Gyula Klima

Thomas of Sutton on the Nature of the Intellective Soul

and the Thomistic Theory of Being


1.     Thomas of Sutton

Thomas of Sutton was one of the earliest, and by all measures one of the most astute defenders of St. Thomas Aquinas’ characteristic theological and philosophical doctrines. As usual with medieval thinkers, we have little information regarding  Sutton’s life[1]. The earliest reliable report on his life’s events is that he was ordained deacon at Blithe by Walter Giffard, the Archbishop of York, on September 20, 1274. After receiving the diaconate, Sutton entered the Dominican order, and became a friar at the Oxford convent around 1282. He had probably been a fellow of Merton College before he entered the order. It was also before 1282 that Sutton wrote his short treatises laying out his Thomistic conception of the unicity of substantial form: Contra Pluralitatem Formarum and De Productione Formae Substantialis. In Oxford he was closely associated with two other Dominicans, William Hothum and Richard Knapwell, who were also heavily involved in the defense of Thomistic positions. One source also mentions that Sutton studied in Paris, where he may have had first-hand experience of the immense influence of Henry of Ghent.[2] But the center of his activity was Oxford, where he incepted as a master sometime between 1291 and 1300, and lectured till his death in about 1315.

This paper examines Sutton’s reply to contemporary challenges of the Thomistic position concerning the nature of the intellective soul, in particular, Aquinas’ famously controversial doctrine of the unicity of substantial form.[3] Sutton’s arguments quite clearly indicate that acceptance or rejection of the Thomistic position ultimately depends on sharing or rejecting certain fundamental principles of St. Thomas’s theory of being. The paper intends to articulate these principles with clarity and precision, by contrasting them with the primary target of Sutton’s criticism, the radically different theory of Henry of Ghent.

2.     The theory of being and the nature of the intellective soul

To see the connection between St. Thomas’s doctrine concerning the nature of the intellective soul and his theory of being, consider the following argument by Siger of Brabant:

“Praeterea, alia est ratio essendi formae materialis et compositi seu formae per se subsistentis. Ratio enim essendi formae materialis est secundum quam est aliquid aliud, ut ratio compositionis est secundum quam habet esse compositum, et ratio figurae secundum quam habet esse figuratum; unde ratio essendi formae materialis est quod sit unita alii. Ratio autem essendi compositi vel formae liberatae a materia est quod sit ens per se et separate, non unum ens cum alio. Ex hoc sic arguitur. Cum cessat ratio essendi alicuius, ipsum corrumpitur et non est; sed cum separatur forma materialis a materia, cessat eius ratio essendi, ut ex praedictis apparet; nulla igitur forma cuius separatio a materia non est sua corruptio est materialis. Sed separatio animae intellectivae a corpore et materia non est eius corruptio. Ergo non habet esse unitum ad materiam. Et declaratur ratio in exemplo. Cum ligna, lapides et lateres in domo cessant esse composita a forma compositionis eorum, cessat esse compositio; et cum secun­dum figuram cessat aliquid figuratum esse, cessat esse figura. Et similiter est de forma substantiali ad illud cuius est forma, quod, cum secundum eam cessat esse materia, cessat esse formae materialis, licet notius sit in accidentali forma quam substantiali. Et sunt istae rationes essendi, qua aliquid habet esse unite ad materiam et qua aliquid habet rationem subsistentis per se et separate, oppositae adeo quod eidem inesse non possunt. Unde anima intellectiva non potest habere rationem per se subsistentis et, cum hoc, unum facere cum materia et corpore in essendo[4].”

As is clear from this passage, the fundamental reason why according to Siger it is impossible to hold St. Thomas’s doctrine, namely, that the intellective soul is both subsistent (on account of the immateriality of the intellect) and inherent (on account of the soul’s being the form of the body), is the radical incompatibility of these two modes of being. But then, as the argument makes clear, the whole issue of the tenability of the Thomistic conception of the nature of the intellective soul boils down to this ultimate question: are these modes of being really so incompatible that they cannot simultaneously characterize the act of being of the intellective soul?

Obviously, the question cannot be answered without clarifying what we should understand by these modes of being, which requires careful reflection on how we should construe the concept of being and its relation to the concepts of form and essence in general. As we shall see, recognizing this need is precisely the basic, underlying insight that drives Thomas of Sutton’s arguments in the debates concerning the nature of the intellective soul.

3.     Sutton on the unicity of substantial form

In his Quaestiones Ordinariae, Sutton makes it quite clear that he does not regard the Averroistic position a threat anymore. Indeed, as he puts it, by his time nobody was so stupid as to side with the Commentator on the issue of the separate existence and the consequent unity of the intellect:

“Non est enim modo aliquis ita fatuus, quod adhaereat opinioni commentatoris, et si esset aliquis, posset faci­liter convinci per rationes praecedentium doctorum[5].”

However, given the immateriality of the intellective soul, it still demands clarification how it can also be the form of the body in the way the sensitive soul is, indeed, how it can be the very same form as the sensitive soul in one and the same human being. As Sutton puts it:

“Sed quia sensitiva et intellectiva videntur habere oppositas condiciones, sensitiva enim est actus corporis, intellectus non est actus corporis, sensitiva est materialis, intellectus est immaterialis, sicut dicunt auctores, ideo aliquantulum insistendum est, ut videamus, quomodo sit possibile tantam oppositionem esse in una simplici substantia[6].”

One obvious way out of the apparent inconsistency resulting from attributing these opposite conditions to one and the same form would seem to be to distinguish the intellective soul from the sensitive and vegetative souls as well as from the form of corporeity (while the latter may be regarded either as three distinct forms, or one and the same material form extending the body and performing the vegetative and sensitive functions of an animal). But Sutton argues that this position, the thesis of the plurality of substantial forms, directly entails the Averroistic position, and is thus contrary to faith:

“Si quis igitur poneret substantiam intellectivam esse aliam a sensitiva et vegetativa, necessario incideret in errorem commentatoris Averroes, qui posuit intellectum esse substantiam separatam, et per consequens oporteret ponere unum intellectum omnium hominum, quia in substantiis separatis non possunt esse plures in eadem specie, cum non possint differre, nisi per differentias formales diversificant<es> speciem. Quia igitur illud manifeste repugnat fidei, ideo necesse est ponere quod intellectiva sit eadem substantia cum sensitiva. Solet tamen poni quod intellectiva et sensitiva sunt diversae formae; etiam in diebus nostris fuit communis opinio in Anglia. Sed qui sic posuerunt, non perceperunt errores, qui ex hoc sequuntur contra fidem, et pro tanto excusabiles sunt[7].”

That is to say, according to Sutton, positing the intellective soul as an immaterial form distinct from the material substantial form(s) of  the body, directly entails the Averroistic thesis of the unity of the intellect in all humans, even though several of his contemporaries failed to recognize this consequence of their position. However, this entailment is valid only if one holds, as Sutton clearly does, that plurification of individuals in the same species is possible only in matter. But then, one can certainly avoid this conclusion on the basis of a different theory of individuation. This was precisely the route taken by Henry of Ghent, criticized in particular by Sutton in this question. However, Sutton goes on to argue that such “evasions”, in terms of alternative theories of individuation, necessarily fail, and so anyone endorsing the plurality thesis is bound to fall back again into the Averroistic error.

