The following comprises a very brief sketch of how to begin the science of metaphysics as I understand it thus far, in light of my study under John Nieto. Anything that is true and clear, herein, must be directly credited to his teaching. Any errors or ambiguity are all my own. Please comment if possible and present any questions that might occur to you, as this will help further my understanding and clarity on the matter, and allow me to pose questions that I cannot answer to our teacher.

I will put aside at this point, the first question that is dealt with by Aristotle, the need for a science that is wisdom. The only reason for this, is that I believe that is sufficiently intelligible to my mind and to yours, fellow quaerentes. As interesting as the question is, in itself and to me; and though I am certain to profit from greater inquiry into the question, what immediately is on my mind is considering the subject of metaphysics. There are two principle questions that arise: 1.) How can the proposed subject of metaphyscis, ens, be a genus? 2.) How can it be one? These questions might, in the end be the same question, but at least at this point it seems helpful to consider them distinctly as it will bring clarity to our understanding. This has the added benefit of familiarizing us with something that metaphysics is concerned with, perhaps more than any other science, considering separately things that are one.

I. We are, then, seeking a science of being. Of things that are, it is clear that there are those things that exist per se, and those that things that exist only accidentally (i.e., white man), or secundum quid, (i.e., non-being, or potential being) . The science that we seek will certainly consider all of these kinds of beings, but we are principally concerned with things that exist per se, since such things give rise to the others.
1. The things that we see exist per se are:
1. Substances
2. Accidents
3. Mental Being
4. The Soul (maybe, or in a certain respect)
5. The first mover
2. Each of these things seems to exist in a different way. For now, for clarity (and because I don't understand these matters fully) we will put aside mental being and immaterial being. These are of course important, but are not necessary to consider in order to see that we can consider ens as the subject of our science. (N.B. Settling this question, by no means settles the question as to whether a science of metaphysics is possible. It is merely among the first in a long series of questions that must be answered.)

DIGRESSION: An interesting digression that we will do well to bear in mind. This was pointed out to me by John Nieto: Consider St. Thomas' work De Ente et Essentia. If the distinction in metaphysics is between esse and essentia, then why isn't that the title of St. Thomas's work? The answer: esse can never be considered as a subject. Existence is always in the predicate position in our speech and understanding. I believe that this is a very profound truth, that reveals a great deal about the way we know, and exist. We cannot consider existence as subject, we always must consider somethhing as existing or having existence. ~end digression

II. We are able to see that there is some ens that is apt to exist substantially. This being we understand as what exists through another. This is the definition of substance.
III. There are other entes that are such that they exist in another. Such beings are called accidents.
IV. Therefore he have
1. ens that exists through another.
2. ens that exists in another
1. ens is the subject of our thought and speech and of existence. It is not a predicable.
2. existence is never the subject, but is always a predicable (The same is manifestly true of the the other kinds of beings, i.e. mental and immaterial beings).
V. Therefore, for ens to be a proper genus for our science, it must not be considered as a predicate genus, but as a subject genus.
VI. A subject genus differs from a predicate genus in this way.
1. A subject genus is actualized or determined by something in a different category, or more properly, a subject genus is a whole with respect to another whole.
2. A predicate genus is actualized or determined by something in the same category. It is a whole with respect to its parts.
1. Example from mathematics
1. Figure is a predicate genus. It is actualized by being determined as this kind of figure or that. It is a whole with respect to its parts, namely the various kinds of figures. Thus, a circle and a triangle are two different figures.
2. Surface is a subject genus. It is a whole with respect to all figures. The determination that it has is by another kind of being, namely figure. (Surface belonging properly to the category of quantity, and figure belonging to the category of quality). A circle is not another kind of surface than a triangle. Rather, it is a surface that is supposed under this sort of figure, namely one in which its boundary lies at an equal distance from its' center, etc...
VII. Ens is, therefore a subject genus. Substance and accidents are not different kinds of entes, in the sense that ens is divided into these as parts. Rather,
1. A substance is an ens that is supposed to exist through its accidents.
2. An accident is an ens that is supposed to exist in a substance.
Therefore ens is a genus.
My notes/thoughts on the second question will follow shortly.


A heads up for those interested in critiquing my understanding of evolution.

RIP Dr. Berquist

Today, on this feast of All Souls, Dr. Marc Berquist died peacefully in his home with his family praying the rosary about him. May he now be sharing in God's vision. R.I.P.

...Of course much the same thing is even truer in theology, where unless one makes the beginning of sacred doctrine rightly, then, later on very bad things happen. Philosophy is the handmaiden of theology. One cannot develop the truths that come out of our faith, without a good understanding of the natural world, a good foundation in philosophy. If that foundation is bad, then the theological doctrines will never be rightly learned. That is the reason why we couple Aristotle with St. Thomas the way that we do, because as St. Thomas himself says, Aristotle is ‘The Philosopher.’ To do theology well, therefore, means in practical terms being a disciple of Aristotle." -Dr. Berquist

What I would like to start investigating and understanding is the role of "person" in ethical thought. Need one start at a theological level to argue for the dignity of a person? Is dignity a transcendental? Must one "start" with a Trinitarian notion of person to understand human personhood and dignity? Can one start there (a prior question)?

The source of personalism is the nature of the human person. We have from tradition (at least) two definitions of “person.” Boethius: persona est rationalis naturae individua substantia—a person is an individual substance of a rational nature. Also, the Roman jurists: persona est sui iuris et alteri incommunicabilis—a person is something in his own right and incommunicable (in-exchangeable or un-sharable) with another.

