Usor:Wmdiem/Glossarium Thomisticum

(Redirectum de Glossarium Thomisticum)

Introductory CommentsRecensere

The following gloss is of words that have distinctive or technical meanings in Thomistic writing. It includes words that he may have shared with or inherited from other scholastic authors. This is intented to give a working understanding of the terms to one unfamiliar to Thomas's thought and Latin, not as an authoritative and complete source. N.B., The appropriate translations of many of these terms are still debated among Thomists. The citations may be read in context at Corpus Thomisticum.


  • actus, -us:
(1) Any act of metaphysical import, whereby a subject entity actualizes some potential inherent in it. This includes the acts of simply being a thing (e.g., being a man) or being a particular way (e.g., being white) if being that way actualizes a potential in the subject. In this sense, actus is the opposite of potentia, and need not imply change but rather tends to be stable.
From this sense, we have actu--actually, in act. Eg., Illud quod potest esse dicitur esse potentia; illud quod iam est, dicitur esse actu.--De principiis naturae, cap.1.
Any predicate that picks out a positive attribute of something names an act. Thus "being blind" is not conceived as an act, but as the negation or privation of the act of having sight.
(2) An act which specifically is the cause of some motion or change.
Of these types of acts Thomas further distinguishes (when speaking of such acts as belonging to humans): actus humanus from actus hominis; the former is a voluntary act, the latter is a physical movement whether willed or not. E.g., He answers the argument,
Praeterea, tunc videtur homo agere propter finem, quando deliberat. Sed multa homo agit absque deliberatione, de quibus etiam quandoque nihil cogitat; sicut cum aliquis movet pedem vel manum aliis intentus, vel fricat barbam. Non:: ergo homo omnia agit propter finem.
by noting,
Ad tertium dicendum quod huiusmodi actiones non sunt proprie humanae, quia non procedunt ex deliberatione rationis, quae est proprium principium humanorum actuum. In the same article he wrote, Illae ergo actiones proprie humanae dicuntur, quae ex voluntate deliberata procedunt. Si quae autem aliae actiones homini conveniant, possunt dici quidem hominis actiones; sed non proprie humanae, cum non sint hominis inquantum est homo.--STh IaIIae, Q1, a1. Cf. ratio(2).
(3) Finally Thomas distinguishes actus primus from actus secundus--actus primus is just having a power or ability to act, while actus secundus is actually using the power.
  • accidens, -ntis: An accident. Depends on a substance (its subject) for its being, and may change or be destroyed without destroying the substance.
per accidens
(1) Accidentally, on account of an accident, in a way that unconnected with theratio, species or essence, often untranslated. E.g.,
. . . dicimus quod hoc est per accidens: medicus aedificat: non enim ex eo quod medicus, sed ex eo quod aedificator, quod concidit medico in uno subiecto.--De principiis naturae, cap.
(2) Opposite of per se; E.g.,
. . . sicut enim in rebus naturalibus id quod est per accidens non constituit speciem, ita etiam nec in rebus moralibus. In quibus id quod est intentum est per se, quod autem sequitur praeter intentionem est quasi per accidens.--STh IIaIIae Q39, a1, corp.
accidere--to be an accident.
  • ens, -ntis: A being, something that is, whether a substance or accident. E.g., distinguishing from esse, Sed essentia dicitur secundum quod per eam et in ea ens habet esse. Sed quia ens absolute et per prius dicitur de substantiis et per posterius et quasi secundum quid de accidentibus, inde est quod essentia proprie et vere est in substantiis, sed in accidentibus est quodammodo et secundum quid.--De ente et essentia, cap.1. -->
  • esse: (The act of) being. Admits of kinds, e.g.,substantial, accidental. E.g.,
Sed duplex est esse: scilicet esse essentiale rei, sive substantiale ut hominem esse, et hoc est esse simpliciter. Est autem aliud esse accidentale, ut hominem esse album, et hoc est esse aliquid.--De principiis naturae, cap.1.
  • essentia, -ntiae: Essence. What the thing is in itself, had by virtue of its substantial form.
  • forma, -ae: Form.
1) In natural philosophy: Opposed to materia. Gives actuality to the potency in matter. May be substantial (which gives a nature to the substance) or accidental.
2) In metaphysics: Opposed to esse, stands in potency to the act of being. Can be substantial (which gives it an essence) or accidental. E.g.,
Sicut autem omne quod est in potentia potest dici materia, ita omne a quo aliquid habet esse, quodcumque esse sit sive substantiale, sive accidentale, potest dici forma; sicut homo cum sit potentia albus, fit actu albus, per albedinem et sperma, cum sit potentia homo, fit actu homo per animam. Et quia forma facit esse in actu, ideo forma dicitur esse actus. Quod autem facit actu esse substantiale, est forma substantialis, et quod facit actu esse accidentale, dicitur forma accidentalis.--De principiis naturae, cap.1.
Per formam enim, quae est actus materiae, materia efficitur ens actu et hoc aliquid. Ibid.
  • genus, -neris: Genus. A remote or general classification, which is always incomplete, and thus contains species. Cf. materia (2), species (1).