4.     Henry of Ghent on existence, essence, and individuation

To be sure, Henry’s “evasions” rest on certain radically different interpretations of the conceptual connections between the notions of individuation, unity, form, essence, and existence, which fundamentally distinguish his intuitions from Thomistic intuitions. Henry deals at some length with the issue of individuation in his second Quodlibet[8]. There he argues, on the basis of Avicenna’s famous remarks in bk. 5 of his Metaphysics, that any created form or essence, whether material or immaterial, considered in itself is indifferent to plurality or singularity, whence it has to be possible for any creaturely essence to be multiplied in several supposita:

“Quod autem non ex se sed solum ab alio agente singulare est in supposito subsistens, quia ex se nulli appropriatur et est essentia tantum, quantum est ex se, indifferenter natum est esse singulare, subsistendo in unico supposito, vel universale, subsistendo in pluribus[9]. Quod etiam bene dicit Avicennaet determinat in Vo Metaphysicae suae. Ex quo sequitur apertissime quod necesse est ut non sit essentia creaturae, in quantum creatura est, quin possit, quantum est ex se, in plura individua multiplicari, quantumcumque sit abstracta a materia[10].”

Clearly, if Henry’s conception of individuation is right, and it is possible even for purely immaterial creaturely essences to multiply in several individuals, then Sutton’s charge that the plurality thesis implies the Averroistic thesis of the unity of the intellect is unjustified. Indeed, Henry is careful to point out even in this article, which otherwise does not directly deal with the individuation of the intellective soul, that on his conception of individuation, even though matter in the actual natural order does serve to individuate human souls, this is in no way absolutely necessary, which is all that is needed to invalidate Sutton’s charge:

“… animae rationales [...] individuantur per corpora quibus creando infunduntur, et infundendo creantur. Nec omnino crearentur, nisi corporibus dispositis quibus infunderentur, ut dictum est supra secundum Avicennam[11]. Dico secundum communem cursum divinae ordinationis, licet Deus per se ipsas possit individuas creare, quae modo sic per corpora esse incipiunt, ut non cum ipsis esse desinunt. Unde, cum fides teneat quod animae rationales sunt substantiae spirituales per se substare potentes, et quod sunt plures numero secundum hominum pluralitatem, et quod Deus potest eas creare sine corporibus per se subsistentes antequam corporibus uniantur (quod omnino fieri non posset, nisi essentia talis creaturae huiusmodi multiplicationem secundum numerum absque corpore pateretur), nulli fidelium debet provenire in dubium, quin sub eadem specie plura possunt esse individua in substantia spirituali solis substantialibus distincta, etiam absque omni quantitate et materia[12].”

So, according to Henry’s conception, even though God actually uses bodies to individuate the intellective souls within the same species according to His ordination of the common course of nature, it would still be possible for Him to do so supernaturally, without the assistance of bodies. The general reason for this possibility is explained by Henry in somewhat more detail as follows:

“Nulla enim re alia addita essentiae rei, ipsamet fit suppositum subsistens in existentia actuali, hac sola intentione adiecta qua ipsa habet esse effectus Dei, et hoc in natura et essentia, ipsam de non esse in esse producendo. Quod quidem esse omnis creatura participat ex hoc quod ipsa in sua essentia est Dei factura, non quod ipsi essentiae, quasi praecedenti, Deus imprimat esse quo denominetur existens, sicut, praeexistente pariete, aliquis imprimit ei albedinem, sive creando sive non, qua denominatur albus. Hoc enim falsum est et omnino haereticum: Deus enim totum quod aliquid est in creatura, ab initio de nihilo fecit[13].”

So, according to Henry, a created essence, which considered in itself is indifferent to plurality and singularity, is individuated precisely by its acquiring a singular act of existence, which is nothing but the created thing’s being created. Therefore, the cause of individuation of any creature is primarily God,  who in a creative act produces the essence in a singular act of existence. This is why God can create two angels of the same species, merely on account of producing the existence of the one as distinct from that of the other:

“[…] dicendum est, descendendo ad nostram quaestionem, quod duo angeli in solis substantialibus existentes, posito etiam quod nullum accidens reale differens re ab eorum essentia in se habeant, neque scilicet potentiam neque habitum neque aliquid huiusmodi, sunt individualiter distincti hoc solo quod subsistunt in effectu. Ubi extra communitatem essentiae in ambobus subsistere unius non est subsistere alterius, cum unus eorum subsistere posset sine altero. Et sic per hoc ab invicem differunt, quod iste non est ille, duplicata scilicet natura speciei sive essentiae angelicae in eis per rationem subsistendi sive existendi in actu aliam in uno et aliam in altero, quae est praeter intellectum essentiae communis in utroque. […] Ut sic sit per aliud et aliud, quod uterque illorum dicatur esse angelus simpliciter et quod dicatur esse iste vel ille, quia intentio essentiae simpliciter, qua uterque dicitur angelus, est alia ab intentione subsistentiae huius et illius, qua dicuntur iste angelus et ille. Patet ergo quomodo per intentiones subsistentiae duorum angelorum fit essentiae communis individuatio in eis. Sed quia coniunctio istorum duorum, scilicet essentiae et subsistentiae in uno et in altero, non potest esse ex se ipsis — quia ex se non habent quod subsistunt in effectu, ut dictum est —, sed oportet quod fiat in eis per aliam causam, facientem utrumque eorum esse alterum per essentiam existentem in actu, et hunc non esse illum et e converso — ut sit totum causatum quod est in utroque —, ideo causa individuationis eorum prima et efficiens dicendus est Deus, qui dat utrique eorum subsistentiam in effectu et seorsum.[14]

So, the primary cause of the individuation of a created nature is God’s creative act producing a singular creature of that nature, whose act of being is nothing but its being created by God, and it is the singularity of this act which determines the otherwise common nature of the creature in question to be had by this singular entity as opposed to that, in which the same nature would be realized in a numerically distinct act of existence. Therefore, to the objection that an essence which is indistinct in itself cannot be understood to be multiplied unless there is something distinguishing its instances, Henry answers that, indeed, there is something distinguishing these instances, namely, the distinct acts of existence which realize the same essence in numerically distinct individuals:

“Dicendum igitur ad argumentum quod unam et eandem essentiam ex se omnino simplicem, nullo addito, nec re nec intentione, differenti ab ea, distingui et multiplicari per plura individua est omnino inintelligibile et secundum rem impossibile. Sic enim quaecumque essentia in se considerata nullam potest omnino intelligi habere distinctionem, multiplicationem aut diversitatem. Sic enim considerata intelligitur ut neque in unico individuo existens neque ut in pluribus, neque ut universalis neque ut particularis, sed ut cui ambo nata sunt accidere. Si ergo huiusmodi essentia debeat distingui per plura individua numero, oportet quod hoc sit per aliquid additum distinguens, diversitate sua diversificans essentiam et multiplicans hinc inde.[15]

However, according to Henry, the act of existence which sets apart one individual of a created nature from another cannot be regarded as a distinct thing added to the nature in question, rather it has to be something merely intentionally distinct from the essence to which it is added:

“Sed tale additum potest intelligi diversum ab essentia ipsa vel re, vel intentione tantum. Additione diversi primo modo non contingit essentiam separatam immaterialem numero distingui, quia neque per diversum additum substantiale neque accidentale. Non per substantiale, quia illud non posset esse nisi materia aut forma, < quod quidem non potest fieri, > quia per positionem haec essentia est immaterialis et specifica, sub qua non est ulterior forma substantialis et cui non est materia subiecta. Neque per accidentale diversum hinc inde, quia neque per diversum specie neque per diversum numero. Non per diversum specie, quia ad eandem essentiam substantialem specie necessario sequuntur, quantum est ex ratione speciei, eadem accidentia specie: eidem enim in quantum idem semper natum est accidere idem. Nec numero solo, quia accidens potius numeratur et individuatur per suum subiectum quam e converso. Universaliter ergo verum est quod per nulla accidentia realia, neque specie neque numero diversa, fit individuatio eiusdem essentiae sive formae in specie, quoniam omnis substantia in se recipiens accidentia oportet quod in se prius subsistat (et ita: quod sit individuata), quam subiectum alterius fiat, quia secundum Philosophum «substantia prior est accidente definitione, cognitione et tempore», et ideo substantia individuata potius est causa individuationis cuiuscumque accidentis quam e converso. Et sic nullo modo potest intelligi multiplicatio essentiae immaterialis per additionem diversi secundum rem. Oportet ergo quod sit additione diversi secundum intentionem solum. Et hoc est possibile, immo necessarium, ut supra est expositum[16].”

Henry explains in more detail how he conceives of the intentional distinction between essence and existence in creatures in question 9 of his first Quodlibet. Although the notion of intentional distinction is difficult to capture (indeed, according to Sutton it is downright inconsistent)[17], Henry’s idea here seems to be that we have to assume this type of distinction whenever one and the same absolute thing is also inherently related to something else, whence the same absolute thing, on account of its own nature, also has to be conceived in terms of a relational concept or intention. Therefore, since all created essences exist only insofar as they are created and kept in existence by God (whence in their actual existence they are inherently related to God), and, in virtue of the previous argument, their existence cannot be another thing added to them, a created essence and its existence (that is, its being created by God) also have to be regarded as intentionally distinct, although they are one and the same thing when the essence is produced in actual existence:

“Non enim debet imaginari creaturae essentia sicut aer indifferens ad ob­scuritatem et luminositatem, sed sicut radius quidam in se natus subsistere, a sole productus non necessitate naturae sed libera voluntate. Unde, si sol libera voluntate posset radium per se sub­sistentem producere, radius ille, quantum est de se et natura sua, indifferens esset ad esse et non esse, et quantum esset de se, esset non ens quoddam. Quantum autem est ex parte solis, posset esse in se recipere et reciperet cum fieret in effectu a sole, et esset ille radius factus et stans in se, lumen quoddam secundum suam essen­tiam, et similitudo lucis solaris, participans per hoc ipsa luce solis. Et ita esset ille radius quaedam participatio lucis solaris per suam essentiam et in sua essentia, non per aliquid additum suae essentiae receptum in ipsa, re differens ab ipsa, sicut lumen receptum in aere differt ab ipso. Et sicut est de isto radio lucis et luce solis, quod participat luce solis in eo quod est, in sua essentia existens, quae­dam eius similitudo, sic est de creatura et Deo, quod ipsa participat esse Dei in eo quod est in sua essentia quaedam divini esse similitudo, sicut imago sigilli, si esset in se subsistens extra ceram, in sua essentia esset quaedam similitudo sigilli, non per aliquid additum ei. Et sic in quacumque creatura esse non est aliquid re aliud ab ipsa essentia, additum ei ut sit. Immo ipsa sua essentia, qua est id quod est quaelibet creatura, habet esse in quantum ipsa est effectus et similitudo divini esse, ut dictum est[18].”

On the basis of these passages, Henry’s conception criticized by Sutton can be summarized in the following theses.

(1)              A form or essence of any creature, considered in itself, is indifferent to existence and non-existence and to unity or multiplicity[19].

(2)              Nevertheless, such a form is multipliable in actual existence only if there is something to distinguish one of its instances from another[20].

(3)              What distinguishes one creature from another in the same species is its singular act of existence, the singularity of which is determined by the singularity of a creative act of God

(4)              Thus, this act of existence is inherently relational: for a creature to be in actual existence is for it to be created by God.

(5)              Thus, the act of existence in question is merely intentionally distinct from the actually existing singular essence, in the same way as a relation is merely intentionally distinct from its foundation.[21]

With these principles at hand, Henry is obviously able to evade Sutton’s charge, while maintaining the plurality thesis along with all its benefits in accounting for the opposite conditions of the immaterial intellective soul and the material forms of bodies.

5.     Sutton’s criticism of Henry’s conception

Sutton clearly sees that he can handle Henry’s above-described “evasion” only by a direct attack on Henry’s conception of existence and individuation. In particular, he rejects (3) as nonsensical, on the basis of an argument which directly points to the most fundamental difference between their conceptions of existence:

“Advertendum est igitur quod esse non multiplicatur nisi per multiplicationem essentiae, et hoc potest sic videri: essentia quae est ipsum esse, non potest multiplicari, sed est una sola, scilicet deus ipse, ut alibi dictum est. Nec esse potest includi in essentia alicuius causati, quia essentia de cuius ratione est esse, non potest intelligi non esse, et per consequens non potest produci a non-esse in esse. Ad hoc igitur quod esse multiplicetur, oportet essentias multiplicari, quae recipiant esse et limitent esse, quod participant; esse enim subsistens non receptum in aliquo est illimitatum et unum tantum. Oportet igitur dicere quod, sicut forma multiplicatur per hoc quod recipitur in diversis materiis, ita esse actuale multiplicatur per hoc quod recipitur in diversis essentiis. Unde in multiplicatione decem praedicamentorum hoc est manifestum, quia per hoc quod ens, quod significat essentiam, multiplicatur per se et non per aliquid additum in essentias decem praedicamentorum, esse actuale receptum in essentiis illis et limitatum per illas multiplicatur in decem praedicamentis. Universaliter enim multiplicatio limitantium est causa multiplicationis eius quod limitatur, quia illimitatum in quantum huiusmodi est unum, sed per hoc quod participatur a diversis, contrahitur et multiplicatur in illis[22].”

The most significant remark in this passage is the closing universal claim, which seems to provide the most general reason for Sutton’s rejection of Henry’s conception: the cause of the multiplication of something that can undergo limitation is the multiplication of those that limit it, for that which is unlimited, as such, is one.  In fact, this claim seems to contradict already Henry’s principle (1), for that which can undergo limitation, and hence multiplication, should be indifferent to number, and so it should not, as such, be one. But if we carefully consider Suttons’s argument, we can see that this is not the case. For the indifference to existence and number is a property of a form or nature in accordance with its absolute consideration: this is precisely the reason why the same nature, which can be regarded as the same on account of its lack of distinction in the mind’s consideration, can be realized in several individuals.[23] But Sutton’s point (with which, as we could see, Henry also agreed) is that the same nature cannot be realized in actual being in several individuals, unless there is something that distinguishes its several instances in these individuals. The reason for this, of course, is the convertibility of being and unity: the indifference of nature to existence is its indifference to unity, which applies to it only in its absolute consideration, but its realization in actual being is the positing of a unit of that nature in actual being. Therefore, if on account of a lack of distinction in its actual being a nature cannot be multiply realized, then it can only be realized in one entity, which is the case with the absolutely simple and indivisible divine nature.[24] So, a nature can be realized in several instances only if there is something setting these instances apart in their actual existence.