We can see that a human person has innate dignity by looking at these definitions. Now, dignitatis in Latin can mean dignity, but also worth or rank or office. So tied up with dignity is the idea of hierarchy: one person being better or more worthy than another by rank or office—or in the case of different beings, by being what it is.

Human dignity comes from being rational, from being the sort of thing that has a mind and a heart and therefore can know and love God. This is implied in Boethius’ definition. We as human persons are thus higher and more dignified than beings that cannot know and love God, but less dignified (naturally speaking) as beings that can know and love God in a higher way, i.e. the angels. An angelic person has more dignity than any one of us (naturally speaking).

Human dignity also comes from being irreplaceable or unique. We are each unique creations of God—“the loving gaze of God the Father” continually falls on each of us. This uniqueness is implied in the definition of the Roman jurists: sui iuris et alteri incommunicabilis—one & unique.

Draft Excerpts

Check out a draft section at my other page.

So, you're not supposed to write the introduction first. Yeah, right. A twofold purpose is what I can see: 1) help me to focus my thoughts, and 2) help you all focus yours so that I can benefit from such helpful, sharp thoughts.

The title (evidently a record): "Mobiles, Bodies, and the Science of Quantified Motion: Corpus in Aquinas's Exposition of Physics VI.4 and in Early Modern Mathematical Physics"

John of St. Thomas, Cursus Theologicus, q.10, d.9, distinguishes two types of measurement:

EXTRINSECA est, quae mensurat aliquid extra se, et ideo per applicationem, vel continentiam illius dicitur mensura, sicut duratio, et motus coeli mensurat motus inferiores tam quam extrinseca mensura illorum, et ulna mensura pannum, et libra pondus. Unde talis mensura terminat relationem realem sui mensurati. INTRINSECA mensura est illa, quae inest rei mensuratae, et ita non mensurat per applicationem, sed per informationem, unde habet perfectionem mensurae, licet non relationem realem et imperfectionem dependentiae, qua mensuratum dependet a mensura, sicut tempus licet sit mensura extrinseca respectu nostri, intrinsece tamen mensurat ipsum motum coeli, neque enim habet aliud tempus superius, quo mensuretur, et in unoquoque genere perfectissimum est mensura sui, et caeterorum, sui quidem intrinseca, aliorum vero extrinseca.

EXTRINSIC [measurement] is what measures something outside itself, and thus through application or the containment of that which it is said to measure, as duration and the motion of the heaven measures the inferior motions just as their extrinsic measure, and the forearm the measure cloth, and the pound, weight. Whence such a measure determines a real relation of itself [and] of the measured. INTRINSIC measurement is that which is in the measured thing, and thus it does not measure through application, but through information, when it has the perfection of [being] a measure, granting that it does not have a real relation and the imperfection of dependence by which the measured depends upon the measure: just as time, while it is an extrinsic measure with respect to us, it yet measures intrinsically the motion of the heaven itself, for there is not time superior to it by which it would be measured; and in what genus soever the most perfect is measure of itself and of the rest, of itself intrinsically, but of the other extrinsically.

Extrinsic and intrinsic measures thus exclude each other on three counts: relation to another vs. relation to itself, which relation is borne out in a measurement by application or containment (e.g., meter-sticks or place) vs. measurement by forming or informing something (as a body's quantity measures it), and such relations in measuring or making known the quantity of a thing give rise to real or rational relations. An intrinsic measure thus bears the mark of being a perfect measure (requiring no dependence upon another) while an extrinsic measure imports a relationship of dependence of the measured upon the measure.

Some extrinsic measurements, such as the motion of the heavens measuring an inferior motions as to their time, require for their completion as measures a mind to which their 'measuring' is revealed. That is, the past and the future have a real order, but they bear no real relation to each other since they have no real simultaneous existence. These parts of the measurement have a relation "secundum esse" but not a real relation, for a real relation requires that both related things obtain in reality. Thus John of St. Thomas recognizes that: "In ipsa autem perfectione mensurae advertendum est, quod aliquae mensurae sunt, quae in ipsa sunt constitutione, et perfectione requirunt aliquid rationis tamquam conditionem, et complementum." The mind makes time one through enumeration, and makes meter-stick measurements one through a like operation. The measure, however, still bears a real relation to the measured insofar as the basis for the enumeration obtains simultaneously (the motion of the heavens is related causally to the motions of the inferior spheres). The oneness of the units of measurement are what required the enumeration of mind (for the now is not a per se part of time).

Scientia Media

In his preface to Newton's Principia, Cotes igives a syllogistic argument for the attraction of all planetary bodies towards the sun that could be construed as a syllogism in “scientia media” form (the major term is more mathematical, Prop.2 of Principia; and the minor term seems more physical, Kepler’s second law). (From Cohen’s edition, p.387-88, with my [additions]/italics):

“Now, it is reasonable to accept something that can be found by mathematics and proved with the greatest certainty: namely, that:
[M:] all bodies moving in some curved line described in a plane, which by a radius drawn to a point (either at rest or moving in any way) describe areas about that point proportional to the times, are urged by forces that tend toward that same point.
Therefore, since it is agreed among astronomers that
[m:] the primary planets describe areas around the sun proportional to the times, as to the secondary planets around their own primary planets,
[C:] it follows that [etc.] ...  This force can, appropriately, be called centripetal ... From whatever cause it may in the end be imagined to arise."

I understand the last phrase to be Cotes’ recognition that mathematical physics as a scientia media abstracts from considering physical causes as such.

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