"The good of the grace of one soul is greater than the good of the nature of the whole universe"
- St Thomas Aquinas Ia IIa, q.24, a. 3, ad 2

CHRIST THE SAVIOUR
— A Commentary on the Third Part of St Thomas' Theological Summa

by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O. P.


CHAPTER IV: QUESTION 2 —THE MODE OF THE UNION OF THE WORD INCARNATE (cont)

Various Scholastic Views About Personality

There are different views about ontological personality among the Scholastics. They are radically divided: some admit and others do not admit a real distinction between what is and its existence, a distinction that is declared among the greater in the philosophy of St. Thomas, and which forms one of the twenty-four theses approved by the Sacred Congregation of Studies in 1916.

Some say, in these days, that the first of these twenty-four propositions on which the others depend, is not found in the works of St. Thomas, who admitted, so they say, only logical composition of potentiality and act, but not real composition in every created:[484]

On the contrary, St. Thomas said explicitly: "Everything that is in the genus of substance is a real composite...; and its existence must be different from itself.... Therefore everything that is directly in the predicament of substance is composed at least of existence and that which exists."[485] This means that there is a real distinction in the created suppositum between that which exists and its existence. The suppositum is the whole, and its existence is a contingent predicate.

Again he writes: "The act that is measured by aeviternity, the aeviternal existence, differs indeed really from that whose act it is";[486] which means that an angel's essence differs really from his existence. On this point Father Norbert del Prado, O. P., has collected many similar texts from St. Thomas in the famous book he wrote on this subject.[487] In this work, he shows that the first truth by way of doctrinal judgment though the highest of causes is that in God alone essence and existence are the same; He alone can say: I am who am.

These truths presupposed, however, among Scholastics who deny a real distinction between what is and its existence, and between essence and existence, Scotus says that personality is something negative, namely, the negation of the hypostatic union in a singular nature.[488] Suarez considers personality to be a substantial mode that presupposes the existence of a singular nature, and that renders it incommunicable.[489]

Among those Scholastics who admit a real distinction between existence and what exists, there are especially three opinions. Cajetan and very many Thomists say that personality is that by which a singular nature becomes immediately capable of existence.[490]

Others, following Capreolus, say less clearly that personality is a singular nature as constituted before it exists.[491] Lastly, Father Billot reduces personality to existence that actuates the singular nature.[492]

PERSONALITY [diagram page 145]:

  • real distinction admitted
    • It is that by which a singular nature becomes what it is, or becomes immediately capable of existence. (View of Cajetan and very many Thomists).
    • It is a singular nature as constituted before it exists (Capreolus)
    • It is existence that actuates a singular nature (Billot)
  • real distinction denied
    • It is a substantial mode that presupposes the existence of the substance (Suarez)
    • It is something negative, the negation of the hypostatic union. (Scotus)

 

 

Index Top

Footnotes

12-169-181

 

"He who wishes to be perfectly obeyed, should give but few orders."

St Philip Neri

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"Obedience is the true holocaust which we sacrifice to God on the altar of our hearts."

St Philip Neri

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"A single act of uniformity with the divine will suffices to make a saint."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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