What distinguished these individual instances of a single nature for Henry were precisely the singular acts of existence of the singular supposita of the same nature. It is to this claim that Sutton objects by pointing out that considerations of the sort just mentioned also apply to existence itself:[25] if it is realized without any distinction, then it can be realized only in one singular, unlimited act of existence, which is nothing but the divine essence, that is, God himself. Therefore, all other acts of existence can be realized as distinct from this singular, unlimited act of existence only by imposing upon them some limitation that distinguishes them from the unlimited divine existence as well as from each other. The limitations imposed upon the resulting limited acts of existence are nothing but the essences of creatures, which differ from each other on account of their contrary, specific differences. But without these limitations the only possible realization of actual existence is just the unlimited act of divine being: ipsum esse subsistens.

Indeed, when Sutton directly takes issue with Henry’s conception concerning the individuation of the soul, he argues on the same basis:

“Propter hoc adhuc aliam ponunt fictionem[26]. Dicunt quod animae in eadem specie distinguuntur non per suas essentias, sed per suum esse. Sed istud inter alia minus valet. Esse enim inter omnia est communissimum, quantum est de se, in tantum quod, nisi contrahatur per essentiam alicuius generis, non pertinet ad aliquod genus. Et propter hoc esse non limitatum per aliquam essentiam est ipse deus, qui non est in aliquo genere. Esse igitur animae per hoc contrahitur ad speciem animae, quod est receptum in essentia animae. Unde esse animae distinguitur ab aliis esse per hoc, quod essentia animae distinguitur ab aliis essentiis. Non ergo distinguuntur animae per esse suum, sed potius e converso esse animarum distinguitur per distinctionem ipsarum animarum. Ergo oportet dare aliquid aliud, per quod animae distinguantur. Istud confirmatur per hoc, quod dicit auctor De causis propositione 16, quod intelligentiae sunt finitae superius, quia habent esse receptum in essentia et sic limitatum, sed inferius sunt infinitae, quia essentiae earum non recipiuntur in aliquo. Ipse vocat superius in eis esse, quod de se est communissimum, inferius in eis vocat essentiam, quia ipsa de se est determinati generis et etiam speciei. Ergo eodem modo oportet in omnibus intelligere quod esse non distinguitur, nisi per hoc quod essentia distinguitur, quia eadem ratio est in uno et in alio. Omnis enim creatura habet esse limitatum per essentiam[27]. Et videte: Si esse animae non limitaretur per essentiam animae, sed anima distingueretur ab aliis per suum esse, sequeretur quod anima esset ipse deus, quia illud esse haberet omnem perfectionem essendi ex hoc ipso quod non limitaretur per aliud, et tunc essentia animae esset suum esse subsistens, et sic esset deus, quod est nefas dicere[28].”

So, for Sutton, it cannot be singular acts of existence that distinguish individual instances of the same form, for the role of forms is to distinguish acts of existence by limiting them in the first place, on account of their own per se differences[29]. But since the formal contrariety of specific differences can only yield specific distinction, any two singular creatures that differ by such formal differences will have to differ specifically in order to differ numerically. Therefore, Sutton concludes, the only way creatures can differ numerically within the same species is by differing, not with respect to such formal differences, but with respect to some other differences, namely, the per se opposite locations of the various parts of dimensive quantity, which directly follows upon matter. This is the fundamental reason why, according to Sutton, only material creatures can be numerically distinct within the same species[30].

6.     The Thomistic theory of being and individuation vs. Henry’s theory

As we could see, Sutton’s criticism of Henry’s conception of the individuation of created essences, and hence of human souls, was based in particular on his rejection of Henry’s principle (3). Sutton’s reason for this rejection, in turn, is  based on his acceptance of the common principles (1) and (2), with the addition of the following Thomistic principles concerning the relationship between form/essence and existence:

(I)               Existence is the actuality of form/essence, whereas form/essence is a determination/limitation of existence, provided they are distinct; otherwise they are the same, absolutely unlimited act of divine existence.

(II)            Any singular act of existence is primarily distinguished from another by the limitation its form/essence imposes upon it. (That is to say, there can be two distinct acts of existence only if (a) they are the acts of two distinct (types of) forms, or (b) they are the acts of two distinct instances of the same form. But in case (b) the distinct instances of the same form are clearly not distinct on account of their difference in form—just like two copies of the same book are not distinct on account of the difference in their content, which is why it is enough to read one copy in order to read the book—, but on account of something else that individuates them, and so their acts of existence are distinct secondarily, on account of whatever individuates these instances.)

As we could see, with these principles at his disposal Sutton can argue further to show that since the only act of existence that is unlimited by some form/essence is divine existence, any created act of existence has to be primarily distinguished from divine existence and from any other created act of existence by its form/essence.

But then, the only further principle he needs against Henry’s conception of individuation is the following:

(III)         Distinction in form always yields a specific distinction

Sutton brings up this last principle early on in his argument against Henry’s “evasions” to show that if human souls were not individuated by bodies, then they would have to differ formally, which, in virtue of (III), would yield the absurd conclusion that individual humans differ specifically from each other:

“Quod primum impossibile sequatur, potest videri sic: si animae distinguantur non per corpora, sed per se ipsas, cum ipsae sint formae, distinctio earum erit formalis, non materialis. Universaliter autem omnis diversitas formalis diversificat speciem. Omnes igitur animae humanae erunt diversae secundum speciem ab invicem[31].”

In the subsequent paragraphs Sutton goes on to argue further against a possible objection to this principle, but in fact its validity can also be shown on the basis of (1) shared by Henry. For if there is a difference in form between two individuals, then, in virtue of (1), each of the individuals in question is just one (bearer) of the several possible instances of its form. But the several possible individuals which would share the same form (which is not numerically the same, but only according to its absolute consideration) would have to belong to the same species, whereas those that would share the other form would have to belong to another species; therefore, the two initial individuals that differed in form had to differ specifically, and not only numerically. Q. e. d.

However, if any created act of existence is distinguished from another by its form, while a distinction in form has to yield specific difference, then Sutton is justified in claiming both that no individuals of the same species can be said to be primarily distinguished by their acts of existence, and that whatever primarily distinguishes distinct individuals of the same species has to be something other than their forms.

In several places, while criticizing not only Henry’s, but also Scotus’s, and Richard of Middleton’s views on individuation,[32] Sutton deploys a barrage of arguments to show that the distinctive principle accounting for the individuation of the same substantial form in several instances can only be matter primarily distinguished by the per se opposite positions of its parts.[33] Indeed, he goes so far as to argue on this basis that it is impossible even for God to create several immaterial individuals in the same species; in particular, it would be impossible for God to create several separate human souls (which, of course, would have to be immaterial individuals of the same species).[34] But then, further, if he is right in this claim, then he was also right in reducing the plurality thesis to the undesirable Averroistic conclusion.

However, instead of following the further ramifications of Sutton’s arguments, I would rather return to digging down to their roots, summarizing what I take to be Sutton’s most fundamental insights into St. Thomas’s theory of being, and pointing out their role in his defense of the Thomistic position concerning the nature of the intellective soul.

