Venerable bretheren:

Thank you all for the posts that have been given. I truly have learned much about this way and the different parts and concepts necessary for it However, there is something that I have been musing over that has given me some pause as to how to take the argument. It is Thomas' use of the words 'res' and 'aliquid'. Thomas only uses the noun 'res' in the first two sentences of the Fourth Way and afterwards uses the pronoun 'aliquid'.

I am wondering 'res' is meant to signify THING, concretely understood and as objectively existing outside and through itself, in other words substance(s), as more and less according to something immediately apprehended, such as the comparison of a man and a worm or rock. In this case it seems, without much to do, that when asked even the common man would say that the man is better than the worm or the rock because he is a self mover or he is free or he can think, etc. This seems to be a concrete and common human experience and I think that this might be what Thomas is getting at in the first two sentences. Just a plain and simple comparison of higher and lower beings.

After the second sentence he does not use 'res' again. Instead he opts for the indeterminacy of the pronoun 'aliquid'. Futher, I think it fair to say that it is important to note that this word is first used in the same sentence that Thomas gives the first example with respect to heat. For in this example he does not say 'ignis', instead he says 'maxime calido'. At this point i think it important to examine the example. Thomas never once indicates here in what manner the 'maxime calido' is. At this point, all we know is that heat is some effective quality. This 'maxime calido' might be a subsisting qualitative form, heat in the hottest of beings, or just a concept, etc. It is with reference to the maximum of that by which we can say truer, better, and nobler that Thomas uses 'aliquid'. It seems that he has purposely used a word, while not opposed to signifying substance, is indeterminate to such a degree that it in no way indicates the manner of existence of this maximum. It is at this point where the common farmer is now out of his league. Things are or are not for the farmer. But here it is not that simple. The argument does not allow for that kind of determination of the kind of existence of the maximum.

Finally, it seems that the last part of the argument is used to eliminate some of the possibilities of kinds of existence that the maximum that we are talking about have. For it must have the kind of existence that would allow it to cause in THINGS the effect that we are comparing. This means that the maximum, for example, cannot have as its proper existence that kind of existence which concepts or imaginations have.

So it is possible that the last part of the way is to be understood as restrictive, that is restricting certain modes of existence from the maximum. This much is clear, we are not talking about ideas. That is the import of the last sentence. Intelligible existence is ruled out. However, it seems that Thomas is not being attentive in this argument to the kind of existence that might still be possibile at this point. Anyway, these are some of my musings, more will follow. Let me know what you might have to say.



  1. Vincentius said...
    Interesting thoughts. Does St. Thomas' distinction between "res" and "aliquid" in article 1 of De Veritate help at all here?
    Thomas Aquinas the Lesser said...
    what is this? Who runs this blog? Is it someone I know? Give me a clue. When I say "soulface," you say: ?
    ho mathetes said...

    Could you compare your post to the previous discussion about the role of propositions in the 4th way? Are they related? It seems to me you could read your post to either be agreeing or disagreeing with that discussion.


    p.s. TA the lesser: eat it.
    Natural_Inquirer said...
    I am agreeing with the previous post. It seems that the truth that must be understood in the article is that which has form and existence as its principle.

    For, it seems that we are considering the forms in sensible things. Thus it seems, an easy example would be when, that different individuals of the same kinds, be they substances or accidents, can be called truer the closer the existing composite adheres to the form, be it substantial, accidental, or some other form. Thus we can speak of truer red, for example. Or we might say that fit man is more truly a man than an unhealthy or deformed man.

    With respect to esse, it seems that the gradation would be measured based on the independence of the kind of esse (that is kind of opaque i know). But the more through itself the esse of some composite is, like was said above, the more proximate it is to esse. Therefore, in this way it can be said that these composites are truer.

    Finally, what was said above was not in any way meant to exclude any of the other transcendentals. The approximation of each to either form or esse seems to be the basis for saying good, noble, true, one, beautiful, and things of this kind.

    And this is why, I wonder, that Thomas moves to aliquid. Given the diversity of composites that are necessarily being compared, both alike in kind and not, substances and accidents, and whatever else, it is necessary not to cut off anything in order for the argument to be universal for gradation. If the argument were to cut something off, then, unless there was an exhaustive argument showing that these were the only gradations that were, the argument could not be universal.

    Further, it seems that the universality of the argument concludes with one cause for all the gradations. It would at least become a question that would require addressing if the argument proved a cause for each gradation.

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