation, but
into the _formal_ and _intrinsic_ principle of the latter. There must
obviously be something intrinsic to the individual reality itself whereby
it is individuated. And it is about this intrinsic something we are
inquiring. The individual man is this individual, human nature is thus
individuated in him, by something that is essential to human nature as
found in him. This something has been called—after the analogy of the
_differentia specifica_ which differentiates species within a genus—the
_differentia individua_ of the individual. It has also been called by some
the _differentia numerica_, and by Scotists the _haecceitas_. However we
are to conceive this something, it is certain at all events that,
considered as it is really found in the individual, it cannot be anything
_really distinct_ from the specific nature of the latter. No doubt, the
_differentia specifica_, considered in the abstract, it is not essential
and intrinsic to the _natura generica_ considered in the abstract: it is
extrinsic and accidental to the abstract content of the latter notion; but
this is because we are conceiving these grades of being in the abstract.
The same is true of the _differentia individua_ as compared with the
_natura specifica_ in the abstract. But we are now considering these
grades of reality as they are actually in the concrete individual being:
and as they are found here, we have seen that a real distinction between
them is inadmissible.

32. THE “PRINCIPLE OF INDIVIDUATION”.—How, then, are we to conceive this
something which individuates reality? It may be well to point out that for
the erroneous doctrine of extreme realism, which issues in monism, the
problem of individuation, as here understood, does not arise. For the
monist all plurality in being is merely apparent, not real: there can be
no question of a real distinction between individual and individual.(145)
Similarly, the nominalist and the conceptualist evade the problem. For
these the individual alone is not merely formally real: it alone is
fundamentally real: the universal is not even fundamentally real, has no
foundation in reality, and thus all scientific knowledge of reality as
revealed in sense experience is rendered impossible. But for the moderate
realist, while the individual alone is formally real, the universal is
fundamentally real, and hence the problem arises. It may be forcibly
stated in the form of a paradox: That whereby Socrates and Plato are
really distinct from each other as individuals is really identical with
the human nature which is really in both. But what individuates human
nature in Socrates, or in Plato, is logically distinct from the human
nature that is really in Socrates, and really in Plato. We have only to
inquire, therefore, whether the intrinsic principle of individuation is to
be conceived merely as a negation, as something negative added by the mind
to the concept of the specific nature, whereby the latter is apprehended
as incapable of multiplication into “others” each of which would be
formally that same nature, or, in other words, as incommunicable; or is
the intrinsic ground of this incommunicability to be conceived as
something positive, not indeed as something really distinct from, and
superadded to, the specific nature, but as a positive aspect of the
latter, an aspect, moreover, not involved in the concept of the specific
nature considered in the abstract.

Of the many views that have been put forward on this question two or three
call for some attention. In the opinion of Thomists generally, the
principle which individuates _material_ things, thus multiplying
numerically the same specific nature, is to be conceived as a positive
mode affecting the latter and revealing it in a new aspect, whereas the
specific nature of the _spiritual_ individual is itself formally an
individual. The principle of the latter’s individuation is already
involved in the very concept of its specific nature, and therefore is not
to be conceived as a distinct positive aspect of the latter but simply as
the absence of plurality and communicability in the latter. In material
things, moreover, the positive mode or aspect whereby the specific nature
is found numerically multiplied, and incommunicable as it exists in each,
consists in the fact that such a specific nature involves in its very
constitution a _material_ principle which is actually allied with certain
_quantitative dimensions_. Hence the principle which individuates material
substances is not to be conceived—after the manner in which Scotists
conceive it—as an ultimate _differentia_ affecting the _formal_ factor of
the nature, determining the specific nature just as the _differentia
specifica_ determines the generic nature, but as a _material_
differentiating principle. What individuates the material individual, what
marks it off as one in itself, distinct or divided from other individuals
of the same specific nature, and incommunicable in that condition, is the
material factor of that individual’s nature—not, indeed, the material
factor, _materia prima_, considered in the abstract, but the material
factor as proximately capable of actual existence by being allied to
certain more or less definite spatial or quantitative dimensions: “matter
affected with quantity”: “_materia quantitate signata_”.(146)

In regard to material substances this doctrine embraces two separate
contentions: (_a_) that the principle which individuates such a substance
must be conceived as something positive, not really distinct from, but yet
not contained in, the specific nature considered in the abstract; (_b_)
that this positive aspect is to be found not in the formal but in the
material principle of the composite corporeal substance.

To the former contention it might be objected that what individuates the
specific nature cannot be conceived as anything _positive_, superadded to
this nature: it cannot be anything _accidental_ to the latter, for if it
were, the individual would be only an accidental unity, a “_unum per
accidens_” and would be constituted by an accident, which we have seen to
be inadmissible; nor, on the other hand, can it be anything _essential_ to
the specific nature, for if it were, then individuals should be capable of
adequate essential definition, and furthermore the definition of the
specific nature would not really give the whole essence or _quidditas_ of
the individuals—two consequences which are commonly rejected by all
scholastics. To this, however, it is replied that the principle of
individuation is something essential to the specific nature in the sense
that it _is_ something intrinsic to, and really identical with, the whole
real substance or entity of this nature, though not involved in the
abstract concept by the analysis of which we reach the definition or
_quidditas_ of this nature. What individuates Socrates is certainly
essential to Socrates, and is therefore really identical with his human
nature; it is intrinsic to the human nature in him, a mode or aspect of
his human substance; yet it does not enter into the definition of his
nature—“_animal rationale_”—for such definition abstracts from
individuality. When, therefore, we say that definition of the specific
nature gives the whole _essence_ of an individual, we mean that it gives
explicitly the abstract (specific) essence, not the individuality which is
really identical with this, nor, therefore, the whole substantial reality
of the individual. We give different answers to the questions, “What is
Socrates?” and “Who is Socrates?” The answer to the former question—a
“man,” or a “rational animal”—gives the “essence,” but not explicitly the
whole substantial reality of the individual, this remaining incapable of
adequate conceptual analysis. The latter question we answer by giving the
notes that _reveal_ individuality. These, of course, are “accidental” in
the strict sense. But even the principles which constitute the
individuality of separate individuals of the same species, and which
differentiate these individuals numerically from one another, we do not
describe as _essential_ differences, whereas we do describe specific and
generic differences as _essential_. The reason of this is that the latter
are abstract, universal, conceptual, amenable to intellectual analysis,
scientifically important, while the former are just the reverse; the
universal differences alone are principles about which we can have
scientific knowledge, for “all science is of the abstract and
universal”;(147) and this is what we have in mind when we describe them as
“essential” or “formal,” and individual differences as “entitative” or

The second point in the Thomistic doctrine is that corporeal substances
are individuated by reason of their _materiality_. The formative,
specific, determining principle of the corporeal substance is rendered
_incommunicable_ by its union with the material, determinable principle;
and it becomes individually _distinct_ or separate by the fact that this
latter principle, in order to be capable of union with the given specific
form, has in its very essence an exigence for certain more or less
determinate dimensions in space. Corporeal things have their natural size
within certain limits. The individual of a given corporeal species can
exist only because the material principle, receptive of this specific
form, has a natural relation to the fundamental property of corporeal
things, _viz._ quantity, within certain more or less determinate limits.
The form is rendered incommunicable by its reception in the matter. This
concrete realization of the form in the matter is individually distinct
and separate from other realizations of the same specific form, by the
fact that the matter of this realization demands certain dimensions of
quantity: this latter property being the root-principle of numerical
multiplication of corporeal individuals within the same species.

On the other hand, incorporeal substances such as angels or pure spirits,
being “pure” forms, “_formæ subsistentes_,” wholly and essentially
unallied with any determinable material principle, are _of themselves_ not
only specific but individual; they are themselves essentially
incommunicable, superior to all multiplication or repeated realization of
themselves: they are such that each can be actualized only “once and for
all”: each is a species in itself: it is the full, exhaustive, and
adequate expression of a divine type, of an exemplar in the Divine Mind:
its realization is not, like that of a material form, the actuation of an
indefinitely determinable material principle: it sums up and exhausts the
imitable perfection of the specific type in its single individuality,
whereas the perfection of the specific type of a corporeal thing cannot be
adequately expressed in any single individual realization, but only by
repeated realizations; nor indeed can it ever be adequately, exhaustively
expressed, by any finite multitude of these.

It follows that in regard to pure spirits the individuating principle and
the specific principle are not only really but also logically,
conceptually identical; that the distinction between individual and
individual is here properly a specific distinction; that it can be
described as numerical only in an analogical sense, if by numerical we
mean material or quantitative, _i.e._ the distinction between corporeal
individuals of the same species (28).

But the distinction between individual human souls is not a specific or
formal distinction. These, though spiritual, are not _pure_ spirits. They
are spiritual substances which, of their very nature, are essentially
ordained for union with matter. They all belong to the same species—the
human species. But they do not constitute individuals of this species
unless as existing actually united with matter. Each human soul has a
transcendental relation to its own body, to the “_materia signata_” for
which, and in which, it was created. For each human soul this relation is
unique. Just as it is the material principle of each human being, the
matter as allied to quantitative dimensions, that individuates the man, so
it is the unique relation of his soul to the material principle thus
spatially determined, that individuates his soul. Now the soul, even when
disembodied and existing after death, necessarily retains in its very
constitution this essential relation to its own body; and thus it is that
disembodied souls, though not actually allied with matter, remain
numerically distinct and individuated in virtue of their essential
relation, each to its own body. We see, therefore, that human souls,
though spiritual, are an entirely different order of beings, and must be
conceived quite differently, from pure spirits.

    We must be content with this brief exposition of the Thomistic
    doctrine on individuation. A discussion of the arguments for and
    against it would carry us too far.(148) There is no doubt that
    what _reveals_ the individuality of the corporeal substance to us
    is its material principle, in virtue of which its existence is
    circumscribed within certain limits of time and space and affected
    with individual characteristics, “_notae individuantes_”. But the
    Thomistic doctrine, which finds in “_materia signata_” the formal,
    intrinsic, constitutive principle of individuation, goes much
    deeper. It is intimately connected with the Aristotelian theory of
    knowledge and reality. According to this philosophy the formative
    principle or ἔιδος, the _forma subtantialis_, is our sole key to
    the intelligibility of corporeal things: these are intelligible in
    so far forth as they are actual, and they are actual in virtue of
    their “forms”. Hence the tendency of the scholastic commentators
    of Aristotle to use the term “form” as synonymous with the term
    “nature,” though the whole nature of the corporeal substance
    embraces the material as well as the formal principle: for even
    though it does, we can understand nothing about this “nature”
    beyond what is intelligible in it in virtue of its “form.” The
    material principle, on the other hand, is the potential,
    indeterminate principle, in itself unintelligible. We know that in
    ancient Greek philosophy it was regarded as the ἄλογον, the surd
    and contingent principle in things, the element which resisted
    rational analysis and fell outside the scope of “science,” or
    “knowledge of the necessary and universal”. While it revealed the
    forms or natures of things to sense, it remained itself impervious
    to intellect, which grasped these natures and rendered them
    intelligible only by divesting them of matter, by abstracting them
    from matter. Reality is intelligible only in so far forth as it is
    immaterial, either in fact or by abstraction. The human intellect,
    being itself spiritual, is “receptive of forms without matter”.
    But being itself allied with matter, its proper object is none
    other than the natures or essences of corporeal things,
    abstracted, however, from the matter in which they are actually
    “immersed”. The only reason, therefore, why any intelligible form
    or essence which, as abstract and universal, is “one” for
    intellect, is nevertheless actually or potentially “manifold” in
    its reality, is because it is allied with a material principle. It
    is the latter that accounts for the numerical multiplication, in
    actual reality, of any intelligible form or essence. If the latter
    is material it can be actualized only by indefinitely repeated,
    numerically or materially distinct, alliances with matter. It
    cannot be actualized “_tota simul_,” or “once for all,” as it
    were. It is, therefore, the material principle that not merely
    reveals, but also constitutes, the individuation of such corporeal
    forms or essences. Hence, too, the individual as such cannot be
    adequately apprehended by intellect; for all intelligible
    principles of reality are formal, whereas the individuating
    principle is material.

    On the other hand, if an intelligible essence or form be purely
    spiritual, wholly unrelated to any indeterminate, material
    principle, it must be “one” not alone conceptually or logically
    but also really: it can exist only as “one”: it is of itself
    individual: it can be differentiated from other spiritual essences
    not materially but only formally, or, in other words, not
    numerically but by a distinction which is at once individual and
    specific. Two pure spirits cannot be “two” numerically and “one”
    specifically, two for sense and one for intellect, as two men are:
    if they are distinct at all they must be distinct for intellect,
    _i.e._ they cannot be properly conceived as two members of the
    same species.

    In this solution of the question it is not easy to see how the
    material principle, which, by its alliance with quantity,
    individuates the form, is itself individuated so as to be the
    source and principle of a multiplicity of numerically distinct and
    incommunicable realizations of this form. Perhaps the most that
    can be said on this point is that we must conceive quantity, which
    is the fundamental property of corporeal reality, as being itself
    essentially divisible, and the material principle as deriving from
    its essential relation to quantity its function of multiplying the
    same specific nature numerically.

Of those who reject the Thomistic doctrine some few contend that it is the
_actual existence_ of any specific nature that should be conceived as
individuating the latter. No doubt the universal as such cannot exist;
reality in order to exist actually must be individual. Yet it cannot be
actual existence that individuates it. We must conceive it as individual
before conceiving it as actually existent; and we can conceive it as
individual while abstracting from its existence. We can think, for
instance, of purely possible individual men, or angels, as numerically or
individually distinct from one another. Moreover, what individuates the
nature must be essential to the latter, but actual existence is not
essential to any finite nature. Hence actual existence cannot be the
principle of individuation.(149) Can it be contended that _possible_
existence is what individuates reality? No; for possible existence is
nothing more than intrinsic capacity to exist actually, and this is
essential to all reality: it is the criterion whereby we distinguish real
being from logical being; but real being, as such, is indifferent to
universality or individuality; as far as the simple concept of real being
is concerned the latter may be either universal or individual; the concept
abstracts equally from either condition of being.

The vast majority, therefore, of those who reject the Thomistic doctrine
on individuation, support the view that what individuates any nature or
substance is simply the whole reality, the total entity, of the
individual. This total entity of the individual, though really identical
with the specific nature, must be conceived as something positive,
superadded to the latter, for it involves a something which is logically
or mentally distinct from the latter. This something is what we conceive
as a _differentia individua_, after the analogy of the _differentia
specifica_ which contracts the concept of the genus to that of the
species; and by Scotists it has been termed “_haecceitas_” or “thisness”.
Without using the Scotist terminology, most of those scholastics who
reject the Thomist doctrine on this point advocate the present view. The
individuality or “thisness” of the individual substance is regarded as
having no special principle in the individual, other than the whole
substantial entity of the latter. If the nature is simple it is of itself
individual; if composite, the intrinsic principles from which it
results—_i.e._ matter and form essentially united—suffice to individuate

In this view, therefore, the material principle of any individual man, for
example, is numerically and individually distinct from that of any other
individual, _of itself_ and independently of its relation either to the
formative principle or to quantity. The formative principle, too, is
individuated _of itself_, and not by the material principle which is
really distinct from it, or by its relation to this material principle.
Likewise the union of both principles, which is a substantial mode of the
composite substance, is individuated and rendered numerically distinct
from all other unions of these two individual principles, not by either or
both these, but by itself. And finally, the individual composite substance
has its individuation from these two intrinsic principles thus
individually united.

    It may be doubted, perhaps, whether this attempt at explaining the
    real, individual “manifoldness” of what is “one” for intellect,
    _i.e._ the universal, throws any real light upon the problem. No
    doubt, every element or factor which is grasped by intellect in
    its analysis of reality—matter, form, substance, accident,
    quantity, nay, even “individuality” itself—is apprehended as
    abstract and universal; and if we hold the doctrine of Moderate
    Realism, that the intellect in apprehending the universal attains
    to reality, and not merely to a logical figment of its own
    creation, the problem of relating intelligibly the reality which
    is “one” for intellect with the same reality as manifestly
    “manifold” in its concrete realizations for sense, is a genuine
    philosophical problem. To say that what individuates any real
    essence or nature, what deprives it of the “oneness” and
    “universality” which it has for intellect, what makes it “this,”
    “that,” or “the other” incommunicable individual, must be
    conceived to be simply the whole essential reality of that nature
    itself—leaves us still in ignorance as to why such a nature, which
    is really “one” for intellect, can be really “manifold” in its
    actualizations for sense experience. The reason why the nature
    which is one and universal for abstract thought, and which is
    undoubtedly not a logical entity but a reality capable of actual
    existence, can be actualized as a manifold of distinct
    individuals, must be sought, we are inclined to think, in the
    relation of this nature to a material principle in alliance with
    quantity which is the source of all purely numerical, “space and
    time” distinctions.

33. INDIVIDUATION OF ACCIDENTS.—The rôle of quantity in the Thomistic
theory of individuation suggests the question: How are accidents
themselves individuated? We have referred already (29, _n._) to the view
that they are individuated by the individual subjects or substances in
which they inhere. If we distinguish again between what _reveals_
individuality and what _constitutes it_, there can be no doubt that when
accidents of the same kind are found in individually distinct subjects
what reveals the numerical distinction between the former is the fact that
they are found inhering in the latter. So, also, distinction of individual
substances is the _extrinsic_, _genetic_, or _causal_ principle of the
numerical distinction between similar accidents arising in these
substances. But when the same kind of accident recurs successively in the
same individual substance—as, for example, when a man performs repeated
acts of the same kind—what reveals the numerical or individual distinction
between these latter cannot be the individual substance, for it is one and
the same, but rather the _time_ distinction between the accidents

The intrinsic constitutive principle which formally individuates the
accidents of individually distinct substances is, according to Thomists
generally, their essential relation to the individual substances in which
they appear. It is not clear how this theory can be applied to the
fundamental accident of corporeal substances. If the function of formally
individuating the corporeal substance itself is to be ascribed in any
measure to _quantity_, it would seem to follow that this latter must be
regarded as individuated by itself, by its own total entity or reality.
And this is the view held by most other scholastics in regard to the
individuation of accidents generally: that these, like substances, are
individuated by their own total positive reality.

When there is question of the same kind of accident recurring in the same
individual subject, the “time” distinction between such successive
individual accidents of the same kind would appear not merely to _reveal_
their individuality but also to indicate a different relation of each to
its subject as existing at that particular point of space and time: so
that the relation of the accident to its individual subject, as here and
now existing in the concrete, would be the individuating principle of the

Whether a number of accidents of the same _species infima_, and distinct
merely numerically, could exist simultaneously in the same individual
subject, is a question on which scholastic philosophers are not agreed:
the negative opinion, which has the authority of St. Thomas, being the
more probable. Those various questions on the individuation of accidents
will be better understood from a subsequent exposition of the scholastic
doctrine on accidents (Ch. viii.).

    It may be well to remark that in inquiring about the individuation
    of substances and accidents we have been considering reality from
    a static standpoint, seeking how we are to conceive and interpret
    intellectually, or for abstract thought, the relation of the
    universal to the individual. If, however, we ascribe to “time”
    distinctions any function in individuating accidents of the same
    kind in the same individual substance, we are introducing into our
    analysis the kinetic aspect of reality, or its subjection to
    processes of change.

    We may call attention here to a few other questions of minor
    import discussed by scholastics. First, have all individuals of
    the same species the same _substantial_ perfection, or can
    individuals have different grades of substantial perfection within
    the same species? All admit the obvious fact that individual
    differs from individual within the same species in the number,
    variety, extent and intensity of their accidental properties and
    qualities. But, having the human soul mainly in view, they
    disagree as to whether the substantial perfection of the specific
    nature can be actualized in different grades in different
    individuals. According to the more common opinion there cannot be
    different _substantial_ grades of the same specific nature, for
    the simple reason that every such grade of substantial perfection
    should be regarded as specific, as changing the species: hence,
    _e.g._ all human souls are substantially equal in perfection. This
    view is obviously based upon the conception of specific types or
    essences as being, after the analogy of numbers, immutable when
    considered in the abstract. And it seems to be confirmed by the
    consideration that the intrinsic principle of individuation is
    nothing, or adds nothing, _really distinct_ from the specific
    essence itself.

    Another question in connexion with individuation has derived at
    least an historical interest from the notable controversy to which
    it gave rise in the seventeenth century between Clarke and
    Leibniz. The latter, in accordance with the principles of his
    system of philosophy,—the _Law of Sufficient Reason_ and the _Law
    of Continuity_ among the _monads_ or ultimate principles of
    being,—contended that two individual beings so absolutely alike as
    to be _indiscernible_ would be _eo ipso identical_, in other
    words, that the reality of two such beings is impossible.

    Of course if we try to conceive two individuals so absolutely
    alike both in essence and accidents, both in the abstract and in
    the concrete, as to be indiscernible either by our senses or by
    our intellect, or by any intellect—even the Divine Intellect—we
    are simply conceiving _the same thing_ twice over. But is there
    anything impossible or contradictory in thinking that God could
    create two perfectly similar beings, distinct from each other only
    individually, so similar, however, that neither human sense nor
    human intellect could apprehend them as two, but only as one? The
    impossibility is not apparent. Were they two material individuals
    they should, of course, occupy the same space in order to have
    similar spatial relations, but impenetrability is not essential to
    corporeal substances. And even in the view that each is
    individuated by its “_materia signata_” it is not impossible to
    conceive numerically distinct quantified matters allied at the
    same time to the same dimensions of space. If, on the other hand,
    there be question of two pure spirits, absolutely similar
    specifically, even in the Thomistic view that here the individual
    distinction is at the same time specific there seems to be no
    sufficient ground for denying that the Divine Omnipotence could
    create two or more such individually (and therefore specifically)
    distinct spirits:(150) such distinction remaining, of course,
    indiscernible for the finite human intellect.

    The argument of Leibniz, that there would be _no sufficient
    reason_ for the creation of two such indiscernible beings, and
    that it would therefore be repugnant to the Divine Wisdom, is
    extrinsic to the question of their intrinsic possibility: if they
    be intrinsically possible they cannot be repugnant to any
    attribute of the Divinity, either to the Divine Omnipotence or to
    the Divine Wisdom.

34. IDENTITY.—Considering the order in which we acquire our ideas we are
easily convinced that the notion of finite being is antecedent to that of
infinite being. Moreover, it is from reflection on finite beings that we
arrive at the most abstract notion of being in general. We make the object
of this latter notion definite only by dividing it off mentally from
nothingness, conceived _per modum entis_, or as an _ens rationis_. Thus
the natural way of making our concepts definite is by _limiting_ them; it
is only when we come to reflect on the necessary implications of our
concept of “infinite being” that we realize the possibility of conceiving
a being which is _definite_ without being really _limited_, which is
definite by the very fact of its infinity, by its possession of unlimited
perfection; and even then our imperfect human mode of conceiving “infinite
being” is helped by distinguishing or dividing it off from all finite
being and contrasting it with the latter. All this goes to prove the truth
of the teaching of St. Thomas, that the mental function of _dividing_ or
_distinguishing_ precedes our concepts of unity and multitude. Now the
concepts of _identity_ and _distinction_ are closely allied with those of
unity and multitude; but they add something to these latter. When we think
of a being as one we must analyse it further, look at it under different
aspects, and _compare it with itself_, before we can regard it as _the
same_ or _identical_ with itself. Or, at least, we must think of it twice
and compare it with itself in the affirmative judgment “This is itself,”
“A is A,” thus formulating the logical _Principle of Identity_, in order
to come into possession of the concept of _identity_.(151) Every
affirmative categorical judgment asserts _identity_ of the predicate with
the subject (“_S is P_”): asserts, in other words, that what we apprehend
under the notion of the predicate (_P_) is _really identical_ with what we
have apprehended under the _distinct_ notion of the subject (_S_). The
synthetic function of the affirmative categorical judgment _identifies_ in
the real order what the analytic function of mental abstraction had
_separated_ in the logical order. By saying that the affirmative
categorical judgment asserts identity we mean that by asserting that “this
is that,” “man is rational” we identify “this” with “that,” “man” with
“rational,” thus _denying_ that they are _two_, that they are _distinct_,
that they _differ_. Identity is one of those elementary concepts which
cannot be defined; but perhaps we may describe it as _the logical relation
through which the mind asserts the objects of two or more of its thoughts
to be really one_.

If the object formally represented by each of the concepts is one and the
same—as, _e.g._ when we compare “_A_” with “_A_,” or “man” with “rational
animal,” or, in general, any object with its definition—the identity is
both _real and logical_ (or _conceptual_, _formal_). If the concepts
differ in their formal objects while representing _one and the same
reality_—as when we compare “St. Peter” with “head of the apostles,” or
“man” with “rational”—the identity is _real, but not logical_ or formal.
Finally, if we represent two or more realities, “John, James, Thomas,” by
the same formal concept, “man,” the identity is _merely logical_ or
formal, _not real_. Of these three kinds of identity the first is
sometimes called _adequate_, the second and third _inadequate_.

Logical identity may be _specific_ or _generic_, according as we identify
really distinct individuals under one specific concept, or really distinct
species or classes under one generic concept. Again, it may be _essential_
or _accidental_, according as the abstract and universal class-concept
under which really distinct members are classified represents a common
part of the essence of these members or only a common property or
accident. Thus John, James and Thomas are essentially identical in their
_human nature_; they are accidentally identical in being all three
_fair-haired_ and _six feet in height_. Logical identity under the concept
of _quality_ is based on the real relation of _similarity_; logical
identity under the concept of _quantity_ is based on the real relation of
_equality_. When we say that _essential_ (logical) _identity_ (_e.g._ the
identity of John, James and Thomas under the concept of “man”) is based on
the fact that the really distinct individuals have really _similar_
natures, we merely mean that _our_ knowledge of natures or essences is
derived from our knowledge of qualities, taking “qualities” in the wide
sense of “accidents” generally: that the properties and activities of
things are our only key to the nature of these things: _Operari sequitur
esse._ It is not implied, nor is it true, that real _similarity_ is a
partial _real identity_: it is but the ground of a partial _logical_
identity,—identity under the common concept of some quality (in the wide
sense of this term). For example, the height of John is as really distinct
from that of James as the humanity of John is from that of James. If,
then, individual things are _really_ distinct, how is it that we can
represent (even inadequately) _a multitude_ of them by _one_ concept? To
say that we can do so because they reveal themselves to us as _similar_ to
one another is to say what is undoubtedly true; but this does not solve
the problem of the relation between the universal and the individual in
human experience: rather it places us face to face with this problem.

Reverting now to _real_ identity: whatever we can predicate affirmatively
about a being considered as _one_, and as subject of a judgment, we regard
as really identical with that being. We cannot predicate a real part of
its real whole, or _vice versa_. But our concepts, when compared together
in judgment, bear _logical_ relations of extension and intension to each
other, that is, relations of logical part to logical whole. Thus, the
_logical_ identity of subject and predicate in the affirmative judgment
may be only _inadequate_.(152) But the real identity underlying the
affirmative judgment is an adequate real identity. When we say, for
example, that “Socrates is wise,” we mean that the object of our concept
of “wisdom” is in this case really and adequately identical with the
object of our concept of “Socrates”: in other words that we are conceiving
one and the same real being under two distinct concepts, each of which
represents, more or less adequately, the whole real being, and one of them
in this case less adequately than the other.

We have to bear in mind that while considering being as one or manifold,
identical or distinct, we are thinking of it in its _static_ mode, as an
object of abstract thought, not in its _dynamic and kinetic_ mode as
actually existing in space and time, and subject to change. It is the
identity of being with itself when considered in this static, unchanging
condition, that is embodied in the logical _Principle of Identity_. In
order, therefore, that this principle may find its application to being or
reality _as subject to actual change_—and this is the state in which _de
facto_ reality is presented to us as an immediate datum of experience—we
must seize upon the changing reality and think of it in an indivisible
instant apart from the change to which it is actually subject; only thus
does the Principle of Identity apply to it—as _being_, not as _becoming_,
not _in fieri_, but _in facto esse_. The Principle of Identity, which
applies to all real being, whether possible or actual, tells us simply
that “a thing is what it is”. But for the understanding of actual being as
subject to real change we must supplement the Principle of Identity by
another principle which tells us that such an actual being not only is
actually what it is (Principle of Identity), but also that it _is
potentially something other than what it actually is, that it is
potentially what it can become actually_ (Ch. ii.).

We have seen that, since change is not continuous annihilation and
creation, the changing being must in some real and true sense _persist_
throughout the process of change. It is from experience of change we
derive our notion of time-duration; and the concept of permanence or
stability throughout change gives us the notion of a real sameness or
abiding self-identity which is compatible with real change. But a being
which persists in existence is identical with itself throughout its
duration only in so far forth as it has not changed. Only the Necessary
Being, whose duration is absolutely exempt from all change, is
_absolutely_ or _metaphysically_ identical with Himself: His duration is
eternity—which is one perpetual, unchanging _now_. A being which persists
unchanged in its essence or nature, which is exempt from substantial
change, but which is subject to accidental change, to a succession of
accidental qualities such as vital actions—such a being is said to retain
its _physical_ identity with itself throughout those changes. Such, for
instance, is the identity of the human soul with itself, or of any
individual living thing during its life, or even of an inorganic material
substance as long as it escapes substantial change. Finally, the
persisting identity of a collection of beings, united by some moral bond
so as to form a moral unit, is spoken of as _moral_ identity as long as
the bond remains, even though the constituent members may be constantly
disappearing to be replaced by others: as in a nation, a religious
society, a legal corporation, etc.

35. DISTINCTION.—Distinction is the correlative of identity; it is the
absence or negation of the latter. We express the relation called
distinction by the negative judgment, “this is not that”; it is the
relation of a being to whatever is not itself, the relation of _one_ to

Distinction may be either _adequate_ or _inadequate_, according as we
distinguish one total object of thought from another total object, or only
from a part of itself. For example, the distinction between John and James
is an adequate real distinction, while that between John and his body is
an inadequate real distinction; the distinction between John’s rationality
and his animality is an adequate logical distinction, while the
distinction between either of these and his humanity is an inadequate
logical distinction.

We have already (23) briefly explained and illustrated the most important
classification of distinctions: that into real and logical; the
sub-division of the latter into purely logical and virtual; and of the
latter again into perfect (complete, adequate) and imperfect (incomplete,
inadequate). But the theory there briefly outlined calls for some further
analysis and amplification.

36. LOGICAL DISTINCTIONS AND THEIR GROUNDS.—The purely logical distinction
must not be confounded with a mere _verbal_ distinction, _e.g._ that
between an “edifice” and a “building,” or between “truthfulness” and
“veracity”. A logical distinction is a distinction _in the concepts_:
these must represent one and the same reality but in different ways: the
one may be more explicit, more fully analysed than the other, as a
definition is in comparison with the thought-object defined; or the one
may represent the object less adequately than the other, as when we
compare (in intension) the concepts “man” and “animal”; or the one may be
predicated of the other in an affirmative judgment; or the one may
represent the object as concrete and individual, the other the same object
as abstract and universal.(153)

Comparing, in the next place, the purely logical with the virtual
distinction, we see that the grounds for making these distinctions are
different. Every distinction made by the mind must have an intelligible
ground or reason of some sort—a _fundamentum distinctionis_. Now in the
case of the purely logical distinction the ground is understood to consist
exclusively in the needs of the mind itself—needs which spring from the
mind’s own limitations when confronted with the task of understanding or
interpreting reality, of making reality intelligible. Purely logical
distinctions are therefore seen to be a class of purely logical relations,
_i.e._ of those _entia rationis_ which the mind must construct for itself
in its effort to understand the real. They have no other reality as
objects of thought than the reality they derive from the constitutive or
constructive activity of the mind. They are modes, or forms, or terms, of
the cognitive activity itself, not of the reality which is the object
apprehended and contemplated by means of this cognitive activity.

The virtual distinction, on the other hand, although it also, as an object
of thought, is only an _ens rationis_—inasmuch as there is no real duality
or plurality corresponding to it in the reality into which the mind
introduces it, this reality being a real _unity_—the virtual distinction
is considered, nevertheless, to have a ground, or reason, or foundation
(for making and introducing it) in the nature of this one reality; that
is, it is regarded as having a _real_ foundation, a _fundamentum in re_.
In so far, therefore, as our knowledge is permeated by virtual
distinctions, reality cannot be said to be _formally_, but only
_fundamentally_ what this knowledge represents it to be. Does this fact
interfere with the objective validity of our knowledge? Not in the least;
for we do not ascribe to the reality the distinctions, and other such
modes or forms, which we know by reflection to be formally characteristic
_not of things_ but _of our thought or cognition of things_. Our
knowledge, therefore, so far as it goes, may be a faithful apprehension of
reality, even though it be itself affected by modes not found in the

But what is this _real_ foundation of the virtual distinction? What _is_
the _fundamentum in re_? It is not a real or objective duality in virtue
of which we could say that there are, in the object of our thought, two
beings or realities one of which is not the other. Such duality would
cause a _real_ distinction. But just here the difficulties of our analysis
begin to arise: for we have to fix our attention on actually existing
realities; and, assuming that each and every one of these is an
individual, we have to bear in mind the relation of the real to the
actual, of reality as abstract and universal to reality as concrete and
individual, of the simple to the composite, of the stable to the changing,
of essential to accidental unity—in any and every attempt to discriminate
in detail between a real and a virtual distinction. Nor is it easy to lay
down any general test which will serve even theoretically to discriminate
between them. Let us see what grounds have been mainly suggested as real
foundations for the virtual distinction.

If a being which is not only one but simple, manifests, in the superior
grade of being to which it belongs, a perfection which is equivalent to
many lesser perfections found really distinct and separate elsewhere, in
separate beings of an inferior order, this is considered a sufficient real
ground for considering the former being, though really one and simple, as
virtually manifold.(154) The human soul, as being virtually
threefold—rational, sentient and vegetative—is a case in point: but only
on the assumption that the soul of the individual man can be proved to be
one and simple. This, of course, all scholastics regard as capable of
proof: even those of them who hold that the powers or faculties whereby it
immediately manifests these three grades of perfection are _accidental_
realities, _really distinct_ from one another and from the _substance_ of
the soul itself.

Again, the being which is the object of our thought may be so rich in
reality or perfection that our finite minds cannot adequately grasp it by
any one mental intuition, but must proceed discursively, by analysis and
abstraction, taking in partial aspects of it successively through
inadequate concepts; while realizing that these aspects, these objects of
our distinct concepts, are only partial aspects of one and the same real
being. This, in fact, is our common experience. But the theory assumes
that we are able to determine when these objects of our concepts are only
mental aspects of _one_ reality, and when they are several separate
realities; nay, even, that we can determine whether or not they are really
distinct entities united together to form one _composite_ individual
being, or only mentally distinct views of one _simple_ individual being.
For example, it is assumed that while the distinction between the sentient
and the rational grades of being in a human individual can be shown to be
only a virtual distinction, that between the body and the soul of the same
individual can be shown to be a real distinction; or, again, that while
the distinction between essence, intellect, and will in God, can be shown
to be only a virtual distinction, that between essence, intellect, and
will in man, can be shown to be a real distinction.

differ considerably in classifying this, that, or the other distinction,
as logical or as real; but this does not prove that it is impossible ever
to determine with certitude whether any particular distinction is logical
or real. What we are looking for just now is a general test for
discriminating, if such can be found. And this brings us to a
consideration of the test suggested in the very definitions themselves. At
first sight it would appear to be an impracticable, if not even an
unintelligible test: “The distinction is real if it exists in the
reality—_i.e._ if the reality is _two_ (or more) _beings_, not _one
being_—antecedently to, or independently of, the consideration of the
mind; otherwise the distinction is logical”. But—it might be objected—how
can we possibly know whether or not any object of perception or thought is
_one_ or _more than one_ antecedently to, or independently of, the
consideration of the mind? It is certainly impossible for us to know what,
or what kind, reality is, or whether it is one or manifold, apart from and
prior to, the exercise of our own cognitive activity. This, therefore,
cannot be what the test means: to interpret it in such a sense would be
absurd. But when we have perceived reality in our actual sense experience,
when we have interpreted it, got the meaning of it, made it intelligible,
and actually understood it, by the spontaneous exercise of intellect, the
judging and reasoning faculty: then, obviously, we are at liberty to
reflect critically on those antecedent spontaneous processes, on the
knowledge which is the result of them, and the reality which is known
through them; and by such critical reflection on those processes, their
objects and their products, on the “reality as perceived and known” and on
the “perceiving” and “knowing” of it, we may be able to distinguish
between two classes of contributions to the total result which is the
“known reality”: those which we must regard as purely mental, as modes or
forms or subjectively constructed terms of the mental function of
cognition itself (whether perceptual or conceptual), and those which we
must regard as given or presented to the mind as objects, which are not in
any sense constructed or contributed by the mind, which, therefore, are
what they are independently of our mental activity, and which would be and
remain what they are, and what we have apprehended them to be, even if we
had never perceived or thought of them. This, according to the
scholastics, is the sense—and it is a perfectly intelligible sense—in
which we are called on to decide whether the related terms of any given
distinction have been merely rendered distinct by the analytic activity of
the cognitive process, or are themselves distinct realities irrespective
of this process. That it is possible to carry on successfully, at least to
some extent, this work of discrimination between the subjective and the
objective factors of our cognitive experience, can scarcely be denied. It
is what philosophers in every age have been attempting. There are,
however, some distinctions about the nature of which philosophers have
never been able to agree, some holding them to be real, others to be only
virtual: the former view being indicative of the tendency to emphasize the
rôle of cognition as a passive representation of objectively given
reality; the latter view being an expression of the opposite tendency to
emphasize the active or constitutive or constructive factors whereby
cognition assimilates to the mind’s own mode of being the reality given to
it in experience. In all cognition there is an assimilation of reality and
mind, of object and subject. When certain distinctions are held to be real
this consideration is emphasized: that in the cognitive process, as such,
it is the mind that is assimilated to the objective reality.(155) When
these same distinctions are held to be logical this other consideration is
emphasized: that in the cognitive process reality must also be assimilated
to mind, must be mentalized so to speak: _Cognitum est in cognoscente
secundum modum cognoscentis_: that in this process the mind must often
regard what is _one_ reality under _distinct aspects_: and that if we
regard these distinct aspects as distinct realities we are violating the
principle, _Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem_.

    Now those philosophers who hold certain distinctions to be
    virtual, and not real, thereby ascribe to cognitive experience a
    larger sphere of constitutive or constructive influence than would
    be allowed to it by advocates of the reality of such distinctions.
    But by doing so are they to be regarded as calling into question
    the objective validity of human knowledge? By no means: the fact
    that the human mind can understand reality only by processes of
    abstracting, generalizing, comparing, relating, analysing and
    synthesizing—processes which involve the production of logical
    entities—in no way vitiates the value of these modes of
    understanding: it merely indicates that they are less perfect than
    intuitive modes of understanding which would dispense with such
    logical entities,—the modes characteristic of pure, angelic
    intelligences, or the knowledge of the Deity. The objective
    validity of human cognition is not interfered with either by
    enlarging or by restricting the domain of the mind’s constitutive
    activity in forming such logical entities; nor, therefore, by
    claiming that certain distinctions are real rather than virtual,
    or _vice versa_. It must be remembered, moreover, that the virtual
    distinction is not purely logical: it has a foundation in the
    reality, a “_fundamentum in re_”; and in so far as it has it gives
    us an insight into the nature of reality.

    No doubt, any particular distinction cannot be virtual and at the
    same time simply real: either view of it must be erroneous: and
    possibly both, if it happen to be _de facto_ a _purely_ logical
    distinction. But the error of confounding a virtual distinction
    with a real is not so great as that of regarding either as a
    purely logical distinction. Now the tendency of much modern
    philosophy, under the influence of Kant, has been to regard all
    the categories in which the mind apprehends reality as being
    wholly and exclusively forms of cognition, as being in the reality
    neither formally nor even fundamentally; and to infer from this an
    essential, constitutional inability of the mind to attain to a
    valid knowledge of reality. But if, as a matter of fact, these
    categories are in the reality formally, nay, even if they are in
    it only fundamentally, the inference that issues in Kantian
    subjectivism is unwarranted. And those categories we hold to be in
    the reality at least fundamentally; we therefore reject the
    Kantian phenomenism of the speculative reason. Moreover, we can
    see no valid ground for admitting the Kantian division of the
    human mind into two totally separate cognitive compartments, the
    speculative and the practical reason, and ascribing to each
    compartment cognitive principles and capacities entirely alien to
    the other. To arrive at a right theory of knowledge human
    cognitive experience as a whole must be analysed; but provided the
    analysis is really an analysis of this experience it may be
    legitimately directed towards discovering what the mental
    conditions must be—_i.e._ the conditions on the side of the
    knowing subject, the subject having the experience—which are
    _necessarily prerequisite_ for having such experience. And if it
    be found by such analysis that cognitive experience presupposes in
    the knowing subject not merely a sentient and intelligent mind,
    but a mind which perceives, imagines, remembers reality in certain
    definite ways; which thinks reality in certain modes and through
    certain forms which by its own constitutive activity it constructs
    for itself, and which it recognizes by reflection to be its own
    constructions (_e.g._ distinctions, relations, affirmations and
    negations, abstractions, generalizations, etc.: _intentiones
    logicae_, logical entities),—there is no reason whatever in all
    this for inferring that because the mind is so constituted,
    because it has these modes of cognition, it must necessarily fail
    to reach, by means of them, a true, valid, and genuine knowledge
    of reality. From the fact that human modes of cognition are human,
    and not angelic or divine; from the fact that reality can be known
    _to man_ only through these modes, these finite modes of finite
    human faculties,—we may indeed infer that even our highest
    knowledge of reality is inadequate, that it does not _comprehend_
    all that is in the reality, but surely not that it is essentially
    illusory and of its very nature incapable of giving us any true
    and valid insight into the nature of reality.

Fixing our attention on the virtual distinction we see that the mind is
supposed by means of it to apprehend, through a plurality of distinct
concepts, what it knows somehow or other to be _one_ being. Now if it
knows the reality to be _really one_, it knows that the formal object of
every distinct concept of this reality is really identical with the
objects of all the other concepts of the latter. This condition of things
is certainly verified when the mind can see that each of the distinct
concepts, though not _explicitly_ presenting the objects of the others,
nevertheless _implicitly and necessarily_ involves all these other
objects:(156) for by seeing that the distinct concepts necessarily involve
one another objectively it sees that the reality apprehended through all
of them must necessarily be _one reality_. This is what takes place in the
_imperfect_ virtual distinction: the concepts prescind from one another
formally, not objectively. But suppose that the distinct concepts prescind
from one another _objectively_, so that they cannot be seen by any
analysis to involve one another even implicitly, but present to the mind,
so far as they themselves are concerned, adequately distinct modes of
being—as happens in the _perfect_ virtual distinction, _e.g._ between
organic life, sentient life, and intellectual life (in man), or between
animality and rationality (in man),—then the all-important question
arises: How do we know, in any given case of this kind, whether or not
these adequately distinct thought-objects are _identical with one another
in the reality_? What is the test for determining whether or not, in a
given case, these objects, which are _many_ for abstract intellectual
thought, are _one being_ in the real order? The answer seems to be that
_internal and external sense experience_ can and does furnish us with
embodiments of these intellectual manifolds,—embodiments each of which we
apprehend as _a being that is really one_, as an _individual subject_ of
which they are conceptually distinct predicates.

    It would appear, therefore, that we cannot reach a true conception
    of what we are to regard as _really one_, or _really manifold_, by
    abstract thought alone. It is external and internal sense
    experience, not abstract thought, which first brings us into
    direct and immediate mental contact with _actually existing_
    reality. What we have therefore to determine is this: Does sense
    experience, or does it not, reveal reality to us as a _real
    manifold_, not as _one being_ but as _beings_ coexisting outside
    one another in space, succeeding one another in time,
    interdependent on one another, interacting on one another, and by
    this interaction causing and undergoing real change, each
    producing others, or being produced by others, really distinct
    from itself? In other words, is separateness of existence in time
    or space, as revealed in sense experience, a sufficient index of
    the real manifoldness of corporeal being, and of the really
    distinct individuality of each such being?—or are we to take it
    that because those space and time distinctions have to be
    apprehended by thought in order that not merely sense but
    intellect may apprehend corporeal beings as really manifold,
    therefore these distinctions are not _in the reality_ given to us?
    Or, again, is each person’s own conscious experience of himself as
    one being, of his own unity, and of his distinctness from other
    persons, a sufficient index that the distinction between person
    and person is a real distinction?—or are we to take it that
    because his _feeling_ of his individual unity through sense
    consciousness must be interpreted by the _thought-concepts_ of
    “one”—“individual”—“person”—“distinct” from “others,” these
    concepts do not truly express what is really given him to
    interpret? Finally, if we can infer from the actually existing
    material reality which forms the immediate datum of direct
    experience, or from the human _Ego_ as given in this experience,
    the actual existence of a real mode of being which is not material
    but spiritual, by what tests can we determine whether this
    spiritual mode of being is really one, or whether there is a real
    plurality of such beings? The solution of these questions bears
    directly on the validity of the adequate or “greater” real
    distinction, the “_distinctio realis major seu absoluta_”.

    The philosophy which defends the validity of this
    distinction,—which holds that the distinction between individual
    human beings, and between individual living things generally, is
    in the fullest and truest sense a real distinction,—is at all
    events in conformity with universally prevailing modes of thought
    and language; while the monism which repudiates these spontaneous
    interpretations of experience as invalid by denying all real
    manifoldness to reality, can make itself intelligible only by
    doing violence to thought and language alike. Not that this alone
    is a disproof of monism; but at all events it creates a
    presumption against a system to find it running counter to any of
    those universal spontaneous beliefs which appear to be rooted in
    man’s rational nature. On the other hand, the philosophy which
    accords with common belief in proclaiming a real plurality in
    being has to reconcile intellect with sense, and the universal
    with the individual, by solving the important problem of
    _individuation_: What is it that makes real being individual, if,
    notwithstanding the fact that intellect apprehends reality as
    abstract and universal, reality nevertheless can exist only as
    concrete and individual? (29-33).

38. THE REAL DISTINCTION.—In the next place it must be remembered,
comparing the virtual distinction with the real, that philosophers have
recognized two kinds of real distinction: the _major_ or _absolute_ real
distinction, and the _minor_ real, or _modal_ distinction. Before defining
these let us see what are the usual signs by which a real distinction in
general can be recognized.

    The relation of efficient causality, of efficient cause and
    effect, between two objects of thought, is sometimes set down as a
    sure sign of a (major) real distinction between them.(157) And the
    reason alleged is that a thing cannot be the efficient cause of
    itself: the efficient cause is necessarily extrinsic to the effect
    and cannot be really identical with the latter. It is to be noted
    that this test applies to reality as actually existing, as
    producing or undergoing change, and that it is derived from our
    sense experience of reality in process of change. But since our
    concept of efficient causality has its origin in our internal
    experience of our own _selves_ as active agents, as causing some
    portion of what enters into our experience, the test seems to
    assume that we have already introduced into this experience a real
    distinction between the self and what is caused by the self. It is
    not clear that the relation of efficient cause to effect, as
    applied to created causes, can precede and reveal, in our
    experience, the relation of what is _really one_ to what is
    _really other_, in this experience. If the reality revealed to us
    in our direct experience, the phenomenal universe, has been
    brought into existence by the creative act of a Supreme Being,
    this, of course, implies a real distinction between Creator and
    creature. But it does not seem possible in this case, or indeed in
    any case, to prove the existence of the causal relation
    antecedently to that of the real distinction, or to utilize the
    former as an index to the latter.

Two distinct thought-objects are regarded as _really_ distinct (1) when
they are found to exist separately and apart from each other in time or
space, as is the case with any two individuals such as John and James, or
a man and a horse; (2) when, although they are found in the same
individual, one of them at least is separable from the other, in the sense
that it can actually exist without that other: for example, the soul of
any individual man can exist apart from the material principle with which
it is actually united to form this living human individual; the individual
himself can exist without the particular accidental modes, such as
sitting, thinking, speaking, which actually affect his being at any
particular instant of his existence.

From this we can gather in the first place that the distinction between
two “individuals,”—individual “persons” or individual “things”—is a real
distinction in the fullest and plainest sense of this expression, a major
or absolute real distinction. It is, moreover, not merely real but actual.
Two existing “individuals” are always actually divided and separate from
each other, while each is actually one or actually undivided in itself.
And they are so “independently of the consideration of the mind”.

In the second place, assuming that the mind can apprehend, in the
individuals of its experience, a unity resulting from the union or
composition of separable factors or principles, whether essential or
accidental [27 (_b_)]; and assuming that it can know these factors to be
really separable (though actually one and undivided), that is, separable
in the sense that each of any two such factors, or at least one of them,
could actually exist without the other,—it regards the distinction between
such factors as real. They are really distinct because though _actually_
one and undivided they are _potentially_ manifold. If each has a positive
entity of its own, so that absolutely speaking each could exist without
the other, the distinction is still regarded as an absolute or major real
distinction. For example, the human soul can exist without the body; the
body can exist without the soul, being actualized by the new formative
principle or principles which replace the soul at death; therefore there
is an absolute real distinction between the soul and the body of the
living human individual: although both factors form _one actual being_,
still, independently of the consideration of the mind _the one factor is
not the other_: each is really, though only potentially, other than the
factor with which it is united: the relation of “one” to “other” though
not _actually_ verified of either factor (since there is only _one actual_
being: the existing individual man), is potentially and really verified,
_i.e._ _verifiable_ of each. Again, the individual corporeal substance
can, absolutely speaking, exist without its connatural accident of
external or local extension; this latter can, absolutely speaking, exist
without its connatural substance;(158) therefore these are absolutely and
really distinct.

If only one of the factors is seen to be capable of existing without the
other, and the latter to be such that it could not actually exist except
as united with the former, so that the separability is not mutual, the
distinction is regarded still as real, but only as a _minor_ or _modal_
distinction. Such, for instance, is the distinction between a body and its
location, or its state of rest or motion: and, in general, the distinction
between a substance and what are called its accidental modes or modal
accidents. The distinction is regarded as real because reflection is held
to assure us that it is in the reality itself independently of the mind,
and not merely imposed by the mind on the reality because of some ground
or reason in the reality. It is called a modal distinction rather than an
absolute real distinction because those accidental modes of a substance do
not seem to have of themselves sufficient reality to warrant our calling
them “things” or “realities,” but rather merely “modes” or
“determinations” of things or realities. It is significant, as throwing
light on the relation of the virtual to the real distinction, that some
authors call the modal distinction not a real distinction but a
“distinctio _media_,” _i.e._ intermediate between a real and a logical
distinction; and that the question whether it should be called simply a
real distinction, or “intermediate” between a real and a logical
distinction is regarded by some as “a purely verbal question.”(159) We
shall recur to the modal distinction later (68).

In the third place it must be noted that separability _in the sense
explained_, even non-mutual, is not regarded as the _only_ index to a real
distinction. In other words, certain distinctions are held by some to be
real even though this test of separability does not apply. For instance,
it is commonly held that not merely in man but in _all_ corporeal
individuals the formative and the determinable principle of the nature or
substance, the _forma substantialis_ and the _materia prima_, are really
distinct, although it is admitted that, apart from the case of the human
soul, _neither_ can actually exist except in union with the other. What is
held in regard to _accidental_ modes is also applied to these essential
principles of the corporeal substance: _viz._ that there is here a special
reason why such principles cannot actually exist in isolation. Of their
very nature they are held to be such that they cannot be _actualized_ or
_actually exist_ in isolation, but only in union. But this fact, it is
contended, does not prove that the principles in question are merely
mentally distinct aspects of one reality: the fact that they cannot
actually exist as such separately does not prove that they are not really
separable; and it is contended that they are really and actually separated
whenever an individual corporeal substance undergoes substantial change.

    This, then, raises once more the question: What sort of
    “separation” or “separability” is the test of a real distinction?
    Is it separateness in and for sense perception, or separateness in
    and for intellectual thought? The former is certainly the
    fundamental index of the real distinction; for all our knowledge
    of reality originates in sense experience, and separateness in
    time and space, which marks its data, is the key to our knowledge
    of reality as a manifold of really distinct individual beings; and
    when we infer from sense-experience the actual existence of a
    _spiritual_ domain of reality we can conceive _its_ “individuals”
    only after the analogy of the corporeal individuals of our
    immediate sense experience. Scholastic philosophers, following
    Aristotle, have always taken the manifoldness of reality, _i.e._
    its presentation in sense experience in the form of “individuals,”
    of “this” and “that,” “τοδὲ τι,” “_hoc aliquid_,” as an
    unquestioned and unquestionable _real datum_. Not that they
    naïvely assumed everything _perceived by the senses_ as an
    individual, in time and space, to be really an individual: they
    realized that what is perceived by sense as _one_ limited
    continuum, occupying a definite portion of space, may be in
    reality an aggregate of many individuals; and they recognized the
    need of scrutinizing and analysing those apparent individuals in
    order to test their real individuality; but they held, and
    rightly, that sense experience does present to us some data that
    are unmistakably real individuals—individual men, for instance.
    Next, they saw that intellectual thought, by analysing sense
    experience, amasses an ever-growing multitude of abstract and
    conceptually distinct thought-objects, which it utilizes as
    predicates for the interpretation of this sense experience. These
    thought-objects intellect can unite or separate; can in some cases
    positively see to be mutually compatible or incompatible; can form
    into ideal or possible complexes. But whether or not the
    _conceptually_ distinct, though mutually compatible,
    thought-objects forming any such complex, will be also _really
    distinct_ from one another, is a question which evidently cannot
    arise until such a complex is considered as an actual or possible
    _individual being_: for it is the individual only that exists or
    can exist. They will be _really_ distinct when found actualized in
    _distinct individuals_. Even the _conceptually_ one and
    self-identical abstract thought-object will be _really distinct
    from itself_ when embodied in distinct individuals; the one single
    abstract thought-object, “humanity,” “human nature,” is really
    distinct from itself in John and in James; the humanity of John is
    _really other_ than the humanity of James.

    Of course, if conceptually distinct thought-objects are seen to be
    mutually incompatible they cannot be found realized except in
    really distinct individuals: the union of them is only an _ens
    rationis_. Again it may be that the intellect is unable to
    pronounce positively as to whether they are compatible or not
    (18): as to whether the complex forms a possible being or not. But
    when the intellect positively sees such thought-objects to be
    mutually compatible—by interpretation of, and inference from, its
    actual sense experience of them as embodied in individuals
    (18)—and when, furthermore, it now finds a number of them
    co-existing in some one actual individual, the question recurs:
    How can it know whether they are _really distinct_ from each
    other, though actually united to form one (essentially or
    accidentally composite) individual, or only conceptually distinct
    aspects of one (simple) individual [27 (_b_)]?

    This, as we have seen already, is the case for which it is really
    difficult to find a satisfactory test: and hence the different
    views to be found among scholastic philosophers as to the nature
    of the distinctions which the mind makes or discovers _within the
    individual_. The difficulty is this. The conceptual distinction
    between compatible thought-objects is not a proof of real
    distinction when these thought-objects are found united in _one
    individual_ of sense experience, as _e.g._ animality and
    rationality in man; and the only distinction given to us by sense
    experience, at least directly and immediately, as undoubtedly
    real, is the distinction _between_ corporeal _individuals_
    existing apart in space or time, as _e.g._ between man and man.
    How then, can we show that any distinctions _within the
    individual_ are real?

    Well, we have seen that certain entities, which are objects of
    sense or of thought, or of both, can disappear from the individual
    without the residue thereby perishing or ceasing to exist actually
    as an individual: the human soul survives, as an actual individual
    reality, after its separation from the material principle with
    which it formed the individual man; the individual man persists
    while the accidental modes that affect him disappear. In such
    cases as these, intellect, interpreting sense experience and
    reasoning from it, places a real distinction, in the composite
    individual, between the factors that can continue to exist without
    others, and these latter. In doing so it is apparently applying
    the analogy of the typical real distinction—that between one
    individual and another. The factor, or group of factors, which can
    continue to exist actually after the separation of the others, is
    an individual: and what were separated from it were apparently
    real entities, though they may have perished by the actual
    separation. But on what ground is the distinction between the
    material principle and the vital principle of a plant or an
    animal, for example, regarded as real? Again on the ground
    furnished by the analogy of the distinction between individuals of
    sense experience. Note that it is not between the material and the
    vital principles _as objects of abstract thought_, _i.e._ between
    the _materiality_ and the _vitality_ of the plant or the animal,
    that a real distinction is claimed: these are regarded only as
    conceptually distinct aspects of the plant or the animal; nor is
    it admitted that because one of these thought-objects is found
    embodied elsewhere in nature without the other—materiality without
    vitality in the inorganic universe—we can therefore conclude that
    they are really distinct in the plant or the animal. No; it is
    between the two principles conceived as coexisting and united in
    the concrete individual that the real distinction is claimed. And
    it is held to be a real distinction because substantial change in
    corporeal things, _i.e._ corruption and generation of individual
    corporeal substances, is held to be real. If it is real there is a
    real separation of essential factors when the individual perishes.
    And the factors continue to be real, as _potential_ principles of
    other individuals, when any individual corporeal substance
    perishes. Each principle may not continue to exist actually as
    such in isolation from the other—though some scholastics hold
    that, absolutely speaking, they could be conserved apart, as
    actual entities, by the Author of Nature. But they _can_ actually
    exist _as essential principles of other actual individuals_: they
    are real _potentialities_, which _become actual_ in other
    individuals. Thus we see that they are conceived throughout _after
    the analogy of the individual_. Those who hold that, absolutely
    speaking, the material principle as such, _materia prima_, could
    actually exist in isolation from any formative principle, should
    apparently admit that in such a case it would be _an individual

difficulty of discriminating between the virtual and the real distinction
in an individual has given rise to the conception of distinctions which
some maintain to be real, others to be less than real. The virtual
distinction, as we have hitherto understood it, may be described as
_extrinsic_ inasmuch as it arises in the individual only when we consider
the latter under different aspects, or in different relations to things
extrinsic to it. By regarding an individual under different aspects—_e.g._
a man under the aspects of animality and rationality—we can predicate
contradictory attributes of the individual, _e.g._ of a man that “he is
similar to a horse,” and that “he is not similar to a horse”. Now it is
maintained by some that although independently of the consideration of the
mind the grounds of these contradictory predications are not _actually_
distinct in the individual, nevertheless even before such consideration
the individual has a real _intrinsic capacity_ to have these contradictory
predicates affirmed of him: they can be affirmed of him not merely when he
is regarded, and because he is regarded, under conceptually different
aspects, but because these principles, “animality” and “rationality,” are
already really in him not merely as aspects but as distinct capacities, as
potentially distinct principles of contradictory predications.

The virtual distinction, understood in this way, is described as
_intrinsic_. It is rejected by some on the ground that, at least in its
application to finite realities, it involves a violation of the principle
of contradiction: it seems to imply that one and the same individual has
in itself absolutely (and not merely as considered under different aspects
and relations) the capacity to verify of itself contradictory predicates.

Scotus and his followers go even farther than the advocates of this
intrinsic virtual distinction by maintaining the existence of a
distinction which on the one hand they hold to be less than real because
it is not between “thing and thing,” and on the other hand to be more than
logical or virtual, because it _actually_ exists between the various
thought-objects or “_formalitates_” (such, _e.g._ as animality and
rationality) in the individual, independently of the analytic activity
whereby the mind detects these in the latter. This distinction Scotists
call a “formal distinction, actual on the part of the thing”—“_distinctio
formalis_, _actualis ex natura rei_.” Hence the name “formalists” applied
to Scotists, from their advocacy of this “Scotistic” distinction. It is,
they explain, a distinction not between “things” (“_res_”) but between
“formalities” (“_formalitates_”). By “thing” as opposed to “formality”
they mean not merely the individual, but also any positive thought-object
which, though it may not be capable of existing apart, can really appear
in, or disappear from, a thing which can so exist: for instance, the
essential factors of a really composite essence, its accidental modes, and
its real relations. By “formality” they mean a positive thought-object
which is absolutely inseparable from the thing in which it is apprehended,
which cannot exist without the thing, nor the thing without it: for
instance, all the metaphysical grades of being in an individual, such as
substantiality, corporeity, life, animality, rationality, individuality,
in an individual man. The distinction is called “formal” because it is
between such “formalities”—each of which is the positive term of a
separate concept of the individual. It is called “_actual_ on the side of
the thing” because it is claimed to be _actually_ in the latter apart from
our mental apprehension of the individual. What has chiefly influenced
Scotists in claiming this distinction to be thus _actually_ in the
individual, independently of our mental activity, is the consideration
that these metaphysical grades are grounds on which we can predicate
contradictory attributes of the same individual, _e.g._ of an individual
man that “he is similar to a horse” and that “he is not similar to a
horse”: whence they infer that in order to avoid violation of the
principle of contradiction, we must suppose these grounds to be _actually_
distinct in the thing.

To this it is replied, firstly, that if such predications were truly
contradictory we could avoid violation of the principle of contradiction
only by inferring a _real_ distinction—which Scotists deny to
exist—between these grounds; secondly, that such predications are not
truly contradictory inasmuch as “he is similar” really means “he is
partially similar,” and “he is not similar” means “he is not completely
similar”; therefore when we say that a man’s rationality “_is not_ the
principle whereby he resembles a horse,” and his animality “_is_ the
principle whereby he resembles a horse,” we mean (_a_) that his
rationality is not the principle of complete resemblance, though we know
it is the principle of partial resemblance, inasmuch as we see it to be
really identical with that which is the principle of partial resemblance,
_viz._ his animality; and we mean (_b_) that his animality is the
principle of his partial resemblance to a horse, not of total resemblance,
for we know that the animality of a man is not perfectly similar to that
of a horse, the former being really identical with rationality, the latter
with irrationality. When, then, we predicate of one thing that “it is
similar to some other thing,” and that “it is not similar to this other
thing” we are not really predicating contradictories of the same thing; if
we take the predicates as contradictories they are true of the same
reality undoubtedly, but not under the same aspect. Scotists themselves
admit that the _real identity_ of these aspects involves no violation of
the principle of contradiction; why, then, should these be held to be
_actually_ distinct formalities independently of the consideration of the
mind? How can a distinction that is actual independently of the mind’s
analysis of the reality be other than real? Is not predication a work of
the mind? And must not the conditions on which reality verifies the
predication be determined by the mind? If, then, we see that in order to
justify this predication—of “similar” and “not similar”—about any reality,
it is merely necessary that the mind should apprehend this reality to be
in its undivided unity equivalent to manifold grades of being or
perfection which the mind itself can grasp as mentally distinct aspects,
by distinct concepts, how can we be justified in supposing that these
grades of being are not merely _distinguishable_, but _actually distinct_
in the reality itself, _independently of the mind_?

    The Scotist doctrine here is indicative of the tendency to
    emphasize, perhaps unduly, the assimilation of reality as a datum
    with the mind which interprets this datum; to regard the
    constitution of reality itself as being what abstract thought,
    irrespective of sense experience, would represent it; and
    accordingly to place in the reality as being actually there,
    independently of thought, distinctions which as a matter of fact
    may be merely the product of thought itself.

    Scotists, by advocating an _actual_ distinction between these
    grades of being, as “formalities” in the individual, have exposed
    themselves to the charge of extreme realism. They teach that each
    of these “formalities” has, for abstract thought, a _formal_ unity
    which is _sui generis_. And this unity is not regarded as a
    product of thought, any more than the distinction between such
    unities. Thus, the materiality apprehended by thought in all
    material things is one, not because it is made one by the
    abstracting and universalizing activity of thought, as most if not
    all other scholastics teach; it is not merely _conceptually one_
    through our thought-activity, it is _formally one_ apart from the
    latter; and it thus knits into a “formal” unity all material
    things. And so does “life” all living things; and “animality” all
    animals; and “rationality” all men. Now, if this “formal unity” of
    any such essential or metaphysical grade of being were regarded as
    a real unity, monism would be of course the logically inevitable
    corollary of the theory.

    But the “formal” unity of any such essential grade of being
    Scotists will not admit to be a real unity, though they hold it to
    be characteristic of reality independently of our thought. They
    contend that this unity is quite compatible with the _real
    plurality_ conferred upon being by the principles which
    individuate the latter; and thus they cannot be fairly accused of
    monism. Their reasoning here is characteristically subtle. Just as
    any metaphysical grade of being, considered as an object of
    thought, is in itself neither manifold individually nor one
    universally—so that, as Thomists say, designating it in this
    condition as the _universale directum_, or _metaphysicum_, or
    _fundamentale_, or _quoad rem conceptam_, we can truly affirm of
    it in this condition neither that it is one (logically, as a
    universal) nor that it is manifold (really, as multiplied in
    actual individuals),(160)—so likewise, Scotists contend, it is in
    this condition _ontologically_, as an entity in the real order
    independently of thought, and as such has a unity of its own, a
    formal unity, which, while uniting in a formal unity all the
    individuals that embody it, is itself incapable of fitting this
    grade of being for actual existence, and therefore admits those
    ultimate individuating principles which make it a real manifold in
    the actual order.(161)

    Thus, the metaphysical grade of being, which, as considered in
    itself, Thomists hold to be an abstraction, having no other unity
    than that which thought confers upon it by making it logically
    universal, Scotists on the contrary hold to be as such something
    positive in the ontological order, having there a “formal” unity
    corresponding to the “conceptual” or “logical” unity which thought
    confers upon it by universalizing it. The metaphysical grade of
    being, thus conceived as something positive in the real order,
    Scotists will not admit to be a “reality,” nor the unity which
    characterizes it a “real” unity. But after all, if such a
    “formality” with its proportionate “unity,” is independent of
    thought; and if on the other hand “universality” is the work of
    thought, so that the universal as such cannot be real, it is not
    easy to see how the Scotist doctrine escapes the error of extreme
    realism. The metaphysical grade of being is a “formality” only
    because it is _made abstract_ by thought; and it has “unity” only
    because it is _made logically universal_ by thought; therefore to
    contend that as such it is something positive in the real order,
    independently of thought, is to “reify” the abstract and universal
    as such: which is extreme realism.


that when the mind thinks of any reality it apprehends it as “one,” that
ontological unity is a transcendental attribute of being; and this
consideration led us to consider the manifoldness and the distinctions
which characterize the totality of our experience. Now man himself is a
real being surrounded by all the other real beings that constitute the
universe. Moreover he finds himself endowed with faculties which bring him
into conscious relations both with himself and with those other beings;
and only by the proper interpretation of these relations can he understand
aright his place in the universe. The first in order of these relations is
that of reality to mind (25). This relation between mind and reality is
what we understand by _Truth_.