7.     Sutton vs. Henry on the participation of being

On the basis of the foregoing considerations, I think we can establish that the difference between Henry’s and Sutton’s respective conceptions of the nature of the intellective soul can be reduced to their fundamentally different conceptions of the participation of being. Indeed, Sutton himself is quite aware of this fundamental difference as well as its consequences, as he makes it quite clear in the following passage:

“Unde aliqui doctores[35] bene ostendunt ratione necessaria quod esse differt ab essentia angeli realiter ex hoc, quod essentia angeli habet esse participatum. Patet enim per ea quae dicta sunt, quod essentia non sic participat esse, quod habeat esse limitatum per differentiam contrahentem esse ad constituendum essentiam, de cuius intellectu sit esse, ut ideo dicatur participare esse, id est partem eius capere, quia est de essentia eius quae est limitata, sicut species participat genus. Sed oportet quod habens essentiam sic participet esse, quia capit non totam perfectionem essendi, sed partem, in quantum esse limitatur per essentiam in qua suscipitur; quae essentia est limitata ad genus determinatum et ad speciem. Et sic limitatur esse per essentiam, sicut forma equi limitatur per hoc, quod recipitur in materia tamquam in susceptivo participante. Isto enim modo actus participatur a potentia, et isto modo participatum realiter differt a participante et non est de intellectu ipsius. Unde patet quod male dicunt, qui ponunt[36] essentiam participare esse sic, quod essentia causata capit a deo se ipsam includentem esse, quod esse est pars respectu esse divini, et quod non capit aliud a se secundum rem, sed quod est inter capiens et captum relatio rationis tantum, sed quod inter capiens et deum a quo capit est relatio realis. Istud dictum est erroneum, quia sequuntur multa inconvenientia, ut dictum est, si ponatur quod essentia sic participet esse, quod esse sit de suo intellectu; sequitur scilicet quod nihil sit causatum in rerum natura et quod omnia sint aeterna[37].”

The contrast between these conceptions is brought out by Sutton in a particularly vivid manner in his Tractatus de esse et essentia, where he uses the analogy of the sun and its light, also used by Henry in his own description of his conception[38]:

“… quidam ex adverso supradictis vitiis contradicentes dicunt, quod esse nullam rem absolutam ponit in essentia vel supra essentiam sed realiter est idem cum ea nisi quia addit respectum quondam ad creatorem, prout ipsa essentia est in effectu. Ad cuius evidentiam distinguit duplex esse, scilicet esse essentiae et esse actualis existentiae. Esse quidem essentiae non est aliud quam ipsa essentia habens ideam in Deo, et tale esse est illud, quod significat definitio, quia definitio indicat quid est esse rei. Esse vero actualis existentiae est illud idem esse, nisi quia addit respectum dependentiae ad productorem rei, prout res in actu effecta est, ut ex hoc essentia creaturae dicatur esse, in quantum est creata sive prout est effectus creatoris et non per aliquam rem sibi additam. Et secundum hoc dicitur, quod quaelibet creatura participat esse, in quantum est similitudo in effectu expressa a Deo: sicut si sol produceret radium voluntate, ipse radius sic productus esset similitudo solis absque additione alterius rei, sic etiam creatura, ut dicunt, voluntarie a Deo producta dicitur participare esse divinum, non propter additionem alicuius dicentis aliam rem ab ipsa essentia. Non ergo est imaginandum, quod ipsa essentia participet esse, quasi sit aliquid substratum ipsi esse, ita quod esse sit aliquid informans et perficiens essentiam creaturae, sicut forma perficit materiam sibi substratam, talis enim imaginatio falsa est; sic ergo concludit, quod esse sit idem quod essentia addens solum praedictum respectum[39].”

By contrast, in describing his own Thomistic position, Sutton uses the analogy of sunshine received in and colored (i.e., filtered, dimmed, and thus diminished) by transparent bodies (such as the stained glass windows of cathedrals):

“Ut tamen praedicta considerentur et nostra intentio clarius elucescat, imaginandum est, quod divinum esse se habeat ad modum cuiusdam lucis solaris diffusae per totum diaphanum aeris et ipsa et natura creata se habent ad modum diaphani corporis. Dices autem, quod illa lux est splendida per essentiam suam, corpus vero diaphanum in tantum splendet sive lucet, in quantum lumen participat a dicta luce, non enim lumen habet radicem in diaphano. Imaginemur ulterius, quod dicta lux solaris sua virtute producat corpus diaphanum, quod producendo semper ei assistat et suo lumine perfundat; et corpus sic productum in tantum actu subsistat, in quantum lumen participat. Constat autem, quod corpus, <cum est a luce>[40], producitur seu lumen participat a luce producente ex natura suae diaphaneitatis. Quod magis appareret, si diceremus ipsum lumen se incorporari ad modum coloris, qui dicitur esse quaedam lux incorporata in corpore terminato. Dicemus tunc lumen in diaphano causari, et ex principiis essentialibus eius, in quantum aptum natum est lumen perfundi, et in natura sua hoc unum sibi incorporetur, cum secundum dictam suppositionem ipso lumine actu subsistat; positum est enim ipsum corpus secundum se totum sic a luce produci, quod eius lumine participato subsistit. Sed quia, ut dictum est, corpus non potest sibi esse causa lucendi, cum lumen a se non habeat, ideo dicemus lumen in diaphano causari principaliter a sole lumen diffundente[41].”

As can be seen, Sutton here sharply contrasts two fundamentally different (although quite difficult to distinguish) conceptions as to how being can be said to be participated. According to Henry of Ghent’s “Augustinian” theory, participating in existence is nothing but being just a “fragmentary” act of existence meted out directly by the divine will to the capacity of a creature, which is determined by the creature’s idea in the mind of God. Accordingly, the realization of these ideas is nothing but their participation in divine being, which, in turn, is just the act of their being created, an inherently relational act, merely intentionally distinct from the individual instances of the nature it realizes.

An important consequence of this conception is that the real identity along with the mere intentional distinction between an essence and its actual existence does not entail that this essence/existence has to be the unlimited act of divine existence/essence. An act of created existence is a directly and per se delimited act, insofar as it is a singular realization of a per se limited essence, different from any other essence on account of their per se opposite differences.

On this basis we can say that according to this conception, the determination of the concept of being as it can be applied to more and more specific participated acts of existence moves “from outside in”: it is starting with a comprehensive, “catch-all concept” of being, which comprehends in its scope even the infinity of divine being, and which gets restricted, specified and individualized according to the essential order of things determined by their archetypes, the divine ideas.[42] So, this conception conceives of the determination of the concept of being in terms of what can be called an “extensional restriction” of a general concept by means of its “intensional specification”, just like adding more and more specific differences to a generic concept restricts the extension of the resulting more and more specific concepts by specifying their content, their intension.

By contrast, according to Sutton’s Thomistic theory, the participation of being is to be conceived in terms of the “intensional diminution” of a concept by the addition of diminishing qualifications, and its consequent “extensional amplification”. For example, the common term “white” without any qualification is applicable only to something that is wholly white. However, adding the qualification “in its one half” intensionally diminishes its conditions of applicability[43], and thus, as a result, extends the applicability of the term and the corresponding concept even to such things that are not wholly white. In the same way, “being” without any qualification or determination can be applied only to that which is wholly and absolutely being, that is, God, ipsum esse subsistens[44]. However, the qualification “of such and such nature” diminishes the conditions of its strict applicability, and thus extends it even to things that are not wholly beings, but only in respect of some specific nature, which is not its being itself. So, upon this conception, the determination of the concept of being as it is applicable to more and more diminished, participated acts of existence is moving “from inside out”: it starts with a very restricted concept, which, however, on account of its various “intensionally diminishing” qualifications, gains an extended, less restricted applicability[45].