  • intendere: To tend towards (an end). Because Aquinas thought all natures act for ends, he uses this verb of both voluntary and involuntary things. E.g.,
Et quia, ut dicit Aristoteles in secundo Metaph., omne quod agit, non agit nisi intendendo aliquid, oportet esse aliud quartum, id scilicet quod intenditur ab operante: et hoc dicitur finis. Et sciendum, quod omne agens tam naturale quam voluntarium intendit finem, non tamen sequitur quod omne agens cognoscat finem, vel deliberet de fine.--De Principiis naturae, cap. 3. Indeed his fifth way of proving God is based on this concept, Videmus enim quod aliqua quae cognitione carent, scilicet corpora naturalia, operantur propter finem, quod apparet ex hoc quod semper aut frequentius eodem modo operantur, ut consequantur id quod est optimum; . . .--STh Ia, Q2, a3, corp. praeter intentionem--outside the intention, unintended, not willed (in itself), C.f. per accidens under accidens.
  • materia, -iae: Matter. (1)What is in potency to some act. Strictly used materia refers to what is in potency to substantial being; E.g., Tam illud quod est in potentia ad esse substantiale, quam illud quod est in potentia ad esse accidentale, potest dici materia,. . .--De principiis naturae, cap.1. prima materia--prime matter, first matter, matter considered as totally formless (it can never exist in this state because being comes through the form, so literal formlessness implies non-being; Moreover little can be said about it because men understand a thing through its forms, so it is spoken of through negation). materia secunda--second matter, some real substance considered, not as a substance in itself but, insofar as it is disposed to become someother thing (to which it stands in potency). (2)Something that somehow stands in need of completion or potency to some further clarification or completion, e.g., the matter of a science; E.g., . . . in eius principio oportet assignare quid sit materia et subiectum scientiae naturalis.--In octo libros physicorum, Lib.1, lect.1. In definition the genus is taken as material while the differentia, which makes it more specific and less general, is formal. Cf. species.
  • motus, -us: Movement, change. motio, -ionis--motion. Change in this sense is very general and can be any change; Change in place is but one form.
  • natura, -ae: Nature, principle of action and rest inherint in a thing, by virtue of its substantial form/essence. E.g., . . . natura autem est principium motus et quietis in eo in quo est; de his igitur quae habent in se principium motus, est scientia naturalis. --Commentaria in octo libros physicorum. lect.1, no.3. Et sic etiam philosophus dicit in V metaphysicae quod omnis substantia est natura. Tamen nomen naturae hoc modo sumptae videtur significare essentiam rei, secundum quod habet ordinem ad propriam operationem rei, cum nulla res propria operatione destituatur.--De ente et essentia, cap.1. Cf., intendere.
  • potentia, -ae: 1)A metaphysical potency, that which can be the case but is not. Cf. actus. 2)A power.
  • quiditas, -tatis: Quidity. Synonym of essentia. E.g., . . . quia illud, per quod res constituitur in proprio genere vel specie, est hoc quod significatur per diffinitionem indicantem quid est res, inde est quod nomen essentiae a philosophis in nomen quiditatis mutatur. --De ente et essentia, cap.1.
  • ratio, -onis:
1) A proper scientific definition or understanding (of a thing). Defines the thing in terms of its essential properties, as opposed to a mere working definition which would define it in terms of typical or apparently unique features. E.g., note the parallel of definitio and ratio, in this passage taken as synonymous,
. . . quaedam vero sunt quae licet esse non possint nisi in materia sensibili, in eorum tamen definitione materia sensibilis non cadit. . . . Quaedam vero sunt quae non dependent a materia nec secundum esse nec secundum rationem;--In octo libros physicorum, Lib.1, lectio 1, no.2. Cf., per se nota.
2)(The faculty or power of) reason, strictly speaking unique to man. E.g.,
Differt autem homo ab aliis irrationalibus creaturis in hoc, quod est suorum actuum dominus. Unde illae solae actiones vocantur proprie humanae, quarum homo est dominus. . . . Est autem homo dominus suorum actuum per rationem et voluntatem, unde et liberum arbitrium esse dicitur facultas voluntatis et rationis.--STh IaIIae, Q1, a1, corp. 3)A reason or accounting.
  • species, -iei:
1) In logic: A proximate classification, a division of a genus defined by adding a differentia to the genus. E.g., Sed diffinitio vel species comprehendit utrumque, scilicet determinatam materiam, quam designat nomen generis, et determinatam formam, quam designat nomen differentiae.--De ente et essentia, cap.1.
2) In epistemology: A likeness, impression.
  • subiectum, -i: Subject, a thing that supports some other thing. A substance is called the subject of its accidents. Similar in meaning to the broad sense of materia.
  • subsistere: To subsist, to exist in one's own right, i.e., in the mode of a substance and (generally) by virtue of a substantial form. subsitantia--subsistance. Cf., substantia.
  • substantia, -ae: A substance, a thing able to exist in its own right without immediate dependence on external created causes.
  • suppositum, -i: A supposit, a referent, a thing (generally a substance) able to have things predicated of it.