Now truth is attributed both to knowledge and to things. We say that a
person thinks or judges _truly_, that his knowledge is _true_ (or correct,
or accurate), when things really are as he thinks or judges them to be.
The truth which we thus ascribe to knowledge, to the mind interpreting
reality, is _logical_ truth: a relation of concord or conformity of the
mind interpreting reality—or, of the mind’s judgment about reality—with
the reality itself.(162) Logical truth is dealt with in Logic and
Epistemology. We are concerned here only with the truth that is attributed
to reality, to things themselves: ontological, metaphysical,
transcendental truth, as it is called. There is nothing abstruse or
far-fetched about the use of the terms “true” and “truth” as equivalent to
“real” and “reality”. We speak of “true” gold, a “true” friend, a
“veritable” hero, etc. Now what do we mean by thus ascribing truth to a
thing? We mean that it corresponds to a mental type or ideal. We call a
liquid true wine or real wine, for instance, when it verifies in itself
the definition we have formed of the nature of wine. Hence whenever we
apply the terms “true” or “truth” to a thing we shall find that we are
considering that thing not absolutely and in itself but in reference to an
idea in our minds: we do not say of a thing simply that it is true, we say
that it is _truly such or such_ a thing, _i.e._ that it is really of a
certain nature already conceived by our minds. If the appearance of the
thing suggests comparison with some such ideal type or nature, and if the
thing is seen on examination not really to verify this nature in itself,
we say that it is not really or truly such or such a thing: _e.g._ that a
certain liquid is not really wine, or is not true wine. When we have no
such ideal type to which to refer a thing, when we do not know its nature,
cannot classify and name it, we have to suspend our judgment and say that
we do not know what the thing _really_ is. Hence, for example, the new
rays discovered by Röntgen were called provisionally “X rays,” their real
nature being at first unknown. We see, then, that real or ontological
truth is simply reality considered as conformable with an ideal type, with
an idea in the mind.

Whence does the human mind derive these ideal types, these concepts or
definitions of the nature of things? It derives them from actually
experienced reality by abstraction, comparison, generalization, and
reflection on the data of its experience.(163) Hence it follows that the
ontological truth of things is not known by the mind antecedently to the
formation of the mental type. It is, of course, in the things antecedently
to any judgment we form about the things; and the logical truth of our
judgments is dependent on it, for logical truth is the conformity of our
judgments with the real nature of things. But antecedently to all exercise
of human thought, antecedently to our conception of the nature of a thing,
the thing has not for us _formal_ or _actual_ ontological truth: it has
only fundamental or _potential_ ontological truth. If in this condition
reality had actual ontological truth for us, there would be no ground for
our distinguishing mentally between the reality and the truth of things;
whereas the existence of this mental or logical distinction is undeniable.
The concept of reality is the concept of something absolute; the concept
of ontological truth is the concept of something relative, not of an
absolute but of a relative property of being.

    But if for the human mind the ontological truth of things is—at
    least proximately, immediately, and in the first place—their
    conformity with the abstract concepts of essences or natures,
    concepts derived by the mind from an analysis of its experience,
    how can this ontological truth be one for all men, or immutable
    and necessary? For, since men form different and divergent and
    conflicting conceptions as to the natures of things, and so have
    different views and standards of truth for things, ontological
    truth would seem, according to the exposition just outlined, to be
    not one but manifold, not immutable but variable: consequences
    which surely cannot be admitted? The answer to this difficulty
    will lead us to a deeper and more fundamental conception of what
    ontological truth really is.

    First, then, we must consider that all men are endowed with the
    same sort of intellect, an intellect capable of some insight at
    least into the nature of things; that therefore they abstract the
    same transcendental notions and the same widest concepts from
    their experience: transcendental concepts of being, unity, truth,
    goodness; generic concepts of substance, matter, spirit, cause, of
    accident, quantity, multitude, number, identity, similarity,
    distinction, diversity, etc. They also form the same _specific_
    concepts of possible essences. Although, therefore, they may
    disagree and err in regard to _the application_ of those concepts,
    especially of the lower, richer and more complex specific
    concepts, to the actual data of their experience, they agree in
    the fact that they have those common concepts or idea-types of
    reality; also in the fact that when they apply those concepts
    _rightly_ (_i.e._ by _logically true_ judgments) to the things
    that make up their experience, they have so far grasped the real
    natures of these things; and finally in recognizing that the
    ontological truth of these things lies in the conformity of the
    latter with their true and proper mental types or essences. And
    just as each of these latter is one, indivisible, immutable,
    necessary and eternal (14, 15), so is the ontological truth of
    things, whether possible or actual, one, indivisible, immutable,
    necessary and eternal. Of course, just as the human mind does not
    constitute but only apprehends reality, so the human mind does not
    constitute the ontological truth of reality, but only apprehends
    it. Every reality is capable of producing in the human mind a more
    or less adequate mental representation of itself: in this lies
    what we may call the potential or fundamental ontological truth of
    reality. When it does produce such a mental concept of itself its
    relation of conformity to this concept is its formal ontological
    truth. Of course the human mind may err in applying to any reality
    a wrong concept; when it does it has so far failed to grasp the
    real nature of the thing and therefore the ontological truth which
    is really identical with this nature. But the thing still has its
    ontological truth, independently of the erring mind; not only
    fundamental truth, but also possibly formal truth in so far as it
    may be rightly apprehended, and thus related to its proper mental
    type, by other human minds. Reality itself, therefore, is not and
    cannot be false, as we shall see more fully later; error or
    falsity is an accident only of the mind interpreting reality.

ULTIMATE REAL BASIS.—So far we have explained ontological truth as a
relation of reality to the human intelligence; but this relation is not
one of dependence. The objective term of the relation, the reality itself,
is anterior to the human mind, it is not constituted by the latter. The
subjective term, the abstract concept, is indeed as a vital product
dependent on the mind, but as representative of reality it is determined
only by the latter. Is there, however, an Intelligence to which reality is
_essentially_ conformed, other than the human intelligence? Granted the
actual existence of contingent realities, and granted that the human mind
can derive from these realities rational principles which it sees to be
necessarily and universally applicable to all the data of experience, we
can demonstrate the existence of a Necessary Being, a First and
Self-Existent Intelligence. Realizing, then, that God has created all
things according to Infinite Wisdom, we can see that the essences of
things are imitations of exemplar ideas in the Divine Mind (20). On the
Divine Mind they depend essentially for their reality and intelligibility.
It is because all created realities, including the human mind itself, are
adumbrations of the Divine Essence, that they are intelligible to the
human mind. Thus we see that in the ontological order, in the order of
real gradation and dependence among things, as distinct from the order of
human experience,(164) the reason why reality has ontological truth for
the human mind is because it is antecedently and essentially in accord
with the Divine Mind from which it derives its intelligibility. Although,
therefore, ontological truth is for us proximately and immediately the
conformity of reality with our own conceptions, it is primarily and
fundamentally the essential conformity of all reality with the Divine
Mind. All reality, actual and possible, including the Divine Essence
itself, is actually comprehended by the Divine Mind, is actually in
conformity with the exemplar ideas in the Divine Mind, and has therefore
ontological truth even independently of its relation to created minds; but
“in the (impossible) hypothesis of the absence of all intellect, such a
thing as truth would be inconceivable”.(165)

The reason, therefore, why things are ontologically true for our minds,
why our minds can apprehend their essences, why we can have any true
knowledge about them, is in fact because both our minds and all things
else, being expressions of the Divine Essence, are in essential conformity
with the Divine Intellect. Not that we must know all this in order to have
any logical truth, any true knowledge, about things; or in order to
ascribe to things the ontological truth which consists in their conformity
with our conception of their nature. The atheist can have a true knowledge
of things and can recognize in them their conformity with his mental
conception of their nature; only he is unaware of the real and fundamental
reason why he can do so. Nor can he, of course, while denying the
existence of God, rise to the fuller conception of ontological truth which
consists in the essential conformity of all reality with the Divine
Intellect, and its essential dependence on the latter for its
intelligibility to the human intellect.

Naturally, it is this latter and fuller conception of ontological truth
that has been at all times expounded by scholastic philosophers.(166) We
may therefore, define ontological truth as _the essential conformity of
reality, as an object of thought, with intellect, and primarily and
especially with the Divine Intellect_.

    The conformity of reality with the Divine Intellect is described
    as _essential_ to reality, in the sense that the reality is
    dependent on the Divine Intellect for its intelligibility; it
    derives its intelligibility from the latter. The conformity of
    reality with the human intellect is also essential in the sense
    that _potential_ conformity with the latter is inseparable from
    reality; it is an aspect really identical with, and only logically
    distinct from, the latter. But inasmuch as the _actual_ conformity
    of reality with our human conception of it is contingent on the
    existence of human intelligences, and is not _ultimately_
    dependent on the latter, inasmuch as reality does not derive its
    intelligibility _ultimately_ from this conception—seeing that
    rather this conception is derived from the reality and is
    ultimately dependent on the Divine Exemplar,—this conformity of
    reality with the human mind is sometimes spoken of as _accidental_
    to reality in contrast with the relation of dependence which
    exists between reality and the Divine Mind.

    Bearing in mind that reality derives its intelligibility from its
    essential conformity with the Divine Mind, and that the human mind
    derives _its_ truth from the reality, we can understand how it has
    been said of truth in general that it is first in the Uncreated
    Intellect, then in things, then in created intellects; that the
    primary source and measure of all truth is the Divine Intellect
    Itself Unmeasured, “mensurans, non mensuratus”; that created
    reality is measured by, or conformed with, the Divine Intellect,
    and is in turn the measure of the human intellect, conforming the
    latter with itself, “mensurans et mensurata”; and that, finally,
    the human intellect, measured by created reality and the Divine
    Mind, is itself the measure of no natural things but only of the
    products of human art, “intellectus noster ... non mensurans
    quidem res naturales, sed artificiales tantum”.(167)

    Is truth _one_, then, or is it _manifold_? Logical truth is
    manifold—multiplied by the number of created intelligences, and by
    the number of distinct cognitions in each. The primary ontological
    truth which consists in the conformity of all reality with the
    Divine Intellect is one: there is no real plurality of archetype
    ideas in the Divine Mind; they are manifold only to our imperfect
    human mode of thinking. The secondary ontological truth which
    consists in the conformity of things with the abstract concepts of
    created intelligences is conditioned by, and multiplied with, the
    manifoldness of the latter.(168)

    Again to the question: Is truth _eternal_ or _temporal_?—we reply
    in a similar way that the truth of the Divine comprehension of
    reality, actual and possible, is eternal, but that no other truth
    is eternal. There is no eternal truth outside of God. Created
    things are not eternal; and truth is consecutive on reality: where
    there is no reality there is no ontological truth: the conformity
    of things with human conceptions and the logical truth of the
    latter are both alike temporal.(169)

    Finally, we may say that the truth of the Divine Intellect is
    _immutable_; and so is the essential conformity of all reality
    with the Divine Intellect. The change to which created reality is
    essentially subject is itself essentially conformed with the
    Divine Mind; it is, so to speak, part and parcel of the
    ontological truth of this reality in relation to the Divine Mind,
    and cannot therefore interfere with this ontological truth. When
    the acorn grows into the oak the whole process has its ontological
    truth; that of the acorn changes, not into falsity, but into
    another truth, that of the oak.(170) We see, then, that as things
    change, their truth does not change in the sense of being lost or
    giving place to falsity: the truth of one state changes to the
    truth of another while the ontological truth of the changing
    reality perseveres immutably.

    The same immutability attaches to the truth of things in relation
    to the human mind: with the qualification, to which we shall
    return (43), that they may occasion false judgments in the human
    mind, and on that account be designated “false”.

    Finally, the logical truth which has its seat in created
    intelligences is _mutable_: it may be increased or diminished,
    acquired or lost.

been said it will be apparent that ontological truth is a transcendental
attribute of reality. That is to say, whatever is real, whether actual or
possible, is ontologically true; or, in scholastic terminology, “_Omne ens
est verum; Ens et verum convertuntur_: All being is true; The real and the
true are convertible terms”. For in the first place there is no mode or
category of real being, of which the human mind actually thinks, to which
it does not attribute ontological truth in the sense of conformity with
the right human conception of it. Moreover, the proper object of the human
intellect is reality; all true knowledge is knowledge of reality. Reality
of itself is manifestly knowable, intelligible, and thus potentially or
fundamentally true; and, on the other hand, intellect is, according to the
measure of its capacity, a faculty of insight into all reality, into
whatever is real: _intellectus potens fieri omnia; anima ... quodammodo
fit omnia_.(171) Deny either of these postulates regarding the terms of
the ontological relation, reality and mind, and all rational thought is
instantly paralysed. Hence, in so far as a reality becomes an actual
object of human knowledge it has formal ontological truth in relation both
to the human mind and to the Divine Mind; while antecedently to human
thought it is fundamentally true, or intelligible, to the human mind, and
of course formally true in relation to the Divine Mind.

Thus we see that whatever is real is ontologically true; that ontological
truth is really identical with real being; that, applied to the latter, it
is not a mere extrinsic denomination, but signifies an intrinsic, positive
aspect of reality, _viz._ the real, essential, or transcendental relation
of all real being to Mind or Intellect: a relation which is logically or
conceptually distinct from the notion of reality considered in itself.

43. ATTRIBUTION OF FALSITY TO REAL BEING.—If ontological truth is really
identical with real being, if it is an essential aspect of the latter, a
transcendental relation of reality to mind, it follows immediately that
there can be no such thing as transcendental falsity: if whatever is real
is ontologically true, then the ontologically false must be the unreal,
must be nothingness. And this is really so: ontologically falsity _is_
nothingness. We have, therefore, to discover the real meaning of
attributing falsity to things, as when we speak of a false friend, false
gold, false teeth, a false musical note, a false measure in poetry, etc.

First of all, then, it will be noted that each such object has its own
real nature and character, its proper mental correlate, and, therefore,
its ontological truth. The false friend is a true or real deceiver, or
traitor, or coward, or whatever his real character may be; the false gold
is true or real bronze, or alloy, or whatever it may be in reality; the
false teeth are true or real ivory, or whatever substance they are made
of; a false musical note is a true or real note but not the proper one in
its actual setting; and so of a false measure in poetry. Next, when we
thus ascribe falsity to a friend, or gold, or such like, we see that the
epithet “false” is in reality merely transferred from the false judgment
which a person is liable to make about the object. We mean that to judge
that person a friend, or that substance gold, or those articles real
teeth, would be to form a false judgment. We see that it is only in the
judgment there can be falsity; but we transfer the epithet to the object
because the object is likely to occasion the erroneous judgment in the
fallible human mind, by reason of the resemblance of the object to
something else which it really is not. We see, therefore, that falsity is
not in the objects, but is transferred to them by a purely extrinsic
denomination on account of appearances calculated to mislead. We commonly
say, in such cases that “things mislead us,” that “appearances deceive
us”. Things, however, do not deceive or mislead us _necessarily_, but only
_accidentally_: they are the _occasions_ of our allowing ourselves to be
deceived: the fallibility and limitations of our own minds in interpreting
reality are the real cause of our erroneous judgments.(172)

Secondly, there is another improper sense in which we attribute falsity to
works of art which fail to realize the artist’s ideal. In this sense we
speak of a “false” note in music, a “false” measure in poetry, a “false”
tint in painting, a “false” curve in sculpture or architecture. “False”
here means defective, bad, wanting in perfection. The object being out of
harmony with the ideal or design in the practical intellect of the artist,
we describe it as “false” after the analogy of what takes place when we
describe as “false gold” a substance which is out of harmony with the idea
of gold in the speculative intellect. It is in relation to the
speculative, not the practical, intellect, that things have ontological
truth. All created things are, of course, as such, in conformity not only
with the Divine Intellect considered as speculative, but also with the
Divine Intellect considered as practical. For God, being omnipotent, does
all things according to the designs of His Wisdom. For Him nothing is
accidental, nothing happens by chance. But the world He has freely willed
to create is not the best possible world. Both in the physical and in the
moral order there are things and events which are defective, which fall
short of their natural perfection. This defectiveness, which is properly
physical or moral evil, is sometimes described as falsity, lying, vanity,
etc., on account of the discrepancy between those things and the ideal of
what they should be. But all such defective realities are known to be what
they are by the Divine Mind, and may be known as they really are by the
human mind. They have, therefore, their ontological truth. The question of
their perfection or imperfection gives rise to the consideration of quite
a different aspect of reality, namely its _goodness_. This, then, we must
deal with in the next place.


44. THE GOOD AS “DESIRABLE” AND AS “SUITABLE”.—The notion of the _good_
(L. _bonum_; Gr. ἀγαθόν) is one of the most familiar of all notions. But
like all other transcendental or widely generic concepts, the analysis of
it opens up some fundamental questions. The princes of ancient Greek
philosophy, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, gave much anxious thought to
its elucidation. The tentative gropings of Socrates involved an ambiguity
which issued in the conflicting philosophies of Stoicism and Epicureanism.
Nor did Plato succeed in bringing down from the clouds the “Idea of the
Good” which he so devotedly worshipped as the Sun of the Intellectual
World. It needed the more sober and searching analysis of the Stagyrite to
bring to light the formula so universally accepted in after ages: The Good
of beings is that which all desire: _Bonum est quod omnia appetunt_.(173)
Let us try to reach the fundamental idea underlying the terms “good,”
“goodness,” by some simple examples.

The child, deriving sensible pleasure from a sweetmeat, cries out: That is
_good_! Whatever gratifies its senses, gives it sensible delight, it
_likes_ or _loves_. Such things it _desires_, _seeks_, _yearns for_, in
their absence; and in their presence _enjoys_. At this stage the good
means simply the _pleasure-giving_. But as reason develops the human being
apprehends and describes as good not merely what is pleasure-giving, but
whatever satisfies any natural need or craving, whether purely organic, or
purely intellectual, or more widely human: food is good because it
satisfies a physical, organic craving; knowledge is good because it
satisfies a natural intellectual thirst; friendship is good because it
satisfies a wider need of the heart. Here we notice a transition from
“agreeable” in the sense of “pleasure-giving” to “agreeable” in the more
proper sense of “suitable” or useful. The good is now conceived not in the
narrow sense of what yields sensible pleasure but in the wider sense of
that which is useful or suitable for the satisfaction of a natural
tendency or need, that which is _the object of a natural tendency_.

Next, let us reflect, with Aristotle, that each of the individual persons
and things that make up the world of our direct experience has an end
towards which it naturally tends. There is a purpose in the existence of
each. Each has a nature, _i.e._ an essence which is for it a principle of
development, a source of all the functions and activities whereby it
continually adapts itself to its environment and thereby continually
fulfils the aim of its existence. By its very nature it tends towards its
end along the proper line of its development.(174) In the world of
conscious beings this natural tendency is properly called appetite: _sense
appetite_ of what is apprehended as good by sense cognition, and rational
appetite or _will_ in regard to what is apprehended as good by intellect
or reason. In the world of unconscious things this natural tendency is a
real tendency and is analogous to conscious appetite. Hence it is that
Aristotle, taking in all grades of real being, describes the good as that
which is the object of any natural tendency or “appetite” whatsoever: the
good is the “_appetibile_” or “desirable,” that which all things seek:
_bonum est quod omnia appetunt_.

45. THE GOOD AS AN “END,” “PERFECTING” THE “NATURE”.—So far, we have
analysed the notion of what is “good” _for some being_; and we have
gathered that it implies what _suits_ this being, what contributes to the
latter’s realization of its end. But we apply the term “good” to objects,
and speak of their goodness, apart from their direct and immediate
relation of helpfulness or suitability _for us_. When, for instance, we
say of a watch that it is a _good_ one, or of a soldier that he is a
_good_ soldier, what precisely do we mean by such attribution of goodness
to things or persons? A little reflection will show that it is
intelligible _only in reference to an end or purpose_. And we mean by it
that the being we describe as good has the powers, qualities, equipments,
which _fit it for its end or purpose_. A being is good whose nature is
equipped and adapted for the realization of its natural end or purpose.

Thus we see that the notion of goodness is correlative with the notion of
an end, towards which, or for which, a being has a natural tendency or
desire. Without the concept of a nature as tending to realize an end or
purpose, the notion of “the good” would be inexplicable.(175) And the two
formulæ, “The good is that which beings desire, or towards which they
naturally tend,” and “The good is that which is adapted to the ends which
beings have in their existence,” really come to the same thing; the former
statement resolving itself into the latter as the more fundamental. For
the reason why anything is desirable, why it is the object of a natural
tendency, is because it is good, and not _vice versa_. The description of
the good as that which is desirable, “_Bonum est id quod est appetibile_,”
is an _a posteriori_ description, a description of cause by reference to
effect.(176) A thing is desirable because it is good. Why then is it good,
and therefore desirable? Because it _suits_ the natural needs, and _is
adapted_ to the nature, of the being that desires it or tends towards it;
because it _helps_ this being, _agrees with_ it, by contributing towards
the realization of its end: _Bonum est id quod convenit naturæ
appetentis_: The good is that which suits the nature of the being that
desires it. The greatest good for a being is the realization of its end;
and the means towards this are also good because they contribute to this

No doubt, in beings endowed with consciousness the gradual realization of
this natural tendency, by the normal functioning and development of their
activities, is accompanied by pleasurable feeling. The latter is, in fact,
not an end of action itself, but rather the natural concomitant, the
effect and index, of the healthy and normal activity of the conscious
being: _delectatio sequitur operationem debitam_. It is the pleasure felt
in tending towards the good that reveals the good to the conscious agent:
that is, taking pleasure in its wide sense as the feeling of well-being,
of satisfaction with one’s whole condition, activities and environment.
Hence it is the anticipated pleasure, connected by past association with a
certain line of action, that stimulates the conscious being to act in that
way again. It is in the first instance because a certain operation or
tendency is felt to be _pleasing_ that it is desired, and apprehended as
_desirable_. Nor does the brute beast recognize or respond to any stimulus
of action other than pleasure. But man—endowed with reason, and reflecting
on the relation between his own nature and the activities whereby he duly
orients his life in his environment—must see that what is pleasure-giving
or “agreeable” in the ordinary sense of this term is generally so because
it is “agreeable” in the deeper sense of being “suitable to his nature,”
“adapted to his end,” and therefore “good”.

The good, then, is whatever suits the nature of a being tending towards
its end: _bonum est conveniens naturæ appetentis_. In what precisely does
this suitability consist? What suits any nature _perfects_ that nature,
and suits it precisely in so far as it perfects it. But whatever perfects
a nature does so only because and in so far as it is _a realization of the
end_ towards which this nature tends. Here we reach a new notion, that of
“perfecting” or “perfection,” and one which is as essentially connected
with the notion of “end” or “purpose,” as the concept of the “good” itself
is. Let us compare these notions of “goodness,” “end,” and “perfection”.
We have said that a watch or a soldier are good when they are adapted to
their respective ends. But they are so only because the end itself is
already good. And we may ask why any such end is itself good and therefore
desirable. For example, why is the accurate indication of time good, or
the defence of one’s country? And obviously in such a series of questions
we must come to something which is good and desirable in and for itself,
for its own sake and not as leading and helping towards some remoter good.
And this something which is good in and for itself is a last or ultimate
end—an absolute, not a relative, good. There must be such an absolute
good, such an ultimate end, if goodness in things is to be made
intelligible at all. And it is only in so far as things tend towards this
absolute good, and are adapted to it, that they can be termed good. The
realization of this tendency of things towards the absolute good, or
ultimate end, is what constitutes the goodness of those things, and it
does so because it _perfects their natures_.

    The end towards which any nature tends is the cause of this
    tendency, its _final_ cause; and the influence of a final cause
    consists precisely in its goodness, _i.e._ in its power of
    actualizing and perfecting a nature. This influence of the good is
    sometimes described as the “diffusive” character of goodness:
    _Bonum est diffusivum sui_: Goodness tends to diffuse or
    communicate itself, to multiply or reproduce itself. This
    character, which we may recognize in the goodness of finite,
    created things, is explained in the philosophy of theism as being
    derived, with this goodness itself, from the uncreated goodness of
    God who is the Ultimate End and Supreme Good of all reality. Every
    creature has its own proper ultimate end and highest perfection in
    its being a manifestation, an expression, a shewing forth, of the
    Divine Goodness. It has its own actuality and goodness, distinct
    from, but dependent on, the Divine Goodness; but inasmuch as its
    goodness is an expression or imitation of the Divine Goodness, we
    may, by an _extrinsic_ denomination, say that the creature is good
    _by the Divine Goodness_. In a similar way, and without any
    suspicion of pantheism, we may speak of the goodness of creatures
    as being a _participation_ of the Divine Goodness (5).

realization of the end or object or purpose of a nature that perfects the
latter, and so far formally constitutes the goodness of this nature. Now
the notion of perfection is not exactly the same as the notion of
goodness: although what is perfect is always good, what is good is not
always perfect. The term “perfect” comes from the Latin _perficere_,
_perfectum_, meaning fully made, thoroughly achieved, completed, finished.
Strictly speaking, it is only finite being, potential being, capable of
completion, that can be spoken of as _perfectible_, or, when fully
actualized, _perfect_. But by universal usage the term has been extended
to the reality of the Infinite Being: we speak of the latter as the
Infinitely _Perfect_ Being, not meaning that this Being has been
“perfected,” but that He is the purely Actual and Infinite Reality.
Applied to any finite being, the term “perfect” means that this being has
attained to the full actuality which we regard as its end, as the ideal of
its natural capacity and tendency. The finite being is subject to change;
it is not actualized all at once, but gradually; by the play of those
active and passive powers which are rooted in its nature it is gradually
actualized, and thus perfected, gaining more and more reality or being by
the process. But what directs this process and determines the line of its
tendency? The _good_ which is the _end_ of the being, the good towards
which the being by its nature tends. This good, which is the term of the
being’s natural tendency—which is, in other words, its end—is the
fundamental principle(177) which perfects the nature of the being, is the
source and explanation of the process whereby this nature is perfected:
_bonum est perfectivum_: _the good is the perfecting principle of
reality_. The end itself is “the good which perfects,” _bonum quod_; the
“perfecting” itself is the formal cause of the goodness of the being that
is perfected, _bonum quo_; the being itself which is perfected, and
therefore ameliorated or increased in goodness, is the _bonum cui_. In
proportion, therefore, to the degree in which a being actually possesses
the perfection due to its nature it is “good”; in so far as it lacks this
perfection, it is wanting in goodness, or is, as we shall see,
ontologically “bad” or “evil”.

While, then, the notion of the “good” implies a relation of the appetite
or natural tendency of a being towards its end, the notion of
“perfection,” or “perfecting,” conveys to our minds actual reality simply,
or the actualizing of reality. The term “perfection” is commonly used as
synonymous with actual reality. In so far forth as a reality is actual we
say it “has perfection”. But we do not call it “perfect” _simply_, unless
it has all the actuality we conceive to be due to its nature: so long as
it lacks any of this it is only perfect _secundum quid_, _i.e._ in
proportion to the actuality it does possess. Hence we define “the perfect”
as _that which is actually lacking in nothing that is due to its nature_.
The perfect is therefore not simply the good, but the complete or finished
good; and it is even logically distinct from the latter, inasmuch as the
actuality connoted by the former has added to it the relation to appetite
connoted by the latter. Similarly “goodness” is logically distinct from
“perfection” by adding the like relation to the latter. Although a thing
has goodness in so far as it has perfection, and _vice versa_, still its
perfection is its actuality simply, while its goodness is this actuality
considered as the term of its natural appetite or tendency.

between stages of perfection in the changing reality of the same being, or
grades of perfection in comparing with one another different classes or
orders of being.

In one and the same being we may distinguish between what is called its
_first_ or _essential_ perfection, which means its essence or nature
considered as capable of realizing its purpose in existence by tending
effectively towards its end; what is called its _intermediate_ or
_accidental_ perfection, which consists in all the powers, faculties and
functions whereby this tendency is gradually actualized; and what is
called its _final_ or _integral_ perfection, which consists in its full
actualization by complete attainment of its end.

Again, comparing with one another the individual beings that make up our
experience, we classify them, we arrange them in a hierarchical order of
relative “perfection,” of inferiority or superiority, according to the
different grades of reality or perfection which we think we apprehend in
them. Thus, we look on living things as a higher, nobler, more perfect
order of beings than non-living things, on animal life as a higher form of
being than plant life, on intelligence as higher than instinct, on will as
superior to sense appetite, on mind or spirit as nobler than matter, and
so on. Now all such comparisons involve the apprehension of some standard
of value. An estimation of relative values, or relative grades of
perfection in things, is unintelligible except in reference to some such
standard; it involves of necessity the intuition of such a standard. We
feel sure that some at least of our appreciations are unquestionably
correct: that man, for instance, is superior to the brute beast, and the
latter superior to the plant; that the lowest manifestation of life—in the
amœba, or whatever monocellular, microscopic germ may be the lowest—is
higher on the scale of being than the highest expression of the
mechanical, chemical and physical forces of the inorganic universe. And if
we ask ourselves what is our standard of comparison, what is our test or
measure, and why are we sure of our application of it in such cases, our
only answer is that our standard of comparison is reality itself, actual
being, perfection; that we rely implicitly on our intuition of such actual
reality as manifested to us in varying grades or degrees within our
experience; that without claiming to be infallible in our judgments of
comparison, in our classifications of things, in our appreciations of
their relative perfection, we may justly assume reality itself to be as
such intelligible, and the human mind to be capable of obtaining some true
and certain insight into the nature of reality.

48. THE GOOD, THE REAL, AND THE ACTUAL.—Having compared “perfection” with
“goodness” and with “being,” let us next compare the two latter notions
with each other. We shall see presently that every actual being has its
ontological goodness, that these are in reality identical. But there is a
logical distinction between them. In the first place the term “being” is
applied _par excellence_ to substances rather than to accidents. But we do
not commonly speak of an individual substance, a person or thing, as good
in reference to essential or substantial perfection.(178) When we describe
a man, or a machine, as “good,” we mean that the man possesses those
_accidental_ perfections, those qualities and endowments, which are
suitable to his nature as a man; that the machine possesses those
properties which adapt it to its end. In the second place the notion of
being is absolute; that of the good is relative, for it implies the notion
not of reality simply but of reality as desirable, agreeable, suitable, as
perfecting the nature of a subject, as being the end, or conducive to the
end, towards which this nature tends. And since what thus _perfects_ must
be something not potential but actual, it follows that, unlike real truth,
real goodness is identical not with potential, but only with actual
reality. It is not an attribute of the abstract, possible essence, but
only of the concrete, actually existing essence.(179)

From the fact that the notion of the good is relative it follows that the
same thing can be simultaneously good and bad in different relations:
“What is one man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

49. KINDS OF GOODNESS; DIVISIONS OF THE GOOD.—(_a_) The goodness of a
being may be considered in relation to this being itself, or to other
beings. What is good for a being itself, what makes it intrinsically and
formally good, _bonum sibi_, is whatever perfects it, and in the fullest
sense the realization of its end. Hence we speak of a virtuous, upright
man, whose conduct is in keeping with his nature and conducive to the
realization of his end, as a good man. But a being may also be good to
others, _bonum alteri_, by an extrinsic, active, effective goodness,
inasmuch as by its action it may help other beings in the realization of
their ends. In this sense, a beneficent man, who wishes the well-being of
his fellow-men and helps them to realize this well-being, is called a good
man. This kind of goodness is what is often nowadays styled
_philanthropy_; in Christian ethics it is known as _charity_.

(_b_) We have described the good as the term or object of natural tendency
or appetite. In the domain of beings not endowed with the power of
conscious apprehension, determinism rules this natural tendency; this
latter is always oriented towards the _real_ good: it never acts amiss: it
is always directed by the Divine Wisdom which has given to things their
natures. But in the domain of conscious living agents this natural
tendency is consequent on apprehension: it takes the form of instinctive
animal appetite or of rational volition. And since this apprehension of
the good may be erroneous, since what is not really good but evil may be
apprehended as good, the appetite or will, which follows this
apprehension—_nil volitum nisi praecognitum_—may be borne towards evil
_sub ratione boni_. Hence the obvious distinction between _real good_ and
_apparent good_—_bonum verum_ and _bonum apparens_.

(_c_) In reference to any individual subject—a man, for instance—it is
manifest that _other_ beings can be good for him in so far as any of them
can be his end or a means to the attainment of his end. They are called in
reference to him _objective goods_, and their goodness _objective
goodness_. But it is equally clear that they are good for him only because
he can perfect his own nature by somehow identifying or uniting himself
with them, possessing, using, or enjoying them. This possession of the
objective good constitutes what has been already referred to as _formal_
or _subjective goodness_.(180)

(_d_) We have likewise already referred to the fact that in beings endowed
with consciousness and appetite proper, whether sentient or rational, the
function of possessing or attaining to what is objectively good, to what
suits and perfects the nature of the subject, has for its natural
concomitant a feeling of pleasure, satisfaction, well-being, delight,
enjoyment. And we have observed that this pleasurable feeling may then
become a stimulus to fresh desire, may indeed be desired for its own sake.
Now this subjective, pleasure-giving possession of an objective good has
been itself called by scholastics _bonum delectabile_—delectable or
delight-giving good. The objective good itself considered as an end, and
the perfecting of the subject by its attainment, have been called _bonum
honestum_—good which is really and _absolutely_ such _in itself_. While if
the good in question is really such only when considered as a means to the
attainment of an end, of something that is good in itself, the former is
called _bonum utile_—useful good.(181)

In this important triple division _bonum honestum_ is used in the wide
sense in which it embraces any _real_ good, whether physical or moral. As
applied to man it would therefore embrace whatever perfects his physical
life as well as whatever perfects his nature considered as a rational, and
therefore moral, being. But in common usage it has been restricted to the
latter, and is in this sense synonymous with _moral good_, _virtue_.(182)

Furthermore, a good which is an end, and therefore desirable for its own
sake, whether it be physical or moral, can be at the same time a means to
some higher good and desired for the sake of this latter. Hence St.
Thomas, following Aristotle, reduces all the moral goods which are
desirable in themselves to two kinds: that which is desirable only for
itself, which is the last end, final felicity; and those which, while good
in themselves, are also conducive to the former, and these are the

    When these various kinds of goodness are examined in reference to
    the nature, conduct and destiny of man, they raise a multitude of
    problems which belong properly to Ethics and Natural Theology. The
    fact that man has a composite nature which is the seat of various
    and conflicting tendencies, of the flesh and of the spirit; that
    he perceives in himself a “double law,” a higher and a lower
    appetite; that he is subject to error in his apprehension of the
    good; that he apprehends a distinction between pleasure and duty;
    that he feels the latter to be the path to ultimate happiness,—all
    this accentuates the distinction between real and apparent good,
    between _bonum honestum_, _bonum utile_, and _bonum delectabile_.
    The existence of God is established in Natural Theology; and in
    Ethics, aided by Psychology, it is proved that no finite good can
    be the last end of man, that God, the Supreme, Infinite Good, is
    his last end, and that only in the possession of God by knowledge
    and love can man find his complete and final felicity.

is a logical distinction between the concept of “goodness” and that of
“being”. We have now to show that the distinction is not real, in other
words, that goodness is a transcendental attribute of all actual reality,
that all being, in so far forth as it is actual, has
goodness—transcendental or ontological goodness in the sense of
_appetibility_, _desirability_, _suitability_, as already explained.

When the thesis is formulated in the traditional scholastic statement,
“_Omne ens est bonum_: _All being is good_” it sounds a startling paradox.
Surely it cannot be contended that everything is good? A cancer in the
stomach is not good; lies are not good; yet these are actual realities;
cancers exist and lies are told; therefore not every reality is good. This
is unquestionably true. But it does not contradict the thesis rightly
understood. The true meaning of the thesis is, not that every being is
good in all respects, or possesses such goodness as would justify us in
describing it as “good” in the ordinary sense, but that every being
possesses some goodness: every being in so far as it has actuality has
formal, intrinsic goodness, or is, in other words, the term or object of
natural tendency or desire. This goodness, which we predicate of any and
every actual being, may be (1) the term of the natural tendency or
appetite of that being itself, _bonum sibi_, or (2) it may be conceivably
the term of the appetite of some other being, _bonum alteri_. Let us see
whether it can be shown that every actual being has goodness in one or
both of these senses.

(1) _Bonum sibi_.—Is there any intelligible sense in which it can be said
that the actuality of any and every existing being is _good for that
being_—_bonum sibi_? There is. For if we recognize in every such being, as
we must, a _nature_, a potentiality of further actualization, a tendency
towards a state of fuller actuality which is its _end_; and if,
furthermore, we recognize that every such being at any instant not merely
_is_ or exists, but is _becoming_ or _changing_, and thereby tending
effectively towards its end; we must admit not merely that the full
attainment of its end (its integral or final perfection) is “desired” by,
and “perfects,” and is “good” for, that being’s nature; but also that the
partial realization of its end, or, in other words, the actuality it has
at any instant in its changing condition of existence (its accidental or
intermediate perfection) is similarly “good” for it; and even that its
actual existence as compared with its mere possibility (its first or
essential perfection) is “desirable” and “good” for its nature. Actually
existing beings are intelligible only because they exist for some end or
purpose, which, by their very existence, activities, operations, conduct,
they tend to realize. If this be admitted we cannot deny that the full
attainment of this end or purpose is “good” for them—suitable, desirable,
agreeable, perfecting them. In so far as they fail in this purpose they
are wanting in goodness, they are bad, evil. For the realization of their
end their natures are endowed with appropriate powers, faculties, forces,
by the normal functioning of which they gradually develop and grow in
actuality. No real being is by nature inert or aimless; no real being is
without its connatural faculties, forces and functions. But the natural
result of all operation, of all action and interaction among things, is
_actualization_ of the potential, amelioration, development, growth in
perfection and goodness by gradual realization of ends. If by accident any
of these powers is wanting, or acts amiss by failing to contribute its due
perfection to the nature, there is in the being a proportionate want of
goodness—it is so far bad, evil. But, even so, the nature of the thing
preserves its fundamental orientation towards its end, towards the
perfection natural to it, and struggles as it were against the evil—tries
to make good the deficiency. A cancer in the stomach is never good _for
the stomach_, or _for the living subject_ of which the stomach is an
organ. For the living being the cancer is an evil, a _failure_ of one of
the organs to discharge its functions normally, _an absence of a good_,
_viz._ the healthy functioning of an organ. But the cancerous growth,
considered in itself and for itself, biologically and chemically, has its
own nature, purpose, tendencies, laws; nor can we deny that its
development according to these laws is “good” for its specific
nature,(184) _bonum sibi_.

It may be asked how can the _first_ or _essential_ perfection of an
existing substance, which is nothing else than the actual existence of the
nature itself, be conceived as “good” for this nature? It is so inasmuch
as the actual existence of the substance is the first stage in the process
by which the nature tends towards its end; an existing nature desires and
tends towards the conservation of its own being;(185) hence the saying,
“Self-preservation is the first law of nature”; and hence, too, the
scholastic aphorism, “_Melius est esse quam non esse_”.

The argument just outlined tends to show that every nature of which we can
have direct experience, or in other words every finite, contingent nature,
is _bonum sibi_, formally and intrinsically good for itself.

It is, of course, equally applicable to the Uncreated, Necessary Being
Himself. The Infinite Actuality of the Divine Nature is essentially the
term and end of the Divine Love. Therefore every actual being has
intrinsic, formal goodness, whereby it is _bonum sibi_, _i.e._ its
actuality is, in regard to its nature, really an object of tendency,
desire, appetite, a something that really suits and perfects this nature.
Thus understood, the thesis formulates no mere tautology. It makes a real
assertion about real being; nor can the truth of this assertion be proved
otherwise than by an argument based, as ours is, on the recognition of
purpose, of final causality, of adaptation of means to ends, in the actual
universe of our experience.

Notwithstanding all that has been said, it may still be asked why should
those individual beings, whose existence we have claimed to be good for
them, exist at all. It will be objected that there exist multitudes of
beings whose existence is manifestly _not_ good for them. Take, for
instance, the case of the reprobate. If they wish their total
annihilation, if they desire the total cessation of their being, rather
than an existence of eternal punishment, they undoubtedly wish it _as a
good_. Is annihilation or absolute non-existence _really_ a good _for
them_? _De facto_ it is _for them_, considered _in their actual condition_
which is _accidental to their nature_. Christ said of the scandal-giver
what is surely true of the reprobate: “It were better for that man had he
never been born”. We may admit, therefore, that for the reprobate
themselves simple non-existence is more desirable, and better, than their
actual concrete state of existence as reprobate: because simple
non-existence is for them the simple _negation_ of their reality, whereas
the absolute and irreparable loss of their last end, the total frustration
of the purpose for which they came into being, is for them the greatest
conceivable _privation_. But this condition of the reprobate is accidental
to their nature, alien to the purpose of their being, a self-incurred
failure, a deliberate thwarting of their natural tendency. It remains
true, therefore, that their nature is good though incapable of progress,
its purpose is good though frustrated. In so far as they have actual
reality they have “essential” goodness. Their _natures_ still tend towards
self-conservation and the realization of their end. They form no _real_
exception to the general truth that “it is better to be than not to be:
_melius est esse quam non esse_”. It is not annihilation as such that is
desired by them, but only as a less evil alternative than the eternal
privation of their last end.(186) If the evils accidentally and actually
attaching to a certain state of existence make the continuance of _this
state_ undesirable for a being, it by no means follows that the
continuance of this being in existence, simply and in itself, is less
desirable than non-existence.

(2) BONUM ALTERI.—Even, however, if it were granted that the actual
existence of some beings is not good for _themselves_, might it not
nevertheless be good for _other beings_, and in relation to the general
scheme of things? Is there not an intelligible sense in which _every_
actual being is _bonum alteri_, good for other things? Here again the same
experience of actual reality, which teaches us that each individual being
has a nature whereby it tends to its own good as a particular end, also
teaches us that in the general scheme of reality things are helpful to one
another, nay, are intended by their interaction and co-operation with one
another to subserve the wider end which is the good of the whole system of
reality. There is little use in puzzling, as people sometimes do, over the
_raison d’être_ of individual things or classes of things in human
experience, over the good or the evil of the existence of these things,
over the question whether or not it would be better that these things
should never have existed, until we have consulted not any isolated
portion of human experience but _this experience as a whole_. In this we
can find sufficient evidence for the prevalence of a beneficent purpose
everywhere. Not that we can read this purpose in every detail of reality.
Even when we have convinced ourselves that all creation is the work of a
Supreme Being who is Infinite Goodness Itself, we cannot gain that full
insight into the secret designs of His Providence, which would be needed
in order to “justify His ways” in all things. But when we have convinced
ourselves that the created universe exists because God wills it, we can
understand that every actual reality in it must be “good,” as being an
object or term of the Divine Will. Every created reality is thus _bonum
alteri_ inasmuch as it is good for God, not, of course, in the impossible
sense of perfecting Him, but as an imitation and expression of the
Goodness of the Divine Nature Itself. The experience which enables us to
reach a knowledge of the existence and nature of God, the Creator,
Conserver, and Providence of the actual universe, also teaches us that
this universe can have no other ultimate end or good than God Himself,
_i.e._ God’s will to manifest His goodness by the extrinsic glory which
consists in the knowledge and love of Him by His rational creatures. The
omnipotence of the Creator, His freedom in creating, and our knowledge of
the universe He has actually chosen to create from among indefinite
possible worlds, all alike convince us that the actual world is neither
the best possible nor the worst possible, _absolutely_ speaking. But our
knowledge of His wisdom and power also convinces us that for the purpose
of manifesting His glory in the measure and degree in which He has
actually chosen to manifest it by creating the existing universe, and
_relatively_ to the attainment of this specific purpose, the existing
universe is the best possible.

51. OPTIMISM AND PESSIMISM.—Those few outlines of the philosophy of
theism—theses established in Natural Theology—will reveal to us the place
of theism in relation to “optimist” and “pessimist” systems of philosophy.
Pessimism, as an outcome of philosophical speculation, is the proclamation
in some form or other of the conviction that human existence, nay,
existence in general, is a failure, an evil. It is the analogue, in
relation to will, of what scepticism is in relation to intellect; and it
is no less self-contradictory than the latter. While the latter points to
total paralysis of thought, the former involves a like paralysis of all
will, all effort, all purpose in existence—a philosophy of despair,
despondency, gloom. Both are equally erroneous, equally indicative of
philosophical failure, equally repugnant to the normal, healthy mind.
Optimism on the other hand is expressive of the conviction that good
predominates in all existence: _melius est esse quam non esse_; that at
the root of all reality there is a beneficent purpose which is ever being
realized; that there is in things not merely a truth that can be known but
a goodness that can be loved. Existence is not an evil, life is not a
failure. This is a philosophy of hope, buoyancy, effort and attainment.
But is it true, or is it an empty illusion? Well, to maintain that the
actual universe is the best absolutely, would, of course, be absurd. If
Leibniz’s “Principle of Sufficient Reason” obliged him to contend, in face
of the painfully palpable facts of physical and moral evil in the
universe, that this universe is the best absolutely possible, the best
that God could create, we can only say: so much the worse for his
“Principle”. The true optimism is that of the theist who, admitting the
prevalence of evil in the universe, in the sense to be explained
presently, at the same time holds that throughout creation the good
predominates, that God’s beneficent purpose in regard to individuals does
in the main prevail, and that His glory is manifested in giving to
rational creatures the perfection and felicity of knowing and loving
Himself. For the theist, then, the problem of the existence of evil in the
universe assumes the general form of reconciling the fact of evil in God’s
creation with the fact of God’s infinite power and goodness. This is a
problem for Natural Theology. Here we have merely to indicate some general
principles arising from the consideration of evil as the correlative and
antithesis of goodness.

52. EVIL: ITS NATURE AND CAUSES. MANICHEISM.—Admitting the existence of
evil in the universe, the scholastic apparently withdraws the admission
forthwith by denying the reality of evil. The paradox explains itself by
comparing the notions of good and evil, and thus trying to arrive at a
proper conception of the latter.

If ontological goodness is really identical with actual being, if being is
good in so far as it is actual, then it would appear that ontological evil
must be identical with non-being, nothingness. And so it is, in the sense
that no evil is a positive, actual reality, that all evil is an absence of
reality. But just as the good, though really identical with the actual, is
nevertheless logically distinct from the latter, so is evil logically
distinct from nothingness, or the absence of reality. As we have seen, the
good is that which perfects a nature, that which is due to a nature as the
realization of the end of the latter. So, too, is evil the _privation_ of
any perfection due to a nature, the absence of something positive and
something which ought to be present. Evil, therefore, is not a mere
negation or absence of being; it is the absence of a good, or in other
words the absence of a reality that should be present. All privation is
negation, but not _vice versa_; for privation is the negation of something
_due_: the absence of virtue is a mere negation in an animal, in man it is
a privation. Hence the commonly accepted definition of evil: _Malum est
privatio boni debiti_: _Evil is the privation of the goodness due to a
thing_.(187) Evil is always, therefore, a defect, a deficiency. The notion
of evil is a relative, not an absolute notion. As goodness is the right
relation of a nature to its proper end, so is evil a failure, a defect in
this relation: _Malum est privatio ordinis ad finem debitum_.(188)

The very finiteness of a finite being is the absence of further reality in
this being; but as this further reality is not due to such a being, its
absence, which has sometimes been improperly described as “metaphysical
evil,” is not rightly regarded as evil at all: except, indeed, we were to
conceive it as happening to the Infinite Being Himself, which would be a
contradiction in thought.

Evil, then, in its formal concept is nothing positive; it is essentially
negative, or rather privative. For this very reason, when we consider evil
in the concrete, _i.e._ as affecting actual things, as occurring in the
actual universe—we can scarcely speak of it with propriety as
“existing,”—we see that it essentially involves some positive, real
subject which it affects, some nature which, by affecting, it renders so
far evil. Cancer in the stomach is a real evil of the stomach, a defect, a
deficiency, a failure, in the adaptation of the stomach to its proper end.
It is not itself a positive, absolute, _evil entity_. In so far as it is
itself a positive, physical reality, a growth of living cells, it has its
own nature, its natural tendency, its development towards an end in
accordance with biological laws: in all of which it verifies the
definition of ontological goodness. But the existence of such a growth in
the stomach is pathological, _i.e._ a disease of the stomach, a prevention
of the natural, normal function of the stomach, a _failure of the latter’s
adaptation to its end_, and hence an _evil for the stomach_. Lying, too,
is an evil, a moral evil of man as a moral subject. But this does not mean
that the whole physical process of thinking, judging, speaking, whereby a
man lies, is itself a positive evil entity. The thinking is itself good as
a physical act. So is the speaking in itself good as a physical act.
Whatever of positive reality there is in the whole process is good,
ontologically good. But there is a _want of conformity_ of the language
with the thought, entailing a _privation_ or _failure of adaptation_ of
the man as a moral subject with his end, with his real good; and in this
failure of adaptation, this privation of goodness, lies the moral evil of

Evil, then, has a _material_ or subjective cause, _viz._ some positive,
actual reality, which is good in so far forth as it is actual, but which
is evil, or wanting in something due to it, in so far as the privation
which we have called evil affects it.

But evil has no _formal_ cause: formally it is not a reality but a
privation: “evil has no formal cause, but is rather the privation of a

Nor has evil any _final_ cause, for it consists precisely in the failure
of a being’s natural tendency towards its end, in the want of adaptation
of a nature to its end: “nor has evil a final cause, but is rather the
privation of a being’s due relation to its natural end”.(190) Evil cannot
be the natural result of a being’s tendency towards its end, or a means to
the attainment of this end. For that which is really an end must be good,
and a means derives its goodness from the end to which it is a means. The
good, because it is an end, or a means to an end, is desirable; and so,
too, might evil be defined _a posteriori_ as that which is the object of
no natural tendency or desire, that from which all things are averse:
_malum est quod nullum ens appetit, vel a quo omnia aversantur_. Nor can
evil be itself an end, or be as such desired or desirable. Real evil is no
doubt often sought and desired by conscious beings, sometimes physical
evil, sometimes moral evil. But it is always desired and embraced as a
good, _sub specie boni_, _i.e._ when apprehended as here and now good in
the sense of gratifying, pleasure-giving, _bonum delectabile_. This is
possible because _pleasure_, especially organic, sensible pleasure, as
distinct from the state of real well-being which characterizes true
_happiness_, is not the exclusive concomitant of seeking and possessing a
_real_ good: it often accompanies the seeking and possessing of a merely
apparent good: and in such cases it is itself a merely apparent good, and
in reality evil. The unfortunate man who commits suicide does not embrace
evil as such. He wrongly judges death to be good, as being in his view a
lesser evil than the miseries of his existence, and under this aspect of
goodness he embraces death.

Finally we have to inquire whether evil has an _efficient_ cause. Seeing
that it is not merely a logical figment, seeing that it really affects
actual things, that it really occurs in the actual universe, it must have
a real source among the efficient causes of these actual things that make
up the universe. It is undoubtedly due to the action of efficient causes,
_i.e._ to the _failure_, the _defective_ action, of efficient causes. But
being itself something negative, a privation, it cannot properly be said
to have an “efficient” cause; for the influence of an efficient cause is
positive action, which in turn must have for its term something positive,
something real, and therefore good. Hence St. Augustine very properly says
that evil should be described as having a “_deficient_” cause rather than
an “efficient” cause.(191) In other words, evil is not the direct, natural
or normal result of the activity of efficient causes; for this result is
always good. It must therefore be always an indirect, abnormal, accidental
consequence of their activity. Let us see how this can be—firstly in
regard to physical evil, then in regard to moral evil.

In the action of physical causes we may distinguish between the operative
agencies themselves and the subjects in which the effects of these
operations are produced. Sometimes the effect is wanting in due
perfection, or is in other words imperfect, physically evil, because of
some defect in the agencies: the statue may be defective because the
sculptor is unskilled, or his instruments bad; offspring may be weak or
malformed owing to some congenital or accidental weakness or unfitness in
the parents. Sometimes the evil in the effect is traceable not to the
agents but to the materials on which they have to work: the sculptor and
his instruments may be perfect, but if there be a flaw in the marble the
statue will be a failure; the educator may be efficient, but if the pupil
be wanting in aptitude or application the results cannot be “good”.

All this, however, does not carry us very far, for we must still inquire
_why_ are the agencies, or the materials, themselves defective. Moreover,
physical evil sometimes occurs without any defect either in the agencies
or in the materials. The effect produced may be incompatible with some
minor perfection already in the subject; it can then be produced only at
the sacrifice of this minor perfection: which sacrifice is for the subject
_pro tanto_ an evil. It is in the natural order of things that the
production of a new “form” or perfection excludes the actuality of a
pre-existing form or perfection. All nature is subject to change, and we
have seen that all change is ruled by the law: _Generatio unius est
corruptio alterius_. It might perhaps be said that this privation or
supplanting of perfections in things by the actualization in these things
of incompatible perfections, is inherent in the nature of things and
essential to their finiteness—at least, if we regard the things not
individually but as parts of a whole, as members of a system, as
subserving a general scheme;—and that therefore such privation should not
be regarded as physical evil proper, but rather as “metaphysical” evil,
improperly so called. However we regard it, it can have no other first
source than the Will of the Creator decreeing the actual order of the
existing universe. And the same must be said of the physical evils proper
that are incident to the actual order of things. These evils are
“accidental” when considered in relation to the individual natures of the
created agencies and materials. They are defects or failures of natural
tendencies: were these natural tendencies always realized there would be
no such evils. But they are not realized; and their “failure” or “evil” is
not “accidental” in regard to God; for God has willed and created these
agencies with natural tendencies which He has destined to be fulfilled not
always and in every detail, but in such measure as will secure the actual
order of the universe and show forth His perfections in the finite degree
in which He has freely chosen to manifest these perfections. The world He
has chosen to create is not the best absolutely possible: there are
physical evils in it; but it is the best for the exact purpose for which
He created it.

There is also moral evil in the universe. In comparison with moral evil,
the physical defects in God’s creation—physical pain and suffering,
material privations and hardships, decay and death of living things—are
not properly evils at all. At least they are not evils in the same
profound sense as the deliberate turning away of the moral agent from God,
his Last End and Ultimate Good, is an evil. For the physical evils
incident to individual beings in the universe can be not only foreseen by
God but accepted and approved, so to speak, by His Will, as subserving the
realization of the total physical good which He wills in the universe; and
as subordinate to, and instrumental in the realization of, the moral good
of mankind: for it is obvious that in the all-wise designs of Providence
physical evils such as pain, suffering, poverty, hunger, etc., may be the
means of realizing moral goodness. But moral evil, on the contrary, or, in
the language of Christian ethics, _Sin_—the conscious and deliberate
rejection, by the free agent, of God who is his true good—though
necessarily foreseen by God in the universe He has actually chosen to
create, and therefore necessarily permitted by the Will of God
consequently on this foresight, cannot have been and cannot be intended or
approved by Him. Having created man an intelligent and free being, God
could not will or decree the revolt of the latter from Himself. He loves
essentially His own Infinite Goodness: were He to identify His Will with
that of the sinning creature He would at the same time be turning away
from His Goodness: which is a contradiction in terms. God, therefore, does
not will moral evil. Nevertheless He permits it: otherwise it would not
occur, for nothing can happen “against His will”. He has permitted it by
freely choosing to create this actual universe of rational and free
creatures, foreseeing that they would sin. He could have created instead a
universe of such beings, in which there would be no moral evil: for He is
omnipotent. Into the secrets of His election it is not given to finite
minds to penetrate. Acknowledging His Infinite Power, Wisdom and Goodness,
realizing at the same time the finiteness of our faculties, we see how
rational it is to bow down our minds with St. Paul and to exclaim in
admiration: “O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge
of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His

If it be objected that God’s permission of moral evil in the universe is
really the cause of this evil, and makes God Himself responsible for sin
and its consequences, a satisfactory answer is not far to seek. It is
absolutely incompatible with God’s Infinite Sanctity that He be
responsible for sin and its consequences. For these the free will of the
creature is _alone_ responsible. The creation of intelligent beings,
endowed with the power _freely_ to love, honour and serve God, is the most
marvellous of all God’s works. Free will is the noblest endowment of a
creature of God, as it is also the most mysterious. Man, who by his
intelligence has the power to know God as his Supreme Good, has by his
will the power _freely_ to tend towards God and attain to the possession
of God as his Last End. In so far as man sins, _i.e._ knowingly,
deliberately, and freely violates the tendency of his nature towards God
by turning away from Him, he and he alone is responsible for the
consequences, because he has the power to accomplish what he knows to be
God’s design in his regard, and to be his true destiny and path to
happiness—_viz._ that he tend towards union with God and the possession of
God—and he deliberately fails to make use of this power. Such failure and
its consequences are, therefore, his own; they leave absolutely untouched
and unassailed the Infinite Goodness and Benevolence of God’s eternal
design in his regard.

In scholastic form, the objection is proposed and answered in this way:
“The cause of a cause is the cause of the latter’s effects; but God is the
cause of man, and sin is the latter’s effect; therefore God is the cause
of sin”. “That the cause of a _non-free_ cause is the cause of the
latter’s effects, we admit. That the cause of a _free_ cause is the cause
of the latter’s effects, at least in the sense of permitting, without
intending and being thereby responsible for them, we also admit; always in
the sense of intending and being responsible for them, we deny. The
_positive effects_ of a created free cause, those which the latter by
nature is intended to produce, are attributable to the first cause or
creator of the free cause, and the first cause is responsible for them.
The _failures_ of the created free cause to produce its natural and
intended effects, are not due to the first cause; they are not intended
by, nor attributable to, the first cause; nor is the latter responsible
for them: they are failures of the free cause, and of him alone; though
they are of course foreseen and permitted by the first cause or creator of
the latter. The minor premiss of the objection we may admit—noting,
however, that sin is not properly called an effect, but rather, like all
evil, a _failure_ of some cause to produce its connatural effect: it is a
defect, a deficiency, a privation of some effect, of some positive
perfection, which the cause ought naturally to have produced. The
conclusion of the objection we distinguish, according to our analysis of
the major premiss: God is the cause of sin in the proper sense of
intending it, willing it, and producing it positively, and being thereby
responsible for it, we deny; God is the cause of sin in the improper sense
of merely foreseeing and permitting it as incidental to the universe He
has actually willed and decreed to create, as occurring in this universe
by the deliberate failure of free creatures to conform themselves to His
primary benevolent intention in their regard, we may grant. And this
Divine permission of moral evil cannot be shown to be incompatible with
any attribute of the Divinity.”

In the preceding paragraphs we have barely outlined the principles on
which the philosophy of theism meets the problem of evil in the universe.
We have made assumptions which it is the proper province of Natural
Theology to establish, and to that department also we must refer the
student for a fuller treatment of the whole problem.

It has been sometimes said that the fact of evil in the universe is one of
the greatest difficulties against the philosophy of Theism. If this be
taken as an insinuation that the fact of evil can be better explained—or
even as well explained—on the assumptions of Pantheism, Monism,
Manicheism, or any other philosophy besides Theism, it is false. If it
means simply that in accounting for evil—whether on principles of Theism
or of any other philosophy—we are forced to raise some ultimate questions
in the face of which we must admit that we have come upon depths of
mystery which the plummet of our finite intellects cannot hope to fathom,
in this sense indeed the assertion may be admitted. As we have already
hinted, even with the light of the Christian Revelation to aid the natural
light of reason, there are questions about the existence and causes of
evil which we may indeed ask, but which we cannot adequately answer. And
obviously this is no reflection on Theism; while in the latter system we
have a more intelligible and more satisfactory analysis of the problem
than in any other philosophy.

Among the ancient Greek philosophers we find “matter” (ὕλη) identified
with “vacuum” or “empty space” (το κενόν) and this again with
“nothingness” or non-being (τὸ μη νὀ). Now the concept of evil is the
concept of something negative—a privation of goodness, of being or
reality. Thus the notion of evil came to be associated with the notion of
matter. But the latter notion is not really negative: it is that of a
formless, chaotic, disorderly material. When, therefore, the Manicheans
attributed a positive reality to evil—conceiving it as the principle of
all disorder, strife, discord—they naturally regarded all matter as the
expression of the Evil Principle, in opposition to soul or spirit as the
expression of the Good Principle. The Manichean philosophy of Evil, a
product of the early Christian centuries, has been perhaps the most
notable alternative or rival system encountered by the theistic philosophy
of Evil; for, notwithstanding the fantastic character of its conceptions
Manicheism has reappeared and reasserted itself repeatedly in after ages,
notably in the Middle Ages. Its prevalence has probably been due partly to
the concreteness of its conceptions and partly to a certain analogy which
they bear towards the conception of Satan and the fallen angels in
Christian theology. In both cases there is the idea of conflict, strife,
active and irreconcilable opposition, between the powers of good and the
powers of evil. But there the analogy ends. While in Christian theology
the powers of evil are presented as essentially subject to the Divine
Omnipotence, in Manicheism the _Evil Principle_, the _Summum Malum_, is
presented as a supreme, self-existent principle, essentially independent
of, as well as antagonistic to, the Divine Being, the _Summum Bonum_.
Since there is evil in the world, and since good cannot be the cause of
evil—so the Manicheans argue—there must be an essentially Evil First
Principle which is the primary source of all the evil in the universe,
just as there is an essentially Good First Principle which is the source
of all its good. Everything in the world—and especially man himself,
composed of matter and spirit—is the expression and the theatre of the
essential conflict which is being ever waged between the Good and the Evil
Principle. Everywhere throughout the universe we find this dualism:
between spirit and matter, light and darkness, order and disorder, etc.

From all that has been said in the preceding paragraphs regarding the
nature and causes of good and evil the errors of the Manichean system will
be apparent. Its fundamental error is the conception of evil as a positive
entity. Evil is not a positive entity but a privation. And this being so,
its occurrence does not demand a positive efficient cause. It can be
explained and accounted for by deficiency or failure in causes that are
good in so far forth as they are operative, but which have not all the
goodness their nature demands. And we have seen how this failure of
created causes is permitted by the First Cause, and is not incompatible
with His Infinite Goodness.

Besides, the Manichean conception of an intrinsically evil cause, a cause
that could produce only evil, is a contradiction in terms. The operation
of an efficient cause must have a positive term: in so far as the term is
positive it is good: and therefore its cause cannot have been totally
evil, but must have been in some degree good. The crucial point in the
whole debate is this, that we cannot conceive evil as a positive entity.
By doing so we render reality unintelligible; we destroy the fundamental
ground of any possible distinction between good and evil, thus rendering
both alike inconceivable. Each is correlative to the other; we cannot
understand the one without the other. If, therefore, goodness is an aspect
of real being, and identical with reality, evil must be a negation of
reality, and cannot be made intelligible otherwise.

Finally, the Manichean conception of two Supreme, Self-Existent,
Independent First Principles is obviously self-contradictory. As is shown
in Natural Theology, Being that is absolutely Supreme, Self-Existent and
Necessary, must by Its very nature be unique: there could not be two such


and Goodness characterize reality as related to intellect and to will.
Intimately connected with these notions is that of _the beautiful_,(193)
which we must now briefly analyse. The fine arts have for their common
object the expression of the beautiful; and the department of philosophy
which studies these, the philosophy of the beautiful, is generally
described as _Esthetics_.(194)

Like the terms “true” and “good,” the term “beautiful” (καλόν; _pulchrum_,
_beau_, _schön_, etc.) is familiar to all. To reach a definition of it let
us question experience. What do men commonly mean when, face to face with
some object or event, they say “That is _beautiful_”? They give expression
to this sentiment in the presence of a natural object such as a landscape
revealing mountain and valley, lake and river and plain and woodland,
glowing in the golden glow of the setting sun; or in contemplating some
work of art—painting, sculpture, architecture, music: the _Sistine
Madonna_, the _Moses_ of Michael Angelo, the Cathedral of _Notre Dame_, a
symphony of Beethoven; or some literary masterpiece: Shakespeare’s
_Macbeth_, or Dante’s _Divina Commedia_, or Newman’s _Apologia_, or
Kickham’s _Knocknagow_. There are other things the sight of which arouses
no such sentiment, but leaves us indifferent; and others again, the sight
of which arouses a contrary sentiment, to which we give expression by
designating them as “commonplace,” “vulgar,” “ugly”. The sentiment in
question is one of _pleasure_ and _approval_, or of _displeasure_ and

Hence the first fact to note is that _the beautiful pleases us_, _affects
us agreeably_, while the commonplace or the ugly leaves us indifferent or
_displeases us_, _affects us disagreeably_.

But the _good_ pleases us and affects us agreeably. Is the beautiful,
then, identical with the good? No; the really beautiful is indeed always
good; but not everything that is good is beautiful; nor is the pleasure
aroused by the good identical with that aroused by the beautiful. Whatever
gratifies the lower sense appetites and causes organic pleasure is
good—_bonum delectabile_—but is not deemed beautiful. Eating and drinking,
resting and sleeping, indulging the senses of touch, taste and smell, are
indeed pleasure-giving, but they have no association with the beautiful.
Again, the deformed child may be the object of the mother’s special love.
But the pleasure thus derived from the good, as the object of appetite,
desire, delight, is not esthetic pleasure. If we examine the latter, the
pleasure caused by the beautiful, we shall find that it is invariably a
pleasure peculiar to _knowledge_, to apprehension, perception,
imagination, contemplation. Hence in the domain of the senses we designate
as “beautiful” only what can be apprehended by the two higher senses,
seeing and hearing, which approximate most closely to intellect, and
which, through the imagination, furnish data for _contemplation_ to the
intellect.(195) This brings us to St. Thomas’s definition: _Pulchra sunt
quæ visa placent_: those things are beautiful whose vision pleases
us,—where vision is to be understood in the wide sense of apprehension,
contemplation.(196) The owner of a beautiful demesne, or of an art
treasure, may derive pleasure from his sense of proprietorship; but this
is distinct from the esthetic pleasure that may be derived by others, no
less than by himself, from the mere contemplation of those objects.
Esthetic pleasure is disinterested: it springs from the mere
_contemplation_ of an object as beautiful; whereas the pleasure that
springs from the object as good is an interested pleasure, a pleasure of
_possession_. No doubt the beautiful is really identical with the good,
though logically distinct from the latter.(197) The _orderliness_ which we
shall see to be the chief objective factor of beauty, is itself a
perfection of the object, and as such is good and desirable. Hence the
beautiful can be an object of interested desire, but only under the aspect
of goodness. Under the aspect of beauty the object can excite only the
disinterested esthetic pleasure of contemplation.

But if esthetic pleasure is derived from contemplation, is not this
identifying the beautiful with the true, and supplanting art by science?
Again the consequence is inadmissible; for not every pleasure peculiar to
knowledge is esthetic. There is a pleasure in seeking and discovering
truth, the pleasure which gratifies the scholar and the scientist: the
pleasure of the philologist in tracing roots and paradigms, of the chemist
in analysing unsavoury materials, of the anatomist in exploring the
structure of organisms _post mortem_. But these things are not
“beautiful”. The really beautiful is indeed always true, but it cannot
well be maintained that all truths are beautiful. That two and two are
four is a truth, but in what intelligible sense could it be said to be

But besides the scientific pleasure of seeking and discovering truth,
there is the pleasure which comes from contemplating the object known. The
aim of the scientist or scholar is _to discover truth_; that of the artist
is, through knowledge to derive complacency from _contemplating the thing
known_. The scientist or scholar may be also an artist, or _vice versa_;
but the scientist’s pleasure proper lies exclusively in discovering truth,
whereas that of the artist lies in contemplating something apprehended,
imagined, conceived. The artist is not concerned as to whether what he
apprehends is real or imaginary, certain or conjectural, but only as to
whether or how far the contemplation of it will arouse emotions of
pleasure, admiration, enthusiasm; while the scientist’s supreme concern is
to know things, to see them as they are. The beautiful, then, is always
true, either as actual or as ideal; but the true is beautiful only when it
so reveals itself as to arouse in us the desire to see or hear it, to
consider it, to dwell and rest in the contemplation of it.

