Jacques Maritain Center: Thomistic Institute

The Importance of Substance

Lawrence Dewan, O.P.

What separates us irreparably from [modern science] is the Aristotelian (and common sense) notion of Substantial Form ... Descartes rid nature of it. They understand nothing anymore since they forgot Aristotle's great saying that "there is no part of an animal which is purely material or purely immaterial". It is not the word "philosophy", it is the word "nature" which separates us from our contemporaries. Since I do not have any hope of convincing them of the truth (which yet is evident) of hylomorphism, I do not believe it is possible to propose our hypothesis to them as scientifically valid. [Étienne Gilson, Sept. 8, 1971, in a letter to Jacques Maritain](1)


Our reason for speaking about science, philosophy, and theology, here at this Summer Institute, is surely to provide ourselves with as high quality access to the being of things as is possible. All three, science, philosophy, and theology, aim to say something about reality, and the clearer the task assigned to each, the better off we are.

Since this is a Thomistic Institute, I need not apologize in taking as my guide Thomas Aquinas.(2) Nevertheless, I will be looking to him as a guide in philosophy, as distinct from theology. What I hope to do is highlight the principles of metaphysics, as they come under a cloud from the very prominence of present-day science. In fact, my concern is with features of science which invite the scientist to take himself for the metaphysician, sometimes unbeknownst to himself.

Since science is vast, I will focus mostly on a discussion connected with evolution. The shape which such discussions take can raise doubts about the being of things.

I say, "about the being of things", using the word "being" in order to be as general as possible. In my title, I used the word "substance". It is a fact that the vocabulary for the discussion of being has been difficult and complicated from the start. The one Greek word, "ousia", has had to be translated by many Latin forms, giving us such English words as "essence" and "substance", accompanied by such outriders as "quiddity", "form", and "nature". When I put "substance" into my title, I was really thinking of "ousia". I want to talk about things as having "essences" (the target of universal definitions) and as being "substances" (particulars instantiating such essences).


Our knowledge of the world of corporeal things takes various forms. St. Thomas distinguished three possible approaches, i.e. physical, mathematical, and metaphysical.(3) The former two are specialized, focusing on particular aspects of the reality which confronts us. Neither considers the being of things, as such. As Thomas teaches, only metaphysics considers even this or that particular thing from the viewpoint of being.(4) When we come upon a physicist or a mathematician (or a combination of both) making entirely universal claims, we can be sure that, in fact, that scientist (knowingly or unknowingly) has taken on the task of the metaphysician.(5)

Of course, nothing prevents one person from performing diverse tasks. What is desirable is that one do whatever one does with full awareness of the requirements of the undertaking. We have a history of thought wherein we see that metaphysics was at first practiced by people under the spell of physics or mathematics. It took centuries of philosophical experience to circumscribe the endeavour of the particularizing sciences, thus liberating metaphysics from certain erroneous judgments.(6)

That history of thought, and of metaphysics in particular, is sketched in the first book of the Metaphysics of Aristotle. In undertaking to present metaphysics, Aristotle sees himself with many predecessors, even though they represent the infancy of the science. (Let's call metaphysics a "science".) For example, when he proposes a science of that which is, considered precisely as that which is, his argument is that it was the causes and principles of that which is, as such, that the earlier cosmologists were seeking. It is the precise target of their quest that he puts forward as his model.(7)

Yet these budding metaphysicians, the early natural philosophers, had to advance slowly, from discovery to discovery, as regards the possibilities of causal explanation. True, Aristotle sees something of a causality along the lines of what he calls "matter" in such a thinker as Thales. Still, think of the erroneous metaphysical judgment, common to all the early thinkers, Thales included, that nothing comes to be or ceases to be.(8)

Aristotle, like Plato before him,(9) rejoices in the coming of Anaxagoras, with his presentation of a cause which is both source of movement and source of goodness and beauty in things, viz a cosmic intelligence. There is already a suggestion that what has the nature of the good must be a cause. Yet we do not have final causality here, the causality of the object of appetite, but merely a good agent.(10)

With Socrates and Plato we do have definition and the causality of form in a preliminary way. Still, Aristotle tells us that none of his predecessors really spoke of the causes as they deserve to be spoken of. And, in particular, the physical philosophers err in not seeing the causal role of substance and essence.(11)

It is with Aristotle that we have physics assigned a particular task, leaving it to metaphysics to discuss causality as such,(12) and all the things that pertain to being as such.(13)

But why rehearse these famous moments in the history of the human mind? The reason is that we must not allow ourselves to view this history as achieved once and for all. There is another aspect of the human situation which is better described by Plato in the Sophist. I refer to the passage about the battle like that between the gods and the giants.(14) This is a battle about what it is to "be", a battle which is "always" going on.(15) On the one side are those who identify "being" with "being a body" or "being sensible"; on the other side are those who identify "being" with the invisible, the intelligible, the incorporeal, the immobile, i.e. certain forms which are ever the same. Plato says that we need a doctrine of being which somehow can include both.(16)

My point, then, at the moment is that the Presocratics are always with us. We do not have to look far to find positions taken which resemble those reported by Plato and Aristotle. We need to rehearse the history because rehearsing the history may serve to awaken contemporary Presocratics from their dogmatic slumber.

When I speak of "contemporary Presocratics", I think of someone as distinguished in physics as Stephen Weinberg.(17) Weinberg is an elementary particle physicist, a Nobelist, and in a recent book he presents the idea of a final or ultimate physical theory, together with speculation on the likelihood of arriving at it.

He certainly does not present himself as a philosopher, and, indeed, comments on how little philosophy has to do with genuine scientific work. He stresses that his own interest is in physics. However, much that he says in his book is, I would say, the proper business of the metaphysician. He is attempting to put on display for as wide a readership as possible the nature of physical science. He seeks to show