Phrases and FormulaeRecensere

  • hoc: Used alone often refers to the fact or principle just discussed, ex hoc patet--from this it is clear.
  • per accidens: Cf. accidens
  • per se: On account of a thing's own essence or ratio; Generally untranslated. Cf. accidens, ratio.
  • per se nota: Self-evident. A propositions whose predicate is at least implicite in its subject. Per se nota admits of degrees based on how complete an understanding of the subject is necessary to see that the predicate is contained in it. Thus while it is known to be true to all who know the meaning of the words that "a thing cannot be and not be at the same time in the same respect" it is per se nota only to some that "three sided closed figure" implies "has interior angles equal to 180 degrees." E.g.: Respondeo dicendum quod contingit aliquid esse per se notum dupliciter, uno modo, secundum se et non quoad nos; alio modo, secundum se et quoad nos. Ex hoc enim aliqua propositio est per se nota, quod praedicatum includitur in ratione subiecti, ut homo est animal, nam animal est de ratione hominis. Si igitur notum sit omnibus de praedicato et de subiecto quid sit, propositio illa erit omnibus per se nota, sicut patet in primis demonstrationum principiis, quorum termini sunt quaedam communia quae nullus ignorat, ut ens et non ens, totum et pars, et similia. Si autem apud aliquos notum non sit de praedicato et subiecto quid sit, propositio quidem quantum in se est, erit per se nota, non tamen apud illos qui praedicatum et subiectum propositionis ignorant.--STh, Ia, Q2, a1, corp.
  • quod: Often placed before a clause to turn the clause into a grammatical noun (similar to putting the verb in the infinitive), E.g., Respondeo dicendum, quod fruitio consistit in optima operatione hominis, cum fruitio sit ultima felicitas hominis.--Super sententiis, Lib.1, Q1, a1, corp.
  • secundum quid: In a qualified sense. Opposed to simpliciter.
  • secundum quod: In the sense that, insofar as.