“Active and Passive Potency” in Thomistic Angelology, 1st by Howard P. Kainz Ph. D. (auth.)

By Howard P. Kainz Ph. D. (auth.)

A. "SEPARATE ingredients" AND lOR" ANGELS"? it truly is attention-grabbing to notice that, in an expressly theological treatise reminiscent of the Summa theologiae, St. Thomas regularly makes use of the time period "angel", instead of "separate substance"; whereas in works with a much less specific theological motive - e. g. the Summa contra gentiles and the De substantiis separatis 1 - he in general prefers the time period "separate substance". yet at any cost there's little question that the 2 phrases, "separate sub­ stance" and "angel" have a undeniable interchangeability and equivalence within the works of St. Thomas. In different phrases, "the separate substance" is resembling "the angel, insofar as its lifestyles and attributes are knowable via human cause alone". And this has led Karl Barth 2 to cost that St. Thomas' angelology is basically a philosophical presenta­ tion, with little relevance to theology. 1 we would say that those works are "philosophical" insofar as arguments from cause are emphasised in them, instead of arguments from revelation or religion. even if, as Lescoe issues out (in the advent to his version of the De substantUs separatis, p. 8), the treatise on separate ingredients leads as much as theological subject-matter in Ch. 's XVII ff- specifically, an exposition of Catholic educating as present in Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, and particularly Dionysius. And Chenu continues that the Summa contra gentiles is essentially a theological paintings, since it not just leads as much as theological subject-matter in Bk.

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62, Art. 5, c and ad 2. 51 Cf. S. , III, Q. 1, Art. 3, ad 3. 62 Although St. Thomas does not use the adjectives, "positive" and "negative", as applied to potency, he does refer to potency-as-capacity in a twofold sense: sometimes in such a way as to emphasize that it is a capacity-for some actuation, sometimes in such 47 48 44 THE THOMISTIC DOCTRINE ON POTENCY simply supplying a substratum for the form of that thing - as the mother supplies the raw material out of which a human being is generated.

54 De Subst. , Ch. VIII, § 44. , Lect. XV; "Ostendit idem .. ;". 56 Cf. John of St. Thomas, Cursus Philosophicus Thomisticus; Tome 2, p. 101 : "Tot sunt praesentiae, quot formae praesentes, et similiter tot carentiae seu absentiae et privationes, quot formae absentes". 57 De Ente et Essentia, Ch. IV. 58 S. , I, Q. 55, a. 3, ad I. THE THOMISTIC DOCTRINE ON POTENCY 45 relativity obtains. For example, substantial form is passive to the reception of esse, but active in relationship to prime matter; the agent intellect is "active" with regard to all other human faculties, but "passive" with regard to the illumination offaith, which requires an "obediential" capacity of the intellect as its prerequisite 59.

In whatsoever genus is found an inferior exemplification of some perfection, there must be present, within that same genus, a specific type or instance of the pure and preeminent exemplification of that perfection 35. 2. The variety and relative capacities of passive potency As the bed of an ocean is indisputably the sine qua non for all the fluctuations and alterations effected on its surface - so also passive potency is, in a very real way, the foundation for all the existential modifications which take place in, or through the agency of, a thing.

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