Essay on St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Being and Essence

1002 Words5 Pages
In St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Being and Essence, he devotes an entire chapter of his book discussing how essence is found in composite substances. “Form and matter are found in composite substances, as for example soul and body in man. But it cannot be said that either one of these alone is called the essence.’ Aquinas argues that in a composite substance, not only is the form but also matter in the essence of a thing. However, in Metaphysics, Aristotle says that essence is in the form, which acts upon matter. He writes, “The form or the thing as having form should be said to be thing, but matter by itself must never be said to be so.” Yet, Aristotle’s thesis poses a philosophical problem. If one supposes that Aristotle is correct, then…show more content…
Furthermore, Aquinas says that matter is something added to its essence. In other words, matter is something outside its essence. Aquinas continues his argument that essence also does not signify a relationship between matter and form. Form and matter are both “characteristics of essence.” Matter is actualized through the form. Consequently, “matter becomes an actual being and this particular thing.” Aquinas writes, “For the being that a composite substance has is not the being of the form alone nor of the matter alone but of the composite.” In other words, the fact that something is ‘being’ is not because of its form alone or its matter alone but because of form that is informed on the matter. It is evident through passage found in Aquinas’ On Being and Essence, that essence is found in composite substances through matter and form together. Although Aristotle does not explicitly state this, he does say so implicitly. This essay will now turn to an interpretation and discuss Aquinas’ argument in relation to Aristotle. Although the material body and its substantial form are metaphysically distinct, neither the human body nor its substantial form alone is a substance. From the Aristotelian perspective, when we first make a distinction as to what a things is, we are acknowledging a thing’s form but not necessarily its matter. Aristotle writes in the

More about Essay on St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Being and Essence

Open Document