Let us accept, then, the _a posteriori_ definition of the beautiful as
_that which it is pleasing to contemplate_; and before inquiring what
precisely is it, on the side of the object, that makes the latter
agreeable to contemplate, let us examine the subjective factors and
conditions of esthetic experience.

that both the appetitive and the cognitive faculties are involved in the
experience of the beautiful. Contemplation implies cognition; while the
feeling of pleasure, complacency, satisfaction, delight, indicates the
operation of appetite or will. Now the notion of the beautiful, like all
our notions, has its origin in sense experience; but it is itself
suprasensible for it is reached by abstraction, and this is above the
power of sense faculties. While the senses and imagination apprehend
beautiful objects the intellect attains to that which makes these objects
beautiful, to the _ratio pulchri_ that is in them. No doubt, the
perception or imagination of beautiful things, in nature or in art,
produces as its natural concomitant, a feeling of sensible pleasure. To
hear sweet music, to gaze on the brilliant variety of colours in a
gorgeous pageant, to inhale delicious perfumes, to taste savoury
dishes—all such experiences gratify the senses. But the feeling of such
sensible pleasure is quite distinct from the esthetic enjoyment which
accompanies the apprehension of the beautiful; though it is very often
confounded with the latter. Such _sentient_ states of agreeable feeling
are mainly _passive_, organic, physiological; while esthetic enjoyment,
the appreciation of the beautiful, is eminently _active_. It implies the
operation of a suprasensible faculty, the _intelligence_; it accompanies
the reaction of the latter faculty to some appropriate objective stimulus
of the suprasensible, intelligible order, to some “idea” embodied in the
object of sense.(198)

The error of confounding esthetic enjoyment with mere organic sense
pleasure is characteristic of all sensist and materialist philosophies. A
feeling of sensible gratification always, no doubt, accompanies our
apprehension and enjoyment of the beautiful; for just as man is not a
merely sentient being so neither is he a pure intelligence. Beauty reaches
him through the senses; in order that an object be beautiful for him, in
order that the contemplation of it may please him, it must be in harmony
with his whole _human_ nature, which is both sentient and intelligent; it
must, therefore, be agreeable to the senses and imagination as well as to
the intellect. “There is no painting,” writes M. Brunetière,(199) “but
should be above all a joy to the eye! no music but should be a delight for
the ear!” Otherwise we shall not apprehend in it the order, perfection,
harmony, adaptation to human nature, whereby we pronounce an object
beautiful and rejoice in the contemplation of it. And it is this
intellectual activity that is properly esthetic. “What makes us consider a
colour beautiful,” writes Bossuet,(200) is the secret judgment we
pronounce upon its adaptation to the eye which it pleases. Beautiful
sounds, songs, cadences, have a similar adaptation to the ear. To
apprehend this adaptation promptly and accurately is what is described as
having a good ear, though properly speaking this judgment should be
attributed to the intellect.

According to some the esthetic sentiment, the appreciation and enjoyment
of the beautiful, is an exclusively subjective experience, an emotional
state which has all its sources within the conscious subject, and which
has no real, extramental correlative in things. According to others beauty
is already in the extramental reality independently of any subjective
conditions, and has no mental factors in its constitution as an object of
experience. Both of these extreme views are erroneous. Esthetic pleasure,
like all pleasure, is the natural concomitant of the full, orderly, normal
exercise of the subject’s conscious activities. These activities are
called forth by, and exercised upon, some _object_. For esthetic pleasure
there must be in the object something the contemplation of which will
elicit such harmonious exercise of the faculties. Esthetic pleasure,
therefore, cannot be purely subjective: there must be an objective factor
in its realization. But on the other hand this objective factor cannot
provoke esthetic enjoyment independently of the dispositions of the
subject. It must be in harmony with those dispositions—cognitive,
appetitive, affective, emotional, temperamental—in order to evoke such a
mental view of the object that the contemplation of the latter will cause
esthetic pleasure. And it is precisely because these dispositions, which
are so variable from one individual to another, tinge and colour the
mental view, while this in turn determines the quality of the esthetic
judgment and feeling, that people disagree and dispute interminably about
questions of beauty in art and nature. Herein beauty differs from truth.
No doubt people dispute about the latter also; but at all events they
recognize its objective character and the propriety of an appeal to the
independent, impersonal standard of evidence. Not so, however, in regard
to beauty: _De gustibus non est disputandum_: there is no disputing about
tastes. The perception of beauty, the judgment that something is or is not
beautiful, is the product of an act of _taste_, _i.e._ of the individual’s
intelligence affected by numerous concrete personal dispositions both of
the sentient and of the spiritual order, not only cognitive and appetitive
but temperamental and emotional. Moreover, besides this variety in
subjective dispositions, we have to bear in mind the effects of artistic
culture, of educating the taste. The eye and the ear, which are the two
main channels of data for the intellect, can be made by training more
delicate and exacting, so that the same level of esthetic appreciation can
be maintained only by a constantly increasing measure of artistic
stimulation. Finally, apart from all that a beautiful object _directly
conveys_ to us for contemplation, there is something more which it may
_indirectly suggest_: it arouses a distinct activity of the imagination
whereby we fill up, in our own individual degree and according to our own
interpretation, what has not been actually supplied in it by nature or

All those influences account sufficiently for the subjectivity and
variability of the esthetic sentiment, for diversity of artistic tastes
among individuals, for the transitions of fashion in art from epoch to
epoch and from race to race. But it must not be concluded that the
subjective factors in the constitution of the beautiful are wholly
changeable. Since human nature is fundamentally the same in all men there
ought to be a fund of esthetic judgments and pleasures common to all;
there ought to be in nature and in art some things which are recognized
and enjoyed as beautiful by all. And there are such. In matters _of
detail_ the maxim holds: _De gustibus non disputandum_. But there are
fundamental esthetic judgments for which it does not hold. Since men have
a common nature, and since, as we shall see presently, there are
recognizable and stable objective factors to determine esthetic judgments,
there is a legitimate foundation on which to discuss and establish some
esthetic canons of universal validity.

artist,” writes St. Augustine,(201) “whether beautiful things are
beautiful because they please us, or rather please us because they are
beautiful, and he will reply unhesitatingly that they please us because
they are beautiful.” What, then is it that makes them beautiful, and so
causes the esthetic pleasure we experience in contemplating them? In order
that an object produce pleasure of any sort in a conscious being it must
evoke the exercise of this being’s faculties; for the conscious condition
which we describe as pleasure is always a reflex of conscious activity.
Furthermore, this activity must be _full_ and _intense_ and
_well-ordered_: if it be excessive or defective, if it be ill-regulated,
wrongly distributed among the faculties, it will not have pleasure for its
reflex, but either indifference or pain.

Hence the object which evokes the esthetic pleasure of contemplation must
in the _first_ place be _complete_ or _perfect_ of its kind (46). The
truncated statue, the stunted oak, the deformed animal, the crippled human
being, are not beautiful. They are wanting in the integrity due to their

But this is not enough. To be beautiful, the object must in the _second_
place have a certain _largeness_ or amplitude, a certain greatness or
power, whereby it can act _energetically_ on our cognitive faculties and
stimulate them to _vigorous_ action. The little, the trifling, the
commonplace, the insignificant, evokes no feeling of admiration. The sight
of a small pasture-field leaves us indifferent; but the vision of vast
expanses of meadow and cornfield and woodland exhilarates us. A collection
of petty hillocks is uninteresting, while the towering snow-clad Alps are
magnificent. The multiplication table elicits no emotion; but the
triumphant discovery and proof of some new truth in science, some
far-reaching theorem that opens up new vistas of research or sheds a new
light on long familiar facts, may fill the mind with ecstasies of pure
esthetic enjoyment.(202) There is no moral beauty in helping up a child
that has stumbled and fallen in the mud, but there is in risking one’s
life to save the child from burning or drowning. There must, then, be in
the object a certain largeness which will secure energy of appeal to our
cognitive faculties; but this energy must not be excessive, it must not
dazzle, it must be in proportion to the capacity of our faculties.(203)

A _third_ requisite for beauty is that the object be in itself _duly
proportioned_, _orderly_, _well arranged_. _Order_ generally may be
defined as right or proper arrangement. We can see in things a twofold
order, _dynamic_, or that of _subordination_, and _static_, or that of
_co-ordination_: the right arrangement of means towards ends, and the
right arrangement of parts in a whole, or members in a system. The former
indicates the influence of _final_ causes and expresses primarily the
_goodness_ of things. The latter is determined by the _formal_ causes of
things and expresses primarily their _beauty_. The order essential to
beauty consists in this, that the manifold and distinct things or acts
which contribute to it must form one whole. Hence order has been defined
as _unity in variety_: _unitas in varietate_; variety being the material
cause, and unity the formal cause, of order. But we can apprehend unity in
a variety of things only on condition that they are _arranged_, _i.e._
that they show forth clearly to the mind a set of mutual relations which
can be easily grasped. Why is it that things mutually related to one
another in one way make up what we declare to be a chaotic jumble, while
if related in another way we declare them to be orderly? Because unless
these relations present themselves in a certain way they will fail to
unify the manifold for us. We have an intellectual intuition of the
numerical series; and of _proportion_, which is equality of numerical
relations. In the domains of magnitude and multitude the mind naturally
seeks to detect these proportions. So also in the domains of sensible
qualities, such as sounds and colours, we have an analogous intuition of a
qualitative series, and we naturally try to detect _harmony_, which is the
gradation of qualitative relations in this series. The detection of
_proportion_ and _harmony_ in a _variety_ of things pleases us, because we
are thus enabled to grasp the manifold as exhibiting _unity_; while the
absence of these elements leaves us with the dissatisfied feeling of
something wanting. Whether this be because order in things is the
expression of an intelligent will, of purpose and design, and therefore
calls forth our intelligent and volitional activity, with its consequent
and connatural feeling of satisfaction, we do not inquire here. But
certain it is that order is essential to beauty, that esthetic pleasure
springs only from the contemplation of proportion and harmony, which give
unity to variety.(204) And the explanation of this is not far to seek. For
the full and vigorous exercise of contemplative activity we need objective
variety. Whatever lacks variety, and stimulates us in one uniform manner,
becomes monotonous and causes _ennui_. While on the other hand mere
multiplicity distracts the mind, disperses and weakens attention, and
begets fatigue. We must, therefore, have variety, but variety combined
with the unity that will concentrate and sustain attention, and thus call
forth the highest and keenest energy of intellectual activity. Hence the
function of rhythm in music, poetry and oratory; of composition and
perspective in painting; of design in architecture.

The more perfect the relations are which constitute order, the more
_clearly_ will the unity of the object _shine forth_; hence the more fully
and easily will it be grasped, and the more intense the esthetic pleasure
of contemplating it.

St. Thomas thus sums up the objective conditions of the beautiful:
_integrity_ or _perfection_, _proportion_ or _harmony_, and _clarity_ or

56. SOME DEFINITIONS OF THE BEAUTIFUL.—An object is beautiful when its
contemplation pleases us; and this takes place when the object, complete
and entire in itself, possesses that order, harmony, proportion of parts,
which will call forth the full and vigorous exercise of our cognitive
activity. All this amounts to saying that the beauty of a thing is the
_revelation or manifestation of its natural perfection_.(206) Perfection
is thus the _foundation_ of beauty; the showing forth of this perfection
is what constitutes beauty _formally_. Every real being has a nature which
constitutes it, and activities whereby it tends to realize the purpose of
its existence. Now the perfection of any nature is manifested by the
proportion of its constitutive parts and by the harmony of all its
activities. Hence we see that order is essential to beauty because order
shows forth the perfection of the beautiful. An object is beautiful in the
degree in which the proportion of its parts and the harmony of its
activities show forth the perfection of its nature.

Thus, starting with the subjective, _a posteriori_ definition of beauty
from its effect: _beauty is that whose contemplation pleases us_—we have
passed to the objective and natural definition of beauty by its
properties: _beauty is the evident integrity, order, proportion and
harmony, of an object_—and thence to what we may call the _a priori_ or
synthetic definition, which emphasizes the perfection revealed by the
static and dynamic order of the thing: _the beauty of an object is the
manifestation of its natural perfection by the proportion of its parts and
the harmony of its activities_.(207)

    A few samples of the many definitions that have been set forth by
    various authors will not be without interest. Vallet(208) defines
    beauty as _the splendour of perfection_. Other authors define it
    as _the splendour of order_. These definitions sacrifice clearness
    to brevity. Beauty is _the splendour of the true_. This
    definition, commonly attributed to Plato, but without reason, is
    inadequate and ambiguous. Cousin(209) defines beauty as _unity in
    variety_. This leaves out an essential element, the _clarity_ or
    _clear manifestation_ of order. Kant defines beauty as _the power
    an object possesses of giving free play to the imagination without
    transgressing the laws of the understanding_.(210) This definition
    emphasizes the necessary harmony of the beautiful with our
    cognitive faculties, and the fact that the esthetic sentiment is
    not capricious but subject to the laws of the understanding. It
    is, however, inadequate, in as much as it omits all reference to
    the objective factors of beauty.

_natural_ or _artificial_. Natural beauty is that which characterizes what
we call the “works of Nature” or the “works of God”. Artificial beauty is
the beauty of “works of art”.

Again, just as we can distinguish the _real_ beauty of the latter from the
_ideal_ beauty which the human artist conceives in his mind as its
archetype and exemplar cause, so, too, we can distinguish between the real
beauty of natural things and the ideal beauty of their uncreated
archetypes in the Mind of the Divine Artist.

We know that the beauty of the human artist’s ideal is superior to, and
never fully realized in, that of the actually achieved product of his art.
Is the same true of the natural beauty of God’s works? That the works of
God in general are beautiful cannot be denied; His Wisdom “spreads beauty
abroad” throughout His works; He arranges all things according to weight
and number and measure:_cum pondere, numero et mensura_; His Providence
disposes all things strongly and sweetly: _fortiter et suaviter_. But
while creatures, by revealing their own beauty, reflect the Uncreated
beauty of God in the precise degree which He has willed from all eternity,
it cannot be said that they all realize the beauty of their Divine
Exemplars according to His primary purpose and decree. Since there is
physical and moral evil in the universe, since there are beings which fail
to realize their ends, to attain to the perfection of their natures, it
follows that these beings are not beautiful. In so far forth as they have
real being, and the goodness or perfection which is identical with their
reality, it may be admitted that all real beings are _fundamentally_
beautiful; for goodness or perfection is the foundation of beauty.(211)
But in so far as they fail to realize the perfection due to their natures
they lack even the foundation of beauty. Furthermore, in order that a
thing which has the full perfection due to its nature be _formally_
beautiful, it must actually show forth by the clearness of its proportions
and the harmony of its activities the fulness of its natural perfections.
But there is no need to prove that this is not universally verified in
nature—or in art either. And hence we must infer that formal beauty is not
a transcendental attribute of reality.(212)

Real beauty may be further divided into _material_ or _sensible_ or
_physical_, and _intellectual_ or _spiritual_. The former reveals itself
to hearing, seeing and imagination; the latter can be apprehended only by
intellect; but intellect depends for all its objects on the data of the
imagination. The beauty of spiritual realities is of course of a higher,
nobler and more excellent order than that of the realities of sense. The
spiritual beauty which falls directly within human experience is that of
the human spirit itself; from the soul and its experiences we can rise to
an apprehension—analogical and inadequate—of the Beauty of the Infinite
Being. In the soul itself we can distinguish two sources of beauty: what
we may call its _natural_ endowments such as intellect and will, and its
_moral_ dispositions, its perfections and excellences as a free,
intelligent, moral agent—its _virtues_. Beauty of soul, especially the
moral beauty of the virtuous soul, is incomparably more precious than
beauty of body. The latter, of course, like all real beauty in God’s
creation, has its proper dignity as an expression and revelation, however
faint and inadequate, of the Uncreated Beauty of the Deity. But inasmuch
as it is so inferior to the moral beauty proper to man, in itself so frail
and evanescent, in its influence on human passions so dangerous to virtue,
we can understand why in the Proverbs of Solomon it is proclaimed to be
vain and deceitful in contrast with the moral beauty of fearing the Lord:
_Fallax gratia et vana est pulchritudo; mulier timens dominum ipsa

expression of beauty is the aim of the fine arts. Art in general is “the
proper conception of a work to be accomplished”: “ars nihil aliud est quam
recta ratio aliquorum operum faciendorum”.(214) While the _mechanical_
arts aim at the production of things useful, the _fine_ arts aim at the
production of things beautiful, _i.e._ of works which by their order,
symmetry, harmony, splendour, etc., will give such apt expression to human
ideals of natural beauty as to elicit esthetic enjoyment in the highest
possible degree. The artist, then, must be a faithful student and admirer
of all natural beauty; not indeed to aim at exact reproduction or
imitation of the latter; but to draw therefrom his inspiration and ideals.
Even the most beautiful things of nature express only inadequately the
ideal beauty which the human mind may gather from the study of them. This
ideal is what the artist is ever struggling to express, with the
ever-present and tormenting consciousness that the achievement of his
highest effort will fall immeasurably short of giving adequate expression
to it.

If each of the things of nature were so wholly simple and intelligible as
to present the same ideal type of beauty to all, and leave no room for
individual differences of interpretation, there would be no variety in the
products of artistic genius, except indeed what would result from perfect
or imperfect execution. But the things of nature are complex, and in part
at least enigmatical; they present different aspects to different minds
and suggest a variety of interpretations; they leave large scope to the
play of the imagination both as to conception of the ideal itself and as
to the arrangement and manipulation of the sensible materials in which the
ideal is to find expression. By means of these two functions, _conception_
and _expression_, the genius of the artist seeks to interpret and realize
for us ideal types of natural beauty.

The qualities of a work of art, the conditions it must fulfil, are those
already enumerated in regard to beauty generally. It must have unity,
order, proportion of parts; it must be true to nature, not in the sense of
a mere copy, but in the sense of drawing its inspiration from nature, and
so helping us to understand and appreciate the beauties of nature; it must
display a power and clearness of expression adjusted to the capacity of
the normal mind.

We may add—as indicating the connexion of art with morality—that the work
of art must not be such as to excite disapproval or cause pain by shocking
any normal faculty, or running counter to any fundamental belief,
sympathy, sentiment or feeling, of the human mind. The contemplation of
the really beautiful, whether in nature or in art, ought _per se_ to have
an elevating, ennobling, refining influence on the mind. But the beautiful
is not the good; nor does the cultivation of the fine arts necessarily
enrich the mind _morally_. From the ethical point of view art is one of
those indifferent things which the will can make morally good or morally
evil. Since man is a moral being, no human interest can fall outside the
moral sphere, or claim independence of the moral law; and art is a human
interest. Neither the creator, nor the critic, nor the student of a work
of art can claim that the latter, simply because it is a work of art, is
neither morally good nor morally bad; or that he in his special relation
to it is independent of the moral law.

Under the specious plea that science in seeking truth is neither
positively moral nor positively immoral, but abstracts altogether from the
quality of morality, it is sometimes claimed that, _a pari_, art in its
pursuit of the beautiful should be held to abstract from moral
distinctions and have no concern for moral good or evil. But in the first
place, though science as such seeks simply the true, and in this sense
abstracts from the good and the evil, still the man of science both in
acquiring and communicating truth is bound by the moral law: he may not,
under the plea that he is learning or teaching truth, do anything _morally
wrong_, anything that will _forfeit or endanger moral rectitude_, whether
in himself or in others. And in the second place, owing to the different
relations of truth and beauty to moral goodness, we must deny the parity
on which the argument rests. Truth appeals to the reason alone; beauty
appeals to the senses, the heart, the will, the passions and emotions:
“_Pulchrum trahit ad se desiderium_”. The scientist expresses truth in
abstract laws, definitions and formulas: a law of chemistry will help the
farmer to fertilize the soil, or the anarchist to assassinate sovereigns.
But the artist expresses beauty in concrete forms calculated to provoke
emotions of esthetic enjoyment from the contemplation of them. Now there
are other pleasure-giving emotions, sensual and carnal emotions, the
indiscriminate excitement and unbridled indulgence of which the moral law
condemns as evil; and if a work of art be of such a kind that it is
directly calculated to excite them, the artist stands condemned by the
moral law, and that even though his aim may have been to give expression
to beauty and call forth esthetic enjoyment merely. If the preponderating
influence of the artist’s work on the normal human individual be a
solicitation of the latter’s nature towards what is evil, what is opposed
to his real perfection, his moral progress, his last end, then that
artist’s work is not a work of art or truly beautiful. The net result of
its appeal being evil and unhealthy, it cannot be itself a thing of

    “Art for art’s sake” is a cry that is now no longer novel. Taken
    literally it is unmeaning, for art is a means to an end—the
    expression of the beautiful; and a means as such cannot be “for
    its own sake”. But it may signify that art should subserve no
    _extrinsic_ purpose, professional or utilitarian; that it should
    be disinterested; that the artist must aim at the conception and
    expression of the beautiful through a disinterested admiration and
    enthusiasm for the beautiful. In this sense the formula expresses
    a principle which is absolutely true, and which asserts the noble
    mission of the artist to mankind. But the formula is also commonly
    understood to claim the emancipation of the artist from the bonds
    of morality, and his freedom to conceive and express beauty in
    whatever forms he pleases, whether these may aid men to virtue or
    solicit them to vice. This is the pernicious error to which we
    have just referred. And we may now add that this erroneous
    contention is not only ethically but also _artistically_ unsound.
    For surely art ought to be based on truth: the artist should
    understand human nature, to which his work appeals: he should not
    regard as truly beautiful a work the contemplation of which will
    produce a _discord_ in the soul, which will _disturb the right
    order_ of the soul’s activities, which will solicit the lower
    faculties to revolt against the higher; and this is what takes
    place when the artist ignores moral rectitude in the pursuit of
    his art: by despising the former he is false to the latter. He
    fails to realize that the work of art must be judged not merely in
    relation to the total _amount_ of pleasure it may cause in those
    who contemplate it, but also in relation to the _quality_ of this
    pleasure; and not merely in relation to esthetic pleasure, but in
    relation to the total effect, the whole concrete influence of the
    work on all the mental faculties. He fails to see that if this
    total influence is evil, the work that causes it cannot be good
    nor therefore really beautiful.

    Are we to conclude, then, that the artist is bound to aim
    positively and always at producing a _good moral effect_ through
    his work? By no means. Esthetic pleasure is, as we have said,
    indifferent. The pursuit of it, through the conception and
    expression of the beautiful, is the proper and intrinsic end of
    the fine arts, and is in itself legitimate so long as it does not
    run counter to the moral law. It has no need to run counter to the
    moral law, nor can it do so without defeating its own end. Outside
    its proper limits art ceases to be art; within its proper limits
    it has a noble and elevating mission; and it can serve indirectly
    but powerfully the interests of truth and goodness by helping men
    to substitute for the lower and grosser pleasures of sense the
    higher and purer esthetic pleasures which issue from the
    disinterested contemplation of the beautiful.


59. THE CONCEPTION OF ULTIMATE CATEGORIES.—Having examined so far the
notion of real being itself, which is the proper subject-matter of
ontology, and those widest or transcendental notions which are coextensive
with that of reality, we must next inquire into the various modes in which
we find real being expressed, determined, actualized, as it falls within
our experience. In other words, we must examine the _highest categories of
being_, the _suprema genera entis_. Considered from the point of view of
the logical arrangement of our concepts, each of these categories reveals
itself as a primary and immediate limitation of the extension of the
transcendental concept of real being itself. Each is ultimately distinct
from the others in the sense that no two of them can be brought under any
other as a genus, nor can we discover any intermediate notion between any
one of them and the notion of being itself. The latter notion is not
properly a genus of which they would be species, nor can it be predicated
univocally of any two or more of them (2). Each is itself an ultimate
genus, a _genus supremum_.

By using these notions as predicates of our judgments we are enabled to
interpret things, to obtain a genuine if inadequate insight into reality;
for we assume as established in the _Theory of Knowledge_ that all our
universal concepts have real and objective validity, that they give us
real knowledge of the nature of those individual things which form the
data of our sense experience. Hence the study of the categories, which is
for Logic a classification of our widest concepts, become for Metaphysics
an inquiry into the modes which characterize real being.(215) By
determining what these modes are, by studying their characteristics, by
tracing them through the data of experience, we advance in our knowledge
of reality.

The most divergent views have prevailed among philosophers both as to what
a category is or signifies, and as to what or how many the really ultimate
categories are. Is a category, such as substance, or quality, or quantity,
a mode of real being revealed to the knowing mind, as most ancient and
medieval philosophers thought, with Aristotle and St. Thomas? or is it a
mental mode imposed on reality by the knowing mind, as many modern
philosophers have thought, with Kant and after him? It is for the Theory
of Knowledge to examine this alternative; nor shall we discuss it here
except very incidentally: for we shall assume as true the broad
affirmative answer to the first alternative. That is to say, we shall hold
that the mind is able to see, in the categories generally, modes of
reality; rejecting the sceptical conclusions of Kantism in regard to the
power of the Speculative Reason, and the principles which lead to such

As to the number and classification of the ultimate categories, this is
obviously a question which cannot be settled _a priori_ by any such purely
deductive analysis of the concept of being as Hegel seems to have
attempted; but only _a posteriori_, _i.e._ by an analysis of experience in
its broadest sense as including Matter and Spirit, Nature and Mind, Object
and Subject of Thought, and even the Process of Thought itself. Moreover
it is not surprising that with the progress of philosophical reflection,
certain categories should have been studied more deeply at certain epochs
than ever previously, that they should have been “discovered” so to speak,
not of course in the sense that the human mind had not been previously in
possession of them, but in the sense that because of closer study they
furnished the mind with a richer and fuller power of “explaining” things.
It is natural, too, that historians of philosophy, intent on tracing the
movement of philosophic thought, should be inclined to over-emphasize the
_relativity_ of the categories, as regards their “explaining” value—their
relativity to the general mentality of a certain epoch or period.(216) But
there is danger here of confounding certain large _hypothetical
conceptions_, which are found to yield valuable results at a certain stage
in the progress of the sciences,(217) with the categories proper of real
being. If the mind of man is of the same nature in all men, if it
contemplates the same universe, if it is capable of reaching truth about
this universe—real truth which is immutable,—then the modes of being which
it apprehends in the universe, and by conceiving which it interprets the
latter, must be in the universe as known, and must be there immutably.
Nowhere do we find this more clearly illustrated than in the futility of
the numerous attempts of modern philosophers to deny the reality of the
category of _substance_, and to give an intelligible interpretation of
experience without the aid of this category. We shall see that as a matter
of fact it is impossible to deny _in thought_ the reality of substance, or
to think at all without it, however philosophers may have denied it _in
language_,—or thought that they denied it when they only rejected some
erroneous or indefensible meaning of the term.

60. THE ARISTOTELIAN CATEGORIES.—The first palpable distinction we observe
in the data of experience is that between _substance_ and _accident_. “We
might naturally ask,” writes Aristotle,(218) “whether what is signified by
such terms as _walking_, _sitting_, _feeling well_, is a being (or
reality).... And we might be inclined to doubt it, for no single one of
such acts _exists by itself_ (καθ᾽ αὐτὸ πεφυκός), no one of them is
separable from _substance_ (οὐσία); it is rather to _him who_ walks, or
sits, or feels well, that we give the name of _being_. That which is a
being _in the primary meaning of this term_, a being _simply and
absolutely_, and not merely a being _in a certain sense_, or with a
qualification, is substance—ὡστε τὸ πρώτως ὂν καὶ οὐ τὶ ὂν ἀλλ᾽ ὂν ἁπλῶς ἡ
οὐσία ἂν εἴν.”(219) But manifestly, though substances, or what in ordinary
language we call “persons” and “things”—men, animals, plants, minerals—are
real beings in the fullest sense, nevertheless sitting, walking, thinking,
willing, and actions generally, are also undoubtedly realities; so too are
states and qualities; and shape, size, posture, etc. And yet we do not
find any of these latter actually existing in themselves like substances,
but only dependently on substances—on “persons” or “things” that think or
walk or act, or are large or small, hot or cold, or have some shape or
quality. They are all _accidents_, in contradistinction to substance.

It is far easier to distinguish between accidents and substance than to
give an exhaustive list of the ultimate and irreducible classes of the
former. Aristotle enumerates _nine_: Quantity (ποσόν), Quality (ποῖον),
Relation (πρὸς τι), Action (ποιέιν), Passion (πάσχειν), Where (ποῦ), When
(ποτέ), Posture (κεῖσθαι), External Condition or State (ἔχειν). Much has
been said for and against the exhaustive character of this classification.
Scholastics generally have defended and adopted it. St. Thomas gives the
following reasoned analysis of it:(220) Since accidents may be
distinguished by their relations to substance, we see that some affect
substances intrinsically, others extrinsically; and in the former case,
either absolutely or relatively: if relatively we have the category of
_relation_; if absolutely we have either _quantity_ or _quality_ according
as the accident affects the substance by reason of the matter, or the
form, of the latter. What affects and denominates a substance
extrinsically does so either as a cause, or as a measure, or otherwise. If
as a cause, the substance is either _suffering_ action, or _acting_
itself; if as a measure, it denominates the subject as in _time_, or in
_place_, or in regard to the relative position of its parts, its
_posture_, in the place which it occupies. Finally, if the accident
affects the substance extrinsically, though not as cause or as measure,
but only as characterizing its external condition and immediate
surroundings, as when we describe a man as clothed or armed, we have the
category of _condition_.

It might be said that all this is more ingenious than convincing; but it
is easier to criticize Aristotle’s list than to suggest a better one. In
addition to what we have said of it elsewhere,(221) a few remarks will be
sufficient in the present context.

Some of the categories, as being of lesser importance, we may treat
incidentally when dealing with the more important ones. _Ubi_, _Quando_,
and _Situs_, together with the analysis of our notions of Space and Time,
fall naturally into the general doctrine of _Quantity_. The final
category, ἔχειν, however interpreted,(222) may be referred to _Quality_,
_Quantity_, or _Relation_.

A more serious point for consideration is the fact, generally admitted by
scholastics,(223) that one and the same real accident may belong to
different categories if we regard it from different standpoints. _Actio_
and _passio_ are one and the same _motus_ or change, regarded in relation
to the agent and to the effect, respectively. _Place_, in regard to the
located body belongs to the category _ubi_, whereabouts; in regard to the
locating body it is an aspect of the latter’s _quantity_. _Relation_, as
we shall see, is probably not an entity really distinct from its
foundation—quality, quantity, or causality. The reason alleged for this
partial absence of real distinction between the Aristotelian categories is
that they were thought out primarily from a logical point of view—that of
predication.(224) And the reason is a satisfactory one, for real
distinction is not necessary for diversity of predication. Then, where
they are not really distinct entities these categories are at least
aspects so fundamentally distinct and mutually irreducible that each of
them is indeed a _summum genus_ immediately under the concept of being in

It seems a bold claim to make for any scheme of categories, that it
exhausts all the known modes of reality. We often experience objects of
thought which seem at first sight incapable of reduction to any of
Aristotle’s _suprema genera_. But more mature reflection will always
enable us to find a place for them. In order that any extrinsic
denomination of a substance constitute a category distinct from those
enumerated, it must affect the substance _in some real_ way distinct from
any of those nine; and it must moreover _be not a mere complex or
aggregate_ of two or more of the latter. Hence denominations which objects
derive from the fact that they are terms of mental activities which are
really immanent, _actiones_ “_intentionales_,”—denominations such as
“being known,” “being loved,”—neither belong to the category of “_passio_”
proper, nor do they constitute any distinct category. They are _entia
rationis_, logical relations. Again, while efficient causation resolves
itself into the categories of _actio_ and _passio_, the causation of
final, formal and material causes cannot be referred to these categories,
but neither does it constitute any new category. The influence of a final
cause consists in nothing more than its being a good which is the term of
appetite or desire. The causation of the formal cause consists in its
formally constituting the effect: it is always either a substantial or an
accidental form, and so must be referred to the categories of substance,
or quality, or quantity. Similarly material causality consists in this
that the matter is a partial constitutive principle of the composite
being; and it therefore refers us to the category of substance. It may be
noted, too, that the ontological principles of a composite being—such as
primal matter and substantial form—since they are themselves not properly
“beings,” but only “principles of being,” are said to belong each to its
proper category, not formally but only referentially, not _formaliter_ but
only _reductivé_. Finally, the various properties that are assigned to
certain accidents themselves are either logical relations (such as “not
having a contrary” or “being a measure”), or real relations, or intrinsic
modes of the accident itself (as when a quality is said to have a certain
“intensity”); but in all cases where they are not mere logical entities
they will be found to come under one or other of the Aristotelian

The “real being” which is thus “determined” into the supreme modes or
categories of substance and accidents is, of course, “being” considered
_substantially_ as _essential_ (whether possible or actual), and not
merely being that is actually existent, _existential_ being, in the
_participial_ sense. Furthermore, it is primarily finite or created being
that is so determined. The Infinite Being is above the categories,
_super_-substantial. It is because substance is the most perfect of the
categories, and because the Infinite Being verifies in Himself in an
incomprehensibly perfect manner all the perfections of substance, that we
speak of Him as a substance: remembering always that these essentially
finite human concepts are to be predicated of Him only _analogically_ (2,

It may be inquired whether “accident” is a genus which should be
predicated _univocally_ of the nine Aristotelian categories as species? or
is the concept of “accident” only _analogical_, so that these nine
categories would be each a _summum genus_ in the strict sense, _i.e._ an
ultimate and immediate determination of the concept of “being” itself? We
have seen already that the concept of “being” as applied to “substance”
and “accident” is analogical (2). So, too, it is analogical as applied to
the various categories of accidents. For the characteristic note of
“accident,” that of “affecting, inhering in” a subject, can scarcely be
said to be verified “in the same way,” “univocally,” of the various kinds
of accidents; it is therefore more probably correct not to regard
“accident” as a genus proper, but to conceive each kind of accident as a
_summum genus_ coming immediately under the transcendental concept of

SUBSTANCE.—Passing now to the question of the existence and nature of
substances, and their relation to accidents, we shall find evidences of
misunderstandings to which many philosophical errors may be ascribed at
least in part. It is a fairly common contention that the distinction
between substance and accident is really a groundless distinction; that we
have experience merely of transient events or happenings, internal and
external, with relations of coexistence or sequence between them; that it
is an illusion to suppose, underlying these, an inert, abiding basis
called “substance”; that this can be at best but a useless name for each
of the collections of external and internal appearances which make up our
total experience of the outer world and of our own minds. This is the
general position of _phenomenists_. “What do you know of substance,” they
ask us, “except that it is an indeterminate and unknown something
underlying phenomena? And even if you could prove its existence, what
would it avail you, since in its nature it is, and must remain, unknown?
No doubt the mind naturally supposes this ‘something’ underlying
phenomena; but it is a mere mental fiction the reality of which cannot be
proved, and the nature of which is admitted, even by some who believe in
its real existence, to be unknowable.”

Now there can be no doubt about the supreme importance of this question:
all parties are pretty generally agreed that on the real or fictitious
character of substance the very existence of genuine metaphysics in the
traditional sense depends. And at first sight the possibility of such a
controversy as the present one seems very strange. “Is it credible,” asks
Mercier,(225) “that thinkers of the first order, like Hume, Mill, Spencer,
Kant, Wundt, Paulsen, Littré, Taine, should have failed to recognize the
substantial character of things, and of the _Ego_ or Self? Must they not
have seen that they were placing themselves in open revolt against sound
common sense? And on the other hand is it likely that the genius of
Aristotle could have been duped by the naïve illusion which phenomenists
must logically ascribe to him? Or that all those sincere and earnest
teachers who adopted and preserved in scholastic philosophy for centuries
the peripatetic distinction between substance and accidents should have
been all utterly astray in interpreting an elementary fact of common

There must have been misunderstandings, possibly on both sides, and much
waste of argument in refuting chimeras. Let us endeavour to find out what
they are and how they gradually arose.

Phenomenism has had its origin in the _Idealism_ which confines the human
mind to a knowledge of its own states, proclaiming the unknowability of
any reality other than these; and in the _Positivism_ which admits the
reality only of that which falls directly within external and internal
sense experience. Descartes did not deny the substantiality of the soul,
nor even of bodies; but his idealist theory of knowledge rendered suspect
all information derived by his deductive, _a priori_ method of reasoning
from supposed innate ideas, regarding the nature and properties of bodies.
Locke rejected the innatism of Descartes, ascribing to sense experience a
positive rôle in the formation of our ideas, and proving conclusively that
we have no such intuitive and deductively derived knowledge of real
substances as Descartes contended for.(226) Locke himself did not deny the
existence of substances,(227) any more than Descartes. But unfortunately
he propounded the mistaken assumption of Idealism, that the mind can know
only its own states; and also the error of thinking that because we have
not an intuitive insight into the specific nature of individual substances
we can know nothing at all through any channel about their nature: and he
gathered from this latter error a general notion or definition of
substance which is a distinct departure from what Aristotle and the
medieval scholastics had traditionally understood by substance. For Locke
substance is merely a supposed, but unknown, support for accidents.(228)
Setting out with these two notions—that all objects of knowledge must be
states or phases of mind, and that material substance is a supposed, but
unknown and unknowable, substratum of the qualities revealed to our minds
in the process of sense perception—it was easy for Berkeley to support by
plausible arguments his denial of the reality of any such things as
material substances. And it was just as easy, if somewhat more audacious,
on the part of Hume to argue quite logically that if the supposed but
unknowable substantial substratum of external sense phenomena is illusory,
so likewise is the supposed substantial _Ego_ which is thought to underlie
and support the internal phenomena of consciousness.

Hume’s rejection of substance is apparently complete and absolute, and is
so interpreted by many of his disciples. But a thorough-going phenomenism
is in reality impossible; no philosophers have ever succeeded in thinking
out an intelligible theory of things without the concepts of “matter,” and
“spirit,” and “things,” and the “Ego” or “Self,” however they may have
tried to dispense with them; and these are concepts of substances. Hence
there are those who doubt that Hume was serious in his elaborate reasoning
away of substances. The fact is that Hume “reasoned away” substance only
in the sense of an unknowable substratum of phenomena, and not in the
sense of a something that exists in itself.(229) So far from denying the
existence of entities that exist in themselves, he seems to have
multiplied these beyond the wildest dreams of all previous philosophers
_by substantializing accidents_.(230) What he does call into doubt is the
capacity of the human mind to attain to a knowledge of the specific
natures of such entities; and even here the arguments of phenomenism
strike the false Cartesian theory of knowledge, rather than the sober and
moderate teachings of scholasticism regarding the nature and limitations
of our knowledge of substances.

NATURE OF SUBSTANCES.—What, then, are these latter teachings? That we have
a direct, intellectual insight into the specific essence or nature of a
corporeal substance such as gold, similar to our insight into the abstract
essence of a triangle? By no means; Locke was quite right in rejecting the
Cartesian claim to intuitions which were supposed to yield up all
knowledge of things by “mathematical,” _i.e._ deductive, _a priori_
reasoning. The scholastic teaching is briefly as follows:—

First, as regards our knowledge of the _existence_ of substances, and the
manner in which we obtain our concept of substance. We get this concept
from corporeal substances, and afterwards apply it to spiritual
substances; so that our knowledge of the former is “immediate” only in the
relative sense of being prior to the latter, not in the sense that it is a
direct intuition of the natures of corporeal substances. We have no such
direct insight into their natures. But our concept of them as actually
existing is also immediate in the sense that _at first_ we _spontaneously_
conceive _every_ object which comes before our consciousness _as something
existing in itself_. The child apprehends each separate stimulant of its
sense perception—resistance, colour, sound, etc.—as a “this ”or a “that,”
_i.e._ as a separate something, existing there in itself; in other words
it apprehends all realities as substances: not, of course, that the child
has yet any reflex knowledge of what a substance is, but unknowingly it
applies to all realities at first the concept which it undoubtedly
possesses “something existing in itself”. It likewise apprehends each such
reality as “one” or “undivided in itself,” and as “distinct from other
things”. Such is the child’s immediate, direct, and implicit idea of
substance. But if we are to believe Hume, what is true of the child
remains true of the man: for the latter, too, “every perception is a
substance, and every distinct part of a perception a distinct
substance”.(231) Nothing, however, could be more manifestly at variance
with the facts. For as reason is developed and reflective analysis
proceeds, the child most undoubtedly realizes that not everything that
falls within its experience has the character of “a something existing in
itself and distinct from other things”. “Walking,” “talking,” and
“actions” generally, it apprehends as realities,—as realities which,
however, do _not_ “exist in themselves,” but in other beings, in the
beings that “walk” and “talk” and “act”. And these latter beings it still
apprehends as “existing in themselves,” and as thus differing from the
former, which “exist not in themselves but in other things”. Thus the
child comes into possession of the notion of “accident,” and of the
further notion of “substance” as something which not only exists in itself
(οὐσία, _ens in se subsistens_), but which is also a support or subject of
accidents (ὑποκείμενον, _substans_, _substare_).(232) Nor, indeed, need
the child’s reason be very highly developed in order to realize that if
experience furnishes it with “beings that do not exist in themselves,”
there must also be beings which do exist in themselves: that if
“accidents” exist at all it would be unintelligible and self-contradictory
to deny the existence of “substances”.

Hence, _in the order of our experience_ the first, _implicit_ notion of
substance is that of “something existing in itself” (οὐσία); the first
_explicit_ notion of it, however, is that by which it is apprehended as “a
subject or support of accidents” (ὑποκείμενον, _sub-stare_, _substantia_);
then by reflection we go back to the _explicit_ notion of it as “something
existing in itself”. In the _real_ or _ontological_ order the perfection
of “existing in itself” is manifestly more fundamental than that of
“supporting accidents”. It is in accordance with a natural law of language
that we name things after the properties whereby they reveal themselves to
us, rather than by names implying what is more fundamental and essential
in them. “To exist in itself” is an absolute perfection, essential to
substance; “to support accidents” is only a relative perfection; nor can
we know _a priori_ but a substance might perhaps exist without any
accidents: we only know that accidents cannot exist without some
substance, or subject, or power which will sustain them in existence.

Can substance be apprehended by the senses, or only by intellect? Strictly
speaking, only by intellect: it is neither a “proper object” of any one
sense, such as taste, or colour, or sound; nor a “common object” of more
than one sense, as extension is with regard to sight and touch: it is, in
scholastic language, not a “_sensibile per se_,” not itself an object of
sense knowledge, but only “_sensibile per accidens_,” _i.e._ it may be
said to be “accidentally” an object of sense because of its conjunction
with accidents which are the proper objects of sense: so that when the
senses perceive accidents what they are really perceiving is the substance
affected by the accidents. But strictly and properly it is by intellect we
consciously grasp that which in the reality is the substance: while the
external and internal sense faculties make us aware of various qualities,
activities, or other accidents external to the “self,” or of various
states and conditions of the “self,” the intellect—which is a faculty of
the same soul as the sense faculties—makes us simultaneously aware of
corporeal substances actually existing outside us, or of the concrete
substance of the “ego” or “self,” existing and revealing itself to us in
and through its conscious activities, as the substantial, abiding, and
unifying subject and principle of these conscious activities.

Thus, then, do we attain to the concept of substance in general, to a
conviction of the concrete actual existence of that mode of being the
essential characteristic of which is “to exist in itself”.

In the next place, how do we reach a knowledge of the _specific natures_
of substances?(233) What is the character, and what are the limitations,
of such knowledge? Here, especially, the very cautious and moderate
doctrine of scholasticism has been largely misconceived and misrepresented
by phenomenists and others. About the specific nature of substances we
know just precisely what their accidents reveal to us—that and no more. We
have no intuitive insight into their natures; all our knowledge here is
abstractive and discursive. As are their properties—their activities,
energies, qualities, and all their accidents—so is their nature. We know
of the latter just what we can infer from the former. _Operari sequitur
esse_; we have no other key than this to knowledge of their specific
natures. We have experience of them only through their properties, their
behaviour, their activities; analysis of this experience, _a posteriori_
reasoning from it, inductive generalization based upon it: such are the
only channels we possess, the only means at our disposal, for reaching a
knowledge of their natures.

phenomenist will really grant all this. His only objection will be that
such knowledge of substance is really no knowledge at all; or that, such
as it is, it is useless. But surely the knowledge that this mode of being
_really exists_, that there _is_ a mode of being which “exists in itself,”
is already some knowledge, and genuine knowledge, of substance? No doubt,
the information contained in this very indeterminate and generic concept
is imperfect; but then it is only a starting point, an all-important
starting point, however; for not only is it perfectible but every item of
knowledge we gather from experience perfects it, whereas without it the
intellect is paralysed in its attempt to interpret experience: indeed so
indispensable is this concept of substance to the human mind that, as we
have seen, no philosopher has ever been really able to dispense with it.
When phenomenists say that what _we_ call mind is only a bundle of
perceptions and ideas; when they speak of the flow of events, which is
_ourselves_, of which _we_ are conscious,(234) the very language they
themselves make use of cries out against their professed phenomenism. For
why speak of “we,” “ourselves,” etc., if there be no “we” or “ourselves”
other than the perceptions, ideas, events, etc., referred to?

Of course the explanation of this strange attitude on the part of these
philosophers is simple enough; they have a wrong conception of substance
and of the relation of accidents thereto; they appear to imagine that
according to the traditional teaching nothing of all we can discover about
accidents—or, as they prefer to term them, “phenomena”—can possibly throw
any light upon the nature of substance: as if the rôle of phenomena were
to cover up and conceal from us some sort of inner core (which they call
substance), and not rather to reveal to us the nature of that “being,
existing in itself,” of which these phenomena are the properties and

The denial of substance leads inevitably to the substantializing of
accidents. It is possible that the manner in which some scholastics have
spoken of accidents has facilitated this error.(235) Anyhow the error is
one that leads inevitably to contradictions in thought itself. Mill, for
instance, following out the arbitrary postulates of subjectivism and
phenomenism, finally analysed all reality into present sensations of the
individual consciousness, _plus_ permanent possibilities of sensations.
Now, consistently with the idealistic postulate, these “permanent
possibilities” should be nothing more than a certain tone, colouring,
quality of the “present” sensation, due to the fact that this has in it,
as part and parcel of itself, feelings of memory and expectation; in which
case the “present sensation,” taken in its concrete fulness, would be the
sole reality, and would exist in itself. This “solipsism” is the ultimate
logical issue of subjective idealism, and it is a sufficient _reductio ad
absurdum_ of the whole system. Or else, to evade this issue, the
“permanent possibilities” are supposed to be something really other than
the “present sensations”. In which case we must ask what Mill can mean by
a “permanent _possibility_”. Whether it be subjective or objective
possibility, it is presumably, according to Mill’s thought, some property
or appurtenance of the individual consciousness, _i.e._ a quality proper
to a subject or substance.(236) But to deny that the conscious subject is
a substance, and at the same time to contend that it is a “permanent
_possibility_ of sensation,” _i.e._ that it has properties which can
appertain only to a substance, is simply to hold what is

After these explanations it will be sufficient merely to state formally
the proof that substances really exist. It is exceedingly simple, and its
force will be appreciated from all that has been said so far: Whatever we
become aware of as existing at all must exist either in itself, or by
being sustained, supported in existence, in something else in which it
inheres. If it exists in itself it is a substance; if not it is an
accident, and then the “something else” which supports it, must in turn
either exist in itself or in something else. But since an infinite regress
in things existing not in themselves but in other things is impossible, we
are forced to admit the reality of a mode of being which exists in
itself—_viz._ substance.

Or, again, we are forced to admit the real existence of accidents—or, if
you will, “phenomena” or “appearances”—_i.e._ of realities or modes of
being whose nature is manifestly to modify or qualify in some way or other
some subject in which they inhere. Can we conceive a _state_ which is not
a state of something? a phenomenon or appearance which is not an
appearance of something? a vital act which is not an act of a living
thing? a sensation, thought, desire, emotion, unless of some conscious
being that feels, thinks, desires, experiences the emotion? No; and
therefore since such accidental modes of being really exist, there exists
also the substantial mode of being in which they inhere.

And the experienced realities which verify this notion of “substance” as
the “mode of being which exists in itself,” are manifestly _not one but
manifold_. Individual “persons” and “things”—men, animals, plants—are all
so many really and numerically distinct substances (38). So, too, are the
ultimate individual elements in the inorganic universe, whatever these may
be (31). Nor does the universal interaction of these individuals on one
another, or their manifold forms of interdependence on one another
throughout the course of their ever-changing existence and activities,
interfere in any way with the substantiality of the mode of being of each.
These mutual relations of all sorts, very real and actual as they
undoubtedly are, only constitute the universe a _cosmos_, thus endowing it
with _unity of order_, but not with _unity of substance_ (27).

Let us now meet the objection of Hume: that there is no substantial soul
distinct from its acts, that it is only the sum-total of the acts, each of
these being a substance. The objection has been repeated in the
metaphorical language in which Huxley and Taine speak of the soul, the
living soul, as nothing more than a _republic_ of conscious states, or the
movement of a _luminous sheaf_ etc. And Locke and Berkeley had already
contended that an apple or an orange is nothing more than a collection or
sum-total of sensible qualities, so that if we conceive these removed
there is nothing left, for beyond these there was nothing there.

Now we admit that the substance of the soul is not _adequately_ distinct
from its acts, or the substance of the apple or orange from its qualities.
As a matter of fact we never experience substance apart from accidents or
accidents apart from substance;(237) we do not know whether there exists,
or even whether there can exist, a created substance devoid of all
accidents; nor can we know, from the light of reason alone, whether any
accidents could exist apart from substance.(238) We have, therefore, no
ground in natural experience for demonstrating such an _adequate_ real
distinction (38) between substance and accidents as would involve the
separability of the latter from the former. But that the acts of the soul
are so many really distinct entities, each “existing in itself,” each
therefore a substance, so that the term “soul” is merely a title we give
to their sum-total; and similarly the terms “apple” and “orange” merely
titles of collections of qualities each of which would be an entity
existing in itself and really distinct from the others, each in other
words a substance,—this we entirely deny. We regard it as utterly
unreasonable of phenomenists thus to multiply substances. Our contention
is that the individual soul or mind is one substance, and that it is
_partially_ and _really_, though _not adequately_, distinct from the
various conscious acts, states, processes, functions, which are certainly
themselves real entities,—entities, however, the reality of which is
dependent on that of the soul, entities which this dependent or “inhering”
mode of being marks off as distinct in their nature, and incapable of
total identification with that other non-inhering or subsisting mode of
being which characterizes the substance of the soul.

We cannot help thinking that this phenomenist denial of substance, with
its consequent inevitable substantialization of accidents, is largely due
to a mistaken manner of regarding the concrete existing object as a mere
mechanical bundle of distinct and independent abstractions. Every aspect
of it is mentally isolated from the others and held apart as an
“impression,” an “idea,” etc. Then the object is supposed to be
constituted by, and to consist of, a sum-total of these separate
“elements,” integrated together by some sort of mental chemistry. The
attempt is next made to account for our total conscious experience of
reality by a number of principles or laws of what is known as “association
of ideas”. And phenomenists discourse learnedly about these laws in
apparent oblivion of the fact that by denying the reality of any
substantial, abiding, self-identical soul, distinct from the transient
conscious states of the passing moment, they have left out of account the
only reality capable of “associating” any mental states, or making mental
life at all intelligible. Once the soul is regarded merely as “a series of
conscious states,” or a “stream of consciousness,” or a succession of
“pulses of cognitive consciousness,” such elementary facts as memory,
unity of consciousness, the feeling of personal identity and personal
responsibility, become absolutely inexplicable.(239)

Experience, therefore, does reveal to us the real existence of substances,
of “things that exist in themselves,” and likewise the reality of other
modes of being which have their actuality only by inhering in the
substances which they affect. “A substance,” says St. Thomas, “is a thing
whose nature it is to exist not in another, whereas an accident is a thing
whose nature it is to exist in another.”(240) Every concrete being that
falls within our experience—a man, an oak, an apple—furnishes us with the
data of these two concepts: the being existing in itself, the substance;
and secondly, its accidents. The former concept comprises only
constitutive principles which we see to be _essential_ to that sort of
being: the material, the vegetative, the sentient, the rational principle,
in a man, or his soul and his body; the material principle and the formal
or vital principle in an apple. The latter concept, that of accidents,
comprises only those characteristics of the thing which are no doubt real,
but which do not constitute the essence of the being, which can change or
be absent without involving the destruction of that essence. An
intellectual analysis of our experience enables us—and, as we have
remarked above, it alone enables us—to distinguish between these two
classes of objective concepts, the concept of the principles that are
essential to the substance or being that exists in itself, and the concept
of the attributes that are accidental to this being; and experience alone
enables us, by studying the latter group, the accidents of the being,
whether naturally separable or naturally inseparable from the latter, to
infer from those accidents whatever we can know about the former group,
about the principles that constitute the specific nature of the particular
kind of substance that may be under investigation.

It may, perhaps, be urged against all this, that experience does _not_
warrant our placing a _real_ distinction between the entities we describe
as “accidents” and those which we claim to be constitutive of the
“substance,” or “thing which exists in itself”; that all the entities
without exception, which we apprehend by distinct concepts in any concrete
existing being such as a man, an oak, or an apple, are only one and the
same individual reality looked at under different aspects; that the
distinction between them is only a logical or mental distinction; that we
separate in thought what is one in reality because we regard each aspect
in the abstract and apart from the others; that to suppose in any such
concrete being the existence of two distinct modes of reality—_viz._ a
reality that exists in itself, and other realities inhering in this
latter—is simply to make the mistake of transferring to the real order of
concrete things what we find in the logical order of conceptual

This objection, which calls for serious consideration, leads to a
different conclusion from the previous objection. It suggests the
conclusion, not that substances are unreal, but that accidents are unreal.
Even if it were valid it would leave untouched the existence of
substances. We hope to meet it satisfactorily by establishing presently
the existence of accidents really distinct from the substances in which
they inhere. While the objection draws attention to the important truth
that distinctions recognized in the conceptual order are not always real,
it certainly does not prove that all accidents are only mentally distinct
aspects of substance. For surely a man’s thoughts, volitions, feelings,
emotions, his conscious states generally, changing as they do from moment
to moment, are not really identical with the man himself who continues to
exist throughout this incessant change; yet they are realities, appearing
and disappearing and having all their actuality in him, while he persists
as an actual being “existing in himself”.

that the notion of substance, as “a being existing in itself and
supporting the accidents which affect it,” is a most abstract and generic
notion; if we transfer it in this abstract condition to the real order; if
we imagine that the concrete individual substances which actually exist in
the real order merely verify this widest notion and are devoid of all
further content; that they possess in themselves no further richness of
reality; if we forget that actual substances, in all the variety of their
natures, as material, or living, or sentient, or rational and spiritual,
are indeed full, vibrant, palpitating with manifold and diversified
reality; if we rob them of all this perfection or locate it in their
accidents as considered apart from themselves,—we are likely to form very
erroneous notions both of substances and of accidents, and of their real
relations to one another. It will help us to form accurate concepts of
them, concepts really warranted by experience, if we examine briefly some
of the more remarkable misconceptions of substance that have at one time
or other gained currency.

(_a_) Substance is not a concrete core on which concrete accidents are
superimposed, or a sort of kernel of which they form the rind. Such a way
of conceiving them is as misleading as it is crude and material. No doubt
the language which, for want of better, we have to employ in regard to
substance and accidents, suggests fancies of that kind: we speak of
substance “supporting,” “sustaining” accidents, and of these as “supported
by,” and “inhering in” the former. But this does not really signify any
juxtaposition or superposition of concrete entities. The substance is a
subject determinable by its various accidents; these are actualizations of
its potentiality; its relation to them is the relation of the potential to
the actual, of a “material” or “determinable” subject to “formal” or
“determining” principles. But the appearance or disappearance of accidents
never takes place in the same concrete subject: by their variations the
concrete subject is changed: at any instant the substance affected by its
accidents is one individual concrete being (27), and the inevitable result
of any modification in them is that this individual, concrete being is
changed, is no longer the same. No doubt, it preserves its substantial
identity throughout accidental change, but not its concrete identity,—that
is to say, not wholly. This is the characteristic of every finite being,
subject to change and existing in time: it has the actuality of its being,
not _tota simul_, but only gradually, successively (10). From this, too,
we see that although substance is a more perfect mode of being than
accident—because the former exists in itself while the latter has its
actuality only in something else,—nevertheless, created, finite substance
is a mode of being which is itself imperfect, and perfectible by
accidents: another illustration of the truth that all created perfection
is only relative, not absolute. To the notion of “inherence” we shall
return in connexion with our treatment of accidents (65).

(_b_) Again, substance is wrongly conceived as an _inert_ substratum
underlying accidents. This false notion appears to have originated with
Descartes: he conceived the two great classes of created substances,
matter and spirit, as essentially inert. For him, matter is simply a _res
extensa_; extension in three dimensions constitutes its essence, and
extension is of course inert: all motion is given to matter and conserved
in it by God. Spirit or soul is simply a _res cogitans_, a being whose
essence is thought; but in thinking spirit too is passive, for it simply
receives ideas as wax does the impress of a seal. Nay, even when soul or
spirit wills it is really inert or passive, for God puts all its volitions
into it.(241) From these erroneous conceptions the earlier disciples of
Descartes took the obvious step forward into Occasionalism; and to them
likewise may be traced the conviction of many contemporary philosophers
that the human soul—a being that is so eminently vital and active—cannot
possibly be a substance: neither indeed could it be, if substance were
anything like what Descartes conceived it to be. The German philosophers,
Wundt and Paulsen, for example, argue that the soul cannot be a substance.
But when we inquire what they mean by substance, what do we find? That
with them the concept of substance applies only to the _corporeal_
universe, where it properly signifies the atoms which are “the absolutely
permanent substratum, qualitatively and quantitatively unchangeable, of
all corporeal reality”.(242) No wonder they would argue that the soul is
not a substance!

No actually existing substance is inert. What is true, however, is this,
that when we conceive a being as a substance, when we think of it under
the abstract concept of substance, we of course abstract from its concrete
existence as an active agent; in other words we consider it not from the
_dynamic_, but from the _static_ aspect, not as it is in the concrete, but
as constituting an object of abstract thought: and so the error of
Descartes seems to have been that already referred to,—the mistake of
transferring to the real order conditions that obtain only in the logical

(_c_) To the Cartesian conception of substances as inert entities endowed
only with motions communicated to them _ab extra_, the mechanical or
atomist conception of reality, as it is called, Leibniz opposed the other
extreme conception of substances as _essentially active entities_. For him
substance is an _ens præditum vi agendi_: activity is the fundamental note
in the concept of substance. These essentially active entities he
conceived as being all _simple_ and _unextended_, the corporeal no less
than the spiritual ones. And he gave them the title of _monads_. It is
unnecessary for our present purpose to go into any details of his
ingenious dynamic theory of the universe as a vast system of these monads.
We need only remark that while combating the theory of inert substances he
himself erred in the opposite extreme. He conceived every monad as endowed
essentially with active tendency or effort which is never without its
effect,—an exclusively _immanent_ effect, however, which is the constant
result of constant immanent action: for he denied the possibility of
transitive activity, _actio transiens_; and he conceived the immanent
activity of the monad as being in its nature _perceptive_,(243) that is to
say, _cognitive_ or _representative_, in the sense that each monad, though
“wrapt up in itself, doorless and windowless,” if we may so describe it,
nevertheless mirrors more or less inchoatively, vaguely, or clearly, all
other monads, and is thus itself a miniature of the whole universe, a
microcosm of the macrocosm. Apart from the fancifulness of his whole
system, a fancifulness which is, however, perhaps more apparent than real,
his conception of substance is much less objectionable than that of
Descartes. For as a matter of fact every individual, actually existing
substance is endowed with an internal directive tendency towards some term
to be realized or attained by its activities. Every substance has a
transcendental relation to the operations which are natural to it, and
whereby it tends to realize the purpose of its being. But nevertheless
substance should not be defined by action, for all action of created
substances is an accident, not a substance; nor even by its transcendental
relation to action, for when we conceive it under this aspect we conceive
it as an _agent_ or _cause_, not as a _substance_ simply. The latter
concept abstracts from action and reveals its object simply as “a reality
existing in itself”. When we think of a substance as a principle of action
we describe it by the term _nature_.

(_d_) A very widespread notion of substance is the conception of it as a
“_permanent_,” “_stable_,” “_persisting_” subject of “_transient_,”
“_ephemeral_” realities called accidents or phenomena. This view of
substance is mainly due to the influence of Kant’s philosophy. According
to his teaching we can think the succession of phenomena which appear to
our sense consciousness only by the aid of a pure intuition in which our
sensibility apprehends them, _viz._ _time_. Now the application of the
category of substance to this pure intuition of our sensibility engenders
a _schema_ of the imagination, _viz._ the _persistence_ of the object in
time. Persistence, therefore, is for him the essential note of substance.

Herbert Spencer, too, has given apt expression to this widely prevalent
notion: “Existence means nothing more than persistence; and hence in Mind
that which persists in spite of all changes, and maintains the unity of
the aggregate in defiance of all attempts to divide it, is that of which
existence in the full sense of the word must be predicated—that which we
must postulate as the substance of Mind in contradistinction to the
varying forms it assumes. But if so, the impossibility of knowing the
substance of Mind is manifest.”(244)

Thus, substance is conceived as the unique but hidden and unknowable basis
of all the phenomena which constitute the totality of human experience.

What is to be said of such a conception? There is just this much truth in
it: that substance is _relatively_ stable or permanent, _i.e._ in
comparison with accidents; the latter cannot survive the destruction or
disappearance of the substance in which they inhere, while a substance can
persist through incessant change of its accidents. But accidents are not
_absolutely_ ephemeral, nor is substance _absolutely_ permanent: were an
accident to exist for ever it would not cease to be an accident, nor would
a substance be any less a substance were it created and then
instantaneously annihilated. But in the latter case the human mind could
not apprehend the substance; for since all human cognitive experience
takes place _in time_, which involves _duration_, the mind can apprehend a
substance only on condition that the latter has some permanence, some
appreciable duration in existence. This fact, too, explains in some
measure the error of conceiving permanence as essential to a substance.
But the error has another source also: Under the influence of subjective
idealism philosophers have come to regard the individual’s consciousness
of his own self, the consciousness of the _Ego_, as the sole and unique
source of our concept of substance. The passage we have just quoted from
Spencer is an illustration. And since the spiritual principle of our
conscious acts is a permanent principle which abides throughout all of
them, thus explaining the unity of the individual human consciousness,
those who conceive substance in general after the model of the _Ego_,
naturally conceive it as an essentially stable subject of incessant and
evanescent processes.

But it is quite arbitrary thus to conceive the _Ego_ as the sole type of
substance. Bodies are substances as well as spirits, matter as well as
mind. And the permanence of corporeal substances is merely relative.
Nevertheless they are really substances. The relative stability of spirit
which is immortal, and the relative instability of matter which is
corruptible, have nothing to do with the substantiality of either. Both
alike are substances, for both alike have that mode of being which
consists in their existing in themselves, and not by inhering in other
things as accidents do.

(_e_) Spencer’s conception of substance as the permanent, unknowable
ground of phenomena, implies that substance is one, not manifold, and thus
suggests the view of reality known as _Monism_. There is yet another
mistaken notion of substance, the notion in which the well known
pantheistic philosophy of Spinoza has had its origin. Spinoza appears to
have given the ambiguous definition of Descartes—“_Substantia est res quae
ita existit, ut nulla alia re indigeat ad existendum_”—an interpretation
which narrowed its application down to the Necessary Being; for he defined
substance in the following terms: “_Per substantiam intelligo id quod est
in se et per se concipitur: hoc est, id cujus conceptus non indiget
conceptu alterius rei a quo formari debeat_”. By the ambiguous phrase,
that substance “requires no other thing for existing,” Descartes certainly
meant to convey what has always been understood by the scholastic
expression that substance “exists _in_ itself”. He certainly did not mean
that substance is a reality which “exists _of_ itself,” _i.e._ that it is
what scholastics mean by _Ens a se_, the Being that has its actuality from
its own essence, by virtue of its very nature, and in absolute
independence of all other being; for such Being is One alone, the
Necessary Being, God Himself, whereas Descartes clearly held and taught
the real existence of finite, created substances.(245) Yet Spinoza’s
definition of substance is applicable only to such a being that our
concept of this being shows forth the actual existence of the latter as
absolutely explained and accounted for by reference to the essence of this
being itself, and independently of any reference to other being. In other
words, it applies only to the Necessary Being. This conception of
substance is the starting-point of Spinoza’s pantheistic philosophy.

Now, the scholastic definition of substance and Spinoza’s definition
embody two entirely distinct notions. Spinoza’s definition conveys what
scholastics mean by the Self-Existent Being, _Ens a se_; and this the
scholastics distinguish from caused or created being, _ens ab alio_. Both
phrases refer formally and primarily, not to the mode of a being’s
existence when it does exist, but to the origin of this existence in
relation to the being’s essence; and specifically it marks the distinction
between the Essence that is self-explaining, self-existent, essentially
actual (“_a_ se”), the Necessary Being, and essences that do not
themselves explain or account for their own actual existence, essences
that have not their actual existence from themselves or of themselves,
essences that are in regard to their actual existence contingent or
dependent, essences which, therefore, if they actually exist, can do so
only dependently on some other being whence they have derived this
existence (“_ab_ alio”) and on which they essentially depend for its

Not the least evil of Spinoza’s definition is the confusion caused by
gratuitously wresting an important philosophical term like _substance_
from its traditional sense and using it with quite a different meaning;
and the same is true in its measure of the other mistaken notions of
substance which we have been examining. By defining substance as an _ens
in se_, or _per se stans_, scholastic philosophers mean simply that
substance does not depend _intrinsically_ on any _subjective_ or
_material_ cause in which its actuality would be supported; they do not
mean to imply that it does not depend _extrinsically_ on an efficient
cause from which it has its actuality and by which it is conserved in
being. They assert that all _created_ substances, no less than all
accidents, have their being “_ab alio_” from God; that they exist only by
the Divine creation and conservation, and act only by the Divine
_concursus_ or concurrence; but while substances and accidents are both
alike dependent on this extrinsic conserving and concurring influence of a
Divine, Transcendent Being, substances are exempt from this other and
distinct mode of dependence which characterizes accidents: intrinsic
dependence on a subject in which they have their actuality.(246)

    When we say that substance exists “_in_ itself,” obviously we do
    not attach to the preposition “_in_” any _local_ signification, as
    a part existing “in” the whole. Nor do we mean that they exist
    “in” themselves in the same sense as they have their being “in”
    God. In a certain true sense all creatures exist “in” God: _In
    ipso enim vivimus, et movemur, et sumus_ (Acts xxii., 28), in the
    sense that they are kept in being by His omnipresent conserving
    power. But He does not sustain them as a subject in which they
    inhere, as substance sustains the accidents which determine it,
    thereby giving expression to its concrete actuality.(247) By
    saying that substance exists “in itself” we mean to exclude the
    notion of its existing “in another” thing, as an accident does.
    And this we shall understand better by examining a little more
    closely this peculiar mode of being which characterizes accidents.

all that has preceded we will have gathered the general notion of
_accident_ as that mode of real being which is found to have its reality,
not by existing in itself, but by affecting, determining, some substance
in which it inheres as in a subject. What do we mean by saying that
accidents _inhere in_ substances as their _subjects_? Here we must at once
lay aside as erroneous the crude conception of something as located
spatially within something else, as contained in container, as _e.g._
water in a vessel; and the equally crude conception of something being in
something else as a part is in the whole, as _e.g._ an arm is in the body.
Such imaginations are wholly misleading.