Most importantly, this conception immediately yields a conclusion opposite to Henry’s, namely, that if an essence is really identical with its act of existence, then that act of existence can only be the single, unlimited act of divine existence, whence it cannot be any sort of limited, participated, creaturely act of existence.[46] The reason for this should be clear if we consider that if an act of existence is identified with the essence it actualizes, then the act of existence/essence in question has to be unlimited, since nothing delimits itself.[47] Indeed, according to Sutton, as will be obvious from the subsequent quotations, this consequence has to be regarded as analogous with adding the qualification ‘with respect to whiteness’ to the predicate ‘white’. Clearly, this qualification is non-diminishing precisely because of the identity of what is signified by the absolute predicate and what is referred to in the qualification (whence whatever can be said to be ‘white with respect to whiteness’ must be said to be ‘white’ without qualification and vice versa).[48] So, the kind of limitation Sutton has in mind is only possible if there is a real distinction between a created act of existence and the essence delimiting it, and so no wonder he promptly reduces Henry’s identification of essence and existence in creatures to the absurdity that a created essence in that case would not be created, which, on the other hand, does not seem to follow at all on Henry’s conception of participation.

But Sutton is steadfast in holding on to his own Thomistic conception, and it is with this conception at hand that he handles several, apparently obvious objections coming from the other side. In particular, he uses this conception of participation to defuse an objection utilizing one of his own premises for the real distinction of essence and existence in creatures. According to the objection, if Sutton is right in claiming that the identification of existence with essence would yield the conclusion that it cannot be understood to be non-existent, and thus it cannot be created, then the same should apply to any act of existence that Sutton posits to be distinct from its created essence, for obviously no act of existence can be understood to be non-existence, just as no man can be understood to be a non-man, etc.:

“Sed de hoc oritur dubitatio. Si enim essentia non posset intelligi non existens, si includeret esse, et ita non posset habere causam sui esse, eadem ratione videtur sequi quod essentia non habeat causam sui esse, si esse ponatur differre realiter ab essentia, quia illud esse non potest intelligi non esse, sicut homo non potest intelligi non-homo nec aliquid potest intelligi sub suo opposito. Esse ergo si realiter differt ab essentia, adhuc illud esse non habebit causam et per consequens essentia non erit producta in esse a non-esse, sed erit aeterna etiam secundum suam actualem existentiam. Et ita sequuntur eadem inconvenientia, posito quod esse differat ab essentia realiter, quae sequuntur ponentes quod esse non differt realiter ab essentia, ut videtur[49].”

Sutton answers this objection by making it clear that according to his conception, the participation of being is the limitation of an act of being by a really distinct, finite essence, in pretty much the same way as a part of a surface is a limitation of its color:

“Ad hanc vero dubitationem tollendam advertendum est quod, quamvis aliquid non-contractum non possit intelligi cum suo opposito, ipsum tamen contractum per aliquid diminuens potest intelligi cum suo opposito; verbi gratia, album per se sumptum non potest intelligi non-album, album tamen secundum dentes potest intelligi non-album simpliciter vel non-album secundum faciem. Vel melius exemplum est de forma, quae naturaliter est separata a materia, scilicet forma angeli non limitata per materiam; non enim potest intelligi non-separata. Anima tamen separata, quae est contracta per materiam, potest intelligi non-separata, quia non per naturam suam est separata, sed propter improportionem corporis; et ideo separata pro uno tempore potest intelligi non-separata pro alio tempore. Nunc autem si esse sit in essentia rei, illud esse non erit contractum neque per differentiam neque per aliquod susceptivum, ut visum est. Et ideo esse tale non potest intelligi non esse, et per consequens nec talis essentia potest intelligi non esse. Sed si ponamus quod esse sit contractum per essentiam in qua recipitur, tamquam diminutum per essentiam a qua participatur, potest illud esse intelligi non esse pro aliqua duratione, sicut et essentia in qua recipitur. Tale enim esse non existit nisi per accidens. Sed quia esse per se convenit rei subsistenti, ideo sicut illud, cuius est esse, potest intelligi non esse ante suam productionem et post suam desitionem, ita illud esse, quod est actualitas eius, potest intelligi non esse ante productionem illius cuius est et post suam desitionem. Et propterea non sequuntur illa inconvenientia, ponendo quod esse realiter differt ab essentia, quae sequuntur ponendo quod esse non differt ab essentia[50].”

On the basis of this passage, the analogy should be obvious: just as that which is totally white cannot be understood to be non-white in respect of any of its parts, so too that which is totally being cannot be understood to be non-being in any respect at all; but just as that which is only partially white can be understood to be non-white in respect of another part, so too that which is only partially being, because it is a being limited by a finite essence, can be understood to be a non-being in some other respect (where, of course, the same applies to the limited act of existence as to the thing that has this limited existence). For example, that which is limited by its nature to exist for a certain time can be understood not to exist at another time, and that which is limited to exist under certain conditions (at the very least under the condition of being kept in existence by God) can be thought not to exist under different conditions. In the same way, a form which is limited to exist under the condition of informing a body for a certain time but has the natural capacity to go on existing after getting separated from the body after that time can be thought to exist separately from the body, even though it actually exists informing a body; so even if it is actually material in its present condition, it can be thought to be immaterial at another time, in a different condition.

8.     Sutton’s Thomistic theory of being and the nature of the intellective soul

In the end, therefore, Sutton thinks of the human soul as providing a peculiar kind of determination, or limitation of the act of being which actualizes it. It is precisely this peculiar kind of limitation that establishes the human soul as a “borderline case” between the realms of absolute materiality and absolute immateriality without any contradiction, despite the per se opposition between these primary differences of the category of substance. On this basis, Sutton is able to present the case of the Thomistic conception of the intellective soul as being free from any inconsistency, despite the fact that it entails the attribution of the opposite conditions of materiality and immateriality to one and the same entity. The point, however, is that these attributions do not pertain to the soul in the same respect and without any qualification, precisely because of the soul’s “borderline status” between pure materiality and pure immateriality:

“Sciendum est igitur quod anima humana sic condita est, ut ipsa secundum suam naturam sit in confinio materialium et immaterialium. Unde in Libro de causis dicitur quod ipsa anima est in horizonte aeternitatis et temporis, propter hoc quod ipsa est omnium substantiarum intellectualium infima, et per consequens, cum substantiae intellectuales sint aeviternae, ipsa est infima omnium aeviternorum. Ipsa etiam per comparationem ad formas materiales, quae sunt corruptibiles, in tempore est suprema: Et sic est in horizonte corruptibilium et incorruptibilium, sive in confinio aeternitatis participatae et temporis. Et propter hoc oportet quod anima humana, sic in medio constituta, sapiat naturam tam formarum materialium quam immaterialium[51].”