The actually existing substance has its being or reality; it is an actual
essence. Each real accident of it is likewise a reality, and has an
essence, distinct from that of the substance, yet not wholly independent
of the latter: it is a determination of the determinable being of the
substance, affecting or modifying the latter in some way or other, and
having no other _raison d’être_ than this rôle of actualizing in some
specific way some receptive potentiality of the concrete substance. And
since its reality is thus dependent on that of the substance which it
affects, we cannot ascribe to it actual essence or being in the same sense
as we ascribe this to substance, but only analogically(248) (2). Hence
scholastics commonly teach that we ought to conceive an accident rather as
an “entity _of an entity_,” “ens _entis_,” than as an entity simply;
rather as inhering, indwelling, affecting (_in_-esse) some subject, than
simply as existing itself (_esse_); as something whose essence is rather
the determination, affection, modification of an essence than itself an
essence proper, the term “essence” designating properly only a substance:
_accidentis esse est inesse_.(249) This conception might, no doubt, if
pressed too far, be inapplicable to absolute accidents, like quantity,
which are something more than mere modifications of substance; but it
rightly emphasizes the dependence of the reality of accident on that of
substance, the non-substantial and “diminished” character of the
“accident”-mode of being; it also helps to show that the “inherence” of
accident in substance is a relation—of determining to determinable
being—which is _sui generis_; and finally it puts us on our guard against
the errors that may be, and have been, committed by conceiving accidents
in the abstract and reasoning about them apart from their substances, as
if they themselves were substances.

This “inherence” of accident in substance, this mode of being whereby it
affects, determines or modifies the substance, differs from accident to
accident; these, in fact, are classified into _suprema genera_ by reason
of their different ways of affecting substance (60). To this we shall
return later. Here we may inquire, about this general relation of accident
to substance, whether it is _essential_ to an accident _actually to inhere
in_ a substance, if not immediately, then at least through the medium of
some other accident. We suggest this latter alternative because as we
shall see presently there are some accidents, such as colour, taste,
shape, which immediately affect the _extension_ of a body, and only
through this the substance of the body itself. Now the ordinary course of
nature never presents us with accidents except as inhering, mediately or
immediately, in a substance. Nor is it probable that the natural light of
our reason would ever suggest to us the possibility of an exception to
this general law. But the Christian philosopher knows, from Divine
Revelation, that in the Blessed Eucharist the _quantity_ or _extension_ of
bread and wine, together with the taste, colour, form, etc., which affect
this extension, _remain in existence_ after their connatural substance of
bread and wine has disappeared by transubstantiation. In the supernatural
order of His providence God preserves these accidents in existence without
a subject; but in this state, though they do not _actually inhere_ in any
substance, they _retain their natural aptitude and exigence_ for such
inherence. The Christian philosopher, therefore, will not define accident
as “the mode of being which inheres in a subject,” but as “the mode of
being which _in the ordinary course of nature_ inheres in a subject,” or
as “the mode of being which has _a natural exigence_ to inhere in a
subject”. It is not _actual inherence_, but the _natural exigence to
inhere_, that is essential to an accident as such.(250)

Furthermore, an accident needs a substance not formally _qua_ substance,
or as a mode of being naturally existing in itself; it needs a substance
_as a subject_ in which to inhere, which it will in some way affect,
determine, qualify; but the subject in which it immediately inheres need
not always be a substance: it may be some other accident, in which case
both of course will naturally require some substance as their ultimate

Comparing now the concept of accident with that of substance, we find that
the latter is presupposed by the former; that the latter is prior _in
thought_ to the former; that we conceive accident as something over and
above, something superadded to substance as subject. For instance, we can
define matter and form without the prior concept of body, or animality and
rationality without the prior concept of man; but we cannot define colour
without the prior concept of body, or the faculty of speech without the
prior concept of man.(251)

Substance, therefore, is prior _in thought_ to accident; but is the
substance itself also prior _temporally_ (prior _tempore_) to its
accidents? It is prior in time to some of them, no doubt; the individual
human being is thus prior, for instance, to the knowledge he may acquire
during life. But there is no reason for saying that a substance must be
prior _in time_ to _all_ its accidents;(252) so far as we can discover, no
created substance comes into existence devoid of all accidents: corporeal
substance devoid of internal quantity, or spiritual substance devoid of
intellect and will.

If prior in thought, though not necessarily in time, to its accidents, is
a substance prior to its accidents _really_, _ontologically_ (prior
_natura_)? Yes; it is the real or ontological principle of its accidents;
it sustains them, and they depend on it. It is a passive or material cause
(using the term “material” in the wide sense, as applicable even to
spiritual substances), or a receptive subject, determined in some way by
them as formal principles. It is at the same time an efficient and passive
cause of some of its own accidents: the soul is an efficient cause of its
own immanent processes of thought and volition, and at the same time a
passive principle of them, undergoing real change by their occurrence. Of
others it is merely a receptive, determinable subject, of those, namely,
which have an adequate and necessary foundation in its own essence, and
which are called _properties_ in the strict sense: without these it cannot
exist, though they do not constitute its essence, or enter into the
concept of the latter; but it is not prior to them in time, nor is it the
_efficient cause_ of them; it is, however, a real principle of them, an
essence from the reality of which they necessarily result, and on which
their own reality depends. Such, for instance, is the faculty of thought,
or volition, or speech in regard to man.

The accident-mode of being is, therefore, a mode of being which determines
a substance in some real way. Its _formal effect_ is to give the substance
some real and definite determination: not _esse simpliciter_ but _esse
tale_. With the substance it constitutes a concrete real being which is
_unum per accidens_, not _unum per se_.

The accident has no _formal cause_: it is itself a “form” and its
causality is that of a formal cause, which consists in its communicating
itself to a subject, and, by its union therewith, constituting some new
reality—in this case a concrete being endowed with “accidental” unity.

Accidents have of course, a _material cause_; not, however, in the sense
of a _materia ex qua_, a material from which they are constituted,
inasmuch as they are simple “forms”; but in the sense of a _subject_ in
which they are received and in which they inhere; and this “material
cause” is, proximately or remotely, _substance_.

Substance also is the _final cause_, the _raison d’être_, of the reality
of the accidental mode of being. Accidents exist for the perfecting of
substances: _accidentia sunt propter substantiam_. As we have seen
already, and as will appear more clearly later on, the fundamental reason
for the reality of an accidental mode of being, really distinct from the
created or finite substance (for the Infinite Substance has no accidents),
is that the created substance is imperfect, limited in its actual
perfection, does not exist _tota simul_, but develops, through a process
of change in time, from its first or _essential_ perfection, through
_intermediate_ perfections, till it reaches the _final_ perfection (46) of
its being.

Have all accidents _efficient causes_? Those which are called common
accidents as distinct from _proper_ accidents or _properties_ (66) have
undoubtedly efficient causes: the various agencies which produce real but
accidental changes in the individual substances of the universe. _Proper_
accidents, however, inasmuch as they of necessity exist simultaneously
with the substances to which they belong, and flow from these substances
by a necessity of the very essence of these latter, cannot be said to have
any efficient causes other than those which contribute by their efficiency
to the _substantial changes_ by which these substances are brought into
actual existence; nor can they be said to be _caused efficiently_ by these
substances themselves, but only to “flow” or “result” necessarily from the
latter, inasmuch as they come into existence simultaneously with, but
dependently on, these substances. Hence, while substances are universally
regarded as _real principles_ of their properties—as, for instance, the
soul in regard to intellect and will, or corporeal substance in regard to
quantity—they are not really efficient causes of their properties, _i.e._
they do not _produce_ these properties by _action_. For these properties
are antecedent to all _action_ of the substance; nor can a created
substance _act_ by its _essence_, but only through active powers, or
faculties, or forces, which meditate between the essence of a created
substance and its actions, and which are the proximate principles of these
actions, while the substance or nature is their remote principle. Hence
the “properties” which necessarily result from a substance or nature, have
as their efficient causes the agencies productive of the substance

66. MAIN DIVISIONS OF ACCIDENTS.—These considerations will help us to
understand the significance of a few important divisions of accidents:
into proper and common, inseparable and separable. We shall then be in a
position to examine the nature of the distinction between accidents and
substance, and to establish the existence of accidents really distinct
from substance.

(_a_) The attributes which we affirm of substance, other than the notes
constitutive of its essence, are divided into _proper_ accidents, or
_properties_ in the strict sense (ἴδιον, _proprium_), and _common_
accidents, or accidents in the more ordinary sense (συμβεβηκός,
_ac-cidens_). A property is an accident which belongs exclusively to a
certain class or kind of substance, and is found _always_ in _all_ members
of that class, inasmuch as it has an adequate foundation in the nature of
that substance and a necessary connexion therewith. Such, for instance,
are the faculties of intellect and will in all spiritual beings; the
faculties of speaking, laughing, weeping in man; the temporal and spatial
mode of being which characterizes all created substances.(254) When
regarded from the logical point of view, as attributes predicable of their
substances considered as logical subjects, they are distinguished on the
one hand from what constitutes the essence of this subject (as _genus_,
_differentia_, _species_), but also on the other hand from those
attributes which cannot be seen to have any absolutely necessary connexion
with this subject. The latter attributes alone are called _logical
accidents_, the test being the absence of a necessary connexion in thought
with the logical subject.(255) But the former class, which are
distinguished from “logical” accidents and called _logical properties_
(“_propria_”) are none the less _real accidents_ when considered from the
ontological standpoint; for they do not constitute the essence of the
substance; they are outside the concept of the latter, and
super-added—though necessarily—to it. Whether, however, all or any of
these “properties,” which philosophers thus classify as real or
ontological accidents, “proper” accidents, of certain substances, are
_really_ distinct from the concrete, individual substances to which they
belong, or are only aspects of the latter, “substantial modes,” only
_virtually_ distinct in each case from the individual substance itself,—is
another and more difficult question (69). Such a property is certainly not
really separable from its substance; we cannot conceive either to exist
really without the other; though we can by abstraction think, and reason,
and speak, about either apart from the other.(256) Real inseparability is,
however, regarded by scholastic philosophers as quite compatible with what
they understand by a real distinction (38).

A _common_ accident is one which has no such absolutely necessary
connexion with its substance as a “property” has; one which, therefore,
can be conceived as absent from the substance without thereby entailing
the destruction of the latter’s essence, or of anything bound up by a
necessity of thought with this essence. And such common accidents are of
two kinds.

They may be such that in the ordinary course of nature, and so far as its
forces and laws are concerned, they are never found to be absent from
their connatural substances—_inseparable_ accidents. Thus the colour of
the Ethiopian is an inseparable accident of his human nature as an
Ethiopian; he is naturally black; but if born of Ethiopian parents he
would still be an Ethiopian even if he happened to grow up white instead
of black. We could not, however, conceive an Ethiopian, or any other human
being, existing without the faculties (not the use) of intellect and will,
or the faculty (not the organs, or the actual exercise of the faculty) of
human speech.

Or common accidents may be such that they are sometimes present in their
substances, and sometimes absent—_separable_ accidents. These are by far
the most numerous class of accidents: thinking, willing, talking, and
actions generally; health or illness; virtues, vices, acquired habits;
rest or motion, temperature, colour, form, location, etc.

(_b_) The next important division of accidents is that into mere
_extrinsic denominations_ and intrinsic accidents; the latter being
subdivided into _modal_ and _absolute_ accidents, respectively.

An _absolute_ accident is one which not merely affects its substance
intrinsically, giving the latter an actual determination or mode of being,
of some sort or other, but which has moreover some entity or reality
proper to itself whereby it thus affects the substance, an entity really
distinct from the essence of the substance thus determined by it. Such,
for instance, are all vital activities of living things;(257) knowledge,
and other acquired habits; quantity, the fundamental accident whereby
corporeal substances are all capable of existing extended in space; and
such sensible qualities and energies of matter as heat, colour, mechanical
force, electrical energy, etc. Such, too, according to many, are
intellect, will, and sense faculties in man.

There are, however, other intrinsic determinations of substance, other
modifications of the latter, which do not seem to involve any new or
additional reality in the substance, over and above the modification
itself. Such, for instance, are motion, rest, external form or figure, in
bodies. These are called _modal_ accidents. They often affect not the
substance itself immediately, but some absolute accident of the latter,
and are hence called “accidental modes”. Those enumerated are obviously
modes of the quantity of bodies. Now the appearance or disappearance of
such an accident in a substance undoubtedly involves a real change in the
latter, and not merely in our thought; when a body moves, or comes to
rest, or alters its form, there is a change in the reality as well as in
our thought; and in this sense these accidents are real and intrinsic to
their substances. Yet, though we cannot say that motion, rest, shape,
etc., are really identical with the body and only mentally distinct
aspects of it, at the same time neither can we say that by their
appearance or disappearance the body gains or loses any reality other than
an accidental determination of itself; whereas it does gain something more
than this when it is heated, or electrified, or increased in quantity;
just as a man who acquires knowledge, or virtue, is not only really
modified, but is modified by real entities which he has acquired, not
having actually possessed them before.

Finally, there are accidents which do not affect the substance
intrinsically at all, which do not determine any real change in it, but
merely give it an extrinsic denomination in relation to something outside
it (60). Thus, while the _quality_ of heat is an absolute accident in a
body, the _action_ whereby the latter heats neighbouring bodies is no new
reality in the body itself, and produces no real change in the latter, but
only gives it the extrinsic denomination of _heating_ in reference to
these other bodies in which the effect really takes place. Similarly the
_location_ of any corporeal substance in _space_ or in _time_ relatively
to others in the space or time series—its _external_ place (_ubi_) or time
(_quando_), as they are called—or the relative position of its parts
(_situs_) in the place occupied by it: these do not intrinsically
determine it or confer upon it any intrinsic modification of its
substance. Not, indeed, that they are mere _entia rationis_, mere logical
fictions of our thought. They are realities, but not realities which
affect the substances denominated from them; they are accidental modes of
other substances, or of the absolute accidents of other substances.
Finally, the accident which we call a “_real_ relation” presupposes in its
subject some absolute accident such as quantity or quality, or some real
and intrinsic change determining these, or affecting the substance itself;
but whether relation is itself a reality over and above such foundation,
is a disputed question.

From these classifications of accidents it will be at once apparent that
the general notion of accident, as a dependent mode of being, superadded
to the essence of a substance and in some way determining the latter, is
realized in widely different and merely analogical ways in the different
ultimate classes of accidents.

ACCIDENTS AND SUBSTANCE.—It would be superfluous to prove the general
proposition that accidents really exist. In establishing the real
existence of substances we have seen that the real existence of some
accidents at least has never been seriously denied. These are often called
nowadays _phenomena_; and philosophers who have denied or doubted the real
existence of substances have been called “phenomenists” simply because
they have admitted the real existence only of these phenomena; though, if
they were as logical as Hume they might have seen with him that such
denial, so far from abolishing substance, could only lead to the
substantializing of accidents (63).

But while undoubtedly there are realities which “exist in themselves,”
such as individual men, animals and plants, there is no reason for
attributing this same mode of existence to entities such as the thoughts,
volitions, emotions, virtues or vices, of the individual man; or the
instinct, hunger, or illness of the dog; or the colour, perfume, or form
of the rose. The concrete individual man, or dog, or rose, reveals itself
to our minds as a substantial entity, affected with these various
accidental entities which are really distinct from the substantial entity
itself and from one another. Nay, in most of the instances just cited,
they are physically separable from the substantial entity in which they
inhere; not of course in the sense that they could actually exist without
it, but in the sense that it can and does continue to exist actually
without them (38); for it continues to exist while they come and go,
appear and disappear.(258) Of course the _concrete individual_ man, or
dog, or rose, does not continue to _exist actually unchanged_, and
_totally_ identical with itself throughout the change of accidents (64),
for the accidents are part of the concrete individual reality; nay, even
the substance itself of the concrete individual does not remain totally
unaffected by the change of the accidents; because if they _really_ affect
it, as they do, their change cannot leave it totally unaffected; substance
is not at all a changeless, concrete core, surrounded by an ever-changing
rind or vesture of accidents; or a dark, hidden, immutable and inscrutable
background of a panorama of phenomena (64). But though it is beyond all
doubt really affected by the change of its accidents, it is also beyond
all doubt independent of them in regard to the essential mode of its
being, in as much as it exists and continues to exist in itself throughout
all fluctuation of its accidents; while these on the other hand have only
that essentially dependent mode of being whereby they are actual only by
affecting and determining some subject in which they inhere and which
supports their actuality.

The existence, therefore, of some accidents, which are not only really
distinct but even physically separable from their substances, cannot
reasonably be called into question. To deny the existence of such
accidents, or, what comes to the same thing, their real distinction from
substance, is to take up some one of these three equally untenable
positions: that all the changes which take place within and around us are
substantial changes; or, that there is no such thing as real change, all
change being a mental illusion; or, that contradictory states can be
affirmed of the same reality.(259)

But the nature of the real distinction between accidents and substance is
not in all cases so easy to determine. Nor can we discuss the question
here in reference to each _summum genus_ of accident separately. Deferring
to the chapter on _Relation_ the question of the distinction of this
particular accident from substance and the other categories, we may
confine our attention here to the distinction between substance and the
three classes of accidents we have called _extrinsic denominations_,
_modal_ accidents, and _absolute_ accidents respectively. “There are
accidents,” writes Kleutgen,(260) “which place nothing and change nothing
in the subject itself, but are ascribed to it by reason of some extrinsic
thing; others, again, produce indeed in the subject itself some new mode
of being, but without their existing in it as a new reality, distinct from
its reality; others, finally, are themselves a new reality, and have thus
a being which is proper to themselves, though this being is of course
dependent on the substance. These latter alone can be _really_ distinct
from the substance, in the full sense in which a real distinction is that
between thing and thing. Now Cartesian philosophers have denied that there
are any such accidents as those of the latter class; rejecting the
division of accidents into absolute and modal, they teach that all
accidents are mere _modifications_ or determinations of substance, that
they consist solely of various locations and combinations of the ultimate
parts of a substance, or relations of the latter to other substances.”

Now all _extrinsic denominations_ of a substance do seem on analysis
ultimately to resolve themselves partly into relations of the latter to
other substances, and partly into modal or absolute accidents of other
substances. Hence we may confine our attention here to the distinction
between these two classes of accident and their connatural substances.

    And, approaching this question, it will be well for us to bear two
    things in mind. In the first place, our definitions both of
    substance and of accident are abstract and generic or universal.
    But the abstract and universal does not exist _as such_. The
    concrete, individual, actually existing substance is never
    _merely_ “a being that naturally exists in itself,” nor is the
    accident of such a substance _merely_ a verification of its
    definition as “a being that naturally inheres in something else”.
    In every case what really and actually exists is _the individual_,
    a being concreted of substance and accidents, a being which is
    ever and always a _real unity_, composite no doubt, but really
    one; and this no matter what sort of distinction we hold to obtain
    between the substance and its accidents. This is important; its
    significance will be better appreciated according as we examine
    the distinctions in question. Secondly, as scholastics understand
    a real distinction, this can obtain not merely between different
    “persons” or “things” which are separate from one another in time
    or space, but also between different constitutive principles of
    any one single concrete, composite, individual being (38). We have
    seen that they are not agreed as to whether the essence and the
    existence of any actual creature are really distinct or not (24).
    And it may help us to clear up our notion of “accident” if we
    advert here to their discussion of the question whether or not an
    accident ought to be regarded as having an existence of its own,
    an existence proper to itself.

    Those who think that the distinction between essence and existence
    in created things is a real distinction, hold that accidents as
    such have no existence of their own, that they are actualized by
    the existence of the substance, or rather of the concrete,
    composite individual; that since the latter is a real unity—not a
    mere artificial aggregation of entities, but a being naturally
    one—it can have only one existence: _Impossibile est quod unius
    rei non sit unum esse_;(261) that by this one existence the
    concrete, composite essence of the substance, as affected and
    determined by its accidents, is actualized. They contend that if
    each of the principles, whether substantial or accidental, of a
    concrete individual being had its own existence, their union, no
    matter how intimate, could not form a natural unitary being, an
    individual, but only an aggregate of such beings. It is neither
    the matter, nor the form, nor the corporeal substance apart from
    its accidents, that exists: it is the substance completely
    determined by all its accidents and modes that is the proper
    subject of existence.(262) It alone is actualized, and that by
    _one_ existence, which is the “ultimate actuality” of the
    concrete, composite, individual essence: _esse est ultimus actus_.
    Hence it is too, they urge, that an accident should be conceived
    not properly as “a being,” but only as that whereby a being is
    such or such: Accidens non est ens, sed _ens entis_. But it cannot
    be so conceived if we attribute to it an existence of its own; for
    then it would be “a being” in the full and proper sense of the

    This is the view of St. Thomas, and of Thomists generally. The
    arguments in support of it are serious, but not convincing. And
    the same may be said of the reasons adduced for the opposite view:
    that existence not being really distinct from essence, accidents
    in so far as they can be said to have an essence of their own have
    likewise an existence of their own.

    Supporters of this view not only admit but maintain that the
    entity of a real, existing accident is a “diminished” entity,
    inasmuch as it is dependent in a sense in which a really existing
    substance is not dependent. They simply deny the Thomist assertion
    that substantial and accidental principles cannot combine to form
    a real and natural unit, an individual being, if each be accorded
    an existence appropriate and proportionate to its partial essence;
    nor indeed can Thomists _prove_ this assertion. Moreover, if
    existence be not _really_ distinct from essence, there is no more
    inconvenience in the claim that partial existences can combine to
    form one complete existence, _unum esse_, than in the Thomist
    claim that partial essences, such as substantial and accidental
    constitutive principles, can combine to form one complete essence,
    one individual subject of existence. Then, furthermore, it is
    urged that the substance exists prior _in time_ to some of its
    accidents; that it is prior _in nature_ to its properties, which
    are understood to _proceed_ or _flow_ from it; and that therefore
    its existence cannot be theirs, any more than its essence can be
    theirs. Finally, it is pointed out that since existence is the
    actuality of essence, the existence which actualizes a substance
    cannot be identical with that which actualizes an accident. At all
    events, whether the one existence of the concrete individual
    substance as determined by its accidents be as it were a simple
    and indivisible existential act, which actualizes the composite
    individual subject, as Thomists hold, or whether it be a composite
    existential act, really identical with the composite individual
    subject, as in the other view,(263) this concrete existence of the
    individual is constantly varying with the variation of the
    accidents of the individual. This is equally true on either view.

Inquiring into the distinction between substance and its intrinsic
accidents, whether modal or absolute, we have first to remark that all
accidents cannot possibly be reduced to relations; for if relation itself
is something _extrinsic_ to the things related, it must at least
presuppose a real and _intrinsic_ foundation or basis for itself in the
things related. Local motion, for instance, is a change in the spatial
relations of a body to other bodies. But it cannot be _merely_ this. For
if spatial relations are not mere subjective or mental fabrications, if
they are in any intelligible sense _real_, then a change in them must
involve a change of _something intrinsic_ to the bodies concerned. Now
Descartes, in denying the existence of _absolute_ accidents, in reducing
all accidents to _modes_ of substances, understood by modes not any
_intrinsic_ determinations of substance, but only extrinsic determinations
of the latter. All accidents of _material_ substance were for him mere
locations, arrangements, dispositions of its extended parts: extension
being its essence. Similarly, all accidents of spiritual substance were
for him mere modalities and mutual relations of its “thought” or
“consciousness”: this latter being for him the essence of spirit. We have
here not only the error of identifying or confounding accidents such as
thought and extension with their connatural substances, spirit and matter,
but also the error of supposing that extrinsic relations and modes of a
substance, and changes in these, can be real, without there being in the
substances themselves any intrinsic, real, changeable accidents, which
would account for the extrinsic relations and their changes. If there are
no intrinsic accidents, really affecting and determining substances, and
yet really distinct from the latter, then we must admit either that all
change is an illusion or else that all change is substantial; and this is
the dilemma that really confronts the Cartesian philosophy.

we claim to exist between a substance and its intrinsic accidents is not
the same in all cases: in regard to some accidents, which we have called
intrinsic modes of the substance, it is a _minor_ or _modal_ real
distinction; in regard to others which we have called absolute accidents,
it is a _major_ real distinction (38). Let us first consider the former.

The term _mode_ has a variety of meanings, some very wide, some
restricted. When one concept determines or limits another in any way we
may call it a mode of the latter. If there is no real distinction between
the determining and the determined thought-object, the mode is called a
_metaphysical_ mode: as rationality is of animality in man. Again, created
things are all “modes” of being; and the various aspects of a creature may
be called “modes” of the latter: as “finiteness” is a mode of every
created being. We do not use the term in those wide senses in the present
context. Here we understand by a mode some positive reality which so
affects another and distinct reality as to determine the latter
proximately to some definite way of existing or acting, to which the
latter is itself indifferent; without, however, adding to the latter any
new and proper entity other than the said determination.(264) Such modes
are called _physical_ modes. And some philosophers maintain that there are
not only _accidental_ modes, thus really distinct from the substance, but
that there are even some _substantial_ modes really distinct from the
essence of the substance which they affect: for instance, that the really
distinct constitutive principles of any individual corporeal substance,
matter and form, are actually united only in virtue of a substantial mode
whereby each is ordained for union with the other; or that _subsistence_,
whereby the individual substance is made a subsistent and incommunicable
“person” or “thing,” is a substantial mode of the individual nature.(265)
With these latter we are not concerned here, but only with accidental
modes, such as external shape or figure, local motion, position,
action,(266) etc. Now when a substance is affected by such accidents as
these it is impossible on the one hand to maintain that they add any new
positive entity of their own to it; they do not seem to have any reality
over and above the determination or modification in which their very
presence in the substance consists. And on the other hand it cannot be
denied that they express some real predicate which can be affirmed of the
substance in virtue of their presence in it, and that independently of our
thought; in other words it cannot be maintained that they are mere
figments or forms of thought, mere _entia rationis_. If a piece of wax has
a certain definite shape, this shape is inseparable from the wax: it is
nothing except in the wax, for it cannot exist apart from the wax; but in
the wax it is something in some real sense distinct from the wax, inasmuch
as the wax would persist even if it disappeared. No doubt it is essential
to the wax, as extended in space, to have some shape or other; but it is
indifferent to any particular shape, and hence something distinct from it
is required to remove this indifference. This something is the particular
shape it actually possesses. The shape, therefore, is an accidental mode
of the extension of the wax, a mode which is really distinct, by a minor
real distinction, from this extension which is its immediate subject.(267)
Hence we conclude that there are accidental modes, or modal accidents,
really distinct from the subjects in which they inhere.

CONCRETE BEING.—Turning next to the distinction between absolute accidents
and substance, we have seen already that separable absolute accidents such
as acquired habits of mind and certain sensible qualities and energies of
bodies are really distinct from their subjects. Absolute accidents which
are _naturally inseparable_ from their subjects—such as external quantity
or spatial extension or volume is in regard to the corporeal substance—are
also really distinct from their subjects; though we cannot know by reason
alone whether or how far such accidents are _absolutely separable_ from
these subjects: from Christian Revelation we know that extension at least
is separable from the substance of a body, and with extension all the
other corporeal accidents which inhere immediately in extension.(268)

But a special difficulty arises in regard to the nature of the distinction
between a substance and its _proper_ accidents,(269) _i.e._ those which
have such an adequate and necessary ground in the essence of the substance
that the latter cannot exist without them: accidents which are
simultaneous with the substance and proceed necessarily from it, such as
the internal quantity of a corporeal substance, or the intellectual and
appetitive powers or faculties of a spiritual substance. The medieval
scholastic philosophers were by no means unanimous as to the nature of
this distinction. Their discussion of the question centres mainly around
the distinction between the spiritual human soul and its spiritual
faculties, intellect and will, and between these faculties themselves. It
is instructive—as throwing additional light on what they understood by a
real distinction—to find that while Thomists generally have held that the
distinction here in question is a real distinction, many other scholastics
have held that it is only a virtual distinction, while Scotists have
generally taught that it is a formal distinction (35-39).

Kleutgen(270) interprets the formal distinction advocated by Scotus in the
present context as really equivalent to the virtual distinction. St.
Bonaventure, after referring to the latter distinction, and to the real
distinction propounded by St. Thomas, adopts himself an intermediate view:
that the faculties of the soul are indeed really distinct from one
another, but nevertheless are not really distinct, as accidental entities,
from the substance of the soul itself. We see how this can be by
considering that the material and formal principles which constitute a
corporeal substance, though really distinct from each other, are not
really distinct from the substance itself. They are not accidents of the
latter but _constitute_ its essence, and so are to be referred _reductivé_
to the category of substance. So, by analogy, the faculties of the soul,
though really distinct from each other, do not belong to any accidental
category really distinct from the substance of the soul, but belong
_reductivé_ to the latter category, not indeed as constituting, but as
flowing immediately and necessarily from, the substance of the soul
itself.(271) And, like St. Thomas, he finds the ultimate source and
explanation of this multiplicity of faculties and forces _in the
finiteness_ of the created substance as such.(272) But St. Thomas went
farther than St. Bonaventure, for he taught—as indeed Thomists generally
teach, and many who are not Thomists—that the faculties of the human soul
are really distinct from one another, not merely as proximate principles
of really distinct vital acts, but as accidental entities or essences; and
that as such they are really distinct from the essence or substance itself
of the human soul. The arguments in favour of this view will be given in
their proper place in connexion with the category of _Quality_. If they
are not demonstrative in their force, they are certainly such that the
view for which they make is very highly probable; but we are concerned
here to show, in this concluding section, that the recognition of a real
distinction in general between substance and its accidents does not in any
way compromise the real unity of the concrete individual being. It has
been widely accused of doing so by philosophers who try to discredit this
view without fully understanding it. This characteristically modern
attitude is illustrated by the persistent attempts that have been made in
recent times to throw ridicule on what they describe as the “faculty

The source of this groundless charge lies partly in the mistaken
conception of accident and substance as concrete entities superadded the
one to the other; partly in the mistaken notion that the union of
substance and accidents cannot result in a real unity, that there cannot
be more or less perfect grades of real unity (27); and partly in the false
assumption that real distinction always implies mutual separability of
concrete entities. Of these errors we need only refer to that concerning

Modern philosophers not uncommonly conceive the union of substance and
accidents as being necessarily a mere _mechanical_ union or aggregation,
and oppose it to “organic” unity which they regard as a real unity
involving the richness of an energetic, “living” multiplicity. This
involves a misrepresentation of the traditional scholastic view. The union
of substance and accident is not a mechanical union. Nothing could be
farther from the minds of the scholastic interpreters of Aristotle than
the conception of the ultimate principles of the universe of our
experience as inert entities moved according to purely mechanical laws; or
of the individual concrete being as a mere machine, or a mere aggregate of
mechanical elements. They recognized even in the individual inorganic
substance an internal, unifying, active and directive principle of all the
energies and activities of the thing—its substantial form. And if this is
all those philosophers mean by the metaphorical transference of the terms
“organic unity,” “internal living principle of development,” etc., to the
mineral world, they are so far in accord with the traditional scholastic
philosophy;(274) while if they mean that all substances are principles of
“vital” energy, or that all reality is one organic unity, in the literal
sense of these terms, they are committing themselves either to the
palpably false theory of pan-psychism, or to the gratuitous reassertion of
a very old and very crude form of monism.

By “organic” unity we understand the unity of any living organism, a unity
which is much more perfect than that of the parts of a machine, or than
any natural juxtaposition of material parts in an inorganic whole; for the
organs, though distinct in number and in nature from one another, are
united by an internal principle to form one living individual, so that if
any organ were separated from the living organism it would cease to be an
organ.(275) But organic unity is not by any means the most perfect kind of
unity conceivable.(276) The living organism exists and develops and
attains to the perfection of its being only through a multiplicity of
integral parts extended in space. The spiritual substance is subject to no
such dispersion of its being. From its union with the faculties whereby it
attains to its natural development, there results a real unity of a higher
order than that of any organism.

And nevertheless, even though the unity of the concrete spiritual
substance and its faculties be so far higher than a mechanical or even an
organic unity, it is not perfect. Even though the faculties of the soul be
determinations of its substance, even though they flow from it as
actualities demanded by its essence for the normal and natural development
of its being, still it is a complete subsisting essence of its kind
without them; it possesses its _essential_ perfection without them, so
that however intimate be their union with it they can never form one
essence with it; it needs them only for the fuller development of its
being by acquiring further _intermediate_ perfections and thus attaining
to its _final_ perfection (46).

And here we touch on the most fundamental ground of the distinction, in
all created things, between their substance and their accidental
perfections. Unlike the Necessary, Absolute Being, whose infinite
perfection is the eternal actuality of His essence, no creature possesses
the actuality of its being _tota simul_, but only by a progressive
development whereby it gradually acquires really new intermediate and
final perfections, really distinct from, though naturally due to, its
essence. Hence, even though some of its accidents—properties such as the
powers and faculties we have been discussing—be not really distinct from
the essence wherewith they are necessarily connected, this is not true of
its acquired habits and dispositions, or of the activities which proceed
from these latter as their proximate principles. At the same time the
concrete being is, at every moment of its existence and development, a
real unity, but a unity which, involving in itself as it does a real
multiplicity of distinct principles, must ever fall infinitely short of
the perfect type of real unity—that realized only in the Self-Existent,
Necessary Being.


70. SOME DIVISIONS OF SUBSTANCES.—In the preceding chapter we discussed
the nature of substance and accident in general, and the relation between
a substance and its accidents. We must next examine the category of
substance more in detail, terminating as it does in the important concept
of personality or person. This latter conception is one which must have
its origin for all philosophers in the study of the human individual, but
which, for scholastic philosophers, is completed and perfected by the
light of Christian Revelation. We shall endeavour to show in the first
place what can be gathered from the light of reason about the constitution
of personality, and also briefly to note how Christian Revelation has
increased our insight into the perfections involved in it. As leading up
to the concept of person, we must set forth certain divisions or
classifications of substance: into _first_ and _second_ substances, and
into _complete_ and _incomplete_ substances.(277)

(_a_) The specific and generic natures of substantial entities do not
inhere, like accidents, in individual substances; they constitute the
essence of the latter, and hence these _universals_ are called substances.
But the universal as such does not really exist; it is realized only in
individuals; in the logical order it pre-supposes the individual as a
logical subject of which it is affirmed, a _subjectum attributionis seu
praedicationis_. Hence it is called a _second_ substance, while the
individual substance is called a _first_ substance. Of course we can
predicate attributes of universal substances, and use these as logical
subjects, as when we say “_Man_ is mortal”. But such propositions have no
real meaning, and give us no information about reality, except in so far
as we can refer their predicates (“mortal”), through the medium of their
universal subjects (“man”), back ultimately to the individual substances
(John, James, etc.) which alone are real, and in which alone the universal
(“man”) has its reality. Hence the individual is, in the logical order,
the ultimate and fundamental subject of all our predications. And
furthermore, the individual substance cannot be used as a logical
predicate of anything underlying itself, while the universal substance can
be so used in relation to the individual.

In the ontological order, of course, the universal substance is
individualized, and, as individual, it is the subject in which all
accidents inhere, their _subjectum inhaesionis_: the _only_ subject of
many of them, and the _remote_ or _ultimate_ subject of those of them
which inhere _immediately_ in other accidents.

Thus while in the ontological order all substances, whether we think of
them as universal or as individual, are the ultimate subjects of inhesion
for all real accidents, in the logical order it is only the individual
substance that is the ultimate subject of attribution for all logical
predicates. Hence it was that the individual substance (τόδε τί ὄν),
vindicating for itself more fully the rôle of subject, was called by
Aristotle οὐσία πρώτη, _substantia prima_, while he called the universal,
specific or generic substance, οὐσία δεύτερα, _substantia secunda_.(278)
These are, of course, two ways of regarding substance, and not two really
distinct species of substance as genus. The distinction between the
_membra dividentia_ is logical, not real.

    The perfectly intelligible sense in which Aristotle and the
    scholastics designate the universal a substance, the sense of
    moderate realism, according to which the universal constitutes,
    and is identical with, the essence of the individual “person” or
    “thing,” is entirely different from the sense in which many
    exponents of modern monistic idealism conceive the universal as
    the substance _par excellence_, the _ens realissimum_,
    determining, expressing, evolving itself in the individual
    phenomena of mind and of nature, which would be merely its

(_b_) The divisions of substance into spiritual and corporeal, of the
latter into inorganic and organic, of these again into vegetative and
animal, and finally of animal substances into brute animals and human
beings,—offer no special difficulties. All purely natural or rational
knowledge of the possibility and nature of purely spiritual substances is
based on the analogy of our knowledge of the human soul, which, though a
spiritual substance, is not a pure spirit, but is naturally allied with
matter in its mode of existence. The individual human being offers to
human experience the sole example of the sufficiently mysterious
conjunction and combination of matter and spirit, of the corporeal mode of
being and the spiritual mode of being, to form one composite substance,
partly corporeal and partly spiritual.

(_c_) This in turn suggests the division of substances into _simple_ and
_composite_. The latter are those which we understand to be constituted by
the natural and substantial union of two really distinct but incomplete
substantial principles, a formative, determining, specifying principle,
and a material, determinable, indifferent principle: such are all
corporeal substances whether inorganic, vegetative, sentient, or rational.
The former, or simple substances, are those which we understand to be
constituted by a sole and single substantial principle which determines
and specifies their essence, without the conjunction of any material,
determinable principle. We have no direct and immediate experience of any
_complete_ created substance of this kind; but each of us has such direct
experience of an _incomplete_ simple substance, _viz._ his own soul; while
we can infer from our experience the _existence_ of other incomplete
simple substances, _viz._ the formative principles of corporeal
substances, as also the _possibility_ of such complete simple substances
as pure spirits, and the actual _existence_ of the perfectly simple,
uncreated substance of the Infinite Being.

(_d_) If there are such things as composite substances, _i.e._ substances
constituted by the substantial union of two really distinct principles,
then it follows that while the composite substance itself is _complete_,
each of its substantial constitutive principles is _incomplete_. Of course
there are many philosophers nowadays who reject as mere mental fictions,
as products of mere logical distinctions, and as devoid of objective
validity, the notions of _composite_ substance and _incomplete_ substance.
Nor is this to be wondered at when we remember what a variety of
groundless and gratuitous notions are current in regard to substance
itself (64). But understanding substance in the traditional sense already
explained (62), there is nothing whatever inconsistent in the notion of a
composite substance, or of an incomplete substance,—provided these notions
are understood in the sense to be explained presently. Nay, more, not only
are these notions intrinsically possible: we must even hold them to be
objectively valid and real, to be truly expressive of the nature of
reality, unless we are prepared to hold that there is no such thing as
substantial change in the universe, and that man himself is a mere
_aggregate_ of material atoms moved according to mechanical laws and
inhabited by a conscious soul, or thinking principle, rather than an
individual being with one definite substantial nature.

What, then, are we to understand by complete and incomplete substances
respectively? A substance is regarded as complete in the fullest sense
when it is wanting in no _substantial_ principle without which it would be
incapable of _existing_ and discharging _all_ its functions in the actual
order as an individual of some definite species. Of course no created
substance exists or discharges its functions unless it is endowed with
some accidents, _e.g._ with properties, faculties, forces, etc. But there
is no question of these here. We are considering only the essential
perfections of the substance. Thus, then, any existing individual of any
species—a man, a horse, an oak—is a complete substance in this fullest
sense. It is complete _in the line of substance_, in _substantial_
perfection, “_in ordine substantialitatis_,” inasmuch as it can exist (and
does actually exist) without being conjoined or united substantially with
any other substance to form a composite substance other than itself. And
it is complete _in the line of specific perfection_, “_in ordine
speciei_,” because not only can it exist without such conjunction with any
other substantial principle, but it can discharge _all_ the functions
natural to its species, and thus tend towards its _final_ perfection (47)
without such conjunction.

But it is conceivable that a substance might be complete in the line of
substantial perfections, and thus be capable of _existing_ in the actual
order and discharging there _some_ of the functions of its species without
conjunction with any other substantial principle, and yet be incapable of
discharging _all_ the functions natural to an individual of its species
without conjunction with some other substantial principle, in which case
it would be _incomplete_ in the line of _specific_ perfection, though
complete in everything pertaining to its _substantiality_. We know of one
such substance,—the human soul. Being spiritual and immortal, it can exist
apart from the body to which it is united by nature, and in this separated
condition retain and exercise its spiritual faculties of intellect and
will; it is therefore complete as regards the distinctively substantial
perfection whereby it is “capable of existing in itself”. But being of its
nature destined for union with a material principle, constituting an
individual of the human species only by means of such union, and being
capable of discharging some of the functions of this species, _viz._ the
sentient and vegetative functions, only when so united, it has not _all_
the perfections of its species independently of the body; and it is
therefore an incomplete substance in the line of specific perfections,
though complete in those essential to its substantiality.

Again, if it be true that just as man is composed of two substantial
principles, soul and body, so every living thing is composed of a
substantial vital principle and a substantial material principle, and that
every inorganic individual thing is likewise composed of two really
distinct substantial principles, a formative and a passive or material
principle; and if, furthermore, it be true that apart from the spiritual
principle in man every other vital or formative principle of the composite
“things” of our experience is of such a nature that it cannot actually
exist except in union with some material principle, and _vice versa_,—then
it follows necessarily that all such substantial principles of these
complete composite substances are themselves _incomplete_ substances: and
incomplete not only in regard to perfections which would make them
subsisting individuals of a species, but (unlike the human soul)
incomplete even in the line of substantiality itself, inasmuch as no one
of them is capable of actually existing at all except in union with its
connatural and correlative principle.

Thus we arrive at the notion of substances that are _incomplete_ in the
line of specific perfections, or in that of substantial perfections, or
even in both lines. An incomplete substance, therefore, is not one which
verifies the definition of substance only in part. The incomplete
substance _fully_ verifies the definition of a substance.(280) It is
conjoined, no doubt, _with another_ to form a complete substance; but it
does not exist _in the other_, or in the composite substance, as accidents
do. It is _a substantial_ principle of the composite substance, not an
_accidental_ determination of the latter, or of the other substantial
principle with which it is conjoined. It thus verifies the notion of
substance as a mode of being which naturally exists in itself; and united
with its correlative substantial principle it discharges the function of
supporting all accidental determinations which affect the composite
substantial essence. Since, however, it does not exist itself
independently as an individual of a species, but only forms the complete
individual substance by union with its correlative substantial principle,
it may be, and has been, accurately described as not belonging to the
category of substance _formally_, but only _referentially_, “_reductivé_”.

The concepts of composite substance, of complete and incomplete
substances, understood as we have just explained them, are therefore
perfectly intelligible in themselves. And this is all we are concerned to
show in the present context. This is not the place to establish the theses
of psychology and cosmology from which they are borrowed. That the human
soul is spiritual and immortal; that its union with a really distinct
material principle to form the individual human substance or nature is a
substantial union; that all living organisms and all inorganic bodies are
really composite substances and subject to substantial change: these
various theses of scholastic philosophy we here assume to be true. And if
they are true the conception of incomplete substances naturally united to
form a complete composite substance is not only intelligible as an
hypothesis but is objectively true and valid as a thesis; and thus the
notion of an incomplete substance is not only a consistent and legitimate
notion, but is also a notion which gives mental expression to an objective

We may add this consideration: The concept of an accident really distinct
from its substance involves no intrinsic repugnance. Yet an accident is a
mode of being which is so weak and wanting in reality, if we may speak in
such terms, that it cannot naturally exist except by inhering, mediately
or immediately, in the stronger and more real mode of being which is
substance. But an incomplete substance is a higher grade of reality than
any accident. Therefore if accidents can be real, _a fortiori_ incomplete
substances can be real.

71. SUBSTANCE AND NATURE.—We have already pointed out (13) that the terms
“essence,” “substance,” and “nature” denote what is really the same thing,
regarded under different aspects. The term “essence” is somewhat wider
than “substance,” inasmuch as it means “what a thing is,” whether the
thing be a substance, an accident, or a concrete existing individual
including substance and accidents.

The traditional meaning of the term “nature” in Aristotelian and
scholastic philosophy is unmistakable. It means the essence or substance
of an individual person or thing, regarded as _the fundamental principle
of the latter’s activities_. Every finite individual comes into existence
incomplete, having no doubt its _essential_ perfections and properties
_actually_, but its _intermediate_ and _final_ perfections only
_potentially_ (47). These it realizes gradually, through the exercise of
its connatural activities. Every being is essentially intended for
activity of some sort: “Omne ens est propter suam operationem,” says St.
Thomas. And by the constant interplay of their activities these beings
realize and sustain the universal order which makes the world a _cosmos_.
There is in all things an immanent purpose or finality which enables us to
speak of the whole system which they form as “Universal _Nature_”.(281)

Therefore what we call a _substance_ or _essence_ from the _static_ point
of view we call a _nature_ when we consider it from the _dynamic_
standpoint, or as an agent.(282) No doubt the forces, faculties and
powers, the active and passive accidental principles, whereby such an
agent exerts and undergoes action, are the _proximate_ principles of all
this action and change, but the _remote_ and fundamental principle of the
latter is the essence or substance of the agent itself, in other words its

    Not all modern scholastics, however, are willing thus to identify
    nature with substance. We have no intuitive insight into what any
    real essence or substance is; our knowledge of it is discursive,
    derived by inference from the phenomena, the operations, the
    conduct of things, in accordance with the principle, _Operari
    sequitur esse_. Moreover, the actually existing, concrete
    individual—a man, for instance—has a great variety of activities,
    spiritual, sentient, vegetative, and inorganic; he has, moreover,
    in the constitution of his body a variety of distinct organs and
    members; he assimilates into his body a variety of inorganic
    substances; the tissues of his body _appear_ to be different _in
    kind_; the vital functions which subserve nutrition, growth and
    reproduction are at least analogous to mechanical, physical and
    chemical changes, if indeed they are not really and simply such;
    it may be, therefore, that the _ultimate material_ constituents of
    his body remain _substantially unaltered_ in their passage into,
    and through, and out of the cycle of his vegetative life; that
    they retain their elemental _substantial forms_ while they assume
    a _new nature_ by becoming parts of the one organic whole, whose
    higher directive principle dominates and co-ordinates all their
    various energies.(283) If this be so there is in the same
    individual a multiplicity of really and actually distinct
    substances; each of these, moreover, has its own existence
    proportionate to its essence, since the existence of a created
    reality is not really distinct from its essence; nor is there any
    reason for saying that any of these substances is incomplete; what
    we have a right to say is that no one of them separately is a
    complete _nature_, that each being an _incomplete nature_ unites
    with all the others to form one _complete nature_: inasmuch as no
    one of them separately is an adequate intrinsic principle of all
    the functions which it can discharge, and is naturally destined to
    discharge, by its natural union with the others, whereas there
    results from their union a _new fundamental principle_ of a
    co-ordinated and harmonized system of operations—in a word, a _new

    This line of thought implies among other things (_a_) the view
    that whereas there is no ground for admitting the existence of
    _incomplete substances_, there is ground for distinguishing
    between _complete and incomplete natures_; (_b_) the view that
    from the union or conjunction of an actual multiplicity of
    substances, each remaining unaltered and persisting in its
    existence actually distinct from the others, there _can_ arise one
    single complete nature—a nature which will be _one being_ simply
    and really, _unum ens per se et simpliciter_, and not merely an
    aggregate of beings or an accidental unity, _unum per
    accidens_,—and there _does_ arise such a nature whenever the
    component substances not merely co-operate to discharge certain
    functions which none of them could discharge separately (which
    indeed is true of an accidental union, as of two horses drawing a
    load which neither could draw by itself), but when they unite in a
    more permanent and intimate way according to what we call “natural
    laws” or “laws of nature,” so as to form a new fundamental
    principle of such functions.(284) These views undoubtedly owe
    their origin to the belief that certain facts brought to light by
    the physical and biological sciences in modern times afford strong
    evidence that the elementary material constituents of bodies,
    whether inorganic or living, remain _substantially unaltered_
    while combining to form the multitudinous _natural kinds_ or
    _natures_ of those living or non-living material things. It was to
    reconcile this supposed _plurality_ of _actually distinct_ and
    _diverse_ substances in the individual with the indubitable _real
    unity_ of the latter, that these philosophers distinguished
    between substance and nature. But it is not clear that the facts
    alleged afford any such evidence. Of course if the philosopher
    approaches the consideration of it with what we may call the
    atomic preconception of material substances as permanent,
    unchangeable entities, this view will preclude all recognition of
    _substantial_ change in the universe; it will therefore force him
    to conclude that each individual, composite agent has a unity
    which must be _less_ than substantial, and which, because he feels
    it to be _more_ than a mere accidental or artificial unity, he
    will describe as _natural_, as a union to form _one nature_. But
    if he approach the evidence in question with the view that
    substantial change is possible, this view, involving the
    recognition of incomplete substances as real, will remove all
    necessity for distinguishing between substance and nature, and
    will enable him to conclude that however various and manifold be
    the activities of the individual, their co-ordination and
    unification, as proceeding from the individual, point to a
    _substantial_ unity in the latter as their fundamental principle,
    a unity resulting from the _union of incomplete substances_.

    This latter is undoubtedly the view of St. Thomas, of practically
    all the medieval scholastics, and of most scholastics in modern
    times. Nor do we see any sufficient reason for receding from it,
    or admitting the modern distinction between substance and nature.
    And if it be objected that the view which admits the reality of
    incomplete substances and substantial change is as much a
    preconception as what we have called the atomic view of substance,
    our answer is, once more, that since we have no intellectual
    intuition into the real constitution of the substances which
    constitute the universe, since we can argue to this only by
    observing and reasoning from their activities on the principle
    _Operari requitur esse_, the evidence alone must decide which view
    of these substances is the correct one. Does the evidence afforded
    us by a scientific analysis of all the functions, inorganic,
    vegetative, sentient and rational, of an individual man, forbid us
    to conclude that he is one complete substance, resulting from the
    union of two incomplete substantial principles, a spiritual soul
    and a material principle? and at the same time compel us to infer
    that he is one complete nature resulting from the union of a
    plurality of principles supposed to be complete as substances and
    incomplete as natures? We believe that it does not; nor can we see
    that any really useful purpose is served by thus setting up a real
    distinction between substance and nature. From the evidence to
    hand it is neither more nor less difficult to infer unity of
    substance than unity of nature in the individual. The inference in
    question is an inference from facts in the phenomenal order, in
    the domain of the senses, to what must be actually there in the
    noumenal order, in the domain of nature or substance, a domain
    which cannot be reached by the senses but only by intellect. Nor
    will any imagination images which picture for us the physical
    fusion or coalescence of material things in the domain of the
    senses help us in the least to conceive in any positive way the
    mode in which incomplete natures or substances unite to form a
    complete nature or substance. For these latter facts belong to the
    domain which the senses cannot reach at all, and which intellect
    can reach only inferentially and not by direct insight.

    Hence we consider the view which regards real unity of nature as
    compatible with real and actual plurality of complete substances
    in the individual, as improbable. At the same time we do not
    believe that this view is a necessary corollary from the real
    identification of essence with existence in created things. We
    have seen that even if accidents have their own existence in so
    far as they have their own essence—as they have if essence and
    existence be really identical—nevertheless the concrete substance
    as determined by its accidents can have a really unitary
    existence, _unum esse_ corresponding to and identical with its
    composite constitution (67). Similarly, if the existence of each
    incomplete substance is identical with its incomplete essence,
    this is no obstacle to the complete substance—which results from
    the union of two such incomplete substantial principles—having one
    complete unitary existence identical with its composite essence.
    Hence it is useless to argue against the view that a plurality of
    actually distinct and complete substances can unite to form a
    complete nature which will be really _one being_, on the ground
    that each complete substance has already its own existence and
    that things which have and preserve their own existence cannot
    form _one being_. Such an argument is inconclusive; for although
    _one being_ has of course only one existence, it has not been
    proved that this one existence cannot result from the union of
    many incomplete existences: especially if these existences be
    identical with the incomplete essences which are admittedly
    capable of uniting to form one complete essence.

    It may, however, be reasonably urged against the opinion under
    criticism that, since the complete substances are supposed to
    remain complete and unchanged in their state of combination, it is
    difficult to see how this combination can be a real union and not
    merely an extrinsic juxtaposition,—one which remains in reality a
    merely accidental conjunction, even though we may dignify it with
    the title of a “natural union”.

    And finally it may be pointed out that in this view the operations
    of the individual have not really _one ultimate_ intrinsic
    principle at all, since behind the supposed unity of nature there
    is a more fundamental plurality of actually distinct substances.

72. SUBSISTENCE AND PERSONALITY.—We have already examined the relation
between the individual and the universal, between _first_ and _second_
substances, in connexion with the doctrine of Individuation (31-3). And we
then saw that whatever it be that individuates the universal nature, it is
at all events not to be regarded as anything extrinsic and superadded to
this nature in the individual, as anything really distinct from this
nature: that, for instance, what makes Plato’s human nature to be Plato’s
is not anything really distinct from the human nature that is in Plato. We
have now to fix our attention on the nature as individualized. We have to
consider the complete individual nature or substance itself in actually
existing individual “things” or “persons”.

We must remember that scholastics are not agreed as to whether there is a
real distinction or only a virtual distinction between the actual
existence and the complete individual essence or substance or nature of
created individual beings (21-4). Furthermore we have seen that
philosophers who study the metaphysics of the inorganic world and of the
lower forms of life are unable to say with certainty what is the
individual in these domains: whether it is the chemical molecule or the
chemical atom or the electron; whether it is the single living cell or the
living mass consisting of a plurality of such cells (31). But we have also
seen that as we ascend the scale of living things all difficulty in
designating the genuine individual disappears: that a man, a horse, an oak
tree, are undoubtedly individual beings.

Bearing these things in mind we have now to inquire into what has been
called the _subsistence_ or _personality_ of the complete individual
substance or nature: that perfection which enables us formally to
designate the latter a “subsisting thing”(285) or a “person”. By
personality we mean the subsistence of a complete individual _rational_
nature. We shall therefore inquire into the meaning of the generic term
_subsistentia_ (or _suppositalitas_), _subsistence_, in the abstract. But
let us look at it first in the concrete.

A complete individual nature or substance, when it exists in the actual
order, really distinct and separate in its own complete entity from every
other existing being, exercising its powers and discharging its functions
of its own right and according to the laws of its own being, is said to
_subsist_, or to have the perfection of _subsistence_. In this state it
not only _exists in itself_ as every substance does; it is not only
_incommunicable_ to any other being as every individual is, in
contradistinction with _second_ or _universal_ substances which are, as
such, indefinitely communicable to individuals; but it is also a complete
whole, incommunicable _as a mere integral or essential part_ to some other
whole, unlike the incomplete substantial constituents, or integral parts,
members or organs of, say, an individual organic body; and finally it is
incommunicable in the sense that it is not capable of being assumed into
the subsisting unity of some other superior “suppositum” or “person”. All
those characteristics we find in the individual “subsisting thing” or
“person”. It “exists in itself” and is not communicable to another
substance _as an accident_, because it is itself a substance. It is not
communicable _to individuals as a universal_, because it is itself an
individual. It is not communicable _as an integral or essential part to a
whole_, because it is itself a complete substance and nature.(286) Finally
it is not communicable to, and cannot be assumed into, the unity of a
higher personality so as to subsist by virtue of the latter’s subsistence,
because it has a perfection incompatible with such assumption, _viz._ its
own proper subsistence, whereby it is already an actually subsisting thing
or person in its own right, or _sui juris_, so to speak.

    The mention of this last sort of incommunicability would be
    superfluous, and indeed unintelligible, did we not know from
    Divine Revelation that the human nature of our Divine Lord and
    Saviour, Jesus Christ, though it is a complete and most perfect
    individual nature, is nevertheless _not a person_, because It is
    assumed into the Personality of the Second Person of the Divine
    Trinity, and, united hypostatically or personally with this Divine
    Person, subsists by virtue of the Divine Subsistence of the

We see, therefore, what subsistence does for a complete individual nature
in the _static_ order. It makes this nature _sui juris_, incommunicable,
and entirely independent in the mode of its actual being: leaving
untouched, of course, the essential dependence of the created “subsisting
thing” or “person” on the Creator. In the _dynamic_ order, the order of
activity and development, subsistence makes the complete individual nature
not only the ultimate principle _by which_ all the functions of the
individual are discharged, but also the ultimate principle or agent
_which_ exercises these functions: while the nature _as such_ is the
ultimate _principium_ QUO, the nature _as subsisting_ is the ultimate
_principium_ QUOD, in regard to all actions emanating from this nature.
Hence the scholastic aphorism: _Actiones sunt suppositorum_. That is, all
actions emanating from a complete individual nature are always ascribed
and attributed to the latter _as subsisting_, to the “subsisting thing” or
“person”. In regard to an individual human person, for instance, whether
his intellect thinks, or his will resolves, or his imagination pictures
things, or his eyes see, or his hand writes, or his stomach digests, or
his lungs breathe, or his head aches, it is the _man_, the _person_,
properly, that discharges or suffers all these functions, though by means
of different faculties, organs and members; and it is to him properly that
we ascribe all of them.(287)

Now the individual human person is neither his soul, nor his body, nor
even both conceived as two; he is _one_ being, one complete substance or
nature composed partly of a spiritual principle or soul and partly of a
material principle which the soul “informs” and so constitutes a living
human body. Hence the human soul itself, whether we consider it as united
to the material principle in the living human person, or as disembodied
and separate from its connatural material principle, is not a complete
substance, is not capable of _subsisting_ and having its human activities
referred ultimately to itself as the subsisting, personal principle which
elicits these activities. No doubt the disembodied soul has actual
_existence_, but it has not the perfection of _subsistence_ or
_personality_: it is not a complete individual of the human species to
which it belongs, and therefore it cannot be properly called a human
person, a complete subsisting individual of the human species.(288)

    Furthermore, even though an individual nature be complete as a
    nature, endowed with all the substantial and specific perfections
    which constitute it a complete individual of the species to which
    it belongs, nevertheless if it is assumed into the personality of
    another and higher nature, and subsists in personal union with the
    latter and by virtue of the latter’s subsistence, then that
    nature, not having its own proper and connatural subsistence, is
    not itself a person. Nor can the actions which are elicited by
    means of it be ascribed ultimately to it; they must be ascribed to
    the person by whose subsistence it subsists and into whose
    personality it has been assumed. If an individual human nature be
    thus hypostatically or personally assumed into, and united with, a
    higher Divine Personality, and subsists only by this Personality,
    such a human nature will be really and truly an individual nature
    of the human species; the actions elicited through it and
    performed by means of it will be really and truly human actions;
    but it will not be a human person; while its actions will be
    really and truly the actions of the Divine Person, and will
    therefore be also really and truly divine: they will be the
    actions of the God-Man, divine and human, _theandric_. All this we
    know only from Divine Revelation concerning the hypostatic union
    of the human nature of Christ with the Person of the Divine Word;
    nor could we know it otherwise. But all this does not modify, it
    only supplements and completes, what the light of reason discloses
    to us regarding the subsistence or personality of any complete
    individual nature.

We are now in a position to give nominal definitions of subsistence and
personality both in the abstract and in the concrete, _i.e._ definitions
which will indicate to us what exactly it is that these terms denote,(289)
and which will thus enable us to inquire into their connotation, or in
other words to ask what is it precisely that constitutes subsistence or

By “_subsistence_” (“_subsistentia_,” “_suppositalitas_”) we mean that
perfection whereby a fully complete individual nature is rendered in every
way, in its being and in its actions, distinct from and incommunicable to
any and every other being, so that it exists and acts _sui juris_,
autonomously, independently of every other being save the Creator.(290)

By a “_subsisting being_” in the concrete (ὑπόστασις, “_suppositum_,”
_hypostasis_), we mean a being endowed with this perfection of
subsistence; in other words, a being that is a complete individual nature
existing and acting in every way distinct from and incommunicable to any
other being, so that it exists and acts _sui juris_, autonomously.

“_Personality_” is simply the subsistence of a complete individual nature
that is _rational_, _intelligent_.

A “_person_” is simply a _subsisting_ nature that is _rational_,
_intelligent_: _Persona est suppositum rationale_. The definition given by
Boëtius is classic: “_Persona est substantia individua_ RATIONALIS
_naturae_”: “the individual substance of a rational nature,”—where the
term _individual_ is understood to imply _actually existing and

The special name which has thus been traditionally applied to _rational_
or _intelligent_ subsisting beings (as distinct from animals, plants, and
material “things”)—the term “person” (“_persona_,” a mask: _per-sonus_;
_cf._ Gr. προσωπέιον, from προσώπον, the face, countenance)—originally
meaning a rôle or character in a drama, came to be applied to the
subsisting human individual, and to connote a certain dignity of the
latter as compared with the lower or non-rational beings of the universe.
And in fact the ascription of its actions to the subsisting being is more
deeply grounded in the subsistence of rational, intelligent beings, who,
as free agents, can more properly direct and control these actions.(291)

CONSTITUTES PERSONALITY?—Knowing now what we mean by the terms
“subsistence,” “suppositum,” “person,” and “personality,” we have next to
inquire in what precisely does subsistence consist. What is it that
constitutes a complete individual nature a “subsisting being,” or if the
nature be rational, a “person”? Subsistence connotes, over and above the
mode of “existing in itself” which characterizes all substance, the notion
that the substance or nature is individual, that it is complete, that it
is in every way incommunicable, that it is _sui juris_ or autonomous in
its existence and activities. These notions are all positive; they imply
positive perfections: even incommunicability is really a positive
perfection though the term is negative. But is any one of the positive
perfections, thus contained in the notion of subsistence, a positive
something _over and above_, and _really distinct from_, the perfection
already implied in the concept of _a complete individual nature as such_?

Some of those philosophers who regard the distinction between essence and
existence in creatures as a real distinction, identify the _subsistence_
of the complete individual nature with its _actual existence_, thus
placing a real distinction between nature and subsistence or
personality.(292) Apart from these, however, it is not likely that any
philosophers, guided by the light of reason alone, would ever have held,
or even suspected, that the subsistence of an actually existing individual
nature is a positive perfection really distinct from, and superadded to,
the latter. For we never, in our natural experience, encounter an existing
individual substance, or nature, or agent, that is not distinct,
autonomous, independent, _sui juris_, and incommunicable in its mode of
being and acting.

    Rigorously, however, this would only prove that subsistence is a
    perfection _naturally inseparable_ from the complete individual
    nature; _conceivably_ it _might_ still be _really_ distinct from
    the latter. But whether or not such real distinction could be
    suspected by the unaided light of reason working on natural
    experience, at all events what we know from Divine Revelation
    concerning the hypostatic union of the human nature of our Lord
    Jesus Christ with the Person of the Divine Word, enables us to
    realize that there _can_ be, in the actual order of things, a
    complete individual nature which is not a “subsisting being” or
    “person”; for the human nature of our Lord is _de facto_ such a
    nature,—and _ab actu ad posse valet consecutio_. This information,
    however, is not decisive in determining the character of the
    distinction between the individual substance or nature and its

It may be that the complete individual nature is _eo ipso_ and identically
a “subsisting being” or “person,” that it is always independent,
autonomous, _sui juris_, by the very fact that it is a complete individual
nature, _unless it is_ DE FACTO _assumed into the personality of a higher
nature_, so that in this intercommunication with the latter, in the unity
of the latter’s personality, it is not independent, autonomous, _sui
juris_, but dependent, subordinate, and _alterius juris_. In this
condition, it loses nothing positive by the fact that it is not now a
person and has not its own subsistence; nor does it gain any _natural_
perfection, for it was _ex hypothesi_ complete and perfect _as a nature_;
but it gains something _supernatural_ inasmuch as it now subsists in a
manner wholly undue to it.(293) According to this view, therefore,
subsistence would not be a perfection really distinct from the complete
individual nature; it would be a mentally distinct aspect of the latter, a
positive aspect, however, consisting in this nature’s completeness, its
self-sufficing, autonomous character, and consequent

    The principal difficulty against this view is a theological
    difficulty. As formulated by Urraburu,(295) it appears to involve
    an ambiguity in the expression “substantial union”. It is briefly
    this: If the subsistence proper to a complete individual nature
    adds no positive perfection to the latter, so that the latter
    necessarily subsists and is a person unless it is actually assumed
    into a higher personality, and by the very fact that it is not
    actually so assumed, then the human nature of Christ “is as
    complete in every way and in every line of substantial perfection,
    by virtue of its own proper entity, when actually united with the
    Divine Person, as it would be were it not so united, or as the
    person of Peter, or Paul, or any other human person is”. But this
    implies that there are in Christ “two substances complete in every
    respect”. Now between two such substances “there cannot be a
    substantial union,” a union which would constitute “one being,”
    “unum per se ens”. Hence the view in question would appear to be

    But it is not proved that the union of “two substances complete in
    every respect” cannot result in the constitution of a being that
    is really and genuinely one—“unum per se ens”—_in the case in
    which the union is a personal union_. The hypostatic union of the
    human nature of Christ with the Divine Person is primarily a
    _personal_ union whereby the former nature subsists by and in the
    Divine Personality. It has the effect of constituting the united
    terms “one subsisting being,” and therefore has supereminently, if
    not formally, the effect of a “substantial union”. Nay, it is a
    “substantial” union in the sense that it is a union of two
    substances, not of a substance and accidents; and also in the
    sense that it is not a mere accidental aggregation or artificial
    juxtaposition of substances, resulting merely in the constitution
    of collective or artificial unity, a _unum per accidens_. But is
    it a “substantial” union in the sense that it is such a union of
    substances as results in one “nature”? Most certainly not; for
    this was the heresy of the Monophysites: that in Christ there is
    only one nature resulting from the union of the human nature with
    the Divine. If then, with Urraburu, we mean by “nature” simply
    “substance regarded as a principle of action” (71), and if,
    furthermore, the hypostatic union does not result in one “nature,”
    neither does it result in one “substance,” nor can it be a
    “substantial” or “natural” union in this sense.(296) He does not
    say, of course, that the hypostatic union is a “substantial union”
    which results in “one nature,” or even explicitly that it results
    in “one substance,” but he says that the two substances are
    “substantially conjoined,” “substantialiter conjunguntur”; and he
    continues, “a substantial union is such a conjunction of two
    substantial realities that there results from it one substantial
    something, which is truly and properly one”—“unio enim
    substantialis, est talis duarum rerum substantialium conjunctio,
    per quam resultat unum aliquid substantiale quod vere et proprie
    sit unum,”(297)—and he concludes that “there is something
    substantial wanting in the human nature of Christ, _viz._
    personality, which, of course, is most abundantly supplied in the
    hypostatic union by the Divine Person”—“reliquum est, ut naturae
    humanae in Christo aliquid desit substantiale, nempe personalitas,
    quod per unionem hypostaticam cumulatissime suppleatur a
    Verbo.”(298) Now, this “aliquid substantiale” cannot be “aliquid
    naturale” in the sense that it is something _constitutive_ of the
    human substance or nature; for the human substance or nature of
    Christ is certainly complete and perfect as a substance or nature.
    It must be some complement or mode, that is naturally due to it,
    but supernaturally supplied by the Person of the Divine Word.(299)
    This brings us to the view that subsistence is a something
    positive, distinct in some real way, and not merely in our
    concepts, from the complete individual substance.

According to the more common view of catholic philosophers (and
theologians) subsistence is some positive perfection really distinct from
the complete individual nature. But the supporters of this general view
explain it in different ways. We have already referred to the view of
certain Thomists who, identifying _subsistence_ with the _actual
existence_ of the complete substance or nature, place a real distinction
between the existence and the substance or nature. Other Thomists, while
defending the latter distinction, point out that actual existence confers
no real perfection, but only actualizes the real; they hold, therefore,
that subsistence is not existence, but is rather a perfection of the real,
essential, or substantial order, as distinct from the existential order—a
perfection presupposed by actual existence, and whose proper function is
to _unify_ all the substantial constituents and accidental determinations
of the individual substance or nature, thus making it a really unitary
being—“unum ens per se”—proximately capable of being actualized by the
simple existential act: which latter is the ultimate actuality of the real
being: _esse est ultimus actus_.(300)

The concrete individual nature, containing as it does a plurality of
really distinct principles, substantial and accidental, needs some
unifying principle to make these one incommunicable reality, proximately
capable of receiving a corresponding unitary existential act: without such
a principle, they say, each of the substantial and accidental principles
in the concrete individual nature would have its own existence: so that
the result would be not _really_ one being, but a being really _manifold_
and only accidentally one—“unum per accidens”. This principle is

    The human nature of our Divine Lord has not its own connatural
    subsistence; this is supplied by the subsistence of the Divine
    Person. Moreover, since the human nature in question has not its
    own subsistence, neither has it its own existence; existence is
    the actuality of the subsisting being; therefore there is in
    Christ but one existence, that of the Divine Person, whereby also
    the human nature of Christ exists.(301)

Of those who deny that the distinction between the existence and the
essence of any created nature is a real distinction, some hold in the
present matter the Scotist view that subsistence is not a positive
perfection really distinct from the complete individual nature. Others,
however, hold what we have ventured to regard as the more common view:
that personality is something positive and really distinct from nature.
But they explain what they conceive subsistence to be without any
reference to existence, and without distinguishing between the essential
and the existential order of reality.

The most common explanation seems to be that subsistence is a unifying
principle of the concrete individual nature, as stated above. Thus
conceived, it is not an _absolute_ reality; nor is the distinction between
it and the nature a _major_ real distinction. It is a _substantial mode_
(68), naturally superadded to the substance and modally distinct from the
latter. It so completes and determines the substance or nature that the
latter not only exists in itself but is also, by virtue of this mode,
incommunicable in every way and _sui juris_.(302) It gives to the
substance that ultimate determinateness which an accidental mode such as a
definite shape or location gives to the accident of quantity.(303)

    This mode is absent (supernaturally) from the human nature of our
    Divine Lord; this nature is therefore communicable; and the
    Personality of the Divine Word supernaturally supplies the
    function of this absent natural mode.

It must be confessed that it is not easy to understand how this or any
other _substantial_ mode can be _really_ distinct from the substance it
modifies. And in truth the distinction is not real in the full sense: it
is not between _thing_ and _thing_, _inter rem et rem_. All that is
claimed for it is that it is not merely mental; that it is not merely an
_ens rationis_ which the mind projects into the reality; that it is a
positive perfection of the nature or substance, a perfection which, though
naturally inseparable from the latter, is not absolutely inseparable, and
which, therefore, is _de facto_ supernaturally absent from the human
nature and replaced by the Divine Personality in the case of the
hypostatic union.

It belongs, moreover, to the order of substance, not to that of accidents:
the substantial mode differs from the accidental mode, or modal accident,
in this, that it gives to the substance some ultimate determining
perfection which appertains to the substance as such, and whereby the
substance is completed in the order of “existing in itself”. Subsistence
is not an accident, even though it supervenes on the complete nature, for
it determines the substance of the latter, not in relation to any line of
accidental activity, as a power or faculty, nor as something modifying it
accidentally, but as a mode which ultimately determines and perfects it in
the order of substantial reality itself, in the order of “existing in
itself” in such a full and perfect manner as to be _sui juris_ and

    The main difficulty against this view is also theological: If
    subsistence is a positive perfection it either belongs to the
    complete individual nature or it does not; in the former case the
    humanity of Christ, assumed by the Divine Word, was not a complete
    human nature; in the latter case the individual human nature can
    exist without it: and both consequences are equally inadmissable.
    But it may be replied that, granting the first member of the
    disjunctive, the consequence inferred from it does not really
    follow: subsistence belongs to the complete individual nature as
    an ultimate natural complement; but when it is absent and supplied
    supernaturally by the Divine Personality the nature is still
    complete as a nature: it is wanting in no absolute or entitative
    perfection, but only in a modality which is supereminently
    supplied by the Divine Personality. Neither is the consequence
    from the second member of the disjunctive a valid inference. For
    though personality as a mode does not belong to the essence of an
    individual human nature, no such individual nature can exist
    without _some_ personality, either its own or another: just as
    extension cannot exist without _some_ shape, though any particular
    shape is not essential to it.

To sum up, then, the doctrine of the two preceding sections: What are we
to understand by a _person_, and by _personality_? Unquestionably our
conception of person and personality (concrete and abstract) is mainly
determined, and very rightly so, by an analysis of what constitutes the
actually existing individual of the human species. Whatever our concept
be, it must certainly be realized and verified in all human individuals:
these, before all other beings, must be included in the denotation of our
concept of person. In fact, for the philosopher, guided by the natural
light of reason alone, the term can have hardly any other connotation. He
will, no doubt, ascribe personality, as the highest mode of being he knows
of, to the Supreme Being; but he will here ascribe it only in an
analogical and supereminent way; and only from Divine Revelation can he
know that this Supreme Being has not a single but a threefold Personality.
Again, his consideration of the nature of the human soul as an embodied
substance which is nevertheless spiritual and immortal will enable him to
affirm the possibility of _purely spiritual_ created beings; and these he
will of course conceive as persons. But, conceiving the human soul itself
as a constituent principle of the human individual, he will not conceive
the soul itself as a person.

The philosopher who understands the traditional Aristotelian conceptions
of substance, of individual substance (_substantia prima_), of incomplete,
complete, and composite substances, of substance considered as _nature_ or
principle of action, of substance considered as _hypostasis_, as the
actually existing individual being which is the ultimate logical subject
of all predications and the ultimate ontological subject of all real
determinations: the philosopher who understands these concepts, and who
admits them to be validly grounded in experience, and to offer as far as
they go a correct interpretation of reality, will have no difficulty in
making up his mind about what is requisite to constitute a person.

Wherever he finds an existing individual being of any species, a being
which, even if it is really composite, is nevertheless really one, such a
being he will pronounce to be a “subsisting individual being”. He may not
be able, in the inorganic world or among the lower forms of life, to
distinguish for certain what is the real individual from what may be
perhaps only an accidental, if natural, colony or group of real
individuals. As a test he will always seek for the manifestation of an
internal directive principle whereby all the vital functions of the
organized mass of matter in question are co-ordinated in such a manner as
to make for the preservation, growth and development of the whole
throughout a definite life cycle from birth to death. This formative and
directive principle is evidence of an individual unity of nature and
subsistence; and such evidence is abundantly present in “individuals” of
all the higher species in botany and zoology. The “individual subsisting
being” will therefore be a “complete individual substance or nature,
existing and acting in every way distinct from and incommunicable to any
other being, so that it exists and acts _sui juris_, autonomously”.

If such an individual nature is not merely corporeal but organic or
animate, not merely animate but sentient, and not merely sentient but
_rational_ or _intelligent_, _i.e._ constituted at least in part by a
_spiritual substantial principle_ whereby the individual is _intelligent_
and _free_, then that individual is a person. Every individual of the
human species is such. And all that is essential to his complete
individual human nature enters into and constitutes his person in the
concrete. Not merely, therefore, his intellect and will; not merely his
soul considered as “mind,” _i.e._ as the basis and principle of his whole
conscious and subconscious psychic life; or also as the principle of his
merely organic life; or also as the actualizing principle of his corporeal
nature; but no less also the corporeal principle itself of his composite
being, the body itself with all its parts and members and organs: all
these without exception belong equally to the human person; all of them
without exception go to constitute the _Ego_.(304) This, which is the
Aristotelian and scholastic view of the human person, is in perfect accord
with the common-sense view of the matter as evidenced by the ordinary
usages of language. We speak intelligibly no less than correctly when we
say that a man’s body is part of his person as well as his soul or mind.
And we make a no less accurate, intelligible, and necessary distinction,
when we distinguish between all that which _constitutes_ the human person
and that _whereby we know_ ourselves and other human individuals to be
persons. Yet this distinction is not kept clearly in mind by many modern
philosophers, who, approaching the study of personality exclusively from
the side of what the individual consciousness testifies as to the unity
and continuity (or otherwise) of mental life in the individual, are
scandalized at the assertion that the human body can have anything to do
with human personality.

74. CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE PERSONAL SELF.—In order to form the concept of
person, and to find that concept verified in the data of our experience,
it is absolutely essential that we be endowed with the _faculty of
intelligence_, the spiritual power of forming abstract concepts; and
secondly, that having formed the concept of person as a “rational or
intelligent subsisting being,” we be capable, by the exercise of _reflex
consciousness_, to find in our own mental life the data from which we can
conclude that this concept of person is verified in each and every one of
ourselves. It is because we are endowed with intelligence that we can form
all the abstract notions—of substance, individual, subsistence, existence,
etc.,—which enter into and constitute our concept of person. And it is
because we can, by means of this faculty, reflect on our own mental
operations, and infer from them that each of us is a complete individual
rational nature subsisting independently and incommunicably, that we can
know ourselves to be persons.

How the human individual forms these concepts and finds them verified in
his own “self,” how he gradually comes into conscious possession of the
knowledge of his own individual being as an _Ego_, self, or person, are
problems for Psychology.(305) It will be sufficient here to point out that
there are grounds for distinguishing between the individual’s implicit
subjective awareness of his subsistence or “selfhood”—an awareness which
accompanies all his conscious mental functions, and which becomes more
explicit and definite as the power of introspection and reflex
consciousness develops—and the “_abstract quasi-objective notion_ of his
own _personality_ habitually possessed by every human being”.(306)

The individual human being _immediately_ apprehends his own existence, and
his abiding unity or sameness throughout incessantly changing states, in
the temporal series of his conscious activities; but his knowledge of the
_nature_ of his own being can be the result only of a long and carefully
conducted analysis of his own activities, and of inferences based on the
character of these activities. The former or implicit knowledge of the
self in the concrete is direct and intuitive. The individual _Ego_
apprehends _itself_ in _its states_. This knowledge comes mainly from
within, and is subject to gradual development. Father Maher thus describes
how the child comes gradually into possession of it:—

    As thoughts of pleasures and pains repeated in the past and
    expected in the future grow more distinct, the dissimilarity
    between these and the permanent abiding self comes to be more
    fully realized. Passing emotions of fear, anger, vanity, pride, or
    sympathy, accentuate the difference. But most probably it is the
    dawning sense of power to resist and overcome rising impulse, and
    the dim nascent consciousness of responsibility, which lead up to
    the final revelation, until at last, in some reflective act of
    memory or choice, or in some vague effort to understand the
    oft-heard “I,” the great truth is manifested to him: the child
    enters, as it were, into possession of his personality, and knows
    himself as a _Self-conscious Being_. The _Ego_ does not _create_
    but _discovers_ itself. In Jouffroy’s felicitous phrase, it
    “breaks its shell,” and finds that it is _a Personal Agent with an
    existence and individuality of its own_, standing henceforward
    alone in opposition to the universe.(307)

After this stage is reached, the human individual easily distinguishes
between the “self” as the _cause_ or _subject_ of the states, and the
states as _modifications_ of the self. This distinction is implicit in the
concomitant awareness of self which accompanies all exercise of direct
cognitive consciousness. It is explicit in all deliberate acts of reflex,
introspective self-consciousness. The data from which we form the abstract
concepts of substance, nature, individual, person, self, etc., and from
which we arrive by reasoning at a philosophical knowledge of the nature
and personality of the human individual, are furnished mainly by
introspection; but also in part by external observation of the universe
around us.

Concomitantly, however, with the process by which we become implicitly but
immediately aware of the _Ego_ or self as an abiding self-identical person
in and through our own mental activity, we gradually form a
quasi-objective and historical view of our own personality as one of a
number of similar personalities around us in the universe. This view, says
Father Maher,

    gathers into itself the history of my past life—the actions of my
    childhood, boyhood, youth, and later years. Interwoven with them
    all is the image of my bodily organism, and clustering around are
    a fringe of recollections of my dispositions, habits, and
    character, of my hopes and regrets, of my resolutions and
    failures, along with a dim consciousness of my position in the
    minds of other selves.

    Under the form of a representation of this composite art, bound
    together by the thread of memory, each of us ordinarily conceives
    his complete abiding _personality_. This idea is necessarily
    undergoing constant modification; and it is in comparing the
    present form of the representation with the past, whilst adverting
    to considerable alterations in my character, bodily appearance,
    and the like, that I sometimes say: “I am completely changed,” “I
    am quite another person,” though I am, of course, convinced that
    it is the same “I” who am changed in accidental qualities. _It is
    because this complex notion of my personality is an abstraction
    from my remembered experiences __ that a perversion of imagination
    and a rupture of memory can sometimes induce the so-called
    _“illusions or alterations of personality”_._(308)

When we remember that this objective conception of the self is so
dependent on the function of memory, and that the normal exercise of this
faculty is in turn so dependent on the normal functioning of the brain and
the nervous system,(309) we can hazard an intelligible explanation of the
abnormal facts recorded by most modern psychologists concerning hypnotism,
somnambulism and “double” or “multiple” consciousness.(310) Father Maher,
ascribing these phenomena partly to dislocations of memory, partly to
unusual groupings of mental states according to the laws of mental
association—groupings that arise from peculiar physiological connexions
between the various neural functionings of the brain centres,—and partly
to semi-conscious or reflex nerve processes, emphasizes an important fact
that is sometimes lost sight of: the fact that some section at least of
the individual’s conscious mental life is common to, and present
throughout, the two or more “states” or “conditions” between which any
such abnormal individual is found to alternate. This consideration is
itself sufficient to disprove the theory—to which we shall presently
refer—that there is or may be in the individual human being a double, or
even a multiple “human personality”.

75. FALSE THEORIES OF PERSONALITY.—It is plain that conscious _mental
activity_ cannot _constitute_ human personality, or subconscious mental
activity either, for all activity is of the accidental mode of being, is
an _accident_, whereas a person must be a _substance_. Of course it is the
self-conscious cognitive activity of the human individual that _reveals_
to the latter his own self as a person: it is the exercise of reflex
consciousness combined with memory that gives us the feeling of personal
identity with ourselves throughout the changing events of our mental and
bodily life. Furthermore, this self-consciousness has its root in the
_rational_ nature of the human individual; and rationality of nature is
the differentiating principle which makes the subsisting individual a
“person” as distinct from a (subsisting) “thing”. But then, it is not the
feeling of personal identity that _constitutes_ the person. Actual
consciousness is neither the essence, nor the source, nor even the index
of personality; for it is only an activity, and an activity which reveals
immediately not the _person_ as such, but the _nature_ as rational;(311)
nor does the rational (substantial) principle of a composite nature
constitute the latter a person; but only the subsistence of the complete
(composite) individual nature itself.

These considerations are sufficiently obvious; they presuppose, however,
the truth of the traditional doctrine already explained in regard to the
existence, nature and cognoscibility of _substance_. Philosophers who have
misunderstood and rejected and lost this traditional doctrine of substance
have propounded many varieties of unsatisfactory and inconsistent theories
in regard to what constitutes “person” and “personality”. The main feature
of all such theories is their identification of personality with the
habitual consciousness of self, or habitual feeling of personal identity:
a feeling which, however, must be admitted to include _memory_ in some
form, while the function of memory in any shape or form cannot be
satisfactorily explained on any theory of the human _Ego_ which denies
that there is a human _substance_ persisting permanently as a unifying
principle of successive mental states (63-4).

So far as English philosophy is concerned such theories appear to have had
their origin in Locke’s teaching on person and personal identity.
Discussing the notions of identity and diversity,(312) he distinguishes
between the identity of an individual substance with itself in its
duration throughout time, and what he terms personal identity; while by
identity in general he means not abstract identity but the concrete
permanence of a thing throughout time (34). On this we have to call
attention to the fact that just as _duration_ is not essential to the
_constitution_ of a substance, so neither is it essential to the
constitution of a complete subsisting individual substance or person (64);
though it is, of course, an essential condition for all human apprehension
whether of substance or of person. Locke was wrong, therefore, in
confounding what reveals to us the abiding permanence, identity or
sameness of a subsisting thing or person (whether the “self” or any other
subsisting thing or person) throughout its duration in time, with what
constitutes the subsisting thing or person.

Furthermore, his distinction between substantial identity, _i.e._ the
sameness of an individual substance with itself throughout time, and
personal identity or sameness, was also an error. For as long as there is
_substantial_ unity, continuity, or identity of the subsisting individual
substance, so long is there unity, continuity, or identity of its
subsistence, or of its personality if it be a rational substance. The
_subsistence_ of a complete individual inorganic substance is changed as
soon as the individual undergoes _substantial_ change: we have them no
longer _the same_ subsisting individual being. So, too, the subsistence of
the organic individual is changed as soon as the latter undergoes
_substantial_ change by the dissolution of life, by the separation of its
formative and vital substantial principle from its material substantial
principle: after such dissolution we have no longer _the same_ subsisting
plant or animal. And, finally, the subsistence of an individual man is
changed, or interrupted, or ceases by death, which separates his soul, his
vital principle, from his body. We say, moreover, that in the latter case
the human _person_ ceases to exist when the identity or permanence of his
subsisting substance or nature terminates at death; for _personal
identity_ we hold to be the identity of the complete subsisting substance
or nature with itself. But Locke, who practically agrees with what we have
said regarding the abiding identity of the subsisting individual being
with itself—whether this individual be an inorganic individual, a plant, a
brute beast, or a man(313)—distinguishes at this point between identity of
the subsisting individual substance and _personal_ identity.

Of identity in general he says that “to conceive and judge of it aright,
we must consider what idea the word it is applied to stands for; it being
one thing to be the same substance, another the same man, and a third the
same person, if person, man, and substance, are three names standing for
three different ideas”.(314) And, struggling to dissociate “person” from
“substance,” he continues thus:—

    To find wherein personal identity consists, we must consider what
    person stands for; which, I think, is a thinking, intelligent
    being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as
    itself, the same thinking thing in different times and places;
    which it does only by that consciousness which is inseparable from
    thinking, and, as it seems to me, essential to it. When we see,
    hear, smell, taste, feel, meditate, or will any thing, we know
    that we do so. Thus it is always as to our present sensations and
    perceptions, and by this every one is to himself what he calls
    self; it not being considered in this case whether the same self
    be continued in the same or divers substances. For since
    consciousness always accompanies thinking, and it is that which
    makes every one to be what he calls self, and thereby
    distinguishes himself from all other thinking things; in this
    alone consists personal identity, _i.e._ the sameness of a
    rational being: and as far as this consciousness can be extended
    backwards to any past action or thought, so far reaches the
    identity of that person; it is the same self now it was then; and
    it is by the same self with this present one that now reflects on
    it, that that action was done.(315)

The definition of person in this passage as “a thinking, intelligent
being,” etc., is not far removed from our own definition; but surely
conscious thought is not “that which _makes_ every one to be what he calls
self,” seeing that conscious thought is only an _activity_ or _function_
of the “rational being”. It is conscious thought, of course, including
memory, that _reveals_ the “rational being” to himself as a self, and as
the same or identical self throughout time; but unless the “rational
being,” or the “thinking, intelligent being, that has reason and
reflection,” etc.—which is Locke’s own definition of “person”—were there
all the time identical with itself, exercising those distinct and
successive acts of consciousness and memory, and unifying them, how could
these acts _even reveal_ the “person” or his “personal identity” to
himself, not to speak of their _constituting_ personality or personal
identity? It is perfectly plain that these acts _presuppose_ the “person,”
the “thinking, intelligent being,” or, as we have expressed it, the
“subsisting, rational, individual nature” _already constituted_; and it is
equally plain that the “personal identity” which they _reveal_ is
_constituted by_, and _consists simply in_, the duration or continued
existence of this same subsisting individual rational nature; nor could
these acts reveal any identity, personal or otherwise, unless they were
the acts of one and the same actually subsisting, existing and persisting

Yet Locke thinks he can divorce personal identity from identity of
substance, and account for the former independently of the latter. In face
of the obvious difficulty that actual consciousness is not continuous but
intermittent, he tries to maintain that the consciousness which links
together present states with remembered states is sufficient to constitute
personal identity even although there may have intervened between the
present and the past states a complete change of substance, so that it is
really a different substance which experiences the present states from
that which experienced the past states. The question

    Whether we are the same thinking thing, _i.e._ the same substance
    or no ... concerns not personal identity at all: the question
    being, what makes the same person, and not whether it be the same
    identical substance, which always thinks in the same person:
    different substances, by the same consciousness (where they do
    partake in it), being united into one person, as well as different
    bodies by the same life are united into one animal, whose identity
    is preserved, in that change of substances, by the unity of one
    continued life ... [for] animal identity is preserved in identity
    of life, and not of substance.(316)

Here the contention is that we can have “the same person” and yet not
necessarily “the same identical substance,” because _consciousness_ may
give a personal unity to distinct and successive substances in the
individual man just as _animal life_ gives an analogous unity to distinct
and successive substances in the individual animal. This is very
superficial; for it only substitutes for the problem of human personality
the similar problem of explaining the unity and sameness of subsistence in
the individual living thing: a problem which involves the fact of _memory_
in animals. For scholastic philosophers unity of life in the living thing,
involving the fact of memory in animals, is explained by the perfectly
intelligible and will-grounded teaching that there is in each individual
living thing a _formative and vital principle_ which is _substantial_, a
_forma substantialis_, which unites, in the _abiding self-identical unity
of a complete individual composite substance_, the material principle of
the corporeal substances which thus go, in the incessant process of
substantial change known as metabolism, to form partially, and to support
the substantial continuity of, the living individual. While the latter is
thus in constant process of material, or partial, substantial change, it
remains, as long as it lives, the same complete individual substance, and
this in virtue of the abiding _substantial_ formative and vital principle
which actuates and animates it. The abiding permanence or self-identity of
the _subsisting individual substance_ which feels or thinks, and
remembers, is an intelligible, and indeed the only intelligible, ground
and explanation of memory, and of our consciousness of personal identity.

But if we leave out of account this abiding continuity and self-identity
of the subsisting individual substance or nature, which is the subject,
cause and agent of these acts of memory and consciousness, how can these
latter, in and by themselves, possibly form, or even indeed reveal to us,
our personal identity? Locke felt this difficulty; and he tried in vain to
meet it: in vain, for it is insuperable. He merely suggests that “the same
consciousness ... can be transferred from one thinking substance to
another,” in which case “it will be possible that two thinking substances
may make [successively] one person”.(317) This is practically his last
word on the question,—and it is worthy of note, for it virtually
_substantializes consciousness_. It makes consciousness, which is really
only an act or a series of acts, a _something substantial and subsisting_.
We have seen already how modern phenomenists, once they reject the notion
of substance as invalid or superfluous, must by that very fact
equivalently _substantialize accidents_ (61); for substance, being a
necessary category of human thought as exercised on reality, cannot really
be dispensed with. And we see in the present context an illustration of
this fact. The abiding self-identity of the human person cannot be
explained otherwise than by the abiding self-identical subsistence of the
individual human substance.

If personal identity were constituted and determined by consciousness, by
the series of conscious states connected and unified by memory, then it
would appear that the human being in infancy, in sleep, in
unconsciousness, or in a state of insanity, is not a human person!
Philosophers who have not the hardihood to deny human personality to the
individual of the human species in these states, and who on the other hand
will not recognize the possession of a _rational nature_ or substance by
the subsisting individual as the ground of the latter’s personality and
personal identity, have recourse to the hypothesis of a _sub-conscious_,
or “_sub-liminal_” _consciousness_ in the individual, as a substitute. If
by this they merely meant an abiding _substantial_ rational principle of
all mental activities, even of those which may be semi-conscious or
sub-conscious, they would be merely calling by another name what we call
the _rational nature_ of man. And the fact that they refer to this
principle as the sub-conscious “self” or “Ego” shows how insistent is the
rational need for rooting personality and personal identity in something
which is a _substance_. But they do not and will not conceive it as a
substance; whereas if it is not this, if it is only a “process,” or a
“function,” or a “series” or “stream” of processes or functions, it can no
more constitute or explain, or even reveal, personal identity, than a
series or stream of _conscious_ states can.(318)

Unable as he was to explain how the same consciousness could persist
throughout a succession of really and adequately distinct substances
(except by virtually substantializing consciousness), Locke nevertheless
persisted in holding that consciousness and consciousness alone (including
memory, which, however, is inexplicable on any other theory than that of a
subsisting and persisting substance or nature which remembers),
constitutes personality and personal identity. We have dwelt upon his
teaching mainly because all modern phenomenists try to explain personality
on the same principles—_i.e._ independently of the doctrine of substance.

    As a corollary from his doctrine he inferred that if a man
    completely and irrevocably loses consciousness [or rather memory]
    of his past life, though he remains the same “man” he is no longer
    the same “person”: “if it be possible for the same man to have
    distinct incommunicable consciousness at different times, it is
    past doubt the same man would at different times make different
    persons”;(319) and he goes on in this sense to give a literal
    interpretation to the modes of speech we have referred to
    above.(320) He likewise admitted that two or more “persons,”
    _i.e._ consciousnesses, can be linked with the same individual
    human being, or the same individual human soul, alternately
    appearing and disappearing, giving place successively to one
    another. When any one of these “personalities” or consciousnesses
    ceases to be actual, it must in Locke’s view cease to be in any
    sense real: so that there could not be two or more personalities
    at the same time in the same individual human being. Modern
    psychologists, however, of the phenomenist school, convinced that
    sub-conscious mental activities are not only possible, but that
    the fact of such activities is well established by a variety of
    experiences, have extended Locke’s conception of personality (as
    actual consciousness) to embrace groups of mental activities which
    may emerge only intermittently “above the threshold of
    consciousness”. Hence they explain the abnormal cases of double or
    multiple consciousness already referred to, as being
    manifestations of really distinct “personalities” in one and the
    same human individual. In normal human beings there is, they say,
    only one normally “conscious personality”. The sub-conscious
    mental activities of such an individual they bulk together as
    forming this individual’s “sub-liminal” or “sub-conscious” _Ego_
    or “self”: presumably a distinct personality from the conscious
    one. In the abnormal cases of “double-consciousness” the
    subliminal self struggles for mastery over the conscious self and
    is for a time successful: the two personalities thus for a time
    changing places as it were. In the rarer or more abnormal cases of
    treble or multiple consciousness, there are presumably three or
    more “personalities” engaged in the struggle, each coming to the
    surface in turn and submerging the others.

    It is not the fancifulness of this theory that one might object to
    so much as its utter inadequacy to explain the facts, nay, its
    utter unintelligibility _on the principles of those who propound
    it_. For we must not lose sight of the fact that it is propounded
    by philosophers who purport to explain mental life and human
    personality without recourse to a _substantial soul_, to any
    _substantial_ basis of mental life, or indeed to the concept of
    _substance_ at all: by philosophers who will talk of a mental
    process without admitting mind or soul as a _substance_ or
    _subject_ of that process, of a “series” or “stream” of mental
    functions or activities without allowing any _agent_ that would
    exercise those functions, or any _substantial abiding principle_
    that would unify the series or stream and know it as such;
    philosophers who regard the _Ego_, “self,” or “person,” as
    _nothing other than_ the group or series or stream of mental
    states, and not as anything of which these are the states; and,
    finally, who speak of these groups of functions or activities as
    “personalities”—which they describe as “struggling” with one
    another—apparently oblivious of the fact that by using such
    language they are _in their thought at least_ transforming these
    _activities_ into _agents_, these _states_ into _subjects of
    states_, in a word, these _accidents_ into _substances_; or else
    they are making their language and their thought alike

    Of course those numerous modern philosophers who, like James, try
    to “find a place for all the experiential facts unencumbered by
    any hypothesis [like that of an individual substantial soul,
    presumably] save that of passing states of mind” [_ibid._, p.
    480], do not really leave these “states” suspended in mid-air as
    it were. The imperative need for admitting the reality of
    substance always ultimately asserts itself: as when James
    recognizes the necessity of admitting something “more than the
    bare fact of co-existence of a passing thought with a passing
    brain-state” [_Principles of Psychology_, i., p. 346—_apud_ MAHER,
    _ibid._, p. 483]. Only his speculation as to what constitutes this
    “something ‘more’ which lies behind our mental states” [_ibid._,
    p. 485] is not particularly convincing: “For my own part,” he
    says, “I confess that the moment I become metaphysical and try to
    define the _more_, I find the notion of some sort of an _anima
    mundi_ thinking in all of us to be a more promising hypothesis, in
    spite of all its difficulties, than that of a lot of absolutely
    individual souls” [_ibid._, p. 346—apud MAHER, _ibid._]. This
    restatement of the medieval pantheistic theory known as Averroïsm,
    Monopsychism, or the theory of the _intellectus separatus_ [_cf._
    DE WULF, _History of Medieval Philosophy_, pp. 381 _sqq._], is a
    somewhat disappointing contribution to Metaphysics from the most
    brilliant of our modern psychologists. The “difficulties” of this
    “more promising hypothesis” had discredited it a rather long time
    before Professor James resurrected it [_cf._ criticisms—_apud_
    MAHER, _ibid._].


76. ONTOLOGY AND THE ACCIDENT-MODES OF BEING.—Under the ultimate category
or _genus supremum_ of Substance experience reveals to us two broadly
distinct sub-classes: corporeal substances, “bodies” or “material” things,
and spiritual substances or “spirits”. Of these latter we have direct
experience only of one class, _viz._ _embodied_ spirits or human souls.
The investigation of the nature of these belongs to _Psychology_, and from
the data of that science we may infer, by the light of reason, the
_possibility_ of another class of spirits, _viz._ _pure_ spirits, beings
of whose actual existence we know from Divine Revelation. The existence of
a Supreme Being, Whom we must conceive analogically as substance and
spirit, is demonstrated by the light of reason in _Natural Theology_. The
investigation of the nature of corporeal substances belongs properly to
_Cosmology_. Hence in the present treatise we have no further direct
concern with the substance-mode of reality;(322) but only with its
accident-modes, and not with all of these.

Not with all of them; for those which belong properly to spiritual
substances, or properly to corporeal substances, call for special
treatment in Psychology and Cosmology respectively. In the main, only such
species of accidents as are common to matter and spirit alike, will form
the subject of the remaining portion of the present volume. Only the
broader aspects of such categories as Quality, Quantity and
Causality—aspects which have a more direct bearing on the Theory of Being
and the Theory of Knowledge in general,—call for treatment in General
Metaphysics. A more detailed treatment must be sought in other departments
of Philosophy.

77. NATURE OF THE ACCIDENT CALLED QUALITY.—In the widest sense of the
term, _Quality_ is synonymous with _logical attribute_. In this sense
whatever can be predicated of a subject, whatever _logically_ determines a
subject in any way for our thought is a quality or “attribute” of that
subject. In a sense almost equally wide the term is used to designate any
_real_ determination, whether substantial or accidental, of a subject. In
this sense the differential element, or _differentia specifica_,
determines the generic element, or genus, of a substance: it tells us what
_kind_ or _species_ the substance is: _e.g._ what kind of animal a man is,
_viz._ rational; what kind of living thing an animal is, _viz._ sentient;
what kind of body or corporeal thing a plant is, _viz._ living. And hence
scholastics have said of the predicable “_differentia specifica_” that it
is predicated adjectivally, or as a _quality_, to tell us in _what the
thing consists_, or what is its nature: differentia specifica praedicatur
_in quale quid_: it gives us the determining principle of the specific
nature. Or, again, quality is used synonymously with any _accidental_
determination of a substance. In this sense magnitude, location, action,
etc., though they determine a subject in different accidental ways,
nevertheless are all indiscriminately said to “qualify” it in the sense of
determining it somehow or other, and are therefore called “qualities” in
the wide sense of “accidents”. Hence, again, the scholastics have said
that inasmuch as all accidents determine or qualify their subjects, they
are predicated of these _qualitatively_, and may be called in a wide sense
“qualifications” or “qualities”: omnia genera accidentium qualificant
substantiam et praedicantur _in quale_.

It is in this wide sense that we use the term when we say that the
(specific) nature (or “kind”) of a thing is revealed by its “qualities”;
for the nature of a thing is revealed by all its accidents. And when we
infer the nature of a thing from its activities, in accordance with the
maxim _Qualis est operatio talis est natura_, we must take the term
“_operatio_” or “activity” to include the operation of the thing on our
cognitive faculties, the states of cognitive consciousness thus aroused in
us, and all the other accidents thus revealed to us in the thing by its
“knowledge-eliciting” action on our minds.

But the term _Quality_ has been traditionally restricted, after Aristotle,
to designate properly one particular category of accidents distinct from
the others and from substance.

A definition proper of any _genus supremum_ is of course out of the
question. But it is not easy to give even a description which will convey
an accurate notion of the special category of Quality, and mark it off
from the other accident-categories. If we say with Aristotle that quality
is “that whereby we are enabled to describe _what sort_ (ποιόν, _quale_)
anything is”(323)—_e.g._ that it is white by whiteness, strong by
strength, etc.—we are only illustrating the abstract by the concrete. But
even this serves the purpose of helping us to realize what quality in
general means. For we are more familiar with the concrete than with the
abstract: and we can see a broad distinction between the question: “_What
sort_ is that thing? _Qualis_ est ista res?” (Quality), and the question:
“_How large_ is that thing? _Quanta_ est ista res?” (Quantity), or
“_Where_ is that thing?” (Place), or “What is it _doing_? What is
_happening_ to it?” (_Actio et Passio_), or “What does it _resemble_?”
(_Relation_), etc. This will help us to realize that there are accidental
modes of being which affect substances in a different way from all the
extrinsic denominations of the latter (60), and also in a different way
from Quantity, Relation, and Causality; and these modes of being, whereby
the substance is _of such a sort_, or _in such a condition_, we call
_qualities_. And if we inquire what special kind of _determination_ of the
substance is common to qualities, and marks these off from the other
accidents, we shall find it to consist in this, that quality is an
accidental mode of being which so affects the substance that it disposes
the latter well or ill in regard to the perfections natural to this
particular kind of substance: it _alters_ the latter accidentally by
increasing or diminishing its natural perfection. We have seen that no
created substance has all the perfection natural to its kind, _tota simul_
or _ab initio_ (46); that it fulfils its rôle in existence by development,
by tending towards its full or final perfection. The accidental realities
which supervene on its essence, and thus _alter_ its perfection _within
the limits of its kind or species_, are what we call qualities. They
diversify the substance accidentally in its perfection, in its concrete
mode of existing and behaving: by their appearance and disappearance they
do not change the _essential perfection_ of the substance (46), they do
not effect a substantial change; but they change its intermediate,
accidental perfection; and this qualitative change is technically known
and described as _alteration_(324) (11).

Hence we find _Quality_ described by St. Thomas as the sort of accident
which modifies or disposes the substance in itself: “_accidens
modificativum sen dispositivum substantiaein seipsa_,” and by Albertus
Magnus somewhat more explicitly as “the sort of accident which completes
and perfects substance in its existence and activity: _accidens complens
ac perficiens substantiam tarn in existendo quam in operando_”.(325) This
notion will be conveyed with sufficient clearness if we describe _Quality_
as _that absolute accident which determines a substance after the manner
of an accidental _“differentia,”_ affecting the essential perfection of
the substance in regard to its existence or to its activity_.

Hence (1) the Pure Actuality of the Infinitely Perfect Being cannot admit
qualities, inasmuch as quality implies only a relative and limited
perfection; (2) the qualities of a corporeal substance are grounded in the
_formative_ principle which gives that substance its specific nature and
is the principle of its tendency and development towards its final
perfection, whereas its _quantity_ is grounded in its determinable or
_material_ principle; (3) the _essential_ differentiating principles of
substances—being known to us not intuitively, but only abstractively and
discursively, _i.e._ by inference from the behaviour of these substances,
from the effects of their activities—are often designated not by what
constitutes them intrinsically, but by the _accidental perfections_ or
_qualities_ which are our only key to a knowledge of them. For instance,
we differentiate the nature of man from that of the brute beast by
describing the former as _rational_: a term which really designates not
the essence or nature itself, but one of its fundamental qualities, _viz._
the faculty of reason.

78. IMMEDIATE SUB-CLASSES OF QUALITY AS _Genus Supremum_.—On account of
the enormous variety of qualities which characterize the data of our
experience, the problem of classifying qualities is not a simple one. Its
details belong to the special sciences and to the other departments of
philosophy. Here we must confine ourselves to an attempt at indicating the
immediate sub-classes of the _genus supremum_. And in this context it will
not be out of place to call attention to a remarkable, and in our view
quite erroneous, trend of modern thought. It accompanied the advent of
what is known as _atomism_ or _the mechanical conception of the universe_,
a conception much in vogue about half a century ago, but against which
there are already abundant evidences of a strong reaction. We refer to the
inclination of scientists and philosophers to eliminate Quality altogether
as an ultimately distinct category of human experience, by reducing all
qualities to _quantity_, _local relations_, and _mechanical_ or _spatial
motions_ of matter (_cf._ 11). In this theory all the sensible qualities
of the material universe would be really and objectively nothing more than
locations and motions of the ultimate constituents of perceptible matter.
All the chemical, physical and mechanical energies or forces of external
nature would be purely quantitative dispositions or configurations of
matter in motion: realities that could be _exhaustively_ known by
mathematical analysis and measurement. And when it was found that
_qualitative_ concepts stubbornly resisted all attempts at elimination, or
reduction to _quantitative_ concepts, even in the investigation of the
material universe or external nature, scientists and philosophers of
external nature thought to get rid of them by locating them exclusively in
the human mind, and thus pushing them over on psychologists and
philosophers of the mind for further and final exorcism. For a time
extreme materialists, less wise than daring, endeavoured to reduce even
mind and all its conscious states and processes to a mere subjective
aspect of what, looked at objectively, would be merely matter in
motion.(326) It can be shown in Cosmology, Psychology, and Epistemology
that all such attempts to analyse qualities into something other than
qualities, are utterly unsatisfactory and unsuccessful. And we may see
even from an enumeration of some of the main classes of qualities that
such attempts were foredoomed to failure.

Scholastic Philosophy has generally adopted Aristotle’s division of
qualities into four great groups:(327) (1) ἕξις ἢ διάθεσις, _habitus vel
dispositio_; (2) δύναμις φυσικὴ ἢ ἀδυναμία, potentia _naturalis vel
impotentia_; (3) ποιότητες παθητικαί καὶ πάθη, _potentiae passivae et
passiones_; (4) μορφὴ ἢ σχῆμα, _forma vel figura_. St. Thomas offers the
following ground for this classification. Since quality, he says,(328) is
an accidental determination of the substance itself, _i.e._ of the
perfection of its concrete existence and activity, and since we may
distinguish four aspects of the substance: its nature itself as
perfectible; its intrinsic principles of acting and receiving action,
principles springing from the _formative_, specific constituent of its
nature; its receptivity of change effected by such action, a receptivity
grounded in the determinable or _material_ principle of its nature; and
finally its quantity, if it be a corporeal substance,—we can likewise
distinguish between (1) _acquired habits or dispositions_, such as health,
knowledge, virtue, vice, etc., which immediately determine the perfection
of the substance, disposing it well or ill in relation to its last end;
(2) intrinsic _natural forces_, _faculties_, _powers of action_,
_aptitudes_, _capacities_, such as intellect, will, imagination, instinct,
organic vital forces, physical, chemical, mechanical energies; (3) states
resulting in a corporeal being from the action of its _milieu_ upon it:
the _passions_ and emotions of sentient living things, such as sensations
of pleasure, pain, anger, etc.; the _sensible qualities_ of matter, such
as colour, taste, smell, temperature, feel or texture, etc.; and, finally
(4) the quality of _form or shape_ which is a mere determination of the
quantity of a corporeal substance.

This classification is not indeed perfect, for the same individual quality
can be placed in different classes when looked at from different
standpoints: heat, for instance, may be regarded as a _natural operative
power_ of a substance in a state of combustion, or as a _sensible quality_
produced in that substance by the operation of other agencies. But it has
the merit of being an exhaustive classification; and philosophers have not
succeeded in improving on it.

Qualities of the third and fourth class do not call for special treatment.
In the third class, Aristotle’s distinction between ποιότητες παθητικαί
(_qualitates passibiles_) and πάθη (_passiones_) is based upon the
relatively permanent or transient character of the quality in question.
The transient quality, such as the blush produced by shame or the pallor
produced by fear, would be a _passio_;(329) whereas the more permanent
quality, such as the natural colour of the countenance, would be a
_passibilis qualitas._ The “passions” or sensible changes which result
from certain conscious states, and affect the organism of the sentient
living being, are included in this class as _passiones_; while the visible
manifestations of more permanent mental derangement or insanity would be
included in it as _passibiles qualitates_. We may, perhaps, get a fairly
clear and comprehensive notion of all that is contained in this class as
“sensible qualities” by realizing that these embrace whatever is the
immediate _cause_ or the immediate _result_ of the _sense modification
involved in any act or process of sense consciousness_. Such “sensible
qualities,” therefore, belong in part to the objects which provoke sense
perception, and in part to the sentient subject which elicits the
conscious act. One of the most important problems in the Theory of
Knowledge, and one which ramifies into Cosmology and Psychology, is that
of determining the precise significance of these “sensible qualities,”—and
especially in determining whether they are qualities of an extramental
reality, or merely states of the individual mind or consciousness itself.

_Form_ or _figure_, which constitutes the fourth class of quality, is a
mode of the quantity of a body, being merely the particular surface
termination of its extension or volume. Considered as a mode of abstract
or mathematical quantity, it belongs to the domain of mathematics.
Considered in the concrete body, it is the physical, sensible form, shape,
or figure, of the latter; and here it may be either natural or artificial,
according as it results from the unimpeded action of natural forces or
from these forces as manipulated and directed by intelligent agents. It is
worthy of special note that while extension or volume is indicative of the
_material_ principle of corporeal substances, the figure or shape
naturally assumed by this volume is determined by their _formative_
principle, and is thus indicative of their specific nature. This is
already noticeable in the inorganic world, where many of the chemically
different substances assume each its own distinctive crystalline form. But
it is particularly in the domains of botany and zoology that the natural
external form of the living individual organism is recognized as one of
the most important grounds of its classification and one of the surest
tests of its specific nature.(330)

79. HABITS AND DISPOSITIONS.—Every created being is subject to change,
capable of development or retrogression, endowed with a natural tendency
towards some end which it can reach by a natural process of activity, and
which constitutes for it, when attained, its full and final perfection
(66). Through this process of change it acquires accidental modes of being
which help it or hinder it, dispose it or indispose it, in the exercise of
its natural activities, and therefore also in the concrete perfection of
its nature as tending towards its natural end. Such an accidental mode of
being is acquired by a series of transient actions and experiences,
_actiones et passiones_: after these have passed away it remains, and not
merely as a state or condition resulting from the changes wrought in the
subject by these experiences, but as a _disposition_ towards easier
repetition of such experiences. Moreover, it may be not a mere transient
disposition, but something stable and permanent, not easily removed or
annulled, a _dispositio difficile mobilis_. And just as it is essentially
indicative of past actions whereby it was acquired, so, too, the very
_raison d’être_ of its actuality is to dispose its subject for further and
future changes, for operations and effects which are not yet actual but
only potential in this subject. Such an accidental mode of being is what
Aristotle called ἕξις, and the scholastics _habitus_. With Aristotle, they
define _habit_ as a _more or less stable disposition whereby a subject is
well or ill disposed in itself or in relation to other things_: _Habitus
dicitur dispositio difficile mobilis secundum quam bene vel male
disponitur subjectum aut secundum se aut in ordine ad aliud_.(331)

The difference between a _habit_ (ἕξις) and a simple _disposition_
(διάθεσις) is that the former is by nature a more or less _stable_ quality
while the latter is unstable and transient. Moreover, the facilities
acquired by repeated action of the organs or members of men or animals,
and the particular “set” acquired by certain tools or instruments from
continued use, are more properly called _dispositions_ than _habits_: they
are not habits in the strict sense, though they are often called habits in
the ordinary and looser usage of common speech. A little reflection will
show that _the only proper subjects of natural habits in the strict sense
are the spiritual faculties of an intelligent and free agent_.

Since all natural habits are acquired by the past activities, and dispose
for the future activities, of a being not absolutely perfect, but partly
potential and partly actual, and subject to change, it follows that only
finite beings can have habits. But, furthermore, beings that are not free,
that have not control or dominion of their own actions, that have not
freedom of choice, are determined by their nature, by a necessary law of
their activity, to elicit the actions which they do actually elicit: such
beings are by their nature _determinata ad unumn_; they are confined
necessarily to the particular lines of action whereby they fulfil their
rôle in the actual order of things. As Aristotle remarks, you may throw
the same stone repeatedly in the same direction and with the same
velocity: it will never acquire a _habit_ of moving in that direction with
that velocity.(332) The same is true of plants and animals; for a habit in
the strict sense implies not merely a certain mutability in its subject;
it implies, and consists in, a stable modification of some power or
faculty _which can have its activities directed indifferently in one or
other of a variety of channels or lines_: the power or faculty which is
the proper subject of a habit must be a _potentia dirigibilis vel
determinabilis ad diversa_. Hence merely material powers of action—such as
the mechanical, physical and chemical forces of inorganic nature, or the
organic powers of living bodies, whether vegetative or merely
sentient,—since they are all _of themselves_, of _their nature_,
determined to certain lines of action, and to these only,—such powers
cannot become the subjects of habits, of stable dispositions towards one
line of action rather than another. “The powers of material nature,” says
St. Thomas, “do not elicit their operations by means of habits, for they
are of themselves [already adequately] determined to their particular
lines of action.”(333)

Only the spiritual faculties of free agents are, then, the proper seat of
real habits. Only of free agents can we say strictly that “habit is second
nature”. Only these can direct the operations of their intellect and will,
and through these latter the operations of their sense faculties, both
cognitive and appetitive, in a way conducive to their last end or in a way
that deviates therefrom, by attaching their intellects to truth or to
error, their wills to virtue or to vice, and thus forming in these
faculties stable dispositions or _habits_.(334)

Is there any sense, then, in which we can speak of the sentient (cognitive
and appetitive) and executive powers of man as the seat of habits? The
activities of those faculties are under the control of intellect and will;
the acts _elicited_ by the former are _commanded_ by the latter; they are
acts that issue primarily from the latter faculties; and hence the
dispositions that result from repetition of these acts and give a facility
for further repetition of them—acts of talking, walking, singing, playing
musical instruments, exercising any handicraft—are partly, though only
secondarily, _dispositions_ formed in these sentient faculties (the
“trained” eye, the “trained” ear, the “discriminating” sense of taste, the
“alert” sense of touch in the deaf, dumb, or blind), or in these executive
powers, whereby the latter more promptly and easily obey the “command” of
the higher faculties; but they are primarily and principally _habits_ of
these higher faculties themselves rendering the latter permanently “apt”
to “command” and utilize the subordinate powers in the repetition of such

Unquestionably the bodily organs acquire by exercise a definite “set”
which facilitates their further exercise. But this “set” is not something
that they can use themselves; nor is it something that removes or lessens
a natural indeterminateness or indifference of these powers; for they are
not indifferent: they _must_ act, at any instant, in the _one_ way which
their concrete nature in all its surroundings actually demands. They
themselves are only instruments of the higher faculties; these alone have
freedom of choice between lines of action; it is only the stable
modifications which these acquire, which they themselves can use, and
which _dispose_ them by lessening their indeterminateness, that are
properly called habits. There are, therefore, in the organic faculties of
man _dispositions_ which give facility of action. There are, moreover,
organic dispositions which dispose the organism not for _action_ but for
its union with the _formative principle_ or soul: _habituales
dispositiones materiae ad formam_.(336) Aristotle gives as instances
bodily health or beauty.(337) But these _dispositiones materiales ad
formam_ he does not call _habits_, any more than the organic
_dispositiones ad operationem_ just referred to: and for this reason, that
although all these dispositions have a certain degree of stability in the
organism—a stability which they derive, moreover, from the soul which is
the formative principle that secures the continuity and individual
identity of the organism,—yet they are not of themselves, of their own
nature, stable; whereas the acquired dispositions of the spiritual
faculties, intellect and will, rooted as they are in a subject that is
spiritual and substantially immutable, are of their own nature stable and
permanent. Nor are all dispositions of these latter faculties to be deemed
habits, but only those which arise from acts which give them the special
character of stability. Hence mere _opinion_ in the intellectual order, as
distinct from _science_, or a mere _inclination_ resulting from a few
isolated acts, as distinct from a _virtue_ or a _vice_ in the moral order,
are not habits.(338) Habits, therefore, belong properly to the faculties
of a spiritual substance; indirectly, however, they extend their influence
to the lower or organic powers dependent on, and controlled by, the
spiritual faculties.

To the various dispositions and facilities of action acquired by animals
through “training,” “adaptation,” “acclimatization,” etc., we may apply
what has been said in regard to the sense faculties and executive powers
of the human body. Just as we may regard the internal sense faculties
(memory, imagination, sense appetite) in man as in a secondary and
subordinate way subjects of habits, in so far as these faculties act under
the direction and control of human reason and will,(339) so also the
organic dispositions induced in irrational animals by the direction and
guidance of human reason may indeed be regarded as extensions or effects
of the habits that dispose the rational human faculties, but not as
themselves in the strict sense habits.(340)

If, then, habits belong properly to intellect and will, and if their
function is to dispose or indispose the human agent for the attainment of
the perfection in which his last end consists, we must naturally look to
_Psychology_ and _Ethics_ for a detailed analysis of them. Here we must be
content with a word on their origin, their effects, and their importance.

Habits are produced by acts. The act modifies the faculty. If, for
instance, nothing remained in our cognitive faculties after each transient
cognitive act had passed, memory would be inexplicable and knowledge
impossible; nor could the repetition of any act ever become easier than
its first performance. This something that remains is a habit, or the
beginning of a habit A habit may be produced by a single act: the mind’s
first intuition of an axiom or principle produces a _habit or habitual
knowledge_ of that principle. But as a rule it requires a repetition of
any act, and that for a long time at comparatively short intervals, to
produce a _habit_ of that act, a stable disposition whereby it can be
readily repeated; and to strengthen and perfect the habit the acts must be
formed with a growing degree of intensity and energy. Progress in virtue
demands sustained and increasingly earnest efforts.

The natural effect of habit is to perfect the faculty,(341) to increase
its energy, to make it more prompt to act, and thus to _facilitate_ the
performance of the act for which the habit disposes it. It also engenders
and develops a natural _need_ or _tendency_ or _desire_ to repeat the act,
and a natural aversion from the acts opposed to the habit. Finally,
according as the habit grows, the performance of the act demands less
effort, calls for less actual attention; thus the habit diminishes the
feeling of effort and tends to bring about a quasi-automatic and
semi-conscious form of activity.

Good habits are those which _perfect_ the nature of the agent, which
advance it towards the realization of its end; bad habits are those which
retard and prevent the realization of this end. Hence the _ethical_
importance, to the human person, of forming, fostering and confirming good
habits, as also of avoiding, resisting and eradicating bad habits, can
scarcely be exaggerated.

The profound and all-pervading influence of habit in the mental and moral
life of man is unfortunately far from being adequately appreciated even by
those responsible for the secular, moral and religious education of the
young. This is perhaps mainly due to the fact that the influence of habit
on the conduct of life, enormous as it is in fact, is so secret, so
largely unconscious, that it easily escapes notice. Careful reflection on
our actions, diligent study of the springs of action in our everyday life,
are needed to reveal this influence. But the more we analyse human conduct
in ourselves and others, the more firmly convinced we become that human
character and conduct are _mainly_ dependent on _the formation of habits_.
Habits are the grand conserving and perfecting—or the terrible undermining
and destroying—force of life. They are the fruit of our past and the seed
of our future. In them the words of Leibniz find their fullest
verification: “the present is laden with the past and pregnant with the
future”. By forming good habits we escape the disheartening difficulties
of perpetual beginnings; and thus the labour we devote to the acquisition
of wisdom and virtue has its first rich recompense in the facility it
gives us to advance on the path of progress.

It has been truly and rightly said that all genuine education consists in
the formation of good habits.

80. POWERS, FACULTIES AND FORCES.—A natural operative power, faculty, or
force (δύναμις, _potentia_, _facultas_, _virtus agendi_) is a quality
which renders the nature of the individual agent apt to elicit certain
actions. By _impotence_ or _incapacity_ (ἀδυναμία, _impotentia_,
_incapacitas_) Aristotle meant not an opposite kind of quality, in
contradistinction to power or faculty, but only a _power of a weaker
order_, differing _in degree_, not _in kind_, from the real power which
renders an agent proximately capable of acting; such weaker capacities,
for instance, as the infant’s power to walk, or the defective eyesight of
the aged.

It is to the individual subsisting person or thing that all the actions
proceeding from the latter are ascribed: _actiones sunt suppositorum_: the
“_suppositum_” or person is the _principium_ QUOD _agit_. And it acts in
accordance with its nature; this latter is the _principium_ QUO _agens
agit_: the nature is the substance or essence as a principle of the
actions whereby the individual tends to realize its end. But is a created,
finite nature the _immediate_ or _proximate_ principle of its activities,
so that it is operative _per se_? Or is it only their _remote principle_,
eliciting them not by itself but _only_ by means of _powers_, _faculties_,
_forces_, which are themselves accidental perfections of the substance and
_really distinct_ from it, qualities intermediate between the latter and
its actions, being the _proximate_ principles of the latter?

No doubt when any individual nature is acted upon by other agencies, when
it undergoes real change under the influence of its environment, its
_passive potentiality_ is being so far forth actualized. Moreover when the
nature itself acts _immanently_, the term of such action remaining within
the agent itself to actualize or perfect it, some _passive potentiality_
of the agent is being actualized. In these cases the nature before being
thus actualized was really capable of such actualization. This _passive
potentiality_, however, is itself nothing actual, it implies no actual
perfection in the nature. But we must distinguish carefully from this
_passive or receptive potentiality_ of a nature its _active or operative
powers_—_potentiae operativae_. These may be themselves _actual
perfections_ in the nature, _accidental_ perfections actually in the
nature, and perhaps really distinct from it.

That they are indeed _actual_ perfections of the nature is fairly obvious:
it is an actual perfection of a nature to be _proximately_ and
_immediately_, and without any further complement or addition to its
reality, _capable of acting_; and this is true whether the action in
question be immanent or transitive: if it be immanent, the perfection
resulting from the action, the term of the latter, will be a perfection of
the agent itself, and in this case the agent by virtue of its operative
power will have had _the capacity of perfecting itself_; while if the
action be transitive the agent will have had, in virtue of its operative
power, _the capacity of producing perfections in other things_. In either
case such capacity is undoubtedly an actual perfection of the agent that
possesses it. Hence the truth of the scholastic formula: _Omne agens agit
in quantum est in_ ACTU, _patiatur vero inquantum est in_ POTENTIA.

Furthermore, all such operative powers are _really distinct from the
actions_ which immediately proceed from them: this, too, is obvious, for
while the operative power is a stable, abiding characteristic of the
agent, the actions elicited by means of it are transient.

But what is the nature of this operative power in relation to the nature
itself of the agent? It is an actual perfection of this nature. It is,
moreover, unlike acquired habits, native to this nature, born with it so
to speak, naturally inseparable from it. Further still, operative powers
would seem to be all _properties_ (69) of their respective natures:
inasmuch as it is only in virtue of the operative power that the nature
can act, and there can be no nature without connatural operations whereby
it tends to realize the full and _final_ perfection of its being, the
perfection which is the very _raison d’être_ of its presence in the actual
order of things. The question therefore narrows itself down to this: Are
operative powers, which perfect the nature of which they are properties,
really distinct from this nature, or are they only virtually distinct
aspects under which we view the nature itself? For example, when we speak
of intellect and will as being faculties of the human soul, do we merely
mean that intellect is the soul itself regarded as capable of reasoning,
and will the soul itself regarded as capable of willing? Or do we mean
that the soul is not _by itself_ and _in virtue of its own essence_
capable of reasoning and willing; that it can reason and will only through
the instrumentality of two realities of the accidental order, really
distinct from, though at the same time _necessarily_ rooted in and
springing from, the substance of the soul itself: realities which we call
_powers_ or _faculties_? Or again, when we speak of a man or an animal as
having various _sense faculties_—internal and external, cognitive,
appetitive, executive—do we merely mean that the living, sentient organism
is itself directly capable of eliciting acts of various kinds: of
imagining, desiring, seeing, hearing, etc.? Or do we mean that the
organism can elicit these various acts only by means of several accidental
realities, really distinct from, and inhering in, itself?

If such operative powers or faculties are naturally inseparable from the
substance in which they inhere, if they are so necessarily consequent on
the nature of the latter that it cannot exist without them, are they
anything more than virtually distinct aspects of the substance itself? On
this question, as we have already seen (69), scholastics are not agreed.
St. Thomas, and Thomists generally, maintain that intellect and will are
really distinct from the substance of the soul, and likewise that the
sense faculties are really distinct from the substance of the animated
organism in which they inhere.(342) In this view the distinction is not
merely a virtual distinction between different aspects of the soul (or the
organism) itself, grounded in the variety and complexity of the acts which
emanate from the latter: the faculties are real entities of the accidental
order, mediating between the substance and its actions, and involving in
the concrete being a plurality which, however, is not incompatible with
the real unity of the latter (69).

The following are some of the arguments urged in proof of a real

(_a_) Existence and action are two really distinct actualities; therefore
the potentialities which they actualize must be really distinct: for such
is the transcendental relation between the potential and the actual that
any potential subject and the corresponding perfection which actualizes it
must belong to the same _genus supremum_: the one cannot be a substance
and the other an accident.(343) Now existence is the actuality of
_essence_ and action is the actuality of _operative power_ or _faculty_.
But action is certainly an accident; therefore the operative power which
it actualizes must also be an accident, and must therefore be really
distinct from the substance of which it is a power, and of which existence
is the actuality. This line of argument applies with equal force to all
created natures.(344)

In the Infinite Being alone are operation and substance identical. No
creature is operative in virtue of its substance. The actions of a
creature cannot be actualizations _of its substance_: _existence_ is the
actualization of its substance; therefore its actions must be
actualizations of potentialities which are _accidents_ distinct from its
substance; in other words, of operative powers which belong indeed
necessarily to its substance but are really distinct from the latter.

This argument rests on very ultimate metaphysical conceptions. But not all
scholastics will admit the assumptions it involves. How, for instance,
does it appear that the created or finite substance as such cannot be
_immediately_ operative? Even were it immediately operative its actions
would still be accidents, and the distinction between Creator and creature
would stand untouched. The operative power must be an accident because the
action which actualizes it, the “_actus secundus_,” is an accident. But
the _consequentia_ has not been proved, and it is not self-evident. On the
theory of the real distinction, is not the operative power itself an
_actual perfection_ of the substance, and therefore in some sort an
actualization of the latter? And yet they are not in the same ultimate
category, _in eodem genere supremo_. The nature which is the potential
subject, perfected by the operative power, is a substance, while the
operative power which perfects the substance by actualizing this
potentiality is an accident. Of course there is not exactly the same
correlation between substance and operative power as between the latter
and action. But anyhow the action is in some true sense an actualization
of the substance, at least through the medium of the power, unless we are
prepared to break up the concrete unity of the agent by referring the
action solely to the power of the agent, and isolating the substance of
the latter as a sort of immutable core which merely “exists”: a mode of
conceiving the matter, which looks very like the mistake of reifying
abstract concepts. And if the action is in any true sense an actualization
of the substance, we have, after all, a _potentia_ and _actus_ which are
not in the same ultimate category.

    These considerations carry us, of course, right into what is
    perhaps the most fundamental of all metaphysical problems: that of
    the mode in which finite reality is actual. In its concrete
    actuality every finite real being is essentially subject to
    change: its actuality is not _tota simul_: at every instant it not
    only _is_ but is _becoming_: it is a mixture of potentiality and
    actuality: it is ever really changing, and yet the “it” which
    changes can in some real degree and for some real space of time
    persist or endure identical with itself as a “subsisting thing” or
    “person”. How, then, are we to conceive aright the mode of its
    actuality? Take the concrete existing being at any instant of its
    actuality: suppose that it is not merely undergoing change through
    the influence of other beings in its environment, or through its
    own immanent action, but that it is itself “acting,” whether
    immanently or transitively. If we consider that at this instant
    its _existence_ is “really distinct” from its _action_ we cannot
    mean by this that there is in it an unchanging substantial core,
    which is actually merely “existing,” and a vesture of active and
    passive accidental principles, which is just now actual (though
    always in a state of flux or change) by “acting” or “being acted
    on”.(345) Such a conception would conflict with the truth that the
    existing substance is ever being really and actually, though
    accidentally, determined, changed, modified, improved or
    disimproved, in its total concrete existing reality. Even when
    these changes are not so profound as to destroy its substantial
    identity and thus terminate its actuality as an individual being,
    even when, in other words, they are not substantial, they are none
    the less real and really affect the substance. Since they are real
    they necessarily involve the recognition of really distinct
    principles in the concrete being and preclude the view that the
    distinctions which we recognize in the ever-changing modes of its
    actuality, as revealed to us in time and space, are all _merely_
    conceptual or logical distinctions projected by the mind into what
    would therefore be in fact a simple and immutable reality. The
    denial of any real distinction between successive actual states,
    or between co-existing principles of those states, in any finite
    being, would lead logically to the Eleatic doctrine, _i.e._ to
    denial of the reality of change. On the other hand, while
    recognizing that change is a reality and not a subjective mental
    illusion, and that real change can be grounded only in a plurality
    of really distinct principles in the finite individual being, we
    must at the same time hold that this plurality of really distinct
    principles in the individual does not destroy a real unity,
    stability, and self-identical continuity of the individual being
    in the mode of its actuality throughout time. Not, of course, that
    this stability or sameness of the individual throughout time is
    complete and adequate to the exclusion of all real change, but it
    is certainly a _real_ continuity of one and the same individual
    being: to deny this would be to remove all permanence from reality
    and to reduce all real being to flux or change, _i.e._ to the
    πάντα ρέι of the Ionian philosopher, Heraclitus.

    We cannot get a true conception of any finite reality by
    considering it merely from the _static_ point of view, which is
    the natural standpoint of abstract thought; we must view it also
    from the _dynamic-kinetic_ standpoint, _i.e._ not merely as an
    essence or principle of existence, but as a power or principle of
    action, and of consequent change, evolution, or decay. And the
    philosophy which is the latest fashion among contemporary systems,
    that of the brilliant French thinker and writer, Bergson, has at
    all events the merit of emphasizing this important truth, that if
    our philosophical analysis of experience is to be fruitful we must
    try to grasp reality not merely as it presents itself to abstract
    thought at any section drawn by the latter through the incessant
    process of its _fieri_ or continuous actualization in time, but
    also to grasp and analyse as far as possible the _fieri_ or
    process itself, and bring to light whatever we find that this
    process implies.

    These considerations may help the student to estimate for himself
    the value and the limitations of the argument which has suggested

(_b_) A thing cannot be really identical with a variety of things that are
really distinct from one another; but the faculties of the soul are really
distinct from one another; therefore they must be really distinct from the
substance of the soul. The minor premiss is supported by these
considerations: The vegetative and sentient operations of the human
individual are operations of the living _organism_, while the higher
operations of rational thought and volition are operations of the _soul
alone_, the spiritual or immaterial principle in the individual. But the
immaterial principle cannot be really and adequately identical with the
animated organism. Therefore the _powers_ or _immediate principles_ of
these two classes of functions, belonging as they do to two really (though
not adequately) distinct substantial principles, cannot be really
identical with one of them, _viz._ with the soul itself, the spiritual
principle. Again: The exercise of certain functions by the human
individual is subordinate to, and dependent on the previous exercise of
other functions. For example, actual volition is necessarily dependent and
consequent on actual thought: we cannot will or desire any good without
first knowing it as a good. But the immediate principle of any function or
activity cannot be dependent on or subordinate to itself. Therefore the
immediate principles of such controlling and controlled
activities—intellect and will, for example—must be really distinct

(_c_) Suppose the substance or nature of an agent—the human individual,
for instance—were really identical with all its powers or faculties, that
these were merely the nature itself viewed under different aspects, so
that there would be in reality only one operative power in the individual,
then there would be no reason why the individual could not or should not
at any instant elicit one single action or operation which would be
simultaneously an act of thinking, willing, seeing, hearing, etc., _i.e._
which would have at once in itself the modalities of all human activities.
But universal experience testifies, on the contrary, that the operations
of the individual are each of some particular mode only, that he cannot
elicit every mode of human activity simultaneously, that he never elicits
one single act having a variety of modes. But why could he not, if his
substance or nature itself were the one and only _proximate principle_ of
all his modes of activity? Because the conditions for the _full and
adequate_ exercise of this one single or proximate principle (at once
substance and power) are never realized! But it is arbitrary to assume the
existence of a power which could never pass fully into the act connatural
to it. And moreover, even if these conditions are partially realized we
should see as a consequence of this some human activity which would
manifest _in some degree at least_ all the modalities of the various human
actions of which we have experience. But we have no experience of a single
human activity manifesting _in any degree_ the modalities of the numerous
and really distinct human activities which experience reveals to us. Hence
the variety of these really distinct modes of activity can be explained
only by the fact that the human individual elicits them through proximate
operative principles or powers which are really distinct from one another
and from the nature itself of the individual.(347)

    The problem of analysing and classifying the forces, faculties, or
    powers of the subsisting things and persons in the universe of our
    experience, belongs partly to Cosmology and partly to Psychology.
    In the latter it becomes mainly a problem of classifying our
    mental acts, functions, or processes—our states of consciousness.
    Apart from the question whether or not our mental faculties are
    really distinct from one another and from the human nature or
    substance itself of the individual, the problem of their proper
    classification is important from the point of view of _method_ and
    of _accurate psychological analysis_. We have seen already (69)
    that the greatest scholastic philosophers are not unanimous in
    declaring the distinction to be real. But it is at least a virtual
    distinction; and even as such it gives rise to the problem of
    classification. It will be sufficient here to indicate the general
    principle on which the classification proceeds: Wherever the
    _acts_ are _adequately distinct_ they proceed from distinct
    powers; and the acts are adequately distinct when they have
    adequately distinct _formal objects_.(348) _Potentiae
    specificantur per actus et objecta._ The operation or act is the
    correlative of the power or faculty; and the _formal object_ or
    _term_ of the operation is the _final cause_ of the latter, the
    end for which it is elicited. On this basis Aristotle and the
    scholastics distinguish two mental faculties of the higher or
    spiritual order, intellect and will; and in the lower or sense
    order of mental life they distinguish one appetitive faculty,
    sense appetite, and several cognitive sense faculties. These
    latter comprise the internal sense faculties, _viz._ the _sensus
    communis_ or unifying and associating sense, the imagination,
    sense memory, and instinct; and the external sense faculties
    comprise sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.

81. SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF QUALITIES.—(_a_) _Qualities __ have
contraries_. Health and illness, virtue and vice, science and error, etc.,
are opposed as contraries. This, however, is not a _property_ of
qualities; it is not verified in powers, or in forms and figures; and it
is verified in accidents which are not qualities, _e.g._ in _actio_ and

(_b_) _Quality is the basis or _“fundamentum”_ of all relations of
similarity and dissimilarity._ This attribute seems to be in the strict
sense a _property_ of all qualities. Substances are _similar_ in so far as
they have the same kind of qualities, _dissimilar_ in so far as they have
different kinds. _Similarity_ of substances is the main index to _identity
of nature or kind_; but it must not be confounded with the latter. The
latter cannot always be inferred even from a high degree of similarity:
some specifically distinct classes of things are very similar to one
another. Nor, on the other hand, is full and complete similarity a
necessary consequence of identity of nature: individuals of the same
species are often very dissimilar, very unlike one another.

(_c_) _Qualities admit of varying degrees of intensity._ They can increase
or diminish in the same substance, while numerically (and specifically)
distinct substances can have the same kind of quality in different
degrees. This is manifest in regard to “habits,” “passions” and “sensible
qualities”. On the other hand, it is clearly not true of “form” or
“figure”. Different individuals can have the same kind of “natural power”
in different degrees. One man may be naturally of keener intellect and
stronger will than another: the _weak_ power was what Aristotle called
ἀδυναμία (_impotentia_). But whether the natural powers of the same
individual can _themselves_ increase or decrease in strength or
intensity—and not merely the _habits_ that affect these powers—is not so
clear. Operative powers are certainly perfected (or injured) by the
acquisition of good (or bad) habits. In the view of those who deny a real
distinction between natural operative power or faculty and substance, it
is, of course, the substance itself that is so perfected (or injured).

This attribute, therefore, is _not_ found in _all_ qualities; but it is
found in qualities _alone_, and not in any other category or mode of

How are we to conceive this variation in intensity, this growth or
diminution of any quality, in a substance in which such change takes
places? On this point philosophers are not agreed. By “degree of
intensity”—“_intensio vel remissio __ qualitatis_”—we understand the
degree (or change of degree) in which the same numerical quality affects
_the same part_ or _the same power_ of its subject, thus rendering this
part or power formally more or less “qualified” in some particular way.
This is clearly something quite different from the _extension_ of the same
quality to different parts (or its withdrawal from different parts) of the
same extended subject. In a corporeal, extended substance, there can
accordingly be question of both kinds of change, _intensive_ and
_extensive_; while in a simple, spiritual substance there can obviously be
question only of _intensive_ change of qualities. And the fact of
intensive change of qualities is an undeniable fact of experience. In what
manner does it take place? Some authors conceive it as an addition or
subtraction of _grades_ or _degrees_ of the same quality. Others,
conceiving qualities as simple, indivisible entities or “forms,” and
thence denying the possibility of distinct grades of any quality, conceive
such change to take place by this simple entity affecting its subject
_more or less intimately_, becoming _more or less firmly rooted_, as it
were, in its subject.(349) And they explain this more or less perfect mode
of inherence in a variety of ways, all of which are grounded on certain
texts of St. Thomas:(350) the quality receives a new accidental mode
whereby it “communicates itself to” the subject, and “informs” the latter,
more or less perfectly; or, it is educed more or less fully from the
potentiality of its subject, thus qualifying the latter in the degree in
which it is educed from, and rooted in, the latter.

    These explanations are instructive, as illustrating the view that
    the actual reality of the accidental mode of being consists in its
    affecting, determining, the subject in which it inheres. St.
    Thomas, professing that he can attach no intelligible meaning to
    addition or substraction of grades,(351) teaches that the habit of
    charity, for example, can be increased “secundum essentiam” by
    “inhering more perfectly,” “being more firmly rooted” in its
    subject; for, he says, since it is an accident, “ejus esse est
    inesse. Unde nihil est aliud ipsam secundum essentiam augeri, quam
    eam magis inesse subjecto, quod est magis eam radicari in
    subjecto. Augetur ergo essentialiter... ita quod magis ac magis in
    subjecto esse incipiat.”(352) And elsewhere he concludes with the
    words: “Ponere igitur quod aliqua qualitas non augeatur secundum
    essentiam, sed augeatur secundum radicationem in subjecto vel
    secundum intensionem actus, est ponere contradictoria esse


82. ANALYSIS OF THE CONCEPT OF QUANTITY.—A detailed study of Quantity,
including Space and Time, and the Aristotelian categories _Ubi_, _Quando_
and _Situs_, belongs to Cosmology. Here we shall confine ourselves mainly
to the exposition of certain elementary notions preparatory to such
detailed study; and we shall assume the validity of the Scholastic Theory
of Knowledge: that a real, material world exists independently of our
minds; that it consists of material substances or bodies, animate and
inanimate, endowed with the fundamental accident of quantity or extension;
that these bodies possess, moreover, many other real accidents such as
qualities and energies, chemical, physical and mechanical; that they are
subject to real change, local, quantitative, qualitative and substantial;
that our concepts of space and time, derived from those of extension and
change, are not purely subjective or mental forms of cognition, but are
objectively valid notions grounded in the reality of the corporeal
universe and giving us a genuine, if inadequate, insight into the nature
of this reality.

Among the characteristics recognized by physicists in all perceptible
matter—divisibility, commensurability, impenetrability, passivity or
inertia, subjection to external forces or energies, external extension or
volume, internal quantity or mass—there are none more fundamental than
those of volume and mass, or extension and quantity.(354) Nowhere,
however, do we find a better illustration of the fact that it is
impossible to give a definition proper of any supreme category, or even a
description of it by the aid of any more elementary notions, than in the
attempts of philosophers to describe _Quantity_. When, for instance, we
describe _external_, _actual_, _local_, or _spatial extension_ as _that
accident of a corporeal substance or body in virtue of which the latter so
exists that it has parts outside parts in space_, we have to admit at once
that the notions expressed by the terms “parts,” “outside” and “space” are
no simpler than the notion of extension itself: in fact our notions of
“place” (_locus_) and “space” (_spatium_) are derived from, and
presuppose, that of extension. This, however, is no serious disadvantage;
for the description, such as it is, indicates what we mean by the terms
“local, spatial, external, actual extension,” and declares this latter to
be an accident of corporeal substances.

Extension, as it is actually in the concrete body, affected by a variety
of sensible qualities, is called _physical_ extension; regarded in the
abstract, apart from these qualities, it is called _geometrical_ or
_mathematical_ extension: _trina dimensio_, or extension in three
dimensions, length, breadth and depth. If we abstract from one of these we
have extension in _two_ dimensions, _superficial_ extension; if we
abstract from _two_, we have extension in _one_ dimension, _linear_
extension; and if we abstract from all three we have the extreme _limiting
concept_ of the _mathematical point_. Of these four abstract mathematical
concepts, “point,” “line,” “surface,” and “volume,” each expresses the
_mathematical limitation_ of the succeeding one.

We cannot conceive a body existing by having parts outside parts in space,
each part occupying exclusively a place appropriated to itself, unless we
conceive the body, the corporeal _substance_, as having already a
plurality of _really distinct_ or _distinguishable_ parts _in itself_, and
abstracting from all relation to space. The _substance_ must be conceived
as having a plurality of really distinct or distinguishable _integral_
parts of itself, before these parts can be conceived as existing _outside_
one another, each in its own place. And the property in virtue of which
the corporeal substance has in itself this plurality of distinct integral
parts, whereby it is _capable_ of occupying space, and of being
impenetrable, divisible, measurable, etc., is called _internal_,
_radical_, _potential quantity_ or _extension_.(355)

The corporeal substance itself is, of course, _essentially_ composite,
essentially divisible into two _essential_ constitutive principles, the
passive, determinable, or material principle (_materia prima_), and the
specifying, determining, formative principle (_forma substantialis_). Then
we conceive this essentially composite substance as necessarily endowed
with the _property_ of _internal quantity_ whereby it is composite in
another order: composed of, and divisible into, really distinct _integral_
parts, each of which is, of course, essentially composite like the whole
itself.(356) Finally we conceive that the corporeal substance, endowed
with this property, has also, as a connatural but really distinct and
absolutely separable effect of the latter, the accidental mode of being,
called external or local extension, in virtue of which it actually
occupies space, and thus becomes the subject of all those qualities
whereby it is perceptible to our senses.

We have next to inquire into the relations between these three distinct
objective concepts, corporeal substance, internal quantity, and local or
external extension.

is an essentially composite substance, resulting from the union of two
distinct essential constitutive principles. It exists in itself and is the
ultimate subject of all the determinations whereby it reveals itself to
our senses. Its actual extension in space is a fundamental mode or
determination of its reality, but it is a mode which is distinct from the
reality itself of the corporeal substance. Aristotle regarded the
distinction as real. In his _Metaphysics_ he declares that the three
dimensions of bodies are quantities, not substances, that quantity is not
a substance, whereas that in which it ultimately inheres is a
substance;(357) in his _Physics_ he says that substance is of itself
indivisible and is made divisible by its quantity or extension;(358) in
his _De Anima_(359) he observes that [external] quantity is directly
perceptible by the senses (_sensibile_ per se) while substance is only
indirectly perceptible (_sensibile_ per accidens):(360) from which it is
inferred that substance and extension cannot be really identical. Again,
St. Thomas argues that a corporeal substance as such, and so far as its
essence is concerned, is indifferent to greater or less extension in
space, that the whole nature or substance of a man, for instance, is
indifferent to, and independent of, his particular size at any point of
time, that while he grows from childhood to manhood it is his external
quantity that changes, but not his humanity, his human essence, nature, or

Considerations such as these, though they do not indeed amount to cogent
proofs of a real distinction between spatial extension and corporeal
substance, should make any serious philosopher hesitate to identify these
absolutely, as Descartes and his followers did when they declared the
essence of corporeal substance to consist in three dimensions of spatial
extension. Even looking at the matter from the point of view of natural
reason alone, and apart altogether from any light that may be thrown upon
it for the Christian philosopher by Divine Revelation, it is only the
superficial thinker who will conclude that because extension—which reveals
to his intellect through the medium of external sense perception the
presence of a corporeal substance—is naturally inseparable from the
latter, therefore it is really and absolutely identical with this latter.
The philosopher who remembers how little is known for certain about the
ultimate, essential constitution of bodies or corporeal substances, will
be slow to conclude that the spatially extended mode of their being enters
into the constitution of their essence, and is not rather an accidental
determination whereby these substances have their integral parts dispersed
or extended in space and thus revealed to the human intellect through
sense perception.

    And if he be a Christian philosopher he will naturally inquire
    whether any truth of the Christian Revelation will help indirectly
    to determine the question. Descartes and his followers were
    Christian philosophers; and hence it was all the more rash and
    imprudent of them, in spite of what they knew concerning the
    Blessed Eucharist, to identify the corporeal substance with its
    spatial extension. They knew that by transubstantiation the bread
    and wine are changed _substantially_ into the Body and Blood of
    Christ. But all the _appearances_ or _phenomena_ of bread and wine
    remain after transubstantiation, the Eucharistic _species_ as they
    are called, the taste, colour, form, etc., in a word, all the
    sensible qualities of these substances, including the _extension_
    in which they immediately inhere. From the revealed truth that the
    _substances_ disappear, and from the manifest fact that all their
    _accidents_ remain, Christian philosophers and theologians have
    rightly drawn the sufficiently obvious inference that the
    spatially extended quantity, which immediately supports all the
    other sensible qualities, must be itself an _absolute_ accident
    not only _really distinct_, but by the absolute power of God
    _really separable_, from its _connatural substance_, the bread and
    the wine respectively; and that this extended quantity remains in
    this state of actual separation miraculously supported by the
    direct influence of the Divine Omnipotence. And while Christian
    philosophers who hold this view can defend it from all charges of
    inconsistency, unreasonableness and impossibility, Descartes and
    his followers can defend their particular view only by the
    admission that in the case of the consecrated Eucharist our senses
    are deceived. In this view, while no accidents of the bread and
    wine remain objectively, God Himself produces directly in our
    minds the subjective, mental states which the bread and wine
    produced before consecration.(362) This gratuitous aspersion is
    cast on the trustworthiness of sense perception, simply on account
    of the preconceived theory identifying the corporeal substance
    with its extension. According to the common view, on the other
    hand, the senses are not really deceived. That to which they
    testify is really there, _viz._ the whole collection of natural
    accidents of bread and wine. It is not the function of the senses,
    but of the intellect, to testify to the presence of the substance.
    Of course the unbeliever looking at the consecrated species, or
    the believer who looks at them not knowing that they have been
    consecrated, thinks that the substance of bread and the substance
    of wine are there. Each is deceived intellectually, the one by his
    unbelief of a truth, the other by his ignorance of a fact. If both
    knew of the fact of consecration, and if the former believed in
    the effect of it, neither would be deceived.(363)

    While the Cartesian view is thus open to such serious objections,
    the only plausible difficulty against the traditional view is that
    of conceiving how the reality of a merely accidental mode of
    being, such as extension, can be sustained in the actual order of
    things apart from its connatural substance, and yet not become
    itself _eo ipso_ a substance. Needless to say we have no
    _positive_ conception of the manner in which the Divine
    Omnipotence thus sustains extension; but since this latter, being
    an absolute accident, and not a mere modal determination of the
    substance, has a reality of its own, the miraculous persistence of
    this reality cannot be shown to be impossible. Nor is it, in this
    separated condition, itself a substance, for it still retains its
    natural aptitude for inherence in its connatural substance; and
    this _aptitude_ alone, not _actual_ inherence, is of its essence
    as an accident (65): retaining this natural aptitude it cannot
    possibly become a substance, it cannot be identified with the
    _substantial_ mode of being which has essentially the very
    opposite aptitude, that of _existing in itself_.

External extension, then, is an absolute accident, really distinct from
the corporeal substance, and naturally though not absolutely inseparable
from the latter. It is the natural concomitant or consequence of the
_internal quantity_ whereby the corporeal substance has in itself a
plurality of distinct integral parts. This _internal quantity_ itself is
either an aspect of the corporeal substance itself, only virtually
distinct from the latter, or else in the strict sense a _property_,
absolutely inseparable, if really distinct, from the substance. Natural
experience furnishes no example of a corporeal substance actually existing
devoid of internal quantity or internal distinction of integral
parts.(364) But scholastic philosophers are not agreed as to whether the
corporeal substance is itself and by its own essence a manifold of really
distinct integral parts (in which case internal quantity would be merely
the aspect under which the essence is thus regarded as an integral whole
constituted by a plurality of distinct integral parts; while, looked at as
an essence, it would be an essential whole constituted by the union of two
essential parts or principles)—or whether it is formally constituted an
integral whole, not by its essence (which makes it only an essential
whole, an essentially composite substance), but by a property really
distinct, though necessarily flowing, from this essence, _viz._ internal
quantity. According to the former view the material principle (_materia
prima_) of the composite corporeal substance is such that the essence
resulting from its union with the formative principle (_forma
substantialis_) is necessarily an integral whole with distinguishable
integral parts, each of which naturally demands the spatially extended
mode of being which external extension _de facto_ confers upon it.
According to the latter view, which is that of St. Thomas and his
followers generally, the corporeal substance as such has no mode of
composition other than _essential_ composition: it is not of itself an
_integral_ whole, compounded of distinct or distinguishable integral parts
(each of which would be, like the whole, essentially composite): of itself
it is _indivisible_ into integral parts: it is, therefore, in this order
of being, simple and not composite. It has, no doubt, by reason of its
material principle, an absolutely necessary exigence for divisibility into
distinct integral parts, for integral composition in other words. But this
actual integral composition, this actual divisibility, is the formal
effect of a property really distinct from the substantial essence itself;
and this property is internal quantity: the connatural, but absolutely
separable, complement of this internal quantity being, as in the other
view, local or spatial extension.

In both views external extension is an absolute accident of the corporeal
substance; and in the Thomist view internal quantity would also appear to
be an absolute accident, and not a mere mode.

    It is instructive to reflect how far this scholastic doctrine
    removes us from the Cartesian view which sets up an absolute
    antithesis between mind or spirit, and matter or body, placing the
    essence of the former in _thought_ and that of the latter in
    _extension_. According to the scholastic view the spiritual
    substance is an immaterial “actuality” or “form”; it is
    _essentially simple_, and not like a corporeal substance an
    _essentially composite_ substance resulting from the union of a
    formative principle or “form” with a passive, determinable,
    material principle. And since it is the material principle that
    demands the property of internal quantity and the accident of
    external extension, whereby the corporeal substance becomes an
    integral whole with its parts extended in space, it follows that
    the spiritual substance, having no material principle in its
    constitution, is not only _essentially_ simple—to the exclusion of
    distinct principles of its essence,—but is also and as a
    consequence _integrally_ simple, to the exclusion of distinct
    integral parts, and of the extended or characteristically
    corporeal mode of occupying space. So far there is contrast
    between the two great substantial modes of finite being, matter
    and spirit; but the contrast is by no means an absolute
    antithesis. For if we look at the essence alone of the corporeal
    substance it is not _of itself_ actually extended in space: in the
    Thomist view it is not even of itself divisible into distinct
    integral parts. It differs from spirit in this that while the
    latter is essentially simple the former is essentially composite
    and has by reason of this compositeness a natural aptitude for
    divisibility into parts and for the extension of these parts in
    space, an aptitude which spirit does not possess. But the
    corporeal substance _may_ exist without actual extension, and
    consequently without any of those other attributes such as
    impenetrability, solidity, colour, etc., through which it is
    perceptible to our senses. In this condition, how does it differ
    from spirit? In being essentially composite, and in being perhaps
    endowed with distinguishable integral parts.(365) But in this
    condition the essential mode of its being has a relation to space
    which closely resembles the mode in which spirit exists in space:
    it is related to space somewhat in the manner in which the soul is
    in the space occupied by the body—whole in the whole of this space
    and whole in every assignable portion of this space. So that after
    all, different as matter and spirit undoubtedly are, the
    difference between them is by no means that sort of Cartesian
    chasm which human thought must for ever fail to bridge.

By virtue of its external extension the corporeal substance exists by
having distinguishable parts outside parts in space. We can conceive any
perceptible volume of matter as being _perfectly continuous_, if it has no
_actual_ limits or _actual_ distinction of parts within itself, but is
_one_ individual being _completely filling_ the whole space within its
outer surface; or _imperfectly continuous_, if while being one and
undivided it has within its volume pores or interstices, whether these be
empty or filled with some other sort of matter; or as made up of
_contiguous_ integral parts if each or these is really distinct and
actually divided from every other, while each actually touches with its
outer limits the adjacent limits of the parts lying next to it, so that
all the internal parts or limits are co-terminous; or as made up of
separate, _discrete_ or distant parts no one of which actually touches any

It is clear that there must be, in any actually extended volume of matter,
_ultimate_ parts which are really _continuous_—unless we are to hold, with
dynamists, that our perception of extension is produced in our minds by
the action of extramental points or centres of force which are themselves
_simple_ or _unextended_. But the physical phenomena of contraction,
expansion, absorption, undulatory and vibratory motions accompanying our
sensations of light, heat and sound, as well as many other physical
phenomena, all point to the fact that volumes of matter which are
_apparently_ continuous are really porous: the molecular structure of
perceptible matter is an accepted physical theory; and scientists also
universally accept as a working hypothesis the existence of an
imperceptible material medium pervading and filling all real space, though
there is no agreement as to the properties with which they suppose this
hypothetical medium, the “ether,” to be endowed.

Again, as regards the _divisibility_ of extended matter, it is obvious
that if we conceive extension in three dimensions _geometrically_,
_mathematically_ or _in the abstract_, any such volume or extension is
_indefinitely divisible_ in thought. But if we inquire how far any
concrete, actually existing volume of matter is divisible, we know in the
first place that we cannot divide the body of any actual organic living
thing indefinitely without destroying its life, and so its specific
character. Nor can we carry on the division of inorganic matter
indefinitely for want of sufficiently delicate dividing instruments. But
apart from this the science of chemistry points to the fact that every
inorganic chemical compound has an ultimate individual unit, the chemical
molecule, which we cannot sub-divide without destroying the specific
nature of the compound by resolving it into its elements or into less
complex compounds. Furthermore, each “elementary” or “chemically simple”
body—such as gold, oxygen, carbon, etc.—seems resolvable into units called
“atoms,” which appear to be ultimate _individual_ units in the sense that
if their mass _can_ be subdivided (as appears possible from researches
that have originated in the discovery of radium) the subdivisions are
specifically different kinds of matter from that of the atom so divided.

In the inorganic world the perceptible mass of matter is certainly not an
_individual_ being, a _unum per se_, but only a collection of individual
atoms or molecules, a _unum per accidens_. Whether the molecule or the
atom of the chemically elementary body is the “individual,” cannot be
determined with any degree of certitude. It would appear, however, that
every specifically distinct type of inorganic matter, whether compound or
elementary, requires for its existence a certain minimal volume, by the
sub-division of which the type is substantially changed; and this is
manifestly true of organic or living matter: so that matter _as it
naturally exists_ would appear not to be indefinitely divisible.

    If in a chemically homogeneous mass of _inorganic_ matter (such as
    carbon or water) the chemical molecule be regarded as the
    “individual,” this cannot be the case in any _organic_, _living
    thing_, for whatever matter is assimilated into the living
    substance of such a being _eo ipso_ undergoes substantial change
    whereby it loses the nature it had and becomes a constituent of
    the living individual. The _substantial_, “_individual_” unity of
    the organic living being seems to be compatible not merely with
    qualitative (structural and functional) heterogeneity of parts,
    but also with (perhaps even _complete_) spatial separateness of
    these parts. If the structure of the living body is really
    “molecular,” _i.e._ if it has _distances_ between its ultimate
    integral units, so that these are not in spatial contact, then the
    fact that the formative, vital principle (_forma substantialis_,
    _anima_) unifies this material manifold, and constitutes it an
    “individual” by actualizing and vitalizing each and all of the
    material units, spatially separate as they are,—this fact will
    help us to realize that the _formative principle_ of the composite
    corporeal substance has not _of itself_ the _spatial_, _extended_
    mode of being, but that the substance derives the latter from its
    material principle (_materia prima_).

84. PLACE AND SPACE.—From the concept of the volume or actual extension of
a body we pass immediately to that of the “place” (_locus_) which it
occupies. We may distinguish between the _internal_ and the _external_
place of a body. By the former we understand _the outer (convex) surface
of the body itself, regarded as a receptacle containing the volume of the
body_. If, therefore, there were only one body in existence it would have
its own internal place: this is independent of other bodies. Not so,
however, the external place; for by the external place of a body we mean
_the immediately surrounding (concave) surface_, formed by the bodies
which circumscribe the body in question, and _considered formally as an
immovable container of this body_. This is a free rendering of Aristotle’s
definition: _Place is the first (or immediate) immovable surface (or
limit) of that which contains a body_: _prima immobilis superficies ejus
quod continet_.(366) If a hollow sphere were filled with water, the inner
or concave surface of the sphere would be the “external place” of the
water. Not, however, this surface considered materially, but _formally as
a surface_, so that if the sphere could be removed, and another
instantaneously substituted for it, the water would still be contained
within the same _formal_ surface; its _locus externus_ would remain the
same. And, again, it is the containing surface considered as _immovable_
or as circumscribing that definite portion of space, that constitutes the
_locus externus_ or “external place” of the located body: so that if the
sphere with the water were moved the latter would thereby obtain a new
external location, for though the containing surface be still materially
and formally the same, it is no longer the same _as a locating_ surface,
seeing that it now marks off a portion of space different from that marked
off by it before it was moved.

Aristotle’s definition defines what is known as the _proper_ external
place of a body. From this we distinguish the _common_ external place or
location of a body: understanding by the latter, or “locus _communis_,”
the whole collection of spatial relations of the body in question to all
the bodies in its immediate neighbourhood. It is by indicating these
relations, or some of them, that we assign the Aristotelian category, or
extrinsic denomination, _Ubi_.(367)

Regarded ontologically, the internal place of a body is an absolute
accident: it is the accident which gives the latter concrete volume or
external extension, and it is not really distinct from the latter. The
external place of a body includes in addition the spatial relations of the
latter to other bodies, relations grounded in the volumes of those bodies.

    It is by reason of these spatial relations with certain bodies,
    that a being is said to be “present” in a certain place. A
    corporeal extended substance is said to occupy space
    _circumscriptivé_, or by having parts outside parts in the place
    it occupies. A finite or created spiritual substance is said to
    occupy space _definitivé_ inasmuch as it can naturally exercise
    its influence only within certain more or less extended spatial
    limits: as the human soul does within the confines of the
    body.(368) The Infinite Being is said to occupy space _repletivé_.
    The actual presence of God in all real space, conserving in its
    existence all created, contingent reality, is called the Divine
    _Ubiquity_. The perfection whereby God can be present in other
    worlds and other spaces which He may actualize is called the
    Divine _Immensity_.

    The local presence of a finite being to other finite beings is
    itself a positive perfection—based on its actual extension if it
    be an extended corporeal substance, or on its power of operating
    within a certain space if it be a spiritual substance. The fact
    that in the case of a finite being this local presence is itself
    limited, is at once a corollary and an index of the finiteness of
    the being in question. Only the Infinite Being is omnipresent or
    ubiquitous. But every finite being, whether corporeal or
    spiritual, from the very fact that it exists at all, must exist
    somewhere or have some _locus internus_, and it must have some
    local presence if there are other corporeal, extended beings in
    existence. Thus the _local presence_ of a being is a (finite)
    perfection which seems to be grounded in the very nature itself of
    the creature.(369)

From the concept of _place_ we pass naturally to the more complex and
abstract notion of _space_. It is, of course, by cognitive processes, both
sentient and intellectual, that we come into possession of the abstract
concept of space. These processes are subjective in the sense that they
are processes of the individual’s mental faculties. Distinguishing between
the processes and the object or content which is brought into
consciousness, or put in presence of the mind, by means of them; and
assuming that this object or content is not a _mere_ form or groove of our
cognitive activity, not a _mere_ antecedent condition requisite on the
mental side for the conscious exercise of this activity on its data, but
that on the contrary it is, or involves, an objective, extramental reality
apprehended by the mind,—we go on to inquire in what this objective
reality consists. In approaching the question we must first note that what
is true of every abstract and universal concept is true of the concept of
space, _viz._ that the _abstractness_ and _universality_ (“_intentio
universalitatis_”) of real being, as apprehended by the intellect, are
modes or forms of thought, _entia rationis_, logical conditions and
relations which are created by thought, and which exist only in and for
thought; while the reality itself is the object apprehended in these modes
and under these conditions: _Universale est formaliter in mente et
fundamentaliter in re_. Now through the concept of space we apprehend a
reality. Our concept of real space has for its object an actual reality.
What is this reality? If space is real, in what does its reality consist?
We answer that the reality which we apprehend through this concept is _the
total amount of the actual extension or magnitude of all created and
coexisting bodies_; not, however, this total magnitude considered
absolutely and in itself, but _as endowed with real and mutual relations
of all its parts to one another_,(370) relations which are apprehended by
us as distances, linear, superficial, and voluminal.

Such, then, is the reality corresponding to our concept of real and actual
space. But no sooner have we reached this concept than we may look at its
object in the abstract, remove mentally all limits from it, and conceive
all extended bodies as actually non-existent. What is the result? The
result is that we have now present to our minds the _possibility_ of the
existence of extended bodies, and a concomitant imagination image (which
memory will not allow us to banish from consciousness) of a vast and
boundless emptiness, an indefinite and unmeasurable vacuum in which bodies
were or may be. The intellectual concept is now not a concept of any
_actual_ object, but of a mere _possibility_: the possibility of a
corporeal, extended universe. This is the concept of what we call _ideal_
or _possible space_; and like the concept of any other possible reality it
is derived by us from our experience of actual reality,—in this case from
our experience of extended bodies as actually existing. The corporeal
universe has not existed from all eternity, but it was possible from all
eternity. When we think of that possibility as antecedent to all creation,
we are thinking of bodies, and of their extension, as possible; and the
concept of their total extension as possible is the concept of ideal or
possible space. This concept is, through a psychological necessity,
accompanied by an imagination image of what we call _imaginary space_: the
unlimited vacuity which preceded corporeal creation, which would still
persist were the latter totally annihilated, which reaches out
indefinitely beyond its actual limits, which imagination pictures for us
as a receptacle in which bodies may exist but which all the time our
reason assures us is actually nothing, being really only the known
possibility of corporeal creatures. This familiar notion of an empty
receptacle for bodies is what we have in mind when we think of bodies as
existing “_in_ space”. Hence we say that space, as conceived by the human
mind, is not a mere subjective form of cognition, a mere _ens rationis_,
inasmuch as our concept has a foundation in reality, _viz._ the actual
extension of all existing bodies; nor is it on the other hand simply a
real entity, because this actual extension of bodies does not really exist
in the manner in which we apprehend it under the abstract concept of
space, as a mere possibility, or empty receptacle, of bodies. Space is
therefore an _ens rationis cum fundamento in re_.

    A great variety of interesting but abstruse questions arise from
    the consideration of space; but they belong properly to Cosmology
    and Natural Theology. For example: Is real space actually infinite
    in magnitude, or finite? In other words, besides the whole solar
    system—which is in reality merely one star _plus_ its planets and
    their satellites,—is there in existence an actually infinite
    multitude of such stellar worlds? It is not likely that this can
    ever be determined empirically. Many philosophers maintain that
    the question must be answered in the negative, inasmuch as an
    actually infinite multitude is _impossible_. Others, however, deny
    that the impossibility of an actually infinite multitude can be
    proved.(371) Again, within the limits of the actual corporeal
    universe, are there really _vacant_ spaces, or is all space within
    these limits actually (or even necessarily) filled with an
    all-pervading ether or corporeal medium of some sort? How would
    local motion be possible if all space were full of impenetrable
    matter? How would the real interaction of distant bodies on one
    another be possible if there were only vacant space between them?
    Is the _real_ volume or extension of a corporeal substance (as
    distinct from its _apparent_ volume, which is supposed to include
    interstices, or spaces not filled with that body) actually or
    necessarily unchangeable? Or is the internal quantity of a body
    actually or necessarily unchangeable? Can more than one individual
    corporeal substance simultaneously occupy exactly the same space?
    (This is not possible naturally, for impenetrability is a natural
    consequence of local extension; but it is possible miraculously—if
    all the bodies, or all except one, be miraculously deprived of
    local or spatial extension.) Can the same individual body be
    present at the same time in totally different and distant places?
    (Not naturally, of course; but how it can happen even miraculously
    is a more difficult question than the preceding one. It is in
    virtue of its actual or local extension that a body is present
    sensibly in a definite place. Deprived miraculously of this
    extension it can be simultaneously in several places, as our
    Blessed Lord’s Body is in the Eucharist. But if a body has its
    natural local extension at one definite place, does this extension
    so confine its presence to this place that it cannot be
    simultaneously present—miraculously, and without its local
    extension—at other places? The most we can say is that the
    absolute impossibility of this is neither self-evident nor capable
    of cogent proof. The Body of our Lord has its natural local
    extension in heaven—for heaven, which will be the abode of the
    glorified bodies of the blessed after the general resurrection,
    must be not merely a state or condition, but a place—and at the
    same time it is sacramentally present in many places on earth.)

85. TIME: ITS APPREHENSION AND MEASUREMENT.—If the concept of space is
difficult to analyse, and gives rise to some practically insoluble
problems, this is still more true of the concept of time. “What, then, is
time?” exclaims St. Augustine in his _Confessions_.(372) “If no one asks
me, I know; but if I am asked to explain it, then I do not know!” We reach
the notion of space through our external perception of _extension_ by the
senses of sight and touch. So also we derive the notion of time from our
perception of _motion_ or _change_, and mainly from our consciousness of
change and succession in our own conscious states. The concept of time
involves immediately two other concepts, that of _duration_, and that of
_succession_. Duration, or continuance in existence, is of two kinds,
_permanent_ and _successive_. Permanent duration is the duration of an
_immutable_ being, formally and in so far as it is immutable. Successive
duration is the continued existence or duration of a being that is
_subject_ to change, formally and in so far as it is mutable. Now real
change involves a continuous _succession_ of real states, it is a
continuous _process_ or _fieri_; and it is the duration of a being subject
to such change that we call _time_ or _temporal duration_. Had we no
consciousness of change, or succession of states, we could have no notion
of time; though we might have a notion of unchanging duration if _per
impossibile_ our cognitive activity were itself devoid of any succession
of conscious states and had for its object only unchanging reality. But
since our cognitive activity is _de facto_ successive we can apprehend
permanent or unchanging duration, not as it is in itself, but only after
the analogy of successive or temporal duration (86). The continuous series
of _successive states involved in change_ is, therefore, the real and
objective content of our notion of time; just as the _co-existing_ total
of _extension_ forms the content of our notion of space. The concept of
space is the concept of something static; that of time is the concept of
something kinetic. Time is the continuity of change: where there is change
there is time; without change time would be inconceivable. Change involves
succession, and succession involves the temporal elements of “before” and
“after,” separated by the indivisible limiting factor called the “now” or
“present instant”. The “past” and the “future” are the two _parts_ of
time, while the “present instant” is not a part of time, but a _point of
demarcation_ at which the future flows into the past. Change is a reality;
it is a real mode of the existence of mutable things; but neither the
immediately past state, nor the immediately future state of a changing
reality, are actual at the present instant: it is only to the permanent,
abiding mind, apprehending real change, and endowed with memory and
expectation, that the past and the future are actually (and, of course,
only _ideally_, not _really_) present. And it is only by holding past and
future in present consciousness, by distinguishing mentally between them,
by counting or measuring the continuous flow of successive states from
future to past, through the present instant, that the mind comes into
possession of the concept of time.(373) The mind thus apprehends time as
the measure of the continuous flow of successive states in things subject
to change. As thus apprehended, time is not merely the reality of change:
it is the successive continuity or duration of change considered as a
measure of change. It is that within which all changes are conceived to
happen: just as space is conceived as that within which all extended
things are conceived to exist. We have said that without real change or
motion there could be no time. We can now add that without a mind to
apprehend and measure this motion there could be no time. As St. Thomas
declares, following Aristotle: _Si non esset anima non esset tempus_.(374)
For time, as apprehended by means of our abstract and universal concept,
is not simply a reality, but a reality endowed with logical relations, or,
in other words, a logical entity grounded in reality, an _ens rationis cum
fundamento in re_.

This brings us to Aristotle’s classic definition,(375) which is at once
pithy and pregnant: Τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν ὁ χρόνος, ἀριθμὸς κινήσεως κατὰ τὸ
πρότερον καὶ ὓστερον: _Tempus est numerus motus secundum prius et
posterius_: Time is the measure of motion or change by what we conceive as
_before_ and _after_, or _future_ and _past_, in its process. Every change
involves its own intrinsic flow of states from future to past. It is by
mentally distinguishing these states, and by thus computing, counting,
numbering, the continuous flow or change, that we derive from the latter
the notion of time.(376) If, then, we consider all created things, all
things subject to change, we shall realize that real time commenced with
the creation of the first of them and will continue as long as they (or
any of them) continue to exist. We thus arrive at a conception of time in
general, analogous to that of space: _the whole continuous series of
successions, in changing things, from future to past, regarded as that in
which these changes occur, and which is the measure of them_.

Here, too, as in the case of space, we can distinguish _real time_, which
is the total duration of actual changes, from _ideal or imaginary time_
which is the conceived and imagined duration of merely possible changes.

But a more important distinction is that between _intrinsic_ or _internal
time_, or the duration of any concrete mutable reality considered in
itself, and _extrinsic_ or _external time_, which is some other extrinsic
temporal duration with which we compare, and by which we may measure, the
former duration. Every change or motion has its own internal time; and
this is what we have been so far endeavouring to analyse. If two men start
at the same instant to walk in the same direction, and if one walk three
miles and the other four, while the hands of a watch mark the lapse of an
hour, the _external time_ of each walk will be the same, will coincide
with one and the same motion of the hands of the watch used as a measure.
But the internal time of the four-mile walk will be greater than that of
the three-mile walk. The former will be a greater amount of change than
the latter; and therefore its internal time, estimated by this amount
absolutely, will be greater than that of the latter estimated by its
amount absolutely.(377) The greater the amount of a change the greater the
internal time-duration or series of successive states which measures this
change absolutely.(378)

Just as the category _Where_ is indicated by the spatial relations of a
body to other bodies, so the category _When_ is indicated, in regard to
any event or process, by its commensuration or comparison with other
events or processes.

This brings us to the notion of measurement. To measure anything
quantitatively is to apply to it successively some quantitative unit taken
as a standard and to count the number of times it contains this unit. This
is a process of mentally breaking up continuous quantity or
_magnitude_—whether permanent or successive, _i.e._ whether extension or
motion—into discontinuous quantity or _multitude_. If the measurement of
permanent quantity by spatial units, and the choosing of such units, are
difficult processes,(379) those of measuring successive quantity and
fixing on temporal units are more difficult still. Is there any natural
motion or change of a general character, whereby we can measure
(externally) the time-duration of all other changes? The motions of the
earth itself—on its axis and around the sun—at once suggest themselves.
And these motions form in fact the _natural_ general standard for
measuring the time of all other events in the universe. All _artificial_
or mechanical devices, such as hour-glasses, watches, clocks,
chronometers, etc., are simply contrivances for the more convenient
application of that general and natural standard to all particular events.

It requires a little reflection to realize that all our means of measuring
time-duration can only attain to _approximate_ accuracy, inasmuch as our
faculties of sense perception, no matter by what devices they are aided,
are so limited in range and penetration that fluctuations which fall below
the _minima sensibilia_ cannot be detected. It is a necessary condition of
any motion used as a standard for time-measurement that it be _regular_.
That the standard motions we actually employ are _absolutely_ regular we
have no guarantee. We can test their regularity only up to the point at
which our power of detecting irregularity fails.

Reflection will also show that our appreciation of time-duration is also
_relative_, not absolute. It is always a comparison of one flow or current
of conscious experiences with another. It is the greater regularity of
astronomical motions, as compared with changes or processes experienced as
taking place within ourselves, that causes us to fix on the former as the
more suitable standard for the measurement of time. “There is indeed,”
writes Father Maher,(380) “a certain rhythm in many of the processes of
our organic life, such as respiration, circulation, and the recurrent
needs of food and sleep, which probably contribute much to our power of
estimating duration.... The irregular character and varying duration of
conscious states, however, soon bring home to us the unfitness of these
subjective phenomena to serve as a standard measure of time.” Moreover,
our estimate of duration is largely dependent on the nature of the
estimated experiences and of our mental attitude towards them: “A period
with plenty of varied incident, such as a fortnight’s travel, passes
rapidly _at the time_. Whilst we are interested in each successive
experience we have little spare attention to notice the duration of the
experience. There is almost complete lapse of the ‘enumerating’ activity.
But _in retrospect_ such a period expands, because it is estimated by the
number and variety of the impressions which it presents to recollection.
On the other hand a dull, monotonous, or unattractive occupation, which
leaves much of our mental energy free to advert to its duration, is
over-estimated whilst taking place. A couple of hours spent impatiently
waiting for a train, a few days in idleness on board ship, a week confined
to one’s room, are often declared to constitute an ‘age’. But when they
are past such periods, being empty of incident, shrink up into very small
dimensions.... Similarly, recent intervals are exaggerated compared with
equal periods more remote. Whilst as we grow older and new experiences
become fewer and less impressive, each year at its close seems shorter
than its predecessor.”(381)

    From those facts it would seem perfectly legitimate to draw this
    rather surprising inference: that if the rate of _all_ the changes
    taking place in the universe were to be suddenly and
    simultaneously altered in the same direction—all increased or all
    diminished in the same degree—and _if our powers of perception
    were simultaneously_ so altered as to be _readjusted to this new
    rate_ of change, _we could not become aware of the
    alteration_.(382) Supposing, for instance, that the rate of motion
    were doubled, the same amount of change would take place in the
    new day as actually took place in the old. The _external or
    comparative_ time of all movements—that is to say, the time of
    which alone we can have any appreciation—would be the same as of
    old. The new day would, of course, appear only half as long as the
    old to a mind not readjusted to the new conditions; but this would
    still be external time. But would the _internal_, _intrinsic_ time
    of each movement be unaltered? It would be the same for the
    readjusted mind as it was previously for the mind adjusted to
    these previous conditions. By an unaltered mind, however, by the
    Divine Mind, for instance, the same amount of motion would be seen
    to constitute the same movement under both conditions, but to take
    place twice as quickly under the new conditions as it did under
    the old. This again, however, involves a comparison, and thus
    informs us merely of external or relative time. If we identify
    intrinsic time with _amount of change_, making the latter the
    measure of the former, we must conclude that alteration in the
    _rate_ of a motion does not alter its absolute time: and this is
    evident when we reflect that the very notion of a _rate_ of motion
    involves the comparison of the latter with some other motion.(383)
    Finally, we have no positive conception of the manner in which
    time duration is related to, or known by, the Divine Eternal Mind,
    which is present to all time—past, present and future.

    Besides the question of the relativity of time, there are many
    other curious and difficult questions which arise from a
    consideration of time-duration, but a detailed consideration of
    them belongs to Cosmology. We will merely indicate a few of them.
    How far is time _reversible_, at least in the case of purely
    mechanical movements?(384) Had time a beginning? We know from
    Revelation that _de facto_ it had. But can we determine by the
    light of reason alone whether or not it _must_ have had a
    beginning? The greatest philosophers are divided as to possibility
    or impossibility of _created_ reality existing _from all
    eternity_. St. Thomas has stated, as his considered opinion, that
    the impossibility of _creatio ab aeterno_ cannot be proved. If a
    series of creatures could have existed successively from all
    eternity, and therefore without any _first_ term of the series,
    this would involve the possibility of an _actually infinite
    multitude_ of creatures; but an actually infinite multitude of
    creatures, whether existing simultaneously or successively, is
    regarded by most philosophers as being self-contradictory and
    intrinsically impossible. And this although the Divine Essence,
    being infinitely imitable _ad extra_, and being clearly
    comprehended as such by the Divine Mind, contains virtually the
    Divine exemplars of an infinite multitude of possible creatures.
    Those who defend the possibility of an actually infinite multitude
    of creatures consider this fact of the infinite imitability of the
    Divine Essence as the ground of this possibility. On the other
    hand, those who hold that an actually infinite multitude is
    self-contradictory deny the validity of this argument from
    possibility to actuality; and they bring forward such serious
    considerations and arguments in favour of their own view that this
    latter has been at all times much more commonly advocated than the
    former one.(385) Will time have an end? All the evidence of the
    physical sciences confirms the truth of the Christian faith that
    external time, as measured by the motions of the heavens, will
    have an end. But the internal or intrinsic time which will be the
    measure of the activities of immortal creatures will have no

86. DURATION OF IMMUTABLE BEING: ETERNITY.—We have seen that _duration_ is
the perseverance or continuance of a being in its existence. The duration
of the Absolutely Immutable Being is a positive perfection identical with
the essence itself of this Being. It is a duration without beginning,
without end, without change or succession, a _permanent_ as distinct from
a _successive_ duration, for it is the duration of the Necessary Being,
whose essence is Pure Actuality. This duration is eternity: _an
interminable duration existing all together_. _Aeternitas est
interminabilis duratio tota simul existens._ This is the common definition
of eternity in the proper sense of the term—absolute or necessary
eternity. The word “_interminabilis_” connotes a _positive_ perfection:
the exclusion of beginning and end. The word “_tota_” does not imply that
the eternity has parts. The expression “_tota simul_” excludes the
imperfection which is characteristic of time duration, _viz._ the
_succession_ of “before” and “after”. The definition given by Boëtius(387)
emphasizes these points, as also the indefectible character of immutable
life in the Eternal Being: _Aeternitas est interminabilis vitae tota simul
et prefecta possessio_.

There is, in the next place, a kind of duration which has been called
_hypothetical_, _relative_, or _borrowed_ eternity: _aeternitas
hypothetica_, _relativa_, _participata_, also called by scholastics
“_aeviternitas_”. It is the duration in existence of a being that is
contingent, but _of its nature incorruptible, immortal_, such as the human
soul or a pure spirit. Even if such a being existed from all eternity its
existence would be contingent, dependent on a real principle distinct from
itself: its duration, therefore, would not be eternity in the strict
sense. On the other hand, once created by God, its nature would demand
conservation without end; nor could it naturally cease to exist, though
absolutely speaking it could cease to exist were God to withdraw from it
His conserving power. Its duration, therefore, differs from the duration
of corporeal creatures which are by nature subject to change, decay, and
cessation of their being. A contingent spiritual substance has by nature a
beginning to its duration, or at least a duration which is not essential
to it but dependent on the Necessary Being, a duration, however, which is
naturally without end; whereas the duration of the corporeal being has by
nature both a beginning and an end.

    But philosophers are not agreed as to the nature and ground of the
    distinction between these two kinds of duration in contingent
    beings. No contingent being is self-existent, neither has any
    contingent being the principle of its own duration in its own
    essence. Just as it cannot begin to exist of itself, so neither
    can it continue to exist of itself. At the same time, granted that
    it has obtained from God actual existence, some kind or degree of
    duration, of continuance in that existence, seems to be naturally
    due to its essence. Otherwise conservation would be not only
    really but formally a continued creation. It is such indeed on the
    part of God: in God there is no variety of activity. But on the
    part of the creature, the preservation of the latter in existence,
    and therefore some degree of duration, seems to be due to it on
    the hypothesis that it has been brought into existence at all. The
    _conserving_ influence of God is to its duration in existence what
    the _concurring_ influence of God is to the exercise of its
    activities.(388) In this sense the duration of a finite being in
    existence is a positive perfection which we may regard as a
    property of its nature. But is this perfection or property of the
    creature which we call _duration_, (_a_) essentially _successive_
    in all creatures, spiritual as well as corporeal? And (_b_) is it
    really identical with their actual existence (or with the reality
    of whatever change or actualization occurs to their existence), or
    it is a _mode_ of this existence or change, really distinct from
    the latter and conferring upon the latter the perfection of
    continuity or persistence?

    This, at all events, is universally admitted: that _we_ cannot
    become aware of any duration otherwise than through our
    apprehension of _change_; that we have direct knowledge only of
    _successive_ duration; that we can conceive the _permanent_
    duration of immutable reality only after the analogy of successive
    duration, or as the co-existence of immutable reality with the
    successive duration of mutable things.

    Now some philosophers identify successive duration with change,
    and hold that successive duration is formally the duration of
    things subject to change; that in so far as a being is subject to
    change its duration is successive, and in so far as it is free
    from change its duration approaches the essentially permanent
    duration of the Eternal, Immutable Being; that therefore the
    duration of corporeal, corruptible, mortal beings is _par
    excellence_ successive or temporal duration (_tempus_); that
    spiritual beings, which are substantially immutable, but
    nevertheless have a successive series of spiritual activities,
    have a sort of duration more perfect, because more permanent, than
    mere temporal duration, but less perfect, because less permanent,
    than eternal duration (_aevum_, _aeviternitas_); while the
    Absolutely Immutable Being alone has perfect permanent duration
    (_aeternitas_).(389) It is not clear whether according to this
    view we should distinguish between the duration of spiritual
    _substances_ as permanent, and that of their _acts_ as successive;
    or why we should not attribute _permanent_ duration to corporeal
    _substances_ and their _permanent accidents_, confining successive
    duration formally to motion or change itself. It is, moreover,
    implied in this view that duration is not any really distinct
    perfection or mode superadded to the actuality of the being that

    Other philosophers hold that _all_ duration of _creatures_ is
    _successive_; that no individual creature has a mixture of
    permanent and successive duration; that this successive duration
    is really distinct from that which endures by means of it; that it
    is really distinct even from the reality of change or motion
    itself; that it is a _real mode_ the formal function of which is
    to confer on the enduring reality a series of _actualities in the
    order of_ “_succession of posterior to prior_,” a series of
    intrinsic _quandocationes_ (analagous to the intrinsic locations
    which their extension confers upon bodies in space). These
    philosophers distinguish between _continuous_ or (indefinitely)
    _divisible_ successive duration, the (indefinitely divisible)
    parts of which are “past” and “future,” and the present not a
    “part” but only an “indivisible limit” between the two parts; and
    _discontinuous_ or _indivisible_ successive duration, whose parts
    are separate and indivisible units of duration succeeding one
    another discontinuously: each part being a real but indivisible
    duration, so that besides the parts that are _past_ and _future_,
    the _present_ is also a _part_, which is—like an instant of
    time—indivisible, but which is also—unlike an instant of time—a
    real duration. The former kind of successive duration they ascribe
    to corporeal, corruptible creatures; the latter to spiritual,
    incorruptible creatures. This view is defended with much force and
    ingenuity by De San in his _Cosmologia_;(390) where also a full
    discussion of most of the other questions we have touched upon
    will be found.


87. IMPORTANCE OF THE PRESENT CATEGORY.—An analysis of the concept of
_Relation_ will be found to have a very direct bearing both on the Theory
of Being and on the Theory of Knowledge. For the human mind knowledge is
embodied in the mental act of judgment, and this is an act of
_comparison_, an act whereby we _relate_ or _refer_ one concept to
another. The act of cognition itself involves a relation between the
knowing subject and the known object, between the mind and reality.
Reality itself is understood only by our mentally recognizing or
establishing relations between the objects which make up for us the whole
knowable universe. This universe we apprehend not as a multitude of
isolated, unconnected individuals, but as an _ordered whole_ whose parts
are _inter-related_ by their mutual _co-ordinations_ and _subordinations_.
The _order_ we apprehend in the universe results from these various
inter-relations whereby we apprehend it as a _system_. What we call a _law
of nature_, for instance, is nothing more or less than the expression of
some constant relation which we believe to exist between certain parts of
this system. The study of _Relation_, therefore, belongs not merely to
Logic or the Theory of Knowledge, but also to the Theory of Being, to
Metaphysics. What, then, is a relation? What is the object of this mental
concept which we express by the term _relation_? Are there in the known
and knowable universe of our experience _real_ relations? Or are all
relations _merely logical_, pure creations of our cognitive activity? Can
we classify relations, whether real or logical? What constitutes a
relation formally? What are the properties or characteristics of
relations? These are some of the questions we must attempt to answer.

Again, there is much ambiguity, and not a little error, in the use of the
terms “absolute” and “relative” in modern philosophy. To some of these
sources of confusion we have referred already (5). It is a commonplace of
modern philosophy, a thing accepted as unquestioned and unquestionable,
that we know, and can know, only the relative. There is a true sense in
this, but the true sense is not the generally accepted one.

Considering the order in which our knowledge of reality progresses it is
unquestionable that we first simply perceive “things” successively, things
more or less _similar_ or _dissimilar_, without realizing _in what_ they
agree or differ. To realize the latter involves _reflection_ and
_comparison_. Similarly we perceive “events” in succession, events some of
which _depend on_ others, but without at first noting or realizing this
dependence. In other words we apprehend at first _apart from their
relations_, or _as absolute_, things and events which are really relative;
and we do so spontaneously, without realizing even that we perceive them
as absolute.

The seed needs soil and rain and sunshine for its growth; but these do not
need the seed. The turbine needs the water, but the water does not need
the turbine. When we realize such facts as these, _by reflection_,
contrasting what is dependent with what is independent, what is like or
unlike, before or after, greater or less than, other things, with what
each of these is in itself, we come into conscious possession of the
notion of “the relative” and oppose this to the notion of “the absolute”.

What we conceive as dependent we conceive as relative; what we conceive,
by negation, as independent, we conceive as absolute. Then by further
observation and reflection we gradually realize that what we apprehended
as independent of certain things is dependent on certain other things;
that the same thing may be independent in some respects and dependent in
other respects. The rain does not depend on the seed which it causes to
germinate, but it does depend on the clouds. The water which turns the
turbine does not depend on the turbine, but it does depend on the rain;
and the rain depends on the evaporation of the waters of the ocean; and
the evaporation on the solar heat; and this again on chemical and physical
processes in the sun; and so on, as far as sense experience will carry us:
until we realize that everything which falls directly within this sense
experience is dependent and therefore relative. Similarly, the accident of
quantity, in virtue of which we pronounce one of two bodies to be _larger_
than the other, is something _absolute_ as compared with this _relation_
itself; but as compared with the substance in which it inheres, it is
dependent on the latter, or _relative_ to the latter, while the substance
is _absolute_, or free from dependence on it. But if substance is absolute
as compared with accident, in the sense that substance is not dependent on
a subject in which to inhere, but exists _in itself_, it is not absolute
in the sense understood by Spinoza, in the sense of existing _of itself_,
independently of any efficient cause to account for its origin (64). All
the substances in the universe of our direct sense experience are
contingent, dependent _ab alio_, and therefore in this sense relative, not

This is the true sense in which relativity is an essential note of the
reality of all the data of the world of our sense experience. They are all
contingent, or relative, or conditioned existences. And, as Kant rightly
taught, this experience forces us inevitably to think of a Necessary,
Absolute, Unconditioned Being, on whom these all depend. But, as can be
proved in _Natural Theology_ against Kant, this concept is not a mere
regulative idea of the reason, a form of thought whereby we systematize
our experience: it is a concept the object of which is not merely a
necessity of thought but also an objectively existing reality.(391)

    But in the thought of most modern philosophers relativism, or the
    doctrine that “we can know only the relative,” is something very
    different from all this. For positivists, disciples of Auguste
    Comte (1798-1857), it means that we can know only the phenomena
    which fall under the notice of our senses, and the laws of
    resemblance, succession, etc., according to which they occur. All
    “theological” quests for supra-mundane causes and reasons of these
    events, and all “metaphysical” quests for suprasensible forces,
    powers, influences, in the events themselves, as explaining or
    accounting for these latter, are according to this theory
    necessarily futile: the mind must rest content with a knowledge of
    the _positive facts_ of sense, and their relations. Relativism is
    thus another name for Positivism.

    For the psychological sensism of English philosophers from Hobbes
    [1588-1679] and Locke [1632-1704] down to Mill [1806-73] and Bain
    [1818-1903] relativism means that all conscious cognition—which
    they tend to reduce to modes and complexes of _sensation_—must be,
    and can only be, a cognition of the changing, the transitional,
    the relative.(392) According to an extreme form of this theory the
    mind can apprehend only relations, but not the terms of any of
    these relations: it can apprehend nothing as absolute. Moreover
    the relations which it apprehends it creates itself. Thus all
    reality is reduced to a system of relations. For Mill the supreme
    category of real being was _Sensation_: but sensation can be only
    a feeling of a relation: thus the supreme category of real being
    would be _Relation_.(393)

    But the main current of relativism is that which has issued from
    Kant’s philosophy and worked itself out in various currents such
    as Spencer’s Agnosticism, Hegel’s Monism, and Renouvier’s
    Neo-criticism.(394) The mind can know only what is related to it,
    what is present to it, what is in it; not what is apart from it,
    distinct from it. The mind cannot know the real nature of the
    extramental, nor even if there be an extramental real. Subject and
    object in knowledge are really one: individual minds are only
    self-conscious phases in the ever-evolving reality of the One Sole
    Actual Being.

    These are but a few of the erroneous currents of modern
    relativism. A detailed analysis of them belongs to the _Theory of
    Knowledge_. But it may be pointed out here that they are erroneous
    because they have distorted and exaggerated certain profound
    truths concerning the scope and limits of human knowledge.

    It is true that we have no positive, proper, intuitive knowledge
    of the Absolute Being who is the First Cause and Last End of the
    universe; that all our knowledge of the nature and attributes of
    the Infinite Being is negative, analogical, abstractive. In a
    certain sense, therefore, He is above the scope of our faculties;
    He is Incomprehensible. But it is false to say that He is
    Unknowable; that our knowledge of Him, inadequate and imperfect as
    it is, is not genuine, real, and instructive, as far as it goes.

    Again, a _distinct_ knowledge of any object implies _defining_,
    _limiting_, _distinguishing_, _comparing_, _relating_, _judging_;
    _analysing and synthesizing_. It implies therefore that we
    apprehend things _in relations_ with other things. But this
    supposes an antecedent, if indistinct, apprehension of the
    “things” themselves. Indeed we cannot help pronouncing as simply
    unintelligible the contention that all knowledge is of relations,
    and that we can have no knowledge of things as absolute. How could
    we become aware of relations without being aware of the terms
    related? Spencer himself admits that the very reasoning whereby we
    establish the “relativity of knowledge” leads us inevitably to
    assert as necessary the existence of the non-relative, the
    Absolute:(395) a necessity which Kant also recognizes.

    Finally, the fact that reality, in order to be known, must be
    present to the knowing mind—or, in other words, that knowledge
    itself is a relation between object and subject—in no way
    justifies the conclusion that we cannot know the real nature of
    things as they are in themselves, absolutely, but only our own
    subjective, mental impressions or representations of the absolute
    reality, in itself unknowable.(396) The obvious fact that any
    reality in order to be known must be related to the knowing mind,
    seems to be regarded by some philosophers as if it were a
    momentous discovery. Then, conceiving the “thing-in-itself,” the
    absolute, as a something standing out of all relation to mind,
    they declare solemnly that we cannot know the absolute: a
    declaration which may be interpreted either as a mere truism—that
    we cannot know a thing without knowing it!—or as a purely
    gratuitous assertion, that besides the world of realities which
    reveal themselves to our minds there is another world of
    unattained and unattainable “things-in-themselves” which are as it
    were the _real_ realities! These philosophers have yet to show
    that there is anything absurd or impossible in the view that there
    is simply one world of realities—realities which exist absolutely
    in themselves apart from our apprehension of them and which in the
    process of cognition come into relation with our minds.(397)
    Moreover, if besides this world of known and knowable realities
    there were such a world of “transcendental” things-in-themselves
    as these philosophers discourse of, such a world would have very
    little concern for us,(398) since by definition and _ex hypothesi_
    it would be _for us_ necessarily as if it were not: indeed the
    hypothesis of such a transcendental world is self-contradictory,
    for even did it exist we could not think of it.

    The process of cognition has indeed its difficulties and
    mysteries. To examine these, to account for the possibility of
    truth and error, to analyse the grounds and define the scope and
    limits of human certitude, are problems for the _Theory of
    Knowledge_, on the domain of which we are trenching perhaps too
    far already in the present context. But at all events to conceive
    reality as absolute in the sense of being totally unrelated to
    mind, and then to ask: Is reality so transformed in the very
    process of cognition that the mind cannot possibly apprehend it or
    represent it as it really is?—this certainly is to misconceive and
    mis-state in a hopeless fashion the main problem of Epistemology.

88. ANALYSIS OF THE CONCEPT OF RELATION.—Relation is one of those ultimate
concepts which does not admit of definition proper. And like other
ultimate concepts it is familiar to all. Two lines, each measuring a yard,
are _equal_ to each other _in length_: _equality_ is a _quantitative_
relation. The number 2 is _half_ of 4, and 4 is _twice_ 2: _half_ and
_double_ express each a _quantitative_ relation of _inequality_. If two
twin brothers are _like_ each other we have the _qualitative_ relation of
_resemblance_ or _similarity_; if a negro and a European are _unlike_ each
other we have the _qualitative_ relation of _dissimilarity_. The steam of
the locomotive moves the train: a relation of _efficient causality_, of
efficient cause to effect. The human eye is adapted to the function of
seeing: a relation of _purpose_ or _finality_, of means to end. And so on.

The objective concept of relation thus establishes a _conceptual unity_
between a pair of things in the domain of some other category. Like
quantity, quality, _actio_ and _passio_, etc., it is an ultimate mode of
reality as apprehended through human experience. But while the reality of
the other accident-categories appertains to substances considered
absolutely or in isolation from one another, the reality of this category
which we call _relation_ appertains indivisibly to two (or more) together,
so that when one of these is taken or considered apart from the other (or
others) the relation formally disappears. Each of the other (absolute)
accidents is formally “something” (“_aliquid_”; “τι”), whereas the formal
function of _relation_ is to refer something “to something” else (“_ad
aliquid_”; “πρός τι”). The other accidents formally inhere in a subject,
“habent _esse in_ subjecto”; relation, considered formally as such, does
not inhere in a subject, but gives the latter a respect, or bearing, or
reference, or ordination, _to_ or _towards_ something else: “relatio dat
subjecto respectum vel _esse ad_ aliquid aliud”. The length of each of two
lines is an _absolute_ accident of that line, but the _relation_ of
equality or inequality is intelligible only of both together. Destroy one
line and the relation is destroyed, though the other line retains its
length absolutely and unaltered. And so of the other examples just given.
Relation, then, considered formally as such, is not an absolute accident
inhering in a subject, but is a reference of this subject to some other
thing, this latter being called the _term_ of the relation. Hence relation
is described by the scholastics as the _ordination or respect or reference
of one thing to another_: _ordo vel respectus vel habitudo unius ad
aliud_. The relation of a subject to something else as term is formally
not anything absolute, “_aliquid_” in that subject, but merely refers this
subject to something else as term, “_ad aliquid_”. Hence Aristotle’s
designation of relation as “πρός τι,” “_ad aliquid_,” “to or towards
something”. “We conceive as relations [πρός τι],” he says, “those things
whose very entity itself we regard as being somehow _of_ other things or
_to_ another thing.”(399)

To constitute a relation of whatsoever kind, three elements or factors are
essential: the _two extremes_ of the relation, viz. the _subject_ of the
relation and the _term_ to which the subject is referred, and what is
called the _foundation_, or basis, or ground, or reason, of the relation
(_fundamentum_ relationis). This latter is the cause or reason on account
of which the subject bears the relation to its term. It is always
something absolute, in the extremes of the relation. Hence it follows that
we may regard any relation in two ways, either _formally_ as the actual
bond or link of connexion between the extremes, or _fundamentally_, _i.e._
as in its cause or foundation in these extremes. This is expressed
technically by distinguishing between the relation _secundum esse in_ and
_secundum esse ad_, _i.e._ between the absolute entity of its foundation
in the subject and the purely relative entity in which the relation itself
formally consists. Needless to say, the latter, whatever it is, does not
add any _absolute entity_ to that of either extreme. But in what does this
relative entity itself consist? Before attempting an answer to this
question we must endeavour to distinguish, in the next section (89),
between _purely logical_ relations and relations which are in some true
sense _real_. Here we may note certain corollaries from the concept of
relation as just analysed.

Realities of which the objective concept of relation is verified derive
from this latter certain _properties_ or special characteristics. The
_first_ of these is _reciprocity_: two related extremes are as such
intelligible only in reference to each other: father to son, half to
double, like to like, etc., and _vice versa_: _Correlativa se invicem
connotant_. The _second_ is that things related to one another are
collateral or concomitant in _nature_: _Correlativa sunt simul natura_:
neither related extreme is as such naturally prior to the other. This is
to be understood of the relation only in its _formal_ aspect, not
fundamentally. Fundamentally or _materialiter_, the cause for instance is
_naturally prior_ to its effect. The _third_ is that related things are
concomitant _logically_, or in the order of knowledge: _Correlativa sunt
simul cognitione_: a reality can be known and defined as relative to
another reality only by the simultaneous cognition of both extremes of the

89. LOGICAL RELATIONS.—Logical relations are _those which are created by
our own thought, and which can have no being other than the being which
they have in and for our thought_. That there are such relations, which
are the exclusive product of our thought-activity, is universally
admitted. The mind can reflect on its own direct concepts; it can compare
and co-ordinate and subordinate them among themselves; it thus forms ideas
of relations between those concepts, ideas which the scholastics call
_reflex_ or _logical_ ideas, or “_secundæ intentiones mentis_”. These
relations are _entia rationis_, purely logical relations. Such, for
instance, are the relations of _genus_ to _species_, of predicate to
subject, the relations described in Logic as the _prædicabilia_. Moreover
we can compare our direct universal concepts with the individual realities
they represent, and see that this feature or mode of _universality_ in the
concept, its “_intentio universalitatis_” is a _logical relation_ of the
concept to the reality which it represents: a logical relation, inasmuch
as its _subject_ (the concept) and its _foundation_ (the _abstractness_ of
the concept) are in themselves pure products of our thought-activity.
Furthermore, we are forced by the imperfection of the thought-processes
whereby we apprehend reality—conception of _abstract_ ideas, _limitation_
of concepts in extension and intension, _affirmation_ and _negation_,
etc.—to apprehend _conceptual_ limitations, negations, comparisons, etc.,
in a word, all _logical entities_, as if they were _realities_, or after
the manner of realities, _i.e._ to conceive what is really “nothing” as if
it were really “something,” to conceive the _non-ens_ as if it were an
_ens_, to conceive it _per modum entis_ (3). And when we compare these
logical entities with one another, or with real entities, the relations
thus established by our thought are all _logical relations_. Finally, it
follows from this same imperfection in our human modes of thought that we
sometimes understand things only by attributing to these certain logical
relations, _i.e._ relations which affect not the reality of these things,
their _esse reale_, but only the mode of their presence in our minds,
their _esse ideale_ (4).

    In view of the distinction between logical relations and those we
    shall presently describe as real relations, and especially in view
    of the prevalent tendency in modern philosophy to regard all
    relations as merely logical, it would be desirable to classify
    logical relations and to indicate the ways in which they are
    created by, or result from, our thought-processes. We know of no
    more satisfactory analysis than that accomplished by St. Thomas
    Aquinas in various parts of his many monumental and enduring
    works. In his _Commentaries on the Sentences_(400) he enumerates
    four ways in which logical relations arise from our
    thought-processes. In his _Quaestiones Disputatae_(401) he reduces
    these to two: some logical relations, he says, are invented by the
    intellect reflecting on its own concepts and are attributed to
    these concepts; others arise from the fact that the intellect can
    understand things only by relating, grouping, classifying them,
    only by introducing among them an _arrangement_ or _system of
    relations_ through which alone it can understand them, relations
    which it could only erroneously ascribe to these things as they
    really exist, since they are only projected, as it were, into
    these things by the mind. Thus, though it consciously thinks of
    these things as so related, it deliberately abstains from
    asserting that these relations really affect the things
    themselves. Now the mistake of all those philosophers, whether
    ancient, medieval or modern, who deny that any relations are real,
    seems to be that they carry this abstention too far. They contend
    that all relations are simply read into the reality by our
    thought; that none are in the reality in any true sense
    independently of our thought. They thus exaggerate the rôle of
    thought as a _constitutive_ factor of known or experienced
    reality; and they often do so to such a degree that according to
    their philosophy human thought not merely _discovers_ or _knows_
    reality but practically _constitutes_ or _creates_ it: or at all
    events to such a degree that cognition would be mainly a process
    whereby reality is assimilated to mind and not rather a process
    whereby mind is assimilated to reality. Against all such idealist
    tendencies in philosophy we assert that not all relations are
    logical, that there are some relations which are not mere products
    of thought, but which are themselves real.

which is not a mere product of thought, but which obtains between real
things independently of our thought_. For a real relation there must be
(_a_) a _real_, individual _subject_; (_b_) a _real foundation_; and (_c_)
a _real_, individual _term_, really distinct from the subject. If the
subject of the relation, or its foundation, be not real, but a mere _ens
rationis_, obviously the relation cannot be more than logical. If,
moreover, the term be not a really distinct entity from the subject, then
the relation can be nothing more than a mental comparison of some thing
with itself, either under the same aspect or under mentally distinct
aspects. A relation is real in the fullest sense when the extremes are
_mutually_ related in virtue of a foundation really existing in both.
Hence St Thomas’ definition of a real relation as a _connexion between
some two things in virtue of something really found in both_: _habitudo
inter aliqua duo secundum aliquid realiter conveniens utrique_.(402)

Now the question: Are there in the real world, among the things which make
up the universe of our experience, relations which are not merely logical,
which are not a mere product of our thought?—can admit of only one
reasonable answer. That there are relations which are in some true sense
real and independent of our thought-activity must be apparent to everyone
whose mental outlook on things has not been warped by the specious
sophistries of some form or other of Subjective Idealism. For _ex
professo_ refutations of Idealist theories the student must consult
treatises on the _Theory of Knowledge_. A few considerations on the
present point will be sufficiently convincing here.

First, then, let us appeal to the familiar examples mentioned above. Are
not two lines, each a yard long, _really equal_ in length, whether we know
it or not? Is not a line a yard long _really greater than_ another line a
foot in length, whether we know it or not? Surely our thought does not
_create_ but _discovers_ the equality or inequality. The twin brothers
_really resemble_ each other, even when no one is thinking of this
resemblance; the resemblance is there whether anyone adverts to it or not.
The motion of the train _really depends_ on the force of the steam; it is
not our thought that produces this relation of dependence. The eye is
_really_ so constructed as to perceive light, and the light is really such
by nature as to arouse the sensation of vision; surely it is not our
thought that produces this relation of mutual adaptation in these
realities. Such relations are, therefore, in some true sense real and
independent of our thought: unless indeed we are prepared to say with
idealists that the lines, the brothers, the train, the steam, the eye, and
the light—in a word, that not merely relations, but all accidents and
substances, all realities—are mere products of thought, ideas, states of

Again, _order_ is but a system of relations of co-ordination and
subordination between really distinct things. But there is real order in
the universe. And therefore there are real relations in the universe.
There is real order in the universe: In the physical universe do we not
experience a real subordination of effects to causes, a real adaptation of
means to ends? And in the moral universe is not this still more apparent?
The domestic society, the family, is not merely an aggregate of
individuals any one of whom we may designate indiscriminately husband or
wife, father or mother, brother or sister. These relations of order are
real; they are obviously not the product of our thought, not produced by
it, but only discovered, apprehended by it.

It is a profound truth that not all the reality of the universe which
presents itself to the human mind for analysis and interpretation, _not
all_ the reality of this universe, is to be found in the mere sum-total of
the individual entities that constitute it, considering these entities
each absolutely and in isolation from the others. Nor does _all_ its real
perfection consist in the mere sum-total of the absolute perfections
intrinsic to, and inherent in, those various individual entities. Over and
above these individual entities and their absolute perfections, there is a
domain of reality, and of real perfections, consisting in the real
_adaptation_, _interaction_, _interdependence_, _arrangement_,
_co-ordination_ and _subordination_, of those absolute entities and
perfections among themselves. And if we realize this profound truth(403)
we shall have no difficulty in recognizing that, while the
thought-processes whereby we interpret this universe produce logical
relations which we utilize in this interpretation, there is also in this
universe itself a system of relations which are real, which are not
invented, but are merely detected, by our minds.

According to idealists, relation is a subjective category of the mind. It
belongs to phenomena only on the introduction of the latter into the
understanding. “Laws no more exist in phenomena,” writes Kant,(404) “than
phenomena exist in themselves; the former are relative to the subject in
which the phenomena inhere, in so far as this subject is endowed with
understanding; just as the latter are relative to this same subject in so
far as it is endowed with sensibility.” This is ambiguous and misleading.
Of course, laws or any other relations do not exist _for us_, are _not
known_ by us, are not _brought into relation to our understanding_, as
long as we do not consciously grasp the two terms and the foundation on
which the law, or any other relation, rests. But there are relations whose
terms and foundations are anterior to, and independent of, our thought,
and which consequently are not a product of thought.

“Sensations, or other feelings being given,” writes J. S. Mill,(405)
“succession and simultaneousness are the two conditions to the alternative
of which they are subjected by the nature of our faculties.” But, as M.
Boirac pertinently asks,(406) “why do we apply in any particular case the
one alternative of the two-faced category rather than the other? Is it not
because in every case the concrete application made by our faculties is
determined by the objects themselves, by an objective and real foundation
of the relation?”

relations which are in some true sense real. But in what does the reality
of a real relation consist? Before answering this question we must examine
the main classes of real relations.

We have already referred to the _mutual_ relation as one which has _a real
foundation in both_ of the extremes, such as the relation between father
and son, or between a greater and a lesser quantity, or between two equal
quantities, or between two similar people.(407) Such a relation is called
a _relatio aequiperantiae_, a relation of _the same denomination_, if it
has the same name on both sides, as “_equal—equal_,” “_similar—similar_,”
“_friend—friend_,” etc. It is called a _relatio disquiperantiae_, of
_different denomination_, if it has a different name, indicating a
different kind of relation, on either side, as “_father—son_,”
“_cause—effect_,” “_master—servant_,” etc.

Distinct from this is the _non-mutual_ or _mixed_ relation, which has a
real foundation only in one extreme, so that the relation of this to the
other extreme is real, while the relation of the latter to the former is
only logical.(408) For instance, the relation of every creature to the
Creator is a real relation, for the essential dependence of the creature
on the Creator is a relation grounded in the very nature of the creature
as a contingent being. But the relation of the Creator to the creature is
only logical, for the creative act on which it is grounded implies in the
Creator no reality distinct from His substance, which substance has no
necessary relation to any creature. Similarly, the relation of the
(finite) knowing mind to the known object is a real relation, for it is
grounded in a new quality, _viz._ knowledge, whereby the mind is
perfected. But the relation of the object to the mind is not a real
relation, for by becoming actually known the object itself does not
undergo any real change or acquire any new reality or perfection. We have
seen already (42, 50) that all reality has a _transcendental_ or
_essential_ relation to intellect and to will, ontological truth and
ontological goodness. These relations of reality to the _Divine_ Intellect
and Will are _formally_ or _actually_ verified in all things; whereas the
transcendental truth and goodness of any thing in regard to any created
intellect and will are formal or actual only when that thing is _actually_
known and willed by such created faculties: the relations of a thing to a
mind that does not actually know and desire that thing are only
_fundamental_ or _potential_ truth and goodness. This brings us to a
second great division of relations, into _essential_ or _transcendental_
and _accidental_ or _predicamental_.

An essential or transcendental relation is _one which is involved in the
very essence itself of the related thing_. It enters into and is
inseparable from the concept of the latter. Thus in the concept of the
_creature_ as such there is involved an _essential_ relation of the
latter’s dependence on the _Creator_. So, too, every individual reality
involves essential relations of _identity_ with itself and _distinction_
from other things, and essential relations of _truth_ and _goodness_ to
the Divine Mind and created minds. Knowledge involves an essential
relation to a known object. _Accidents_ involve the essential relation of
an aptitude to inhere in _substances_. _Actio_ involves an essential
relation to an _agens_, and _passio_ to a _patiens_; matter to form and
form to matter. And so on. In general, wherever any subject has an
intrinsic and essential exigence or aptitude or inclination, whereby there
is established a connexion of this subject with, or a reference to,
something else, an ordination or “_ordo_” to something else, there we have
an “essential” relation.(409) Such a relation is termed “transcendental”
because it can be verified of a subject in any category; and, since it
adds nothing real to its subject it does not of itself constitute any new
category of real being. Like the logical relation it is referred to here
in order to bring out, by way of contrast, the accidental or predicamental
relation which is the proper subject-matter of the present chapter.

accidental or predicamental relation is one which is _not essential to the
related subject, but superadded to, and separable from, the latter_. Such,
for instance, are relations of equality or inequality, similarity or
dissimilarity. It is not involved in the nature of the subject itself, but
is superinduced on the latter by reason of some real foundation really
distinct from the nature of this subject. Its sole function is to refer
the subject to the term, while the essential or transcendental relation is
rather an intrinsic attribute or aptitude of the nature itself as a
principle of action, or an effect of action. The real, accidental relation
is the one which Aristotle placed in a category apart as one of the
ultimate accidental modes of real being. Hence it is called a
“predicamental” relation. What are its principal sub-classes?

Real relations are divided according to the nature of their foundations.
But some relations are real _ex utraque parte_—mutual relations, while
others are real only on the side—mixed relations. Moreover, some real
relations are transcendental, others predicamental. Aristotle in assigning
three distinct grounds of predicamental relations seems to have included
some relations that are transcendental.(410) He distinguishes(411) (_a_)
relations grounded in unity and multitude; (_b_) relations grounded in
efficient causality; and (_c_) relations grounded in “commensuration”.

(_a_) By “unity and multitude” he is commonly interpreted to mean identity
or diversity not merely in _quantity_, but in any “formal” factor, and
therefore also in _quality_, and in _nature_ or _substance_. Things that
are one in quantity we term _equal_; one in quality, _similar_; one in
substance, _identical_. And if they are not one in these respects we call
them _unequal_, _dissimilar_, _distinct_ or _diverse_, respectively. About
quantity as a foundation for real, predicamental relations there can be no
difficulty. Indeed it is in a certain sense implied in all relations—at
least as apprehended by the human mind. For we apprehend relations, of
whatsoever kind, by mental comparison, and this involves the consciousness
of _number_ or _plurality_, of _two_ things compared.(412) And when we
compare things on the basis of any _quality_ we do so only by
distinguishing and measuring _intensive grades_ in this quality, after the
analogy of _extensive_ or _quantitative_ measurement (80). Nevertheless
just as quality is a distinct accident irreducible to quantity (77), so
are relations based on quality different from those based on quantity. But
what about substance or nature as a foundation of _predicamental_
relations? For these, as distinct from transcendental relations, some
accident really distinct from the substance seems to be required. The
substantial, individual _identity_ of any real being with itself is only a
logical relation, for there are not two really distinct extremes. The
specific identity of John with James in virtue of their common human
nature is a real relation but it would appear to be transcendental.(413)
The relation of the real John and the real James to our knowledge of them
is the transcendental relation of any reality to knowledge, the relation
of ontological truth. This relation is _essentially_ actual in regard to
the Divine mind, but only potential, and _accidentally_ actual, in regard
to any created mind (42). The relation of real distinction between two
individual substances is a real but _transcendental_ relation, grounded in
the transcendental attribute of _oneness_ which characterizes every real
being (26, 27).

(_b_) Efficient causality, _actio et passio_, can undoubtedly be the
ground of real predicamental relations. If the action is transitive(414)
the _patiens_ or recipient of the real change acquires by this latter the
basis of a relation of real dependence on the cause or _agens_. Again, if
the action provokes reaction, so that there is real interaction, each
_agens_ being also _patiens_, there arises a mutual predicamental relation
of interdependence between the two agencies. Furthermore, if the agent
itself is in any way really perfected by the action there arises a real
predicamental relation which is mutual: not merely a real relation of
effect to agent but also of agent to effect. This is true in all cases of
what scholastics call “univocal” as distinct from “equivocal” causation.
Of the former, in which the agent produces an effect _like in nature to
itself_, the propagation of their species by living things is the great
example. Here not only is the relation of offspring to parents a real
relation, but that of parents to offspring is also a real relation. And
this real relation is permanent because it is grounded not merely in the
transient generative processes but in some real and abiding result of
these processes—either some physical disposition in the parents
themselves,(415) or some _specific_ perfection attributed by extrinsic
denomination to the _individual_ parents: the parents are in a sense
continued in their offspring: “generation really perpetuates the species,
the specific nature, and in this sense may be said to perfect the
individual parents”.(416) In cases of “equivocal” causation—_i.e._ where
the effect is different in nature from the cause, as when a man builds a
house—the agent does not so clearly benefit by the action, so that in such
cases, while the relation of the effect to the cause is real, some authors
would regard that of the cause to the effect as logical.(417) When,
however, we remember that the efficient activity of all _created_ causes
is necessarily dependent on the Divine _Concursus_, and necessarily
involves _change in the created cause itself_, we can regard this change
as in all cases the ground of a real relation of the created cause to its
effect. But the creating and conserving activity of the Divine Being
cannot ground a real relation of the latter to creatures because the
Divine Being is Pure and Unchangeable Actuality, acquiring no new
perfection, and undergoing no real change, by such activity.(418)

(_c_) By commensuration as a basis of real relations Aristotle does not
mean quantitative measurement, but the determination of the perfection of
one reality by its being essentially conformed to, and regulated by,
another: as the perfection of knowledge or science, for instance, is
determined by the perfection of its object. This sort of commensuration,
or essential ordination of one reality to another, is obviously the basis
of _transcendental_ relations. Some authors would consider that besides
the transcendental relation of science to its object, a relation which is
independent of the actual existence of the latter, there also exists an
accidental relation in science to its object as long as this latter is in
actual existence. But rather it should be said that just as the
transcendental truth-relation of any real object to intellect is
fundamental (potential) or formal (actual) according as this intellect
merely _can_ know this object or actually _does_ know it, so also the
transcendental relation of knowledge to its object is fundamental or
formal according as this object is merely possible or actually existing.

We gather from the foregoing analysis that the three main classes of
predicamental relations are those based on _quantity_, _quality_, and
_causality_, respectively.

seen that not all relations are purely logical. There are real relations;
and of these some are not merely aspects of the other categories of real
being, not merely transcendental attributes virtually distinct from, but
really identical with, these other absolute modes of real being which we
designate as “substance,” “quantity,” “quality,” “cause,” “effect,” etc.
There are real relations which form a distinct accidental mode of real
being and so constitute a category apart. The fact, however, that these
predicamental relations have been placed by Aristotle and his followers in
a category apart does not of itself prove that the predicamental relation
is a special reality _sui generis_, really and adequately distinct from
the realities which constitute the other categories (60). If the
predicamental relation be not a _purely logical entity_, if it be an _ens
rationis cum fundamento in re_, or, in other words, if the object of our
concept of “predicamental relation,” has a foundation in reality (_e.g._
like the concepts of “space” and “time”), then it may reasonably be placed
in a category apart, even although it may not be itself formally a
reality. We have therefore to see whether or not the predicamental
relation is, or embodies, any mode of real being adequately distinct from
these modes which constitute the other categories.

The predicamental relation is real in the sense that it implies, in
addition to two really distinct extremes, a real foundation in one or both
of these extremes, a real accident such as quantity, quality, or
causality. That is to say, considered in its foundation or cause,
considered fundamentally or _secundum suum esse in subjecto_, the
predicamental relation is real, inasmuch as its foundation is a reality
independently of the consideration of the mind. No doubt, if the
predicamental relation, adequately considered, implies no other reality
than that of its foundation and terms, then the predicamental relation
does not contain any special reality _sui generis_, distinct from
substances, quality, quantity, and other such absolute modes of real
being. This, however, does not prevent its ranking as a distinct category
provided it adds a virtually distinct and altogether peculiar aspect to
those absolute realities. Now, considered adequately, the predicamental
relation adds to the reality it has in its foundation the _actual
reference_ of subject to term. In fact, it is in this reference of subject
to term, this “_esse ad_,” that the relation _formally_ consists. The
question therefore may be stated thus: Is this formal relation of subject
to term, this “_esse ad_” a real entity _sui generis_, really distinct
from the absolute entities of subject, term and foundation, and in
contradistinction to these and all absolute entities a “relative entity,”
actually existing in the real universe independently of our thought? Or is
it, on the contrary, itself formally a mere product of our thought, a
product of the mental act of comparison, an _ens rationis_ an aspect
superadded by our minds to the extremes compared, and to the foundation in
virtue of which we compare them?

A good many scholastics, and some of them men of great name,(419) have
espoused the former alternative, considering that the reality of the
predicamental relation cannot be vindicated—against idealists, who would
reduce all relations to mere logical entities—otherwise than by according
to the relation considered _formally_, _i.e._ _secundum suum_ “_esse ad_,”
an entity in the actual order of things independent of our thought: adding
as an argument that if relation formally as such is anything at all, if
all relation be not a mere mental fabrication, it is essentially a
“relative” entity, and that manifestly a “relative” entity cannot be
really identical with any “absolute” entity. And they claim for this view
the authority of St Thomas.(420)

The great majority of scholastics, however, espouse the second
alternative: that the relation, considered _formally_, “secundum _esse
ad_,” is a product of our mental comparison of subject with term. It is
not itself a real entity or a real mode, superadded to the reality of
extremes and foundation.

In the first place there is no need to suppose the reality of such a
relative entity. _Entia non sunt multiplicanda præter necessitatem._ It is
an abuse of realism to suppose that the _formal_ element of a relation,
its “_esse ad_,” is a distinct and separate reality. The reality of the
praedicamental relation is safeguarded without any such postulate. Since
the predicamental relation, considered _adequately_, _i.e._ not merely
formally but fundamentally, not merely _secundum esse ad_ but _secundum
esse in_, involves as its foundation an absolute accident which is real
independently of our thought, the predicamental relation is not a _mere
ens rationis_. It has a foundation in reality. It is an _ens rationis cum
fundamento in re_. This is a sufficient counter-assertion to Idealism, and
a sufficient reason for treating relation as a distinct category of real

That there is no need for such a relative entity will be manifest if we
consider the simple case of two bars of iron each a yard long. The length
of each is an absolute accident of each. The length of either, considered
absolutely and in itself, is not formally the _equality_ of this with the
other. Nor are both lengths considered separately the formal relation of
equality. But both considered together are the adequate foundation of this
formal relation; both considered together are this relation _potentially_,
_fundamentally_, so that all that is needed for the _actual_, _formal_
relation of _equality_ is the mental apprehension of the two lengths
together. The mental process of comparison is the only thing required to
make the potential relation actual; and the product of this mental process
is the _formality_ or “_esse ad_” of the relation, the actual reference of
the extremes to each other. Besides the absolute accidents which
constitute the foundation of the relation something more is required for
the constitution of the adequate predicamental relation. This “something
more,” however, is a mind capable of comparing the extremes, and not any
real entity distinct from extremes and foundation. Antecedently to the act
of comparison the formally relative element of the relation, its “_esse
ad_,” was not anything actual; it was the mere _comparability_ of the
extremes in virtue of the foundation. If the “_esse ad_” were a separate
real entity, a relative entity, really distinct from extremes and
foundation, what sort of entity could it be? Being an accident, it should
inhere in, or be a mode of its subject. But if it did it would lose its
formally relative character by becoming an inherent mode of an absolute
reality. While to conceive it as an entity astride on both extremes, and
bridging or connecting these together, would be to substitute the crude
imagery of the imagination for intellectual thought.

In the second place, if a subject can acquire a relation, or lose a
relation, _without undergoing any real change_, then the relation
considered formally as such, or _secundum_ “_esse ad_,” cannot be a
reality. But a subject can acquire or lose a relation without undergoing
any real change. Therefore the relation considered formally, as distinct
from its foundation and extremes, is not a reality.

The minor of this argument may be proved by the consideration of a few
simple examples. A child already born is neither larger nor smaller than
its brother that will be born two years hence.(421) But after the birth of
the latter child the former can acquire those relations successively
_without any real change in itself_, and merely by the growth of the
younger child. Again, one white ball _A_ is similar in colour to another
white ball _B_. Paint the latter black, and _eo ipso_ the former loses its
relation of resemblance _without any real change in itself_.

    And this appears to be the view of St. Thomas. If, he writes,
    another man becomes equal in size to me by growing while I remain
    unchanged in size, then although _eo ipso_ I become equal in size
    to him, thus acquiring a new relation, _nevertheless I gain or
    acquire nothing new_: “nihil advenit mihi de novo, per hoc quod
    incipio esse alteri aequalis per ejus mutationem”. Relation, he
    says, is an extramental reality _by reason of its foundation or
    cause_, whereby one reality is referred to another.(422) Relation
    itself, considered formally as distinct from its foundation, is
    not a reality; it is real only inasmuch as its foundation is
    real.(423) Again, relation is something inherent, but not formally
    as a relation, and hence it can disappear without any real change
    in its subject.(424) A real relation may be destroyed in one or
    other of two ways: either by the destruction or change of the
    foundation in the subject, or by the destruction of the term,
    entailing the cessation of the reference, _without any change in
    the subject_.(425) Hence, too, the reason alleged by St. Thomas
    why relation, unlike the other categories of real being, can be
    itself divided into logical entity and real entity, _ens rationis_
    and _ens reale_: because formally it is an _ens rationis_, and
    only fundamentally, or in virtue of its foundation, is it an _ens
    reale_.(426) And hence, finally, the reason why St. Thomas,
    following Aristotle, describes relation as having a “lesser
    reality,” an “esse debilius,”(427) than the other or absolute
    categories of real being: not as if it were a sort of diminutive
    entity, intermediate between nothingness and the absolute modes of
    reality, but because being dependent for its formal actuality not
    merely on a foundation in its subject, but also on a term to which
    the latter is referred, it can perish not merely by the
    destruction of its subject like other accidents, but also by the
    destruction of its term while subject and foundation remain

If, then, the real relation, considered formally or “secundum _esse ad_”
is not a reality, the relation under this aspect is a _logical_, not a
_real_, accident.

To constitute a mutual real relation there is needed a foundation in
_both_ of the extremes. As long as the term of the relation does not
actually exist, not only does the relation not exist formally and
actually, but it is not even _adequately potential_: the foundation in the
subject alone is not an adequate foundation.

To this view, which denies any distinct reality to the predicamental
relation considered formally, it has been objected that the predicamental
relation is thus confounded with the transcendental relation. But this is
not so; for the transcendental relation is always essential to its
subject, whatever this subject may be, while the predicamental relation,
considered formally, is a logical accident separable from its subject, and
considered fundamentally it is some absolute accident really distinct from
the substance of the related extremes. For instance, the _action_ which
mediates between cause and effect is itself transcendentally related to
both; while it is at the same time the adequate foundation whereby cause
and effect are predicamentally related to each other.(428)

If what we have called the formal element of a relation be nothing really
distinct from the extremes and foundation, it follows that some real
relations between creatures are really identical with their
substances;(429) and to this it has been objected that no relation _in
creatures_ can be, _quoad rem_, substantial: “Nulla relatio,” says St.
Thomas,(430) “est substantia secundum rem in creaturis”. To this it may be
replied that even in these cases the relation itself, considered
adequately, is not wholly identical with the substance of either extreme.
It superadds a separable logical accident to these.(431)

Finally it is objected that the view which denies a distinct reality to
the formal element of a real relation, to its “_esse ad_,” equivalently
denies all reality to relations, and is therefore in substance identical
with the idealist doctrine already rejected (90). But this is a
misconception. According to idealists, relations grounded on quality,
quantity, causality, etc., are exclusively in the intellect, in our mental
activity and its mental products, in our concepts alone, and are in no
true sense characteristic of reality. This is very different from saying
that our concepts of such relations are grounded in the realities
compared, and that these realities are really endowed with everything that
constitutes such relations, the comparative act of the intellect being
required merely to apprehend these characteristics and so to give the
relation its formal completeness.(432) There is all the difference that
exists between a theory which so exaggerates the constitutive function of
thought as to reduce all intellectual knowledge to a knowledge of mere
subjective mental appearances, and a theory which, while recognizing this
function and its products, will not allow that these cast any cloud or
veil between the intellect and a genuine insight into objective reality.
These mental processes are guided by reality; the _entia rationis_ which
are their products are grounded in reality; moreover we can quite well
distinguish between these _mental_ modes and products of our intellectual
activity and the _real_ contents revealed to the mind in these modes and
processes. So long, therefore, as we avoid the mistake of ascribing to the
objective reality itself any of these mental modes (as, for instance,
extreme realists do when they assert the extramental reality of the
_formal_ universal), our recognition of them can in no way jeopardize the
objective validity of intellectual knowledge. Perhaps an excessive
timidity in this direction is in some degree accountable for the “abuse of
realism” which ascribes to the formal element of a relation a distinct
extramental,(433) objective reality.


94. TRADITIONAL CONCEPT OF CAUSE.—The modes of real being which we have
been so far examining—substance, quality, quantity, relation—are modes of
reality considered as _static_. But it was pointed out in an early chapter
(ch. ii.) that the universe of our experience is subject to change, that
it is ever _becoming_, that it is the scene of a continuous world-process
which is apparently regulated by more or less stable principles or laws,
these laws and processes constituting the _universal order_ which it is
the duty of the philosopher to study and explain. We must now return to
this _kinetic_ and _dynamic_ aspect of reality, and investigate the
principles of change in things by a study of _Causes_.

As with the names of the other ultimate categories, so too here, the
general sense of the term “cause” (_causa_, αἴτιον) is familiar to all,
while analysis reveals a great variety of modalities of this common
signification. We understand by a cause _anything which has a positive
influence of any sort on the being or happening of something else_. In
philosophy this is the meaning which has been attached traditionally to
the term since the days of Aristotle; though in its present-day scientific
use the term has almost lost this meaning, mainly through the influence of
modern phenomenism.(434) The traditional notion of cause is usually
expounded by comparing it with certain kindred notions: _principle_,
_condition_, _occasion_, _reason_.

A _principle_ is _that from which anything proceeds in any way
whatsoever_.(435) Any sort of intrinsic connexion between two objects of
thought is sufficient to constitute the one a “principle” of the other;
but a mere extrinsic or time sequence is not sufficient. A _logical_
principle is some _truth_ from which further truths are or may be derived.
A _real_ principle is some _reality_ from which the _being_ or _happening_
of something originates and proceeds.(436) If this procession involves a
real and positive influence of the principle on that which proceeds from
it, such a real principle is a cause. But there may be a real and
intrinsic connexion without any such influence. For instance, in the
substantial changes which occur in physical nature the generation of the
new substantial formative principle necessarily presupposes the
_privation_ of the one which antecedently “informed” the material
principle; but this “_privatio formae_” has no positive influence on the
generation of the new “form”; it is, however, the necessary and natural
antecedent to the generation of the latter; hence although this “_privatio
formae_” is a real principle of substantial change (the process or
_fieri_) it is not a _cause_ of the latter. The notion of principle, even
of real principle, is therefore wider than the notion of cause.(437)

A _condition_, in the proper sense of a necessary condition or _conditio
sine qua non_, is something which must be realized or fulfilled before the
event or effect in question can happen or be produced. On the side of the
latter there is real dependence, but from the side of the former there is
no real and positive influence on the happening of the event. The
influence of the condition is negative; or, if positive, it is only
indirect, consisting in the removal of some obstacle—“_removens
probibens_”—to the positive influence of the cause. In this precisely a
condition differs from a cause: windows, for instance, are a condition for
the lighting of a room in the daylight, but the sun is the cause. The
distinction is clear and intelligible, nor may it be ignored in a
philosophical analysis of causality. At the same time it is easy to
understand that where, as in the inductive sciences, there is question of
discovering _all_ the antecedents, positive and negative, of any given
kind of phenomenon, in order to bring to light and formulate the law or
laws according to which such phenomenon occurs, the distinction between
cause and condition is of minor importance.(438)

An _occasion_ is _any circumstance or combination of circumstances
favourable to the action of a free cause_. For instance, a forced sale is
an occasion for buying cheaply; night is an occasion of theft; bad
companionship is an occasion of sin. An occasion has no intrinsic
connexion with the effect as in the case of a principle, nor is it
necessary for the production of the effect as in the case of a condition.
It is spoken of only in connexion with the action of a free cause; and it
differs from a cause in having no positive and direct influence on the
production of the effect. It has, however, a real though indirect
influence on the production of the effect by soliciting and aiding the
determination of the free efficient cause to act. In so far as it does
exert such an influence it may be regarded as a partial efficient cause,
not a physical but a moral cause, of the effect.

To ask for the _reason_ of any event or phenomenon, or of the nature or
existence of any reality, is to demand an _explanation_ of the latter; it
is to seek what _accounts_ for the latter, what makes this _intelligible_
to our minds. Whatever is a cause is therefore also a reason, but the
latter notion is wider than the former. Whatever explains a _truth_ is a
_logical_ reason of the latter. But since all truths are concerned with
realities they must have ultimately _real_ reasons, _i.e._ explanatory
principles inherent in the realities themselves. The knowledge of these
real or ontological principles of things is the logical reason of our
understanding of the things themselves. But the ontological principles,
which are the real reasons of the things, are wider in extent than the
causes of these things, for they include principles that are not causes.

Furthermore, the grades of reality which we discover in things by the
activity of abstract thought, and whereby we compare, classify and define
those things, we apprehend as explanatory principles of the latter; and
these principles, though really in the things, and therefore real
“reasons,” are not “causes”.

Thus, life is a real reason, though not a cause, of sensibility in the
animal organism; the soul’s independence of matter in its mode of
existence is a real reason, though not a cause, of its spiritual
activities. Hence, between a reason and that which it accounts for there
may be only a logical distinction, while between a cause and that which it
causes there must be a real distinction (38).

To understand all the intrinsic principles which constitute the _essence_
of anything is to know the _sufficient reason_ of its _reality_. To
understand all the extrinsic principles which account for its actual
_existence_ is to know the sufficient reason of its _existence_; and to
understand this latter adequately is to realize that the thing depends
ultimately for its actual existence on a Reality or Being which
necessarily exists by virtue of its own essence.

    What has been called the _Principle of Sufficient Reason_ asserts,
    when applied to reality, that every existing reality must have a
    sufficient reason for existing and for being what it is.(439)
    Unlike the _Principle of Causality_ which is an axiomatic or
    self-evident truth, this principle is rather a necessary postulate
    of all knowledge, an assumption that _reality is intelligible_. It
    does not mean that all reality, or even any single finite reality,
    is adequately intelligible to our finite minds. In the words of
    Bossuet, we do not know everything about anything: “nous ne savons
    le tout de rien”.

    In regard to contingent _essences_, if these be composite we can
    find a sufficient reason why they are such in their constitutive
    principles; but in regard to simple essences, or to the simple
    constitutive principles of composite essences, we can find no
    sufficient reason why they are such in anything even logically
    distinct from themselves: they are what they are because they are
    what they are, and to demand why they are what they are, is, as
    Aristotle remarked, to ask an idle question. At the same time,
    when we have convinced ourselves that their actual existence
    involves the existence of a Supreme, Self-Existent, Intelligent
    Being, we can see that the essence of this Being is the ultimate
    ground of the intrinsic possibility of all finite essences (20).

    In regard to contingent _existences_ the Principle of Sufficient
    Reason is coincident with the Principle of Causality, inasmuch as
    the sufficient reason of the actual existence of any contingent
    thing consists in the extrinsic real principles which are its
    causes. The existence of contingent things involves the existence
    of a Necessary Being. We may say that the sufficient reason for
    the existence of the Necessary Being is the Divine Essence Itself;
    but this is merely denying that there is outside this Being any
    sufficient reason, _i.e._ any cause of the latter’s existence; it
    is the recognition that the Principle of Causality is inapplicable
    to the Necessary Being. The Principle of Sufficient Reason, in
    this application of it, is logically posterior to the Principle of

times many scientists and philosophers have thought it possible to explain
the order and course of nature, the whole cosmic process and the entire
universe of our experience, by an appeal to the operation of _efficient
causes_. Espousing a mechanical, as opposed to a teleological, conception
of the universe, they have denied or ignored all influence of _purpose_,
and eschewed all study of _final causes_. Furthermore, misconceiving or
neglecting the category of substance, and the doctrine of substantial
change, they find no place in their speculations for any consideration of
_formal_ and _material_ causes. Yet without final, formal and material
causes, so fully analysed by Aristotle(441) and the scholastics, no
satisfactory explanation of the world of our experience can possibly be
found. Let us therefore commence by outlining the traditional fourfold
division of causes.

We have seen already that change involves composition or compositeness in
the thing that is subject to change. Hence two _intrinsic_ principles
contribute to the constitution of such a thing, the one a passive,
determinable principle, its _material cause_, the other an active,
determining principle, its _formal cause_. Some changes in material things
are superficial, not reaching to the substance itself of the thing; these
are _accidental_, involving the union of some _accidental_ “form” with the
concrete pre-existing substance as material (_materia_ “_secunda_”).
Others are more profound, changes of the substance itself; these are
_substantial_, involving the union of a new _substantial_ “form” with the
primal material principal (_materia_ “_prima_”) of the substance
undergoing the change. But whether the change be substantial or accidental
we can always distinguish in the resulting composite thing two intrinsic
constitutive principles, its _formal cause_ and its _material cause_. The
agencies in nature which, by their activity, bring about change, are
_efficient causes_. Finally, since it is an undeniable fact that there is
_order_ in the universe, that its processes give evidence of _regularity_,
of operation according to _law_, that the cosmos reveals a _harmonious
co-ordination of manifold_ agencies and a _subordination of means to
ends_, it follows that there must be working in and through all nature a
directive principle, a principle of plan or design, a principle according
to which those manifold agencies work together in fulfilment of a purpose,
_for the attainment of ends_. Hence the reality of a fourth class of
causes, _final causes_.

The separate influence of each of those four kinds of cause can be clearly
illustrated by reference to the production of any work of art. When, for
instance, a sculptor chisels a statue from a block of marble, the latter
is the material cause (_materia secunda_) of the statue, the form which he
induces on it by his labour is the formal cause (_forma accidentalis_),
the sculptor himself as agent is the efficient cause, and the motive from
which he works—money fame, esthetic pleasure, etc.—is the final cause.

The formal and material causes are _intrinsic_ to the effect; they
constitute the effect _in facto esse_, the distinction of each from the
latter being an inadequate real distinction. It is not so usual nowadays
to call these intrinsic constitutive principles of things _causes_ of the
latter; but they verify the general definition of cause. The other two
causes, the efficient and the final, are _extrinsic_ to the effect, and
really and adequately distinct from it,(442) extrinsic principles of its
production, its _fieri_.

This classification of causes is adequate;(443) it answers all the
questions that can be asked in explanation of the production of any
effect: _a quo?_ _ex quo?_ _per quid?_ _propter quid?_ Nor is there any
sort of cause which cannot be brought under some one or other of those
four heads. What is called an “exemplar cause,” _causa exemplaris_, _i.e._
the ideal or model or plan in the mind of an intelligent agent, according
to which he aims and strives to execute his work, may be regarded as an
extrinsic formal cause; or again, in so far as it aids and equips the
agent for his task, an efficient cause; or, again, in so far as it
represents a good to be realized, a final cause.(444)

The objects of our knowledge are in a true sense causes of our knowledge:
any such object may be regarded as an efficient cause, both physical and
moral, of this knowledge, in so far as by its action on our minds it
determines the activity of our cognitive faculties; or, again, as a final
cause, inasmuch as it is the end and aim of the knowledge.

The essence of the soul is, as we have seen (69), not exactly an efficient
cause of the faculties which are its properties; but it is their final
cause, inasmuch as their _raison d’être_ is to perfect it; and their
subjective or material cause, inasmuch as it is the seat and support of
these faculties.

The fourfold division is analogical, not univocal: though the matter, the
form, the agent, and the end or purpose, all contribute positively to the
production of the effect, it is clear that the character of the causal
influence is widely different in each case.

Again, its members do not demand distinct subjects: all four classes of
cause may be verified in the same subject. For instance, the human soul is
a formal cause in regard to the composite human individual, a material
cause in regard to its habits, an efficient cause in regard to its acts,
and a final cause in regard to its faculties.

Furthermore, the fourfold division is not an immediate division, for it
follows the division of cause in general into _intrinsic_ and _extrinsic_
causes. Finally, it is a division of the causes which we find to be
operative _in_ the universe. But the philosophical study of the universe
will lead us gradually to the conviction that itself and all the causes in
it are themselves _contingent_, themselves caused by and dependent on, a
Cause _outside_ or extrinsic to the universe, a _First_, _Uncaused_,
_Uncreated_, _Self-Existent_, _Necessary Cause_ (_Causa Prima_,
_Increata_), at once the _efficient_ and _final_ cause of all things. In
contrast with this _Uncreated_, _First Cause_, all the other causes we
have now to investigate are called _created_ or _second_ causes (_causae
secundae_, _creatae_).

A cause may be either _total_, _adequate_, or _partial_, _inadequate_,
according as the effect is due to its influence solely, or to its
influence in conjunction with, or dependence on, the influence of some
other cause or causes _of the same order_. A created cause, therefore, is
a total cause if the effect is due to its influence independently of other
created causes; though of course all created causes are dependent, both as
to their existence and as to their causality, on the influence of the
First Cause. Without the activity of created efficient and final causes
the First Cause can accomplish directly whatever these can
accomplish—except their very causality itself, which cannot be actualized
without them, but for which He can supply _eminenter_. Similarly, while it
is incompatible with His Infinite Perfection that He discharge the
function of material or formal cause of finite composite things, He can
immediately create these latter by the simultaneous production (_ex
nihilo_) and union of their material and formal principles.

A cause is said to be _in actu secundo_ when it is actually exercising its
causal influence. Antecedently to such exercise, at least _prioritate
naturae_, it is said to be _in actu primo_: when it has the expedite power
to discharge its function as cause it is _in actu primo proximo_, while if
its power is in any way incomplete, hampered or unready, it is _in actu
primo remoto_.

Many other divisions of cause, subordinate to the Aristotelian division,
will be explained in connexion with the members of this latter.

96. MATERIAL AND FORMAL CAUSES.—These are properly subject-matter for
_Cosmology_. We will therefore very briefly supplement what has been said
already concerning them in connexion with the doctrine of _Change_ (ch.
ii.). By a material cause we mean _that out of which anything is made_:
_id ex quo aliquid fit_. Matter is correlative with form: from the union
of these there results a composite reality endowed with either essential
or accidental unity—with the former if the material principle be
absolutely indeterminate and the correlative form substantial, with the
latter if the material principle be some actually existing individual
reality and the form some supervening accident. Properly speaking only
corporeal substances have material causes,(445) but the term “material
cause” is used in an extended sense to signify any potential, passive,
receptive subject of formative or actuating principles: thus the soul is
the subjective or material cause of its faculties and habits; essence of
existence; _genus of differentia_, etc.

In what does the positive causal influence of a material cause consist?
How does it contribute positively to the actualization of the composite
reality of which it is the material cause? It _receives_ and _unites with_
the form which is educed from its potentiality by the action of efficient
causes, and thus contributes to the generation of the concrete, composite
individual reality.(446)

It is by reason of the causality of the _formal cause_ that we speak of a
thing being _formally_ such or such. As correlative of material cause it
finds its proper application in reference to the constitution of corporeal
things. The formative principle, called _forma substantialis_, which
actuates, determines, specifies the material principle, and by union with
the latter constitutes an individual corporeal substance of a definite
kind, is the (substantial) formal cause of this composite substance.(447)
The material principle of corporeal things is of itself indifferent to any
species of body; it is the form that removes this indefiniteness and
determines the matter, by its union with the latter, to constitute a
definite type of corporeal substance.(448) The existence of different
species of living organisms and different types of inorganic matter in the
universe implies in the constitution of these things a common material
principle, _materia prima_, and a multiplicity of differentiating,
specifying, formative principles, _formae substantiales_. That the
distinction between these two principles in the constitution of any
individual corporeal substance, whether living or inorganic, is not merely
a virtual distinction between metaphysical (generic and specific) grades
of being in the individual, but a real distinction between separable
entities, is a scholastic thesis established in the Special Metaphysics of
the organic and inorganic domains of the universe.(449)

Since the _form_ is a perfecting, actuating principle, the term is often
used synonymously with _actus_, _actuality_. And since besides the
essential perfection which a being has by virtue of its substantial form
it may have accidental perfections by reason of supervening accidental
forms, these, too, are formal causes.

In what does the causal influence of the formal cause consist? In
communicating itself intrinsically to the material principle or passive
subject from whose potentiality it is evoked by the action of efficient
causes; in actuating that potentiality by intrinsic union therewith, and
thus determining the individual subject to be actually or formally an
individual of such or such a kind.

The material and formal causes are _intrinsic_ principles of the
constitution of things. We next pass to an analysis of the two _extrinsic_
causes, and firstly of the efficient cause and its causality.

understand that _by which_ anything takes place, happens, occurs: _id a
quo aliquid fit_. The world of our external and internal experience is the
scene of incessant _changes_: men and things not only are, but are
constantly _becoming_. Now every such change is originated by some active
principle, and this we call the efficient cause of the change. Aristotle
called it τὸ κινητικόν or ἡ ἀρχὴ κινητική, the _kinetic_ or _moving_
principle; or again, ἀρχὴ κινησέως ἢ μεταβολῆς ἐν ἑτέρω, _principium motus
vel mutationis in alio_, “the principle of motion or change in some other
thing”. The result achieved by this change, the actualized potentiality,
is called the _effect_; the causality itself of the efficient cause is
called _action_ (ποίησις), _motion_, _change_—and, from the point of view
of the effect, _passio_ (παθήσις). The perfection or endowment whereby an
efficient cause acts, _i.e._ its efficiency (ἐνέργεια), is called _active
power_ (_potentia seu virtus activa_); it is also called _force_ or
_potential energy_ in reference to inanimate agents, _faculty_ in
reference to animate agents, especially men and animals. This active power
of an efficient cause or agent is to be carefully distinguished from the
_passive potentiality_ acted upon and undergoing change. The former
connotes a perfection, the latter an imperfection: _unumquodque agit
inquantum est in actu, patitur vero inquantum, est in potentia_. The scope
of the active power of a cause is the measure of its actuality, of its
perfection in the scale of reality; while the extent of the passive
potentiality of _patiens_ is a measure of its relative imperfection. The
actuation of the former is _actio_, that of the latter _passio_. The point
of ontological connexion of the two _potentiae_ is the _change_ (_motus_,
κίνησις), this being at once the formal perfecting of the passive
potentiality in the _patiens_ or effect, and the immediate term of the
efficiency or active power of the _agens_ or cause. _Actio_ and _passio_,
therefore, are not expressions of one and the same concept; they express
two distinct concepts of one and the same reality, _viz._ the change:
_actio et passio sunt idem numero motus_. This change takes place
_formally_ in the subject upon which the efficient cause acts, for it is
an actuation of the potentiality of the former under the influence of the
latter: ἡ κίνησις ἐν τῷ κινητῷ; ἐντελέχεια γὰρ ἐστι τόυτου. Considered in
the potentiality of this subject—“τὸ τοῦδέ ἐν τῷδε: _hujus in hococ_”—it
is called _passio_. Considered as a term of the active power of the
cause—“τοῦδε ὑπο τοῦδε: _hujus per hoc_”—it is called _actio_.

The fact that _actio_ and _passio_ are really and objectively one and the
same _motus_ does not militate against their being regarded as two
separate supreme categories, for they are objects of distinct
concepts,(450) and this is sufficient to constitute them distinct
categories (60).

Doubts are sometimes raised, as St. Thomas remarks,(451) about the
assertion that the action of an agent is not formally in the latter but in
the _patiens_: _actio fit in passo_. It is clear, however, he continues,
that the action is formally in the _patiens_ for it is the actuation not
of any potentiality of the agent, but of the passive potentiality of the
_patiens_: it is in the latter that the _motus_ or change, which is both
_actio_ and _passio_, takes place, dependently of course on the influence
of the agent, or efficient cause of the change. The active power of an
efficient cause is an index of the latter’s actuality; the exercise of
this power (_i.e._ _action_) does not formally perfect the agent, for it
is not an actuation of any passive potentiality of the latter; it formally
perfects the _patiens_. Only _immanent_ action perfects the agent, and
then not as agent but as _patiens_ or receiver of the actuality effected
by the action (_cf._ 103 _infra_).

We may, then, define efficient cause as _the extrinsic principle of the
change or production of anything by means of action_: _principium
extrinsicum a quo fluit motus vel productio rei mediante actione_.

It is a “first” principle as compared with material and formal causes for
its influence is obviously prior in nature to theirs; also as compared
with the other extrinsic cause, the final cause, _in ordine executionis_,
not, however, _in ordine intentionis_. The “end,” not as realized but as
realizable, not in execution but in intention, discharges its function and
exerts its influence as “final _cause_” and in this order the final cause,
as will appear later, is _the first of all causes_: _finis est ultimus in
executione sed primus in intentione_.

“Change or production,” in the definition, is to be understood not in the
strict sense in which it presupposes an existing subject or material, but
in the wide sense in which it includes any production of new reality, even
creation or production _ex nihilo_.

“Action,” too, is to be understood in the wide sense in which it includes
the action of the First Cause, which action is really identical with the
essence of the latter. We conceive creation after the analogy of the
efficient action of created or “second” causes: we have no _proper_
concept of the infinite perfection of the Divine activity. In all created
efficient causes not only is the action itself, but also the efficiency,
force, power, faculty, which is its _proximate_ principle, really distinct
from the nature or essence of the agent; the former is a substance, the
latter an accident.

Finally, the action of a created efficient cause is either transitive
(_transiens_) or immanent (_immanens_) according as the change wrought by
the action takes place in something else (as when _the sun_ heats or
lights _the earth_) or in the cause itself (as when a man reasons or
wills). In the former case the action perfects not the agent but the other
thing, the _patiens_; in the latter case it perfects the agent itself,
_agens_ and _patiens_ being here the same identical concrete

enumerating the principal kinds of efficient cause, and analysing the
nature of efficient causality, we may set down here certain self-evident
axioms and aphorisms concerning causation in general. (_a_) The most
important of these is the _Principle of Causality_, which has been
enunciated in a variety of ways: _Whatever happens has a cause_; _Whatever
begins to be has a cause_; _Whatever is contingent has a cause_; _Nothing
occurs without a cause_. Not everything that begins to be has necessarily
a _material_ cause, or a _formal_ cause, really distinct from itself. For
instance, simple spiritual beings, like the human soul, have no material
cause, nor any formal cause or constitutive principle distinct from their
essence. Similarly, the whole universe, having been created _ex nihilo_,
had no pre-existing material cause. All the material beings, however,
which are produced, generated, brought into actual existence in the course
of the incessant changes which characterize the physical universe, have
both material and formal causes. But the Principle of Causality refers
mainly to extrinsic causes. It is commonly understood only of efficient
causes; and only in regard to these is it self-evident. We shall see that
as a matter of fact nothing happens without a _final_ cause: that
intelligent purpose pervades reality through and through. This, however,
is a conclusion, not a principle. What is really a self-evident,
axiomatic, necessary principle is that _whatever happens has an_ EFFICIENT
_cause_. Only the Necessary, Self-Existing, Eternal Being, has the
sufficient reason of His actual existence in Himself, in His own essence.
That any being which is contingent could exist _independently of some
other actual being_ as the cause of this existence; that it could have
come into existence or begun to exist _from absolute nothingness, or be
produced or brought into actual existence without any actual being to
produce it_; or that, once existing and subject to change, it could
undergo change and have its potentialities actualized _without any actual
being to cause such change_ (10)—all this is positively unthinkable and
absolutely repugnant to our intelligence; all this our reason peremptorily
declares to be intrinsically impossible. Nor is there question of a mere
psychological inconceivability, such as might be due to a long-continued
custom of associating the idea of a “beginning” with the idea of a “cause”
of this beginning—as phenomenists generally contend.(453) There is
question of an impossibility which our reason categorically dictates to be
a real, ontological impossibility. The Principle of Causality is therefore
a necessary, _a priori_, self-evident principle.

(_b_) _Every effect must have an adequate efficient cause_, _i.e._ a cause
sufficiently perfect, sufficiently high on the scale of being, to have the
active power to produce the effect in question; otherwise the effect would
be partially uncaused, which is impossible.

(_c_) _An effect cannot as such be actually more perfect than its adequate
(created) cause_. The reason is that the effect as such is really
dependent for its actuality on its adequate created cause. It derives its
actuality from the latter. Now it is inconceivable that an agent could be
the active, productive principle of a greater perfection, a higher grade
of actuality, than itself possesses. Whatever be the nature of efficient
causality, _actio_ and _passio_ (102), or of the dependence of the
produced actuality upon the active power of its adequate efficient cause
(10), the reality of this dependence forbids us to think that in the
natural order of efficient causation a higher grade of reality can be
actualized than the agent is capable of actualizing, or that the agent can
naturally actualize a higher or more perfect grade of reality than is
actually its own. We must, however, bear in mind that there is question of
the _adequate_ created cause of an effect; and that to account _fully_ for
the actualization of any potential reality whatsoever we are forced to
recognize in all causation of created efficient causes the _concursus_ of
the _First Cause_.

(_d_) The actuality of the effect is in its adequate created cause or
causes, _not actually and formally, but potentially_ or _virtually_. If
the cause produce an effect of the same kind as itself (_causa
____univoca___), as when living organisms propagate their species, the
perfection of the effect is said to be in the cause _equivalently_
(_aequivalenter_); if it produce an effect of a different kind from itself
(_causa ____analoga___), as when a sculptor makes a statue, the perfection
of the effect is said to be in the cause _eminently_ (_eminenter_).

(_e_) _Omne agens agit inquantum est in actu._ The operative power of a
being is in proportion to its own actual perfection: the higher an agent
is on the scale of reality, or in other words the more perfect its grade
of being, the higher and more perfect will be the effects achieved by the
exercise of its operative powers. In fact our chief test of the perfection
of any nature is analysis of its operations. Hence the maxim so often
referred to already:—

(_f_) _Operari sequitur esse; qualis est operatio talis est natura; modus
operandi sequitur modum essendi._ Operation is the key to nature; we know
what any thing is by what it does.

(_g_) _Nihil agit ultra suam speciem_; or, again, _Omne agens agit simile
sibi_. These are inductive generalizations gathered from experience, and
have reference to the natural operation of agents, especially in the
organic world. Living organisms reproduce only their own kind. Moreover,
every agency in the universe has operative powers of a definite kind;
acting according to its nature it produces certain effects and these only;
others it cannot produce: this is, in the natural order of things, and
with the natural _concursus_ of the First Cause. But created causes have a
passive _obediential capacity_ (_potentia obedientialis_) whereby their
nature can be so elevated by the First Cause that they can produce, with
His special, supernatural _concursus_, effects of an entirely higher order
than those within the ambit of their natural powers.(454)

(_h_) From a known effect, of whatsoever kind, we can argue with
certainty, _a posteriori_, to the _existence_ of an adequate efficient
cause, and to _some knowledge_ of the _nature_ of such a cause.(455) By
virtue of the principle of causality we can infer the existence of an
adequate cause containing either equivalently or eminently all the
perfections of the effect in question.

99. CLASSIFICATION OF EFFICIENT CAUSES.—(_a_) We have already referred to
the distinction between the _First_ Cause and _Second_ or _Created_
Causes. The former is absolutely independent of all other beings both as
to His power and as to the exercise of this power. The latter are
dependent, for both, upon the former.

The distinction between a first, or primary, or independent cause, and
second, or subordinate, or dependent causes can be understood not only of
causes universally, but also as obtaining among created causes themselves.
In general the _subordination_ of a cause to a superior or anterior cause
may be either _essential_ or _accidental_: essential, when the second
cause depends—either for its existence or for an indispensable complement
of its efficiency—on the _present_ actual influence of the other cause;
accidental when the second cause has indeed received its existence or
efficiency from this other cause, but is now no longer dependent, for its
existence or action, on the latter. Thus, living organisms are, as causes,
accidentally subordinate to their parent organisms: they derived their
existence from the latter, but are independent of these when in their
maturity they continue to exist, and live, and act of themselves and for
themselves. But all creatures, on the other hand, are, as causes,
_essentially_ subordinate to the Creator, inasmuch as they can exist and
act only in constant dependence on the ever present and ever actual
conserving and concurring influence of the Creator.

It is obvious that all the members of any series of causes _essentially_
subordinate the one to the other _must exist simultaneously_. Whether such
a series could be infinite depends, therefore, on the question whether an
_actually infinite multitude_ is intrinsically possible. This difficulty
cannot be urged with such force against an infinite regress in causes
_accidentally_ subordinate to one another; for here such a regress would
not involve an actually infinite multitude of things existing
simultaneously. In the case of essentially subordinate causes, moreover,
the series, whatever about its infinity, must contain, or rather imply
_above_ it, _one_ cause which is _first_ in the sense of being
_independent_, or exempt from the subordination characteristic of all the
others. And the reason is obvious: Since no one of them can exist or act
except dependently on another, and this on another, and so on, it is
manifest that the series cannot exist at all unless there is some one
cause which, unlike all the others, exists and acts without such
subordination or dependence. Hence, _in essentially subordinate causes an
infinite regress is impossible_.(456) In Natural Theology these
considerations are of supreme importance.

(_b_) An efficient cause may be described as _immanent_ or _transitive_
according as the term of its action remains within the cause itself, or is
produced in something else. The action of the First Cause is formally
immanent, being identical with the Divine Nature itself; it is virtually
transitive when it is creative, or operative among creatures.

(_c_) An efficient cause is either a _principal_ or an _instrumental_
cause. When two causes so combine to produce an effect that one of them
uses the other the former is called the principal and the latter the
instrumental cause. Thus I am the principal cause of the words I am
writing; my pen is the instrumental cause of them. Such an effect is
always attributed to the principal cause, not to the instrumental. The
notion of an instrument is quite a familiar notion. An instrument helps
the principal agent to do what the latter could not otherwise do, or at
least not so easily. An instrument therefore is really a cause. It
contributes positively to the production of the effect. How does it do so?
By reason of its nature or structure it influences, modifies, and directs
in a particular way, the efficiency of the principal cause. But this
property of the instrumental cause comes into play only when the latter is
being actually used by a principal cause. A pen, a saw, a hammer, a spade,
have each its own instrumentality. The pen will not cut, nor the saw mould
iron, nor the hammer dig, nor the spade write, for the agent that uses
them. Each will produce its own kind of effect when used; but none of them
will produce any effect except when used: though each has in itself
permanently and inherently the power to produce its own proper effect in
use.(457) We have instanced the use of _artificial_ instruments. But
nature itself provides some agencies with what may be called _natural_
instruments. The _semen_ whereby living organisms propagate their kind is
an instance. In a less proper sense the various members of the body are
called instruments of the human person as principal cause, “instrumenta

The notion of an instrumental cause involves then (_a_) subordination of
the latter, in its instrumental activity, to a principal cause, (_b_)
incapacity to produce the effect otherwise than by modifying and directing
the influence of the principal cause. This property whereby the
instrumental cause modifies or determines in a particular way the
influence of the principal cause, is called by St. Thomas an _actio_ or
_operatio_ of the former; the distinction between the principal and the
instrumental cause being that whereas the former acts by virtue of a power
permanently inherent in it as a natural perfection, the latter acts as an
instrument only by virtue of the transient motion which it derives from
the principal cause which utilizes it.(458)

We may, therefore, define an _instrumental_ cause as _one which, when
acting as an instrument, produces the effect not by virtue of its inherent
power alone, but by virtue of a power communicated to it by some principal
cause which acts through it_. A _principal_ cause, on the other hand, is
_one which produces its effect by virtue of an active power permanently
inherent in itself_.

The designations _principal_ and _instrumental_ are obviously correlative.
Moreover, _all created_ causes may be called _instrumental_ in relation to
the _First Cause_. For, not only are they dependent on the latter for the
_conservation_ of their nature and active powers; they are also dependent,
in their action, in their actual exercise of these powers, on the First
Cause (for the _concursus_ of the latter).(459) Yet some created causes
have these powers permanently, and can exercise them without subordination
to other creatures; while others need, for the exercise of their proper
functions, not only the Divine _concursus_, but also the motion of other
creatures. Hence the former are rightly called _principal_ created causes,
and the latter _instrumental_ created causes.

(_d_) Efficient causes are divided into _free_ causes and _necessary_
causes. A free or self-determining cause is _one which is not determined
by its nature to one line of action_, but _has the power of choosing, or
determining itself_, to act or abstain, when all the conditions requisite
for acting are present. Man is a free agent, or free cause, of his
deliberate actions. A necessary cause, or natural cause as it is sometimes
called, is _one which is determined by its nature to one invariable line
of action_, so that, granted the conditions requisite for action, it
cannot naturally abstain from acting in that invariable manner. All the
physical agencies of the inorganic world, all plant and animal organisms
beneath man himself, are necessary causes.

The freedom of the human will is established against determinism in
Psychology.(460) The difficulties of determinists against this doctrine
are for the most part based on misconceptions, or on erroneous and
gratuitous assumptions. We may mention two of them here.(461) Free
activity, they say, would be _causeless_ activity: it would violate the
“law of universal causation”. We reply that free activity is by no means
causeless activity. The free agent himself is in the fullest and truest
sense the efficient cause of his free acts. It is by his causal, efficient
influence that the act of free choice is determined and elicited. Free
causality evidently does not violate the necessary, _a priori_ principle
set forth above under the title of the Principle of Causality. But—they
urge in the second place—it violates the “law of universal causation,”
_i.e._ the law that every event in nature must be the result of some set
of phenomenal antecedents which _necessitate_ it, and which, therefore,
whenever verified, _must_ produce this result and no other; and by
violating this law it removes all supposed “free” activities from the
domain of that regularity and uniformity without which no scientific
knowledge of such phenomena would be possible. To this we reply, firstly,
that the law of uniform causation in nature, the law which is known as the
“Law of the Uniformity of Nature,” and which, under the title of the “Law
of Universal Causation” is confounded by determinists and phenomenists
with the entirely distinct “Principle of Causality”—is not by any means a
law of _necessary_ causation.(462) The statement that Nature is uniform in
its activities is not the expression of an _a priori_, necessary truth,
like the Principle of Causality. It is a generalization from experience.
And experience testifies to the existence of grades in this all-prevailing
uniformity. In the domain of physical nature it is the expression of the
Free Will of the Author of Nature, who may miraculously derogate from this
physical uniformity for higher, moral ends. In the domain of deliberate
human activities it is the expression of that less rigorous but no less
real uniformity which is dependent on the free will of man. And just as
the possibility of miracles in the former domain does not destroy the
regularity on which the generalizations of the physical sciences are
based, so neither does the fact of human free will render worthless or
unreliable the generalizations of the human sciences (ethical, social,
political, economic, etc.) about human conduct. Were the appearance of
miracles in the physical domain, or the ordinary play of free will in the
human domain, entirely _capricious_, _motiveless_, _purposeless_, the
results would, of course, be chaotic, precarious, unaccountable,
unintelligible, and scientific knowledge of them would be impossible: for
the assumption that reality is the work of intelligent purpose, and is
therefore a regular, orderly expression of law, in other words, the
assumption that the universe is intelligible, is a prerequisite condition
for scientific knowledge about the universe. But determinists seem to
assume that Divine Providence and human free will must necessarily imply
that the whole universe of physical phenomena and human activities would
be an unintelligible chaos; and having erected this philosophical
scarecrow on a gratuitous assumption they think it will gradually exorcise
all belief in Divine Providence and human freedom from the “scientific”

(_e_) Efficient causes are either _physical_ or _moral_. A physical
efficient cause is _one which produces its effect by its own proper power
and action_—whether immediately or by means of an instrument. For
instance, the billiard player is the physical cause of the motion he
imparts to the balls by means of the cue. A moral cause is one which
produces its effect by the representation of something as good or evil to
the mind of a free agent; by inducing the latter through example, advice,
persuasion, promises, threats, commands, entreaties, etc., to produce the
effect in question. For instance, a master is the moral cause of what his
servant does in obedience to his commands. The motives set forth by way of
inducement to the latter are of course _final_ causes of the latter’s
action. But the former, by setting them forth, is the moral cause of the
action: he is undoubtedly more than a mere condition; he contributes
positively and efficiently to the effect. His physical causation, however,
does not reach to the effect itself, but only to the effect wrought in the
mind of the servant by his command. It is causally connected with the
physical action of the servant by means of an intermediate link which we
may call _mental_ or _psychical causation_—_actio_ “_intentionalis_,”—the
action of cognition on the mind of a cognitive agent.

The agent employed by a moral cause to produce an effect physically may be
called an instrumental cause in a wide and less proper sense of this term,
the instrumentality being moral, not physical. Only free agents can be
moral causes; and as a rule they are termed moral causes only when they
produce the effect through the physical operation of another free agent.
What if they employ not free agents, nor yet inanimate instruments, but
agents endowed with sense cognition and sense appetite, to produce
effects? If a man set his dog at another, is he the _moral_ or the
_physical_ cause of the injuries inflicted by the dog? That he is the
principal _efficient_ cause is unquestionable. But is he the principal
_physical_ cause and the dog the _instrument_? We think it is more proper
to call the principal efficient cause a _moral_ cause in all cases where
there intervenes between his physical action and the effect an
intermediate link of “psychical” or “intentional” action, even though, as
in the present example, this psychical link is of the sentient, not the
intellectual, order.

(_f_) The efficient cause, like other causes, may be either _partial_ or
_total_, according as it produces the effect by co-operation with other
causes, or by itself alone. The aim of the inductive sciences is to
discover for each kind of natural event or phenomenon the “total cause” in
the comprehensive sense of the whole group of _positive_ agencies or
causes proper, and _negative_ antecedent and concomitant _conditions_
which are _indispensable_ and _necessitating_ principles of the happening
of such kind of event.(463)

(_g_) We can distinguish between the _immediate or determining_, the more
or less _proximate_, and the more or less _remote_, efficient causes of an
event. Thus, the application of the fuse to the charge of dynamite in a
rock is the immediate or determining cause of the explosion which bursts
the rock; the lighting of the fuse, the placing of the charge, etc., the
more proximate causes; the making of the fuse, dynamite, instruments,
etc., the more remote causes. Again the aim of the inductive sciences is
to discover the “total _proximate_ cause” of events,(464) leaving the
investigation of ultimate causes, as well as the analysis of causality
itself, to philosophy.

(_h_) Finally, we must distinguish between the _individual_ agent itself
as cause (the _suppositum_ or person that acts); the agent’s _nature_ and
_active power_ as causes; and the _action_, or exercise of this power as
cause. The former, the individual, concrete agent, is the “principium
_quod_ agit,” and is called the “causa _ut quae_”. The nature and the
active power of the agent are each a “principium _quo_ agens agit,” the
remote and the proximate principle of action respectively; and each is
called a “causa _ut qua_”. The action of the agent is the cause of the
effect in the sense that the actual production or _fieri_ of anything is
the immediate cause of this thing _in facto esse_. Corresponding to these
distinctions we distinguish between the cause _in actu primo remoto_, _in
actu primo proximo_, and _in actu secundo_. These distinctions are of no
little importance. By ignoring them, and by losing sight of the intrinsic
(formal and material) causes of natural phenomena, many modern scientists
and philosophers have confounded cause and effect with the process itself
of causation, and declared that cause and effect are not distinct
realities, but only two mental aspects of one and the same reality.(465)

    The same may be said of all the distinctions so far enumerated.
    They are absolutely essential to the formation of clear ideas on
    the question of causality. No term in familiar use is of more
    profound philosophical significance, and at the same time more
    elastic and ambiguous in its popular meanings, than the term
    _cause_. This is keenly felt in the Logic of the Inductive
    Sciences, where not only the discovery, but the exact measurement,
    of physical causes, is the goal of research.

    “When we call one thing,” writes Mr. Joseph,(466) “the cause of
    another, the real relation between them is not always the same....
    We say that molecular action is the cause of heat, that the heat
    of the sun is the cause of growth, that starvation is sometimes
    the cause of death, that jealousy is a frequent cause of crime. We
    should in the first case maintain that cause and effect are
    reciprocally necessary; no heat without molecular motion and no
    molecular motion without heat. In the second the effect cannot
    exist without the cause, but the cause may exist without the
    effect, for the sun shines on the moon but nothing grows there. In
    the third the cause cannot exist without the effect, for
    starvation must produce death, but the effect may exist without
    the cause, since death need not have been produced by starvation.
    In the fourth case we can have the cause without the effect, and
    also the effect without the cause; for jealousy may exist without
    producing crime, and crime may occur without the motive of
    jealousy. It is plain then that we do not always mean the same
    thing by our words when we say that two things are related as
    cause and effect; and anyone who would classify and name the
    various modes in which two things may be causally related would do
    a great service to clear thinking.”

    In the popular acceptation of the term _cause_, the same kind of
    event can have a _plurality of (efficient) causes_. Death, for
    example, may be brought about in different cases by different
    diseases or accidents. But if we understand by the total efficient
    cause of any given kind of effect the sum-total of agencies and
    conditions which when present _necessitate_ this kind of an
    effect, and which are collectively and severally _indispensable_
    for its production, then it is obvious that a given _kind_ of
    effect can have _only one kind_ of such total group of antecedents
    as total cause, just as any one individual effect can have only
    one individual total cause, _viz._ the one which actually produced
    it; a _similar_ total cause would produce a _similar_ effect, but
    could not produce the numerically identical individual effect of
    the other similar cause.(467)

    The medieval scholastics discussed the question in connexion with
    the problem of individuation: “Would Alexander the Great have been
    the same individual had he been born of other parents than Philip
    and Olympia?” The question is hardly intelligible. The person born
    of these other parents might indeed have been as similar as you
    will to the actual Alexander of history, but would not and could
    not have been the actual Alexander of history. Nowadays the
    question discussed in this connexion is not so much whether the
    same kind of natural phenomenon can be produced by different kinds
    of total cause—for the answer to this question depends wholly on
    the wider or the narrower meaning attached to the term “total
    cause,”(468)—but rather whether or how far the inductive
    scientist’s ideal of searching always for the _necessitating and
    indispensable_ cause (or, as it is also called, the
    “reciprocating” or “commensurate” cause) is a practical ideal.


CAUSALITY.—We have seen how modern sensists, phenomenists, and positivists
have doubted or denied the power of the human mind to attain to a
knowledge of any objective reality corresponding to the category of
substance (§§ 61 _sqq._). They treat in a similar way the traditional
concept of efficient causality. And in delivering their open or veiled
attacks on the real validity of this notion they have made a misleading
use of the proper and legitimate function of the inductive sciences. The
chief aim of the natural scientist is to seek out and bring to light the
_whole group of necessitating and indispensable_ (phenomenal)
_antecedents_ of any given kind of event, and to formulate the natural law
of their connexion with this kind of event. There is no particular
objection to his calling these antecedents the _invariable_, or even the
_necessary_ or _necessitating_, antecedents of the event; provided he does
not claim what he cannot prove—and what, as we shall see later (104), is
not true, _viz._—that the invariability or necessity of this connexion
between phenomenal antecedents and consequents is wholly inviolable,
fatal, absolute in character. He may rightly claim for any such
established connexion the hypothetical, conditional necessity which
characterizes all inductively established laws of physical nature. There
are such antecedents and consequents in the universe; there are connexions
between them which are more than mere _casual_ connexions of _time
sequence_, which are connexions of physical law, inasmuch as they are
connexions based on the _natures_ of agencies in an _orderly_ universe,
connexions of these agencies with their natural effects. All this is
undeniable. Moreover, so long as _the scientist_ confines himself to
inferences concerning such connexions between phenomena, to inferences and
generalizations based on the assumed uniformity of nature, he is working
in his proper sphere. Nay, even if he chooses to designate these groups of
invariable phenomenal antecedents by the title of “physical causes” we
know what he means; though we perceive some danger of confusion, inasmuch
as we see him arrogating to the notion of regularity or uniformity of
connexion _i.e._ to the notion of _physical law_, a term, _causality_,
which traditionally expressed something quite distinct from this, _viz._
the notion of _positive influence_ of one thing on the being or happening
of another. But when _phenomenist philosophers_ adopt this usage we cannot
feel reassured against the danger of confusion by such protestations as
those of Mill in the following passage:—(469)

    I premise, then, that when in the course of this inquiry I speak
    of the cause of any phenomenon, I do not mean a cause which is not
    itself a phenomenon; I make no research into the ultimate or
    ontological cause of anything. To adopt a distinction familiar in
    the writings of the Scotch metaphysicians, and especially of Reid,
    the causes with which I concern myself are not _efficient_, but
    _physical_ causes. They are causes in that sense alone, in which
    one physical fact is said to be the cause of another. Of the
    efficient causes of phenomena, or whether any such causes exist at
    all I am not called upon to give an opinion. The notion of
    causation is deemed, by the schools of metaphysics most in vogue
    at the present moment, to imply a mysterious and most powerful
    tie, such as cannot, or at least does not, exist between any
    physical fact and that other physical fact on which it is
    invariably consequent, and which is popularly termed its cause;
    and thence is deduced the supposed necessity of ascending higher,
    into the essences and inherent constitution of things, to find the
    true cause, the cause which is not only followed by, but actually
    produces, the effect. No such necessity exists for the purposes of
    the present inquiry, nor will any such doctrine be found in the
    following pages. The only notion of a cause, which the theory of
    induction requires, is such a notion as can be gained by
    experience. The Law of Causation, which is the main pillar of
    inductive science, is but the familiar truth, that invariability
    of succession is found by observation to obtain between every fact
    in nature and some other fact which has preceded it; independently
    of all considerations respecting the ultimate mode of production
    of phenomena, and of every other question regarding the nature of
    “Things in themselves”.

This passage—which expresses fairly well the phenomenist and positivist
attitude in regard to the reality, or at least the cognoscibility, of
_efficient_ causes—fairly bristles with inaccuracies, misconceptions, and
false insinuations.(470) But we are concerned here only with the denial
that any notion of an _efficient_ cause “can be gained from experience,”
and the doubt consequently cast on the objective validity of this notion.
The Sensism which regards our highest intellectual activities as mere
organic associations of sentient states of consciousness, has for its
logical issue the Positivism which contends that all valid knowledge is
confined to the existence and time and space relations of sense phenomena.
In thus denying to the mind all power of attaining to a valid knowledge of
anything suprasensible—such as substance, power, force, efficient cause,
etc.—Positivism passes over into Agnosticism.

In refutation of this philosophy, in so far as it denies that we have any
grounds in experience for believing in the real existence of efficient
causes, we may set down in the first place this universal belief itself of
the human race that there are in the universe efficient causes of the
events that happen in it. Men universally believe that they themselves as
agents contribute by a real and positive influence to the actual
occurrence of their own thoughts, reasonings, wishes, desires, sensations;
that their mental resolves to speak, walk, write, eat, or perform any
other external, bodily works do really, positively, and efficiently
produce or cause those works; that external phenomena have a real
influence on happenings in their own bodies, that fire burns them and food
nourishes them; that external phenomena also have a real and positive
influence on their sense organs, and through these on their minds by the
production there of conscious states such as sensations; finally that
external phenomena have a real and positive influence on one another; that
by action and interaction they really produce the changes that are
constantly taking place in the universe: that the sun does really heat and
light the earth, that the sowing of the seed in springtime has really a
positive influence on the existence of crops in the harvest, that the
taking of poison has undoubtedly a real influence on the death which
results from it. And if any man of ordinary intelligence and plain common
sense is told that such belief is an illusion, that in all such cases the
connexion between the things, facts or events which he designates as
“cause” and “effect,” is a mere connexion of invariable time sequence
between antecedents and consequents, that in no case is there evidence of
any _positive, productive influence_ of the one fact upon the other, he
will either smile incredulously and decline to take his objector
seriously, or he will simply ask the latter to _prove_ the universal
belief to be an illusion. His conviction of the real and objective
validity of his notion of efficient cause, as something which positively
influences the happening of things, is so profound and ineradicable that
it must necessarily be grounded in, and confirmed by, his constant
experience of the real world in which he lives and moves. Not that he
professes to be able to explain the _nature_ of this efficient influence
in which he believes. Even if he were a philosopher he might not be able
to satisfy himself or others on this point But being a plain man of
ordinary intelligence he has sense enough to distinguish between the
_existence_ of a fact and its _nature_, its explanation, its _quomodo_;
and to believe in the real existence of a _positive efficient, productive_
influence of cause on effect, however this influence is to be conceived or

A second argument for the objective validity of the concept of efficient
cause may be drawn from a consideration of the _Principle of Causality_.
The experience on which the plain man grounds his belief in the validity
of his notion of cause is not mere uninterpreted sense experience in its
raw and brute condition, so to speak; it is this sense experience
rationalized, assimilated into his intelligence—spontaneously and half
unconsciously, perhaps—by the light of the self-evident Principle of
Causality, that whatever happens has a cause. When the plain man believes
that all the various agencies in nature, like those enumerated above, are
not merely _temporal_ antecedents or concomitants of their effects, but
are _really productive_ of those effects, he is really applying the
universal and necessary truth—that an “event,” a “happening,” a “change,”
a “commencement” of any new actual mode of being demands the existence of
another actual being as cause—the truth embodied in the Principle of
Causality, to this, that, and the other event of his experience: he is
_locating_ the “causes” of these events in the various persons and things
which he regards as the agents or producers of these events. In making
such applications he may very possibly err in detail. But no actual
application of the principle at all is really required for establishing
the objective validity of the concept of cause. There are philosophers
who—erroneously, as we shall see—deny that the Principle of Causality
finds its application in the domain of _created_ things, who hold, in
other words, that no created beings can be efficient causes (102), and who
nevertheless recognize, and quite rightly, that the concept of efficient
cause is an objectively valid concept. And they do so because they see
that since events, beginnings, happenings, changes, are real, there must
be really and objectively existent an efficient cause of them—whatever and
wherever such efficient cause may be: whether it be one or manifold,
finite or infinite, etc.

    We have already examined Hume’s attempt to deny the ontological
    necessity of the Principle of Causality and to substitute therefor
    a subjectively or psychologically necessary “feeling of
    expectation” grounded on habitual association of ideas. Kant, on
    the other hand, admits the self-evident, necessary character of
    the Principle; but holds that, since this necessity is engendered
    by the mind’s imposing a subjective form of thought on the data of
    sense consciousness, the principle is validly applicable only to
    connexions within the world of mental appearances, and not at all
    to the world of real being. He thus transfers the discussion to
    the domain of Epistemology, where in opposition to his theory of
    knowledge the Principle of Causality can be shown to be applicable
    to all contingent reality, and to be therefore legitimately
    employed in Natural Theology for the purpose of establishing the
    real existence of an Uncaused First Cause.

101. ORIGIN OF THE CONCEPT OF EFFICIENT CAUSE.—We have seen that universal
belief in the real existence of efficient causes is grounded in
experience. The formation of the concept, and its application or extension
to the world within and around us, are gradual.(471) Active power, force,
energy, efficiency, faculty, or by whatever other name we may call it, is
of course experienced only in its actual exercise, in action, motion,
production of change. Our first experience of its exercise is found in our
consciousness of our own personal activities, mental and bodily: in our
thinking, willing or choosing, in our deliberate control of our mental
processes, and in the deliberate exercise of our sense faculties and
bodily organs. In all this we are conscious of exerting power, force,
energy: we apprehend _ourselves_ as agents or efficient causes of our
mental processes and bodily movements. We apprehend these happenings as
due to the exercise of _our own power to produce them_. Seeing other human
beings behave like ourselves, we infer by analogy that they also possess
and exercise active powers like our own, that they, too, are efficient
causes. Finally, observing that effects like to those produced by
ourselves, whether in ourselves or in the material world around us, are
also consequent on certain other changes in external nature, whether
organic or inorganic, we infer by analogy that these corporeal things have
also powers, forces, energies, whereby they produce these effects. While
our senses testify only to time and space connexions between physical
happenings in external nature, our intellect apprehends action and
interaction, _i.e._ causal dependence of events on the active influence or
efficiency of physical things as agents or causes.(472) Thus, our
knowledge of the existence and nature of the forces, powers and energies
which constitute _material_ things efficient causes is posterior to, and
derived by analogy from, our knowledge of the _mental_ and bodily powers
which reveal themselves to us in our conscious vital processes as
constituting our own personal efficient causality.

This conception of efficient causality even in the inanimate things of
external nature, _after the analogy of our own vital powers_ as revealed
in our conscious activities, is sometimes disparaged as naïve
anthropomorphism. It just depends on the manner and degree in which we
press the analogy. Observing that our earlier notion of cause is “the
notion of power combined with a purpose and an end” (thus including
_efficient_ and _final_ causality), Newman remarks(473) that “Accordingly,
wherever the world is young, the movements and changes of physical nature
have been and are spontaneously ascribed by its people to the presence and
will of hidden agents, who haunt every part of it, the woods, the
mountains and the streams, the air and the stars, for good or for
evil—just as children again, by beating the ground after falling, imply
that what has bruised them has intelligence”. This is anthropomorphism.
So, too, would be the conception of the forces or powers of inanimate
nature as powers of sub-conscious “_perception_” and “_appetition_”
(Leibniz), or, again, as rudimentary or diminished “will-power”
(Cousin).(474) “Physical phenomena, as such, are without sense,” as Newman
rightly observes; and consequently we may not attribute to them any sort
of conscious efficiency, whether perceptive or appetitive. But Newman
appears to err in the opposite direction when he adds that “experience
teaches us nothing about physical phenomena as causes”.(475) The truth
lies between these extremes. Taking experience in the wide sense in which
it includes rational interpretation of, and inference from, the data of
internal and external sense perception, experience certainly reveals to us
the _existence_ of physical phenomena as efficient causes, or in other
words that there is real and efficient causality not only in our own
persons but also in the external physical universe; and as to the _nature_
of this causality it also gives us at least some little reliable

By pursuing this latter question a little we shall be led to examine
certain difficulties which lie at the root of _Occasionalism_: the error
of denying that creatures, or at least merely corporeal creatures, can be
in any true sense efficient causes. A detailed inquiry into the nature of
the active powers, forces or energies of the inorganic universe, _i.e._
into the nature of _corporeal_ efficient causality, belongs to Cosmology;
just as a similar inquiry into _vital_, _sentient_ and _spiritual_
efficient causality belongs to Psychology. Here we have only to ascertain
what is common and essential to all efficient causality as such, what in
general is involved in the exercise of efficient causality, in _actio_ and
_passio_, and what are the main implications revealed in a study of it.

FIRST CAUSE AND CREATED CAUSES.—We have already referred to the universal
dependence of all created causes on the First Cause; and we shall have
occasion to return to it in connexion with Occasionalism. God has created
all second causes; He has given them their powers of action; He conserves
their being and their powers in existence; He applies these powers or puts
them in act; He concurs with all their actions; He is therefore the
_principal_ cause of all their effects; and in relation to Him they are as
instrumental causes: “Deus est causa actionis cujuslibet inquantum _dat_
virtutem agendi, et inquantum _conservat_ eam, et inquantum _applicat_
actioni, et inquantum _ejus virtute_ omnis alia virtus agit.”(476)

In our analysis of change (10) we saw why no finite, created agent can be
the _adequate_ cause of the _new actualities_ or perfections involved in
change, and how we are therefore obliged, by a necessity of thought, to
infer the existence of a First Cause, an Unchanging, Infinite Source of
these new actualities.(477)

The principle upon which the argument was based is this: that the
actuality of the effect is something over and above the reality which it
had in the passive potentiality of its created material cause and in the
active powers of its created efficient cause antecedently to its
production: that therefore the production of this actuality, this _novum
esse_, implies the influence—by way of co-operation or _concursus_ with
the created efficient cause—of an Actual Being in whom the actuality of
all effects is contained in an eminently perfect way. Even with the Divine
_concursus_ a created cause cannot itself _create_, because even with this
_concursus_ its efficiency attains only to the modifying or changing of
pre-existing being: and in creation there is no pre-existing being, no
material cause, no real passive potentiality to be actuated. But _without_
this _concursus_ not only can it not create; it cannot even, as an
efficient cause, actuate a real pre-existing potentiality. And why?
Because its efficiency cannot attain to the _production of new actuality_.
It determines the mode of this actuality, and therein precisely lies the
efficiency of the created cause. But _the positive entity or perfection_
of this new actuality can be produced only by the Infinite, Changeless,
Inexhaustible Source of all actuality, co-operating with the created
cause(478) (103).

But, it might be objected, perhaps created efficient causes are themselves
the adequate and absolutely independent principles of the whole actuality
of their effects? They cannot be such; and that for the simple reason that
they are not always _in act_. Were they such they should be always and
necessarily in act: they should always and necessarily contain in
themselves, and that actually and in an eminently perfect manner, all the
perfections of all the effects which they gradually produce in the
universe. But experience shows us that created causes are not always
acting, that their active power, their causality _in actu primo_ is not to
be identified with their action, their causality _in actu secundo_; and
reason tells us that since this is so, since action is something more than
_active power_, since a cause acting has more actuality than the same
cause not acting, it must have been determined or reduced to action by
some actuality other than itself. This surplus of actuality or perfection
in an acting cause, as compared with the same cause prior to its acting,
is the Divine _concursus_. In other words, an active power which is really
distinct from its action requires to be moved or reduced to _its_ act
(which is _actio_) no less than a passive potentiality required to be
moved to _its_ act (which is _passio_), by some really distinct actual
being. A created efficient cause, therefore, by passing from the state of
rest, or mere power to act, into the state of action, is perfected by
having its active power actualized, _i.e._ by the Divine _concursus_: in
this sense action is a perfection of the agent. But it is not an
entitative perfection of the latter’s essence; it is not a permanent or
stable elevation or perfection of the latter’s powers; it is not the
completion of any passive potentiality of the latter; nor therefore is it
properly speaking a _change_ of the agent as such; it is, as we have said
already, rather an index of the latter’s perfection in the scale of real
being.(479) Action really perfects the _patiens_; and only when this is
identical in its concrete individuality with the _agens_ is the latter
permanently perfected by the action.

The action of created causes, therefore, depends on the action of the
First Cause. We derive our notion of action from the former and apply it
analogically to the latter. If we compare them we shall find that,
notwithstanding many differences, the notion of action in general involves
a “simple” or “unmixed” perfection which can, without anthropomorphism, be
applied analogically to the Divine Action. The Divine Action is identical
with the Divine Power and the Divine Essence. In creatures essence, power
and action are really distinct. The Divine Action, when creative, has not
for its term a _change_ in the strict sense (10, 11), for it produces
being _ex nihilo_, whereas the action of creatures cannot have for term
the production of new being _ex nihilo_, but only the change of
pre-existing being. The Divine Action, whether in creating or conserving
or concurring with creatures, implies in God no real transition from power
to act; whereas the action of creatures does imply such transition in
them. Such are the differences; but with them there is this point of
agreement: the Divine Action implies in God an efficiency which has for
its term _the origin of new being dependently on this efficiency_.(480)
So, too, does the _action of creatures_. _Positive efficient influence on
the one side, and the origin, production, or _“fieri”_ of new actual being
on the other, with a relation of real dependence on this efficiency_: such
is the essential note of all efficient causality, whether of God or of

103. (_b_) ACTIO IMMANENS AND ACTIO TRANSIENS.—Let us compare in the next
place the perfectly immanent spiritual causality of thought, the less
perfectly immanent organic causality of living things, and the transitive
physical causality of the agencies of inorganic nature. The term of an
immanent action remains either within the very faculty which elicits it,
affecting this faculty as a habit: thus acts of thought terminate in the
intellectual habits called _sciences_, acts of free choice in the habits
of will called _virtues_ or _vices_.(482) Or it remains at least within
the agent: as when in the vital process of nutrition the various parts and
members of the living organism so interact as procure the growth and
development of the living individual which is the cause of these
functions.(483) In those cases the agent itself is the _patiens_, whereas
every agency in the inorganic universe acts not upon itself, but only on
some other thing, _transitively_. But immanent action, no less than
transitive action, is productive of real change—not, of course, in the
physical sense in which this term is identified with “motion” and
understood of corporeal change, but in the metaphysical sense of an
_actuation of some passive potentiality_ (10, 11).(484)

What, then, do we find common to the immanent and the transitive causality
of created causes? _An active power or influence on the side of the agent,
an actuation of this active power_, either by the action of other causes
on this agent, or by the fulfilment of all conditions requisite for the
action of the agent, and in all cases by the concursus of the First Cause;
and, _on the side of the effect, the production of some new actuality, the
actuation of some passive potentiality, dependently on the cause_ now in

Thus we see that in all cases _action_, or the exercise of efficient
causality, implies that _something which was not actual becomes actual_,
that _something which was not_, _now is_; and that this _becoming_, this
_actuation_, this _production_, is really and essentially dependent on the
influence, the efficiency, of some actual being or beings, which we
therefore call _efficient causes_.

    THOUGHT.—Are we certain of anything more about the nature of this
    connecting link between efficient cause and effect, which we call
    _action_? Speculations and theories there are indeed in abundance.
    Some of these can be shown to be false; and thus our knowledge of
    the real nature of action may be at least negatively if not
    positively perfected. Our concept of action is derived, like all
    our concepts, from experience; and although we are conscious of
    _spiritual_ action in the exercise of intellect and will, yet it
    is inseparably allied with sentient action and this again with
    organic and corporeal action. Nor can we conceive or describe
    spiritual action without the aid of imagination images, or in
    language other than that borrowed from the domain of corporeal
    things, which are the proper object of the human intellect.(485)
    Now in all this there is a danger: the danger of mistaking
    imagination images for thoughts, and of giving a literal sense to
    language in contexts where this language must be rightly
    understood to apply only analogically.

    In analysing the nature of efficient causality we might be tempted
    to think that we understood it by imagining some sort of a _flow_
    or _transference_ of some sort of actual reality from _agens_ to
    _patiens_. It is quite true that in describing _action_, the
    actual connecting link between _agens_ and _patiens_, we have to
    use language suggestive of some such imagination image. We have no
    option in the matter, for all human language is based upon sense
    consciousness of physical phenomena. When we describe efficiency
    as an “influence” of cause on effect, or the effect as “dependent”
    on the cause, the former term suggests a “flowing,” just as the
    latter suggests a “hanging”. So, too, when we speak of the effect
    as “arising,” “originating,” “springing,” or “emanating,” from the
    cause.(486) But we have got to ask ourselves what such language
    _means_, _i.e._, what concepts it expresses, and not what
    imagination images accompany the use of it.

    Now when we reflect that the senses testify only to time and space
    sequences and collocations of the phenomena which we regard as
    causally connected, and when we feel convinced that there is
    something more than this in the causal connexion,—which something
    more we describe in the terms illustrated above,—we must inquire
    whether we have any rational ground for thinking that this
    something more is really anything in the nature of a spatial
    transference of some actual reality from _agens_ to _patiens_.
    There are indeed many philosophers and scientists who seem to
    believe that there is such a local transference of some actuality
    from cause to effect, that efficient causality is explained by it,
    and cannot be intelligibly explained otherwise. As a matter of
    fact there is no rational ground for believing in any such
    transference, and even were there such transference, so far from
    its being the only intelligible explanation of efficient
    causality, it would leave the whole problem entirely
    unexplained—and not merely the problem of spiritual, immanent
    causality, to which it is manifestly inapplicable, but even the
    problem of corporeal, transitive causality.(487)

    We have already referred at some length (9-11) to the philosophy
    which has endeavoured to reduce all change, or at least all
    corporeal change, to mechanical change; all qualities, powers,
    forces, energies of the universe, to ultimate particles or atoms
    of matter in motion; and all efficient causality to a flow or
    transference of spatial motion from particle to particle or from
    body to body. A full analysis of all such theories belongs to
    Cosmology. But we may recall a few of the more obvious
    considerations already urged against them.

    In the first place, the attempt to explain all _qualities_ in the
    material universe—all the powers, forces, energies, of matter—by
    maintaining that objectively and extramentally they are all purely
    _quantitative_ realities, all spatial motions of matter—does not
    explain the qualitative factors and distinctions in the world of
    our sense experience at all, but simply transfers the problem of
    explaining them from the philosophy of matter to the philosophy of
    mind, by making them all subjective after the manner of Kant’s
    analysis of experience (11).

    In the second place, when we endeavour to conceive, to apprehend
    intellectually, how _motion_, or indeed any other physical or real
    entity, could actually pass or be transferred from _agens_ to
    _patiens_, whether these be spatially in contact or not, we find
    such a supposition positively unintelligible. Motion is not a
    substance; and if it is an accident it cannot migrate from subject
    to subject. The idea that corporeal efficient causality—even
    mechanical causality—can be explained by such a transference of
    actual accidental modes of being from _agens_ to _patiens_ is
    based on a very crude and erroneous conception of what an
    accidental mode of being really is (65).

    The more we reflect on the nature of real change in the universe,
    and of the efficient causality whereby it is realized, the more
    convinced we must become that there can be no satisfactory
    explanation of these facts which does not recognize and take
    account of this great fundamental fact: that contingent real being
    is _not all actual_, that it is partly potential and partly
    actual; that therefore our concepts of “passive potentiality” and
    “active power” are not mere subjective mental motions, with at
    best a mere regulative or systematizing function (after the manner
    of Kant’s philosophy), but that they are really and objectively
    valid concepts—concepts which from the time of Aristotle have
    given philosophers the only insight into the nature of efficient
    causality which is at any rate satisfactory and intelligible as
    far as it goes.

    Of this great fact the advocates of the mechanical theory of
    efficient causality have, in the third place, failed to take
    account. And it is partly because with the revival of atomism at
    the dawn of modern philosophy this traditional Aristotelian
    conception of contingent being as potential and actual was lost
    sight of (64), that such a crude and really unintelligible account
    of efficient causality, as a “flow of motion,” has been able to
    find such continued and widespread acceptance.

    Another reason of the prevalence of this tendency to “explain” all
    physical efficient causality as a propagation of spatial motions
    of matter is to be found in the sensist view of the human mind
    which confounds intellectual thought with mental imagery, which
    countenances only _picturable_ factors in its “explanations,” and
    denounces as “metaphysical,” “occult,” and “unverifiable” all
    explanatory principles such as forces, powers, potentialities,
    etc., which are not directly picturable in the imagination.(488)
    And it is a curious fact that it is such philosophers themselves
    who are really guilty of the charge which they lay at the door of
    the traditional metaphysics: the charge of offering
    explanations—of efficient causality, for instance—which are really
    no explanations. For while they put forward their theory of the
    “flow of motion” as a real explanation of the _quomodo_ of
    efficient causality—and the ultimate and only explanation of it
    within reach of the human mind, if we are to accept their view of
    the matter—the exponent of the traditional metaphysics more
    modestly confines himself to setting forth the inevitable
    implications of the fact of efficient causality, and, without
    purporting to offer any positive explanation of the real nature of
    action or efficient influence, he is content to supplement his
    analysis negatively by pointing out the unintelligible and
    illusory character of their proffered “explanations”.

    In the exact methods of the physical sciences, their quantitative
    evaluation of all corporeal forces whether mechanical, physical,
    or chemical, in terms of mechanical work, which is measured by the
    motion of matter through space, and in the great physical
    generalization known as the law of the equivalence of energies, or
    of the equality of action and reaction,—we can detect yet further
    apparent reasons for the conception of efficient causality as a
    mere transference or interchange of actual physical and measurable
    entities among bodies. It is an established fact not only that all
    corporeal agents gradually lose their energy or power of action by
    actually exercising this power, but that this loss of energy is in
    direct proportion to the amount of energy gained by the recipients
    of their action; and this fact would naturally suggest the mental
    picture of a transference of some actual measurable entity from
    cause to effect. But it does not necessarily imply such
    transference—even if the latter were intelligible, which, as we
    have seen, it is not. The fact is quite intelligibly explained by
    the natural supposition that in proportion as the _agens_ exhausts
    its active power by exercise the _patiens_ gains in some form of
    actuality. Similarly, the fact that all forms of corporeal energy
    can be measured in terms of mechanical energy does not at all
    imply that they all _really are_ mechanical energy, but only that
    natural agents can by the use of one form of energy produce
    another form in equivalent quantity. And finally, the law of the
    conservation of corporeal energy in the universe is explained by
    the law of the equality of action and reaction, and without
    recourse to the unintelligible supposition that this sum-total of
    energy is one unchanging and unchangeable _actuality_.

    There is just one other consideration which at first sight appears
    to favour the “transference” theory of causality, but which on
    analysis shows how illusory the proffered explanation is, and how
    unintelligible the simplest phenomenon of change must be to those
    who fail to grasp the profound significance of the principle that
    all real being which is subject to change must of necessity be
    _partly potential and partly actual_. We allude to the general
    assumption of physical scientists that corporeal action of
    whatsoever kind takes place _only on contact_, whether mediate or
    immediate, between the bodies in question.(489) Now it is well to
    bear in mind that this is not a self-evident truth or principle,
    but only an hypothesis, a very legitimate hypothesis and one which
    works admirably, but still only an hypothesis. It implies the
    assumption that some sort of substance—called the universal
    ether—actually exists and fills all space, serving as a medium for
    the action of gravitation, light, radiant heat, electricity and
    magnetism, between the earth and the other planets, the sun and
    the stars. This whole supposition is the only thinkable
    alternative to _actio in distans_. If those bodies really act on
    one another—and the fact that they do is undeniable,—and if there
    were no such medium between them, then the causal influence of one
    body should be able to produce an effect in another body spatially
    distant from, and not physically connected by any material medium
    with, the former. Hence two questions: Is this alternative, _actio
    in distans_, imaginable? _i.e._ can we form any _positive
    imagination image_ of _how_ this would take place? And secondly:
    Is it _thinkable_, _conceivable_, _intrinsically possible_? We
    need not hesitate to answer the former question in the negative.
    But as to the latter question all we can say is that we have never
    met any cogent proof of the intrinsic impossibility of _actio in
    distans_. The efficient action of a finite cause implies that it
    has active power and is conserved in existence with this power by
    the Creator or First Cause, that this power is reduced to act by
    the Divine _concursus_, and that _dependently on this cause so
    acting_ some change takes place, some potentiality is actualized
    in some other finite being. Nothing more than this is involved in
    the general concept of efficient causality. Of course real
    influence on the one side, and real dependence on the other, imply
    some _real_ connexion of cause with effect. But is _spatial_
    connexion a necessary condition of real connexion? Is a
    _physical_, _phenomenal_, _imaginable_, _efflux_ of some entity
    out of the cause into the effect, either immediately or through
    some medium as a channel, a necessary condition for real
    influence? There is nothing of the kind in spiritual causality;
    and to demand anything of the kind for causality in general would
    be to make imagination, not thought, the test and measure of the
    real. But perhaps _spatial_ connexion is essential to the real
    connexion involved in _this particular kind_ of causality,
    _corporeal_ causality? Perhaps. But it has never been proved. Too
    little is known about the reality of space, about the ultimate
    nature of material phenomena and their relation to our minds, to
    justify anything like dogmatism on such an ultimate question. It
    may well be that if we had a deeper insight into these things we
    could pronounce _actio in distans_ to be absolutely incompatible
    with the essences of the things which do as a matter of fact
    constitute the actual corporeal universe. But in the absence of
    such insight we cannot pronounce _actio in distans_ to be
    intrinsically impossible. Physical scientists assume that as a
    matter of fact bodies do not act _in distans_. Granted the
    assumption to be correct, it still remains an open question
    whether by a miracle they could act _in distans_, _i.e._ whether
    or not such action would be incompatible with their nature as
    finite corporeal causes.

    Owing to a very natural tendency to rest in imagination images we
    are inclined not only to pronounce as impossible any process the
    mode of which is not positively imaginable, but also to think that
    we rightly understand a process once we have provided ourselves
    with an imagination image of it—when as a matter of fact this
    image may cover an entirely groundless conception or theory of the
    process. Hence the fairly prevalent idea that while _actio in
    distans_ is impossible, _the interaction of bodies on contact_ is
    perfectly intelligible and presents no difficulties. When a
    billiard ball in motion strikes another at rest it communicates
    some or all of its motion to the other, and that is all: nothing
    simpler! And then all the physical, chemical, and substantial
    changes in the material universe are reducible to this common
    denominator! The atomic philosophy, with its two modest postulates
    of matter and motion, is a delightfully simple philosophy; but
    unfortunately for its philosophical prestige _it does not explain
    causality or change_. Nor can these facts be explained by any
    philosophy which ignores the most elementary implication of all
    real change: the implication that changing reality involves real
    passive potentialities and real active powers or forces in the
    phenomena which constitute the changing reality of the universe.

established the objective validity of the concept of efficient causality
and analysed its implications. There have been philosophers who, while
admitting the objective validity of the concept, have maintained that no
creature, or at least no corporeal creature, can be an efficient cause.
Efficient influence is, in their view, incompatible with the nature of a
corporeal substance: only spiritual substances can be efficient causes:
corporeal things, conditions, and happenings, are all only the _occasions_
on which spiritual substances act efficiently in and through all created
nature. Hence the name of the theory: _Occasionalism_. There are two forms
of it: the milder, which admits that created spirits or minds are
efficient causes; and the more extreme view, according to which no
creature can be an efficient cause, inasmuch as efficient causality is
essentially a Divine attribute, a prerogative of the Divinity.

This error was not unknown in the Middle Ages,(490) but it was in the
seventeenth century that certain disciples of Descartes,—Geulincx
(1625-1669) and Malebranche (1638-1715),—expressly inferred it from the
Cartesian antithesis of matter and spirit and the Cartesian doctrine that
matter is essentially inert, or inactive. According to the gratuitous and
unproven assertion laid down by Geulincx as a principle: _Quod nescis
quomodo fiat_, _id non facis_,—we do not cause our own sensations or
reasoning processes, nor our own bodily movements, inasmuch as we do not
know _how_ these take place; nor can bodies cause them, any more than our
own created spirits, inasmuch as bodies are essentially inactive.
According to Malebranche the mind can perceive no necessary _nexus_
between effects and any cause other than the Divine Will;(491) moreover
reflection convinces us that efficient causality is something essentially
Divine and incommunicable to creatures;(492) and finally neither bodies
can be causes, for they are essentially inert, nor our minds and wills,
for we do not know how a volition could move any organ or member of our
bodies.(493) Yet Malebranche, at the cost of inconsistency with his own
principles, safeguards free will in man by allowing an exclusively
_immanent_ efficiency to spiritual causes.(494)

Such is the teaching of Occasionalism. Our criticism of it will be

(1) Against the doctrine that creatures generally are not, and cannot be,
efficient causes, we direct the first argument already outlined (100)
against Phenomenism and Positivism,—the argument from the universal belief
of mankind, based on the testimony of consciousness as rationally
interpreted by human intelligence. Consciousness testifies not merely that
processes of thought, imagination, sensation, volition, etc., _take place_
within our minds; not merely that our bodily movements, such as speaking,
walking, writing, _occur_; but that _we are the causes of them_.(496) It
is idle to say that we do not efficiently move our limbs because we may
not be able to understand or explain fully “_how_ an unextended volition
can move a material limb”.(497) Consciousness testifies to the fact that
the volition does move the limb; and that is enough.(498) The fact is one
thing, the _quomodo_ of the fact is quite another thing. Nor is there any
ground whatever for the assertion that a cause, in order to produce an
effect, must _understand how_ the exercise of its own efficiency brings
that effect about. Moreover, Malebranche’s concession of at least immanent
activity to the will is at all events an admission that there is in the
nature of the creature as such nothing incompatible with its being an
efficient cause.

(2) Although Malebranche bases his philosophy mainly on deductive, _a
priori_ reasonings from a consideration of the Divine attributes, his
system is really derogatory to the perfection of the First Cause, and
especially to the Divine Wisdom. To say, for instance, that God created an
organ so well adapted to discharge the function of seeing as the human
eye, and then to deny that the latter discharges this or any function, is
tantamount to accusing God of folly. There is no reason in this system why
any created thing or condition of things would be even the appropriate
_occasion_ of the First Cause producing any definite effect. Everything
would be an equally appropriate occasion, or rather nothing would be in
any intelligible sense an appropriate occasion, for any exercise of the
Divine causality. The admirable order of the universe—with its unity in
variety, its adaptation of means to ends, its gradation of created
perfections—is an intelligible manifestation of the Divine perfections on
the assumption that creatures efficiently co-operate with the First Cause
in realizing and maintaining this order. But if they were all inert,
inoperative, useless for this purpose, what could be the _raison d’être_
of their diversified endowments and perfections? So far from manifesting
the wisdom, power and goodness of God they would evidence an aimless and
senseless prodigality.

(3) Occasionalism imperils the distinction between creatures and a
personal God. Although Malebranche, fervent catholic that he was,
protested against the pantheism of “le misérable Spinoza,” his own system
contains the undeveloped germ of this pernicious error. For, if creatures
are not efficient causes not only are their variety and multiplicity
meaningless, as contributing nothing towards the order of the universe,
but their very existence _as distinct realities_ seems to have no _raison
d’être_. Malebranche emphasizes the truth that _God does nothing useless_:
_Dieu ne fait rien d’inutile_. Very well. If, then, a being _does
nothing_, what purpose is served by its existence? Of what use is it? What
is the measure of a creature’s reality, if not its action and its power of
action? So intimately in fact is this notion of causality bound up with
the notion of the very reality of things that the concept of an absolutely
inert, inactive reality is scarcely intelligible. It is almost an axiom in
scholastic philosophy that every nature has its correlative activity,
every being its operation: _Omne ens est propter suam operationem; Omnis
natura ordinatur ad propriam operationem_. Hence if what we call creatures
had really no proper activity distinct from that of the First Cause, on
what grounds could we suppose them to have a real and proper existence of
their own distinct from the reality of the Infinite Being? Or who could
question the lawfulness of the inference that they are not really
creatures, but only so many phases, aspects, manifestations of the one and
sole existing reality? Which is Pantheism.

(4) Occasionalism leads to Subjective Idealism by destroying all ground
for the objective validity of human science. How do we know the real
natures of things? By reasoning from their activities in virtue of the
principle, _Operari sequitur esse_.(499) But if things have no activities,
no operations, such reasoning is illusory. How, for instance, do we
justify by rational demonstration, in opposition to subjectivism, the
common-sense interpretation of the data of sense consciousness as
revealing to us the real and extramental existence of a material universe?
By arguing, in virtue of the principle of causality, from our
consciousness of our own passivity in external sense perception, to the
real existence of bodies outside our minds, as _excitants_ of our
cognitive activity and _partial causes_ of these conscious, perceptive
processes. But if occasionalism were true such inference would be
illusory, and we should infer, with Berkeley, that only God and minds
exist, but not any material universe. Malebranche admits the possible
validity of this inference to immaterialism from his principles, and
grounds his own belief in the existence of an external material universe
solely on faith in Divine Revelation.(500)

It only remains to answer certain difficulties urged by occasionalists
against the possibility of attributing real efficiency to creatures.

(1) They argue that efficient causality is something essentially Divine,
and therefore cannot be communicated to creatures.

We reply that while the absolutely independent causality of the First
Cause is essentially Divine, another kind or order of causality, dependent
on the former, but none the less real, can be and is communicated to
creatures. And just as the fact that creatures have real being, real
existence, distinct from, but dependent on, the existence of the Infinite
Being, does not derogate from the supremacy of the latter, so the fact
that creatures have real efficient causality, distinct from, but dependent
on, the causality of the First Cause, does not derogate from the latter’s

(2) They urge that efficient causality is creative, and therefore infinite
and incommunicable.

We reply that there is a plain distinction between creative activity and
the efficient activity we claim for creatures. Creation is the production
of new being from nothingness. God alone, the Infinite Being, can create;
and, furthermore, according to the common view of Theistic philosophers a
creature cannot even be an instrument of the First Cause in this
production of new being from nothingness. And the main reason for this
appears to be that the efficiency of the creature, acting, of course, with
the Divine _concursus_, necessarily presupposes some pre-existing being as
material on which to operate, and is confined to the _change_ or
_determination of new forms or modes_ of this pre-existing reality. Such
efficiency, subordinate to the Divine _concursus_ and limited to such an
order of effects, is plainly distinct from creative activity.

(3) But the creature, acting with the Divine _concursus_, either
contributes something real and positive to the effect or contributes
nothing. The former alternative is inadmissible, for God is the cause of
everything real and positive: _omne novum ens est a Deo_. And in the
latter alternative, which is the true one, the _concursus_ is superfluous;
God does all; and creatures are not really efficient causes.

We reply that the former alternative, not the latter, is the true one. But
the former alternative does not imply that the creature produces any new
reality _independently of the First Cause_; nor is it incompatible with
the truth that God is the author and cause of all positive reality: _omne
novum ens est a Deo_. No doubt, were we to conceive the co-operation of
God and the creature after the manner of the co-operation of two partial
causes of the same order, producing by their joint efficiency some one
total effect—like the co-operation of two horses drawing a cart,—it would
follow that the creature’s share of the joint effect would be independent
of the Divine _concursus_ and attributable to the creature alone, that the
creature would produce some reality independently of the First Cause. But
that is _not_ the way in which the First Cause concurs with created
causes. They are not partial causes of the same order. Each is a total
cause in its own order. They so co-operate that God, besides having
created and now conserving the second cause, and moving the latter’s power
to act, produces Himself the whole effect directly and immediately by the
efficiency of His _concursus_; while at the same time the second cause,
thus reduced to act, and acting with the _concursus_, also directly and
immediately produces the whole effect. There is one effect, one change _in
facto esse_, one change _in fieri_, and therefore one action as considered
in the subject changed, since the action takes place in this latter:
_actio fit in passo_. This change, this action considered thus passively,
or “_in passo_,” is the total term of each efficiency, the Divine and the
created, not partly of the one and partly of the other. It is one and
indivisible; it is wholly due to, and wholly attained by, each efficiency;
not, however, under the same formal aspect. We may distinguish in it two
formalities: it is a _novum ens_, a new actuality, something positive and
actual superadded to the existing order of real, contingent being; but it
is not “being in general” or “actuality in general,” it is some
specifically, nay individually, determinate mode of actuality or actual
being. We have seen that it is precisely because every real effect has the
former aspect that it demands for its adequate explanation, and as its
only intelligible source, the presence and influence of a purely actual,
unchanging, infinite, inexhaustible productive principle of all actual
contingent reality: hence the necessity and efficacy of the Divine
_concursus_. And similarly it is because the new actuality involved in
every change is an individually definite mode of actuality that we can
detect in it the need for, and the efficacy of, the created cause: the
nature of this latter, the character and scope and intensity of its active
power is what determines the individuality of the total result, to the
total production of which it has by the aid of the Divine _concursus_

(4) But God can Himself produce the total result _under both formalities_
without any efficiency of the creature. Therefore the difficulty remains
that the latter efficiency is superfluous and useless: and _entia non sunt
multiplicanda praeter necessitatem_.

We reply that as a matter of fact the effects produced in the ordinary
course of nature are produced by God under both formalities; but also by
the created cause under both formalities: inasmuch as the formalities are
but mentally distinct aspects of one real result which is, as regards its
extrinsic causes, individual and indivisible. The distinction of these
formal aspects only helps us to realize how _de facto_ such an effect is
due to the cooperation of the First Cause and created causes. That God
_could_ produce all such effects without any created causes—we must
distinguish. Some such effects He could not produce without created
causes, for such production would be self-contradictory. He could not
produce, for instance, a volition except as the act of a created will, or
a thought except as the act of a created intellect, or a vital change
except as the act of a living creature. But apart from such cases which
would involve an intrinsic impossibility, God could of course produce,
without created agents, the effects which He does produce through their
created efficiency. It is, however, not a question of what _could be_, but
of what _actually is_. And we think that the arguments already set forth
prove conclusively that creatures are not _de facto_ the inert, inactive,
aimless and unmeaning things they would be if Occasionalism were the true
interpretation of the universe of our actual experience; but that these
creatures are in a true sense efficient causes, and that just as by their
very co-existence with God, as contingent beings, they do not derogate
from His Infinite Actuality but rather show forth His Infinity, so by
their cooperation with Him as subordinate and dependent efficient causes
they do not derogate from His supremacy as First Cause, but rather show
forth the infinite and inexhaustible riches of His Wisdom and Omnipotence.


TELEOLOGICAL.—We have seen that all change in the universe demands for its
explanation certain real principles, _viz._ passive potentiality,
actualization, and active power or efficiency; in other words that it
points to material, formal and efficient causes. Do these principles
suffice to explain the course of nature to the inquiring mind? Mechanists
say, Yes; these principles explain it so far as it is capable of
explanation. Teleologists say, No; these principles do not of themselves
account for the universe of our experience: this universe reveals itself
as a _cosmos_: hence it demands for its explanation real principles or
causes of another sort, _final causes_, the existence of which implies
purpose, plan or design, and therefore also intelligence.

The problem whether or not the universe manifests the existence and
influence of final causes has been sometimes formulated in this striking
fashion: Is it that birds have wings in order to fly, or is it merely that
they fly because they have wings? Such a graphic statement of the problem
is misleading, for it suggests that the alternatives are mutually
exclusive, that we must vote either for final causes or for efficient
causes. As a matter of fact we accept both. Efficient causes account for
the course of nature; but they need to be determined by the influence of
final causes. Moreover, the question how far this influence of final
causes extends—_finality_ (_finalitas_), as it is technically termed—is a
secondary question; nor does the advocate of final causality in the
universe undertake to decide its nature and scope in every instance and
detail, any more than the physical scientist does to point out all the
physical laws embodied in an individual natural event, or the biologist to
say whether a doubtful specimen of matter is organic or inorganic, or
whether a certain sort of living cell is animal or vegetable. The
teleologist’s thesis, as against that of mechanism, is simply that _there
are final causes in the universe, that the universe does really manifest
the presence and influence of final causes_.(501)

There are two ways, however, of conceiving this influence as permeating
the universe. The conception of final causality in general is, as we shall
see, the conception of acting _for an end_, from a _motive_, with a
_purpose_, _plan_ or _design_ for the attainment of something. It implies
arrangement, ordination, adaptation of means to ends (55). Now at least
there _appears_ to be, pervading the universe everywhere and directing its
activities, such an adaptation. The admirable equilibrium of forces which
secures the regular motions of the heavenly bodies; the exact mixture of
gases which makes our atmosphere suitable for organic life; the distance
and relative positions of the sun and the earth, which secure conditions
favourable to organic life; the chemical transformations whereby inorganic
elements and compounds go to form the living substance of plants and are
thus prepared for assimilation as food by animal organisms; the
wonderfully graded hierarchy of living species in the animate world, and
the mutual interdependence of plants and animals; the endless variety of
instincts which secure the preservation and well-being of living
individuals and species; most notably the adaptability and adaptation of
other mundane creatures to human uses by man himself,—innumerable facts
such as these convince us that the things of the universe are _useful to
one another_, that they are constituted and disposed in relation to one
another _as if they had been deliberately chosen_ to suit one another, to
fit in harmoniously together in mutual co-ordination and subordination so
that by their interaction and interdependence they work out a plan or
design and _subserve as means to definite ends_. This suitability of
things _relatively to one another_, this harmony of the nature and
activity of each with the nature and activity of every other, we may
designate as _extrinsic_ finality. The Creator has willed so to arrange
and dispose all creatures in conditions of space and time that such
harmonious but purely extrinsic relations of mutual adaptation do _de
facto_ obtain and continue to prevail between them under His guidance.

But are these creatures themselves, in their own individual natures,
equally indifferent to any definite mode of action, so that the orderly
concurrence of their activities is due to an initial collocation and
impulse divinely impressed upon them from without, and not to any
purposive principle intrinsic to themselves individually? Descartes,
Leibniz and certain supporters of the theory of atomic dynamism regarding
the constitution of matter, while recognizing a relative and extrinsic
finality in the universe in the sense explained, seem to regard the
individual agencies of the universe as mere efficient causes, not of
themselves endowed with any immanent, intrinsic directive principle of
their activities, and so contributing by mere extrinsic arrangement to the
order of the universe. Scholastic philosophers, on the contrary, following
the thought of Aristotle,(502) consider that every agency in the universe
is endowed with an _intrinsic principle of finality_ which constantly
directs its activities towards the realization of a perfection which is
proper to it and which constitutes its intrinsic end (45-46). And while
each thus tends to its own proper perfection by the natural play of its
activities, each is so related to all others that they simultaneously
realize the extrinsic purpose which consists in the order and harmony of
the whole universe. Thus the extrinsic and relative finality whereby all
conspire to constitute the universe a _cosmos_ is secondary and posterior
and subordinate to the deeper, intrinsic, immanent and absolute finality
whereby each individual created nature moves by a tendency or law of its
being towards the realization of a _good_ which _perfects_ it as its
natural end.

In order to understand the nature of this intrinsic and extrinsic finality
in the universe, and to vindicate its existence against the philosophy of
Mechanism, we must next analyse the concept, and investigate the
influence, of what are called _final causes_.

CLASSIFICATION OF FINAL CAUSES.—When we speak of the _end_ of the year, or
the _end_ of a wall, we mean the extreme limit or ultimate point; and the
term conveys no notion of a cause. Similarly, were a person to say “I have
got to the _end_ of my work,” we should understand him to mean simply that
he had finished it. But when people act deliberately and as intelligent
beings, they usually act for some _conscious purpose_, with some _object
in view_, for the achievement or attainment of something; they continue to
act until they have attained this object; when they have attained it they
cease to act; its attainment synchronizes with the _end_ of their action,
taking this term in the sense just illustrated. Probably this is the
reason why the term _end_ has been extended from its original sense to
signify the _object_ for the attainment of which an intelligent agent
acts. This object of conscious desire _induces_ the agent to seek it; and
because it thus influences the agent to act it verifies the notion of a
_cause_: it is a _final cause_, an _end_ in the causal sense. For
instance, a young man wishes to become a medical doctor: the _art of
healing_ is the _end_ he wishes to secure. For this purpose he pursues a
course of studies and passes certain examinations; these acts whereby he
qualifies himself by obtaining a certain fund of knowledge and skill are
_means_ to the end intended by him. He need not desire these preparatory
labours _for their own sake_; but he does desire them as _useful for his
purpose_, as _means_ to his end: in so far as he wills them as means he
wills them not for their own sake but because of the end, _propter finem_.
He _apprehends_ the end as a _good_; he _intends_ its attainment; he
_elects_ or _selects_ certain acts or lines of action as means suitable
for this purpose. An end or final cause, therefore, may be defined as
_something apprehended as a good, and which, because desired as such,
influences the will to choose some action or line of action judged
necessary or useful for the attainment of this good_. Hence Aristotle’s
definition of end as τὸ οὖ ἕνεκα: id cujus gratia aliquid fit: _that for
the sake of which an agent acts_.

The end understood in this sense is a _motive_ of action; not only would
the action not take place without the agent’s intending the end, showing
the latter to be a _conditio sine qua non_; but, more than this, the end
as a good, apprehended and willed, _has a positive influence_ on the
ultimate effect or issue, so that it is really a _cause_.

Man is conscious of this “finality,” or influence of final causes on his
own deliberate actions. As an intelligent being he acts “for ends,” and
orders or regulates his actions as means to those ends; so much so that
when we see a man’s acts, his whole conduct, utterly unrelated to rational
ends, wholly at variance and out of joint with the usual ends of
intelligent human activity, we take it as an indication of loss of reason,
insanity. Furthermore, man is free; he _chooses_ the ends for which he
acts; he acts _electivé propter fines_.

But in the domain of animal life and activity is there any evidence of the
influence of final causes? Most undoubtedly. Watch the movements of
animals seeking their prey; observe the wide domain of animal instincts;
study the elaborate and intricate lines of action whereby they protect and
foster and preserve their lives, and rear their young and propagate their
species: could there be clearer or more abundant evidence that in all this
conduct they are _influenced_ by objects which they _apprehend_ and seek
as _sensible goods_? Not that they can conceive in the abstract the _ratio
bonitatis_ in these things, or freely choose them as good, for they are
incapable of abstract thought and consequent free choice; but that these
sensible objects, apprehended by them in the concrete, do really influence
or move their sense appetites to desire and seek them; and the influence
of an object on sense appetite springs from the goodness of this object
(44, 45). They tend towards _apprehended_ goods; they act _apprehensivé
propter fines_.(503)

Finally, even in the domains of unconscious agencies, of plant life and
inorganic nature, we have evidence of the influence of final causes. For
here too we witness innumerable varied, complex, ever-renewed activities,
constantly issuing in results useful to, and good for, the agents which
elicit them: operations which contribute to the _development_ and
_perfection_ of the natures of these agents (46). Now if similar effects
demand similar causes how can we refuse to recognize even in these
activities of physical nature the influence of final causes? Whenever and
wherever we find a great and complex variety of active powers, forces,
energies, issuing invariably in effects which suit and develop and perfect
the agents in question,—in a word, which are _good_ for these
agents,—whether the latter be conscious or unconscious, does not reason
itself dictate to us that all such domains of action must be subject to
the influence of final causes? Of course it would be mere unreflecting
anthropomorphism to attribute to _unconscious_ agencies a _conscious_
subjection to the attracting and directing influence of such causes. But
the recognition of such influence in this domain implies no naïve
supposition of that sort. It does, however, imply this very reasonable
view: that there must be some reason or ground in the nature or
constitution of even an inanimate agent for its acting always in a uniform
manner, conducive to its own development and perfection; that there must
be in the nature of each and every one of the vast multitude of such
agents which make up the whole physical universe a reason or ground for
each co-operating constantly and harmoniously with all the others to
secure and preserve that general order and regularity which enables us to
pronounce the universe not a _chaos_ but a _cosmos_. Now that ground or
reason in things, whereby they act in such a manner—not indifferently,
chaotically, capriciously, aimlessly, _unintelligibly_, but definitely,
regularly, reliably, purposively, _intelligibly_—is a real principle of
their natures, impressing on their natures a definite tendency, directive
of their activities towards results which, as being suited to these
natures, bear to these latter the relation of final causes. A directive
principle need not itself be conscious; the inner directive principle of
inanimate agents towards what is _good_ for them, what _perfects_ them,
what is therefore in a true and real sense their end (45, 46), is not
conscious. But in virtue of it they act as if they were conscious, nay
intelligent, _i.e._ they act _executivé propter fines_.

    Of course the existence of this principle in inanimate agencies
    necessarily _implies_ intelligence: this indeed is our very
    contention against the whole philosophy of mechanism, positivism
    and agnosticism. But is this intelligence really identical with
    the agencies of nature, so that all the phenomena of experience,
    which constitute the _cosmos_ or universe, are but phases in the
    evolution of One Sole Reality which is continually manifesting
    itself under the distinct aspects of nature and mind? Or is this
    intelligence, though _virtually immanent_ in the universe, really
    distinct from it—_really transcendent_,—a Supreme Intelligence
    which has created and continues to conserve this universe and
    govern all its activities? This is a distinct question: it is the
    question of Monism or Theism as an ultimate interpretation of
    human experience.

We conclude then that what we call _finality_, or the influence of final
causes, pervades the whole universe; that in the domain of conscious
agents it is _conscious_, _instinctive_ when it solicits _sense appetite_,
_voluntary_ when it solicits _intelligent will_; that in the domain of
unconscious agencies it is not conscious but “_natural_” or “_physical_”
soliciting the “_nature_” or “_appetitus naturalis_” of these agencies.

Before inquiring into the nature of final causality we may indicate
briefly the main divisions of final causes: some of these concern the
domain of human activity and are of importance to Ethics rather than to

(_a_) We have already distinguished between _intrinsic_ and _extrinsic_
finality. An intrinsic final cause is an end or object which perfects the
nature itself of the agent which tends towards it: nourishment, for
instance, is an intrinsic end in relation to the living organism. An
extrinsic final cause is not one towards which the nature of the agent
immediately tends, but one which, intended by some other agent, is _de
facto_ realized by the tendency of the former towards its own intrinsic
end. Thus, the general order of the universe is an extrinsic end in
relation to each individual agency in the universe: it is an end intended
by the Creator and _de facto_ realized by each individual agency acting in
accordance with its own particular nature.

(_b_) Very similar to this is the familiar distinction between the _finis
operis_ and the _finis operantis_. The former is the end necessarily and
_de facto_ realized by the act itself, by its very nature, independently
of any other end the agent may have expressly intended to attain by means
of it. The latter is the end expressly intended by the agent, and which
may vary for one and the same kind of act. For instance, the _finis
operis_ of an act of almsgiving is the actual aiding of the mendicant; the
_finis operantis_ may be charity, or self-denial, or vanity, or whatever
other motive influences the giver.

(_c_) Akin to those also is the distinction between an unconscious, or
physical, or “natural” end, and a conscious, or mental, or “intentional”
end. The former is that towards which the nature or “_appetitus
naturalis_” of unconscious agencies tends; the latter is an end
apprehended by a conscious agent.

(_d_) An end may be either _ultimate_ or _proximate_ or _intermediate_. An
ultimate end is one which is sought for its own sake, as contrasted with
an intermediate end which is willed rather as a means to the former, and
with a proximate end which is intended last and sought first as a means to
realizing the others. It should be noted that proximate and intermediate
ends, in so far as they are sought for the sake of some ulterior end, are
not ends at all but rather means; only in so far as they present some good
desirable for its own sake, are they properly ends, or final causes.
Furthermore, an ultimate end may be such absolutely or relatively:
absolutely if it cannot possibly be subordinated or referred to any
ulterior or higher good; relatively if, though ultimate in a particular
order as compared with means leading up to it, it is nevertheless capable
of being subordinated to a higher good, though not actually referred to
this latter by any explicit volition of the agent that seeks it.

(_e_) We can regard the end for which an agent acts either
_objectively_,—_finis_ “_objectivus_,”—or _formally_,—_finis_
“_formalis_”. The former is the objective good itself which the agent
wishes to realize, possess or enjoy; the latter is the act whereby the
agent formally secures, appropriates, unites himself with, this objective
good. Thus, God Himself is the objective happiness (_beatitudo objectiva_)
of man, while man’s actual possession of, or union with, God, by knowledge
and love, is man’s formal happiness (_beatitudo formalis_).

(_f_) We may distinguish also between the _real_ end (_finis_ “_qui_” or
“_cujus_”, and the _personal_ end (_finis_ “_cui_”). The former is the
good _which_ the agent desires, the good for the sake of _which_ “_cujus_”
_gratia_) he acts. The latter is the subject or person _to whom_ he wishes
this good, or _for whom_ he wishes to procure it. Thus, a labourer may
work to earn _a sustenance_ for _himself_ or also for _his family_. The
real and the personal end are never willed separately, but always as one
concrete good.

(_g_) The distinction between a _principal_ end and an _accessory_ end
(motivum “_impulsivum_”) is obvious. The former can move to act of itself
without the latter, but the latter strengthens the influence of the
former. A really charitable person, while efficaciously moved to give alms
by sympathy with the poor, may not be uninfluenced by vanity to let others
know of his charity.

    (_h_) Finally we may note the theological distinction between the
    _natural_ end, and the _supernatural_ end, of man as a rational
    and moral agent. The former is the end _due_ to man’s nature, the
    latter is an end which is gratuitous and undue to his nature. God
    might not have created the world or man, and in this sense even
    the natural end of man is a gratuitous gift of God; but granted
    that God did decree to create the world and man, an end
    corresponding to man’s nature and powers was due to him: the
    knowledge, service and love of God as known to man by the light of
    natural reason. But as a matter of fact God, in His actual
    providence, has decreed for man an incomparably higher and purely
    gratuitous end, an end revealed to man by God Himself, an end
    entirely undue not only to man but to any and every possible
    creature: the Beatific Vision of the Divine Essence for ever in

FORMAL, AND MATERIAL CAUSES.—We can best analyse the influence of the
final cause by studying this influence as exerted on conscious and
intelligent agents. The final cause has a positive influence of some sort
on the production, happening, actualization of effects. What is the nature
of this influence? The final cause exerts its influence by being _a __
good_, an apprehended good; it exerts this influence on the appetite of
the agent, soliciting the latter to perform certain acts for the
realization, attainment, possession, or enjoyment of this good. But it
must not be conceived as the _efficient cause_ of this movement of the
appetite, nor may its influence be conceived as _action_. An efficient
cause must actually exist in order to act; but when the final cause, as an
apprehended good, exerts its influence on the appetite _it is not yet
actual_: not until the agent, by his action, has realized the end and
actually attained it, does the end, as a good, actually exist. We must
distinguish between the end _as attained_ and the end _as intended_,
between the _finis in executione_ and the _finis in intentione_. It is not
the end as attained that is a final cause; as attained it is an effect
pure and simple. It is the end as intended that is a final cause; and as
intended it does not yet actually exist: hence its influence cannot be by
way of _action_. Perhaps it is the _idea_ or _cognition_ of the intended
end that exerts the peculiar influence of final cause? No; the _idea_ or
_cognition_ of the end actually exists, no doubt, in the conscious agent,
but this is only a condition, a _conditio sine qua non_, for the
apprehended good, the final cause, to exert its influence: _nil volitum
nisi praecognitum_. It is not the cognition of the good, however, that
moves the agent to act, it is not the idea of the good that the agent
desires or strives for, but the good itself. It is the good itself, the
known good, that exerts the influence, and this influence consists in the
_passive inclination_ or _attraction_ or _tendency_ of the appetite
towards the good: a tendency which necessarily results from the very
presence of the good (not really or physically of course, but
representatively, mentally, “_intentionally_,” by “_esse intentionale_”;
cf. 4) in the agent’s consciousness, and which is formally the
actualization of the causal power or influence of the final cause. “Just
as the efficient cause influences by acting,” says St. Thomas,(504) “so
the final cause influences by being yearned for and desired”.

Looked at from the side of the agent that undergoes it, this influence is
a _passive yielding_: this next becomes an _active_ motion of appetite;
and in the case of free will a deliberate act of intending the end,
followed by acts of choosing means, and finally by acts commanding the
executive faculties to employ these means.

Looked at from the side of the final cause, the influence consists in an
_attraction_ of appetite towards union with itself as a good. The matter
cannot be analysed much further; nor will imagination images help us here
any more than in the case of efficient causality. It must be noted,
however, that the influence of the final cause is the influence not of a
reality as actual, or in its _esse actuale_, but of a reality as present
to a perceiving mind, or in its _esse intentionale_. At the same time it
would be a mistake to infer from this that the influence of the final
cause is not _real_. It is sometimes described as “intentional” causality,
“_causalitas intentionalis_”; but this must not be taken to mean that it
is not real: for it is not the “_esse intentionale_” of the good, _i.e._
the cognition of the good, its presence in the mind or consciousness of
the agent, that moves the latter’s appetite: it is the apprehended good,
apprehended _as real_, as possible of actual attainment, that moves the
agent to act. The influence may not be _physical_ in the sense of being
productive of, or interchangeable with, or measurable by, corporeal
energy, or in terms of mechanical work; nor is it; but it is none the less

But if the influence of a final cause really reaches to the effect of the
agent’s actions only through the medium of the latter’s appetite, and
therefore through a link of “intentional” causality, does it not at once
follow that the attribution of final causality to the domain of
unconscious and inorganic activities, can be at best merely metaphorical?
The attribution to such agencies of an “_appetitus naturalis_” is
intelligible indeed as a striking and perhaps not unpoetic metaphor. But
to contend that it is anything more than a metaphor, to claim seriously
that inanimate agencies are swayed and influenced by “ends,”—is not this
really to substitute mysticism and mystery for rational speculation and

Mechanists are wont to dismiss the doctrine of final causes in the
physical universe with offhand charges of this kind. They are but too
ready to attribute it to a mystical attitude of mind. Final causes, they
say, are not discovered in inanimate nature by the cold, calculating,
unemotional analysis to which reason submits its activities, but are read
into it by minds which allow themselves to be prompted by the imagination
and emotions to personify and anthropomorphize inanimate agencies. The
accusation is as plausible as it is unjust. It is plausible because the
attribution of final causes to inanimate nature, and of an “appetitus
_naturalis_” to its agencies, _seems_ to imply the recognition of
conscious, mental, “intentional” influence in this domain. But it really
implies nothing of the sort; and hence the injustice of the charge. What
it does imply is the existence of a genuine _analogy_ between the nature
and natural activities of physical agencies on the one hand and the
appetite and appetitive activities of conscious agencies on the other. The
existence of this analogy is absolutely undeniable. The orderly,
invariable and uniformly suitable character of physical activities, simply
forces our reason to recognize in physical agencies _natures_ which tend
towards their development, and which by their activities attain to what is
_good_ for them, to what _perfects_ them. In other words we have to
recognize that each by its natural line of activity attains to results
that are good and useful to it _just as if_ it apprehended them as such
and consciously tended towards them. The analogy is there; and the
recognition of it, so far from being a “mystic” interpretation of facts,
is an elementary logical exercise of our reasoning faculty. The
scholastics emphasized their recognition of the analogy by calling the
_nature_ of an unconscious agent,—the principle of its active tendencies
towards the realization of its own perfection—an “_appetitus naturalis_”:
an expression into which no one familiar with scholastic terminology would
venture to read any element of mysticism.(505)

Every separate agency in nature has a uniform mode of activity; by
following out this line of action each co-operates with all the others in
maintaining the orderly course of nature. These are facts which call for
explanation. They are not explained by the supposition of mechanists that
these agencies are mere efficient causes: efficient causality does not
account for order, it has got simply nothing to do with order or
regularity. Consequently the last word of the mechanical philosophy on the
fact of order in the universe is—Agnosticism. In opposition to this
attitude we are far from contending that there is no mystery, or that all
is clear either in regard to the fact of _change_ or the fact of
_regularity_. Just as we cannot explain everything in _efficient_
causality, so neither can we explain everything in _final_ causality. But
we do contend that the element of order, development, evolution, even in
the physical universe, can be partially explained by recognizing in its
several agencies a _nature_, a principle of development, a passive
inclination implanted in the very being of these agencies by the
Intelligent Author of their being.

In conscious agencies this inclination or tendency to actions conformable
or _connatural_ to their being is not always in act; it is aroused by
conscious cognition, perception, or imagination of a _good_, and operates
intermittently. In unconscious agencies it is congenital and constantly in
act, _i.e._ as a tendency, not as actually operative: for its actual
development due conditions of environment are required: the seed will not
grow without a suitable soil, temperature, moisture, etc. In conscious
agencies the tendency, considered entitatively or as a reality in them, is
an _accidental form_; in unconscious agencies it is their _forma
substantialis_, the formative substantial principle, which determines the
specific type to which their nature belongs.(506)

In all agencies the inclination or appetite or tendency to action arises
from a form; an elicited appetite from an “intentional” form, a natural
appetite from a “natural” form: _Omnis inclinatio seu appetitus
consequitur formam; appetitus elicitus formam intentionalem, appetitus
naturalis formam naturalem_. The scholastic view that final causality
pervades all things is expressed in the aphorism, _Omne agens agit propter
finem_: Every agency acts for an end.

From our analysis of final causality it will be seen that the “end”
becomes a cause by exercising its influence on the agent or efficient
cause, and thus initiating the action of the latter. We have seen already
that material and formal causes exercise their causality dependently on
the efficient cause of the change or effect produced by the latter. We now
see that the final cause, the end as _intended_, determines the action of
the efficient cause; hence its causality holds the primacy as compared
with that of the other causes: it is in this sense the cause of causes,
_causa causarum_.(507) But while the end _as intended_ is the starting
point of the whole process, the end _as attained_ is the ultimate term of
the latter. Hence the scholastic aphorism: _Finis est primus in intentione
et ultimus in executione_. And this is true where the process involves a
series of acts attaining to means subordinate to an end: this latter is
the first thing intended and the last attained.

The final cause, the end as intended, is extrinsic to the effect. It is
intrinsic to the efficient cause. It is a “_forma_” or determinative
principle of the latter: a _forma intentionalis_ in conscious agents, a
_forma naturalis_ in unconscious agents.

FATALISM.—By the term _nature_ we have seen that Aristotle and the
scholastics meant the essence or substance of an agent regarded as inner
principle of the latter’s normal activities, as determining the bent or
inclination of these, and therefore as in a real sense their final cause.
Hence Aristotle’s definition of _nature_ as _a certain principle or cause
of the motion and rest of the thing in which that principle is rooted
fundamentally and essentially and not merely accidentally_.(508) The
scholastics, recognizing that this _intentio naturae_, this subjection to
finality, in _unconscious_ agencies must be the work and the index of
intelligence, in other words that this _analogical_ finality in inanimate
things must connote a _proper_ finality, a properly purposive mode of
action, in the author of these things, conceived this _nature_ or
_intentio naturae_ as the impression of a divine art or plan upon the very
being of all creatures by the Creator Himself. Hence St. Thomas’s profound
and well-known description of _nature_ as “_the principle of a divine art
impressed upon things, in virtue of which they move towards determinate
ends_”. Defining _art_ as _the just conception __ of external works to be
accomplished_,(509) he observes that nature is a sort of art: “as if a
ship-builder were to endow his materials with the power of moving and
adapting themselves so as to form or construct a ship”.(510) And elsewhere
he remarks that nature differs from art only in this that the former is an
intrinsic, the latter an extrinsic, principle of the work which is
accomplished through its influence: so that if the art whereby a ship is
constructed were intrinsic to the materials, the ship would be constructed
by nature as it actually is by art.(511)

Such, then, is the teleological conception of the nature of each
individual agency in the universe. When we speak of “universal _nature_,”
“external _nature_,” “physical _nature_,” “the course of _nature_,” “the
laws of _nature_,” etc. we are using the term in a collective sense to
signify the sum-total of all the agencies which constitute the whole
physical universe; and furth