In general, Sutton’s Thomistic conception of the participation of being clearly provides him with a more flexible conceptual apparatus than Henry’s “Augustinian” conception. In any case, it is not surprising that the Thomistic conception is particularly apt for treating the ontological status of the intellective soul as a borderline case between pure materiality and pure immateriality. For on this conception it does not yield any inconsistency that the act of existence of the soul is material and inherent on account of the soul’s actually informing a human body, and yet, the same act of existence is also subsistent in a different respect, namely on account of being the existence of a substance that has an immaterial power and a corresponding operation of its own, and thus this act of existence is also immaterial after it ceases to be the act of existence of the body.

On the other hand, such a borderline case is certainly more troublesome on the other conception, which would specify various acts of being in the same way as the essences with which they are identical in re, namely, by means of opposite differences. In this conceptual setting, materiality and immateriality, being the directly opposite differences of two radically different and distinct realms of being, constitute such a sharp division between these two realms that no single and undivided entity can possibly find a place between them, on pain of inconsistency. But if the Thomistic conception is correct, then the human soul is constituted right there, in a however paradoxical, but in no way inconsistent existential situation.


[1]  The little that can be known about Sutton is neatly summarized, with ample references, in F. J. Roensch, Early Thomistic School, Dubuque, Iowa 1964, 44-50.

[2]  Cf. Roensch, p. 73, n. 194.

[3]  For a summary account of Sutton’s psychology, see D. Sharp, Thomas of Sutton O.P., His Place in Scholasticism and an Account of His Psychology, in: Revue Néoscolastique de philosophie, Louvain, 36(1934), 332-354 and 37(1934), 88-104, 219-233.

[4]  Siger of Brabant, Quaestiones in tertium de anima, Louvain 1972, 79-80, ll.43-66.

[5]  Thomas of Sutton, Quaestiones ordinariae, München 1977. Henceforth: QORD. QORD, q. 18, p. 503.

[6]  QORD, q. 19. p. 532.

[7]  Ibid.

[8]  Henry of Ghent, Quodlibet II, Leuven 1983. Henceforth: HQDL 2. In general, Henry’s Quodlibeta are going to be referred to  by this abbreviation followed by the number of the quodlibet in question. Page numbers refer to the pagination of the edition of Henry’s Opera Omnia published in the Ancient and Medieval Philosophy series (Series 2) of the De-Wulf Mansion Centre. HQDL 2, q. 8, pp. 35-57. Cf. also HQDL 5, q. 8, which provides a somewhat different account, criticized by Scotus in Ord. II, d. 3, part 1, q. 2. But I am here concerned with the account that is the target of Sutton’s criticism in connection with the individuation of spiritual substances.

[9]  Cf. principle (1) below.

[10]       HQDL 2, q. 8, pp. 38-39.

[11]       Cf. HQDL 2, p. 15, p. 43.  

[12]       Ibid. pp. 52-53.

[13]       Ibid. pp. 49-50.

[14]       Ibid. pp. 50-51.

[15]       Ibid. p. 54. Note in this passage Henry’s explicit statement of principles (1) and (2) listed below. The significance of this fact is that Sutton is going to attack Henry’s conception precisely on the basis of these two principles, while rejecting Henry’s (3) as nonsensical.

[16]       Ibid. pp. 54-55.

[17] Cf. QORD q. 26. esp. pp. 724-725.

[18]       HQDL 1, q. 9.

[19]       It must be added here that, according to Henry, just the opposite is true in the case of divine essence: “Nulla ergo essentia creaturae, ratione ea qua essentia est, habet rationem suppositi aut actualiter subsistentis. Ita quod nulla earum, quantum est ex se, de se sit singularitas quaedam, nullaque earum, sicut neque effective, sic nec formaliter est suum esse sive sua existentia, sed hoc est privilegium solius essentiae divinae quod ipsa ex se formaliter sit singularitas quaedam et idem in eo sunt essentia et existentia.”, HQDL 2, q. 8, p. 39. Importantly, this principle seems to be shared by Sutton, as part of the “common stock” of principles deriving from Avicenna.

[20]       Again, this principle is also shared by Sutton. Indeed, he presents for it a brief argument in QORD q. 27, p. 749. But then he goes on to use this same principle to prove the opposite conclusion, namely, that it is impossible for angels to be multiplied in the same species, for it is only designated matter that can be the distinctive constituent required for numerical distinctness within the same species, but angels cannot have matter, whence they cannot be thus distinguished. Of course, the question is whether Sutton manages to establish that it is only designated matter that can play this distinctive role..

[21]       For a more detailed analysis of Henry’s conception of intentional distinction in his theory of relation see M. G. Henninger, Relations: medieval theories, 1250-1325, Oxford-New York 1989, 40-57.

[22]       QORD q. 27, pp. 753-754. (ll. 272-290)

[23]       Perhaps, we should note here that despite possible modern worries to the contrary, the sameness of a nature in its several instances is no more mysterious than the sameness of a book in its several copies. Clearly, it would be preposterous for an author to claim to have written thousands of books and articles on the sole basis that they were printed in thousands of copies.

[24] Cf. “…impossibile est intelligere quod sint plures albedines separatae; sed si esset albedo separata ab omni subiecto et recipiente, esset una tantum; ita impossibile est quod sit ipsum esse subsistens nisi unum tantum. Omne igitur quod est post primum ens, cum non sit suum esse, habet esse in aliquo receptum, per quod ipsum esse contrahitur; et sic in quolibet creato aliud est natura rei quae participat esse, et aliud ipsum esse participatum.” S. Thom. Qu. Disp. De Spirit. Creaturis q. 1.; “Deus enim per suam essentiam est ipsum esse subsistens: nec est possibile esse duo huiusmodi, sicut nec possibile foret esse duas ideas homini separatas, aut duas albedines per se substantes. Unde quidquid aliud ab eo est, necesse est quod sit tanquam participans esse, quod non potest esse aequale ei, quod est essentialiter ipsum esse.” S. Thom. Qu. Disp. De Malo, q. 16, a. 3.; “Non enim potest intelligi quod aliqua forma separata sit nisi una unius speciei, sicut si esset albedo separata, non posset esse nisi una tantum; haec enim albedo non differt ab illa nisi per hoc, quod est huius vel illius.” ST1 q. 75,  a. 7.

[25]       Of course, this point immediately gives rise to the difficulty of how existence itself can be regarded as indifferent to existence. But, again, the answer should be clear if we keep in mind that indifference to existence and unity and number pertains to any form or nature only according to its absolute consideration and not in its actual realization. So even though no actual act of existence is indifferent to existence, because it cannot be but an act of existence, yet, if it is a created act, then it can be non-actual when it is not actually created by God, whence existence according to its absolute consideration is indifferent to actuality, and so also to unity and number. Cf. quote at n. 50 below. (QORD q. 26, pp. 731-732.)

[26]       Cf. HQDL 2 q. 8.

[27]       Cf. ST1 q. 4 a. l ad3

[28]       QORD q. 18, pp. 506-507.

[29]       Cf. “… quia esse consequitur formam, multiplicatio ipsius esse est consequens multiplicationem formae et non causans multiplicationem formae.” QORD q. 27, p. 754.

[30]       Cf. ibid. pp. 749-751. Cf. also “Ad septimum dicendum est quod non est simile de quantitate et de esse substantiali, quia quantitas dimensiva ex se ipsa habet distinctionem partium eiusdem rationis propter diversitatem situs, qui est de ratione sua. Et ideo talis quantitas est causa multiplicationis individuorum eiusdem rationis in substantiis materialibus, sicut esse substantiale non habet de se distinctionem partium. Et propter hoc oportet quod non sit causa multiplicationis individuorum in una specie, sed multiplicatur in substantiis materialibus eiusdem speciei ex multiplicatione formae, et forma multiplicatur ex multiplicatione materiae in qua recipitur, materia autem multiplicatur ex multiplicatione quantitatis dimensivae, quantitas vero dimensiva propter diversum situm de se multiplicatur. Et ita tota radix multiplicationis substantiarum individualium est quantitas dimensiva; et quia quantitas dimensiva non est in angelis, ideo necesse est quod ibi non sit multiplicatio angelorum in una specie.” Ibid. pp. 762-763.

[31]       QORD q. 18. p. 504.

[32]       Esp. QORD q. 27, pp. 757-760. Note that in these arguments Sutton cannot assume (1), which is directly contradicted by positing a formal principle of individuation that cannot be indifferent to multiplication, since it is by definition not multipliable.

[33]       Cf. Thomas of Sutton, Quodlibeta, München 1969. Henceforth: QDL. QDL 1 q. 21, QDL 3, qq. 21-22, QDL 4, q. 16; QORD q. 18, QORD q. 27.

[34]       For this point, see esp. QORD q. 27, ad 9-um, and ad 10-um, where he writes: “… animae non possunt causari diversae nisi in diversis corporibus animarum, quia diversitas animarum non est de se intelligibilis in una specie, sed solum ex diversitate corporum. Quod autem non est intelligibile, per nullum agens fieri potest.”  p. 764.

[35]       Giles of Rome,De esse et essentia, Frankfurt/M. Minerva 1968, q. 9, q. 11; cf. Thomas of Sutton, Tract. de esse et essentia, in: W. Seńko, Trzy studia nad spuścizną i poglądami Tomasza Suttona dotyczącymi problemu istoty i istinenia, in: Studia Mediewistyczne, 11(1970), 111-280, esp. c.2, 239.

[36]       HQDL 10 q. 7; HQDL 11 q. 3.

[37]       QORD q. 26,  p. 730. Cf. also “…falsa est imaginatio, qua aliqui imaginantur quod per creationem esse imprimatur essentiae, sicut per generationem forma imprimitur materiae. Sed vera imaginatio est quod tam essentia quam esse producantur per creationem; essentia scilicet determinati generis participans esse ab esse separato, quia alio modo esse multiplicari non potest nisi per diversa participantia. Unde ponere essentiam non differre ab esse, est ponere tantum unum ens quod est esse separatum, ita quod nihil aliud habeat esse.” QDL 3, q. 8, pp. 396-397.

[38]       Cf. text quoted at n. 18.

[39]       TEE c. 2, 239, ll. 6-25.

[40]       My conjectural emendation for the text’s nonsensical “dum ist a luce”. Another possibility would be to read here “cum ista luce producitur”, provided “lux” can be taken to refer not to the lux producens but rather to the lumen participatum.

[41]       TEE  c. 3, 244, ll. 11-30.

[42]       Cf. HQDL 5, q. 2, q. 6; 7, q. 2.

[43]       In this case, the “delimiting” in question concerns just one “dimension” of whiteness, namely, the extent of a surface it covers. But whiteness can be diminished also in respect of such other features as e.g. intensity, or clarity, which would yield other diminutions of the conditions of the applicability of its concept, thus yielding several broader concepts, which would cover not only things that are white with a 100% albedo (the measure of reflectivity in modern physics), but also things that reflect only a lesser percentage of white light, and not equally all wavelengths (which, at a certain degree would yield not something white with a certain tint, but a different color altogether).

[44]       To be sure, one must add here that this absolutely primary concept of being which is applicable only to God is not primary quoad nos, but it certainly is primary secundum se. For more on this epistemological issue see the closing section of G. Klima, Aquinas on One and Many, forthcoming in: Documenti e Studi sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale (Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino).

[45]       For more on this issue, see G. Klima, The Semantic Principles Underlying Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Metaphysics of Being, in: Medieval Philosophy and Theology, 5(1996) 87-141.

[46]       Cf. QDL I, q. 6,  p. 50; and the passages quoted in nn. 22 and 28.

[47]       Cf. “Praeterea: omne, quod participat aliquid, est aliud ab eo, quod participatur. Quod etiam ipsum nomen participationis ostendit. Nam id participatur proprie, quod diminutive in aliquo alio ab eo suscipitur. Si autem dicatur, quod essentia idem est realiter quod esse, impropriissime diceretur, quod essentia participet esse, nihil enim seipsum participat. Sed nihil est, quod ita proprie dicatur, sicut quod essentia participet esse, immo illa creatura participans esse est ita propria et per se, sicut ista essentia divina est suum esse. Nam sicut esse per essentialia proprie convenit Deo, ita esse per participationem per se convenit creaturae. Sicut ergo in Deo una et eadem res est esse et essentia, quia ibi non est participans et participatum, ita <in> creatura, in qua est participatio, alia res est participans a participato; alioquin ratio participationis in creaturis locum non haberet, quod est contra naturam eius.” TEE  c. 3, 248. (ll. 4-16)

[48]       More precisely, assuming that x’s essence is x’s existence, the consequence in question is the following: “x exists with respect to its essence; therefore, x exists without any limitation [i.e., x IS/EXISTS, period]”. In this conception, this consequence has to be regarded as analogous to the following: “x is white with respect to its whiteness; therefore, x is white without qualification [i.e. x is white, period]”. Cf. “Ad quartum dicendum quod omnis creatura est finita simpliciter, inquantum esse eius non est absolutum subsistens, sed limitatur ad naturam aliquam cui advenit. Sed nihil prohibet aliquam creaturam esse secundum quid infinitam. Creaturae autem materiales habent infinitatem ex parte materiae, sed finitatem ex parte formae, quae limitatur per materiam in qua recipitur. Substantiae autem immateriales creatae sunt finitae secundum suum esse, sed infinitae secundum quod eorum formae non sunt receptae in alio. Sicut si diceremus albedinem separatam existentem esse infinitam quantum ad rationem albedinis, quia non contrahitur ad aliquod subiectum; esse tamen eius esset finitum, quia determinatur ad aliquam naturam specialem.” ST1 q. 50, a. 2, ad 4-um.

[49]       QORD q. 26, p. 731.

[50]       QORD q. 26, pp. 731-732.

[51]       QORD q. 19, pp. 532-534. (ll. 180-190, 207-229) Cf.: “propter hoc anima constituta est in confinio substantiarum separatarum quae sunt incorporales et formarum materialium: quae sunt corporales: est enim infima formarum incorruptibilium et suprema formarum corruptibilium: et propter hoc est partim separata a materia, et partim in materia. Secundum intellectum namque et voluntatem separata et incorruptibilis est: et quantum ad hoc pertinet ad genus substantiarum separatarum: sed secundum alias potentias est actus materiae, et secundum illas est corruptibilis: et sic pertinet ad genus formarum materialium quae sunt corruptibiles. Quod patet ex hoc quod per potentias illas, scilicet sensitivam et vegetativam, continet perfectionem quae reperitur in formis brutorum, sed eminentius.” Thomas of Sutton, De Pluralitate Formarum, in: S. Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia, Stuttgard-Bad Cannstatt 1980, c. 1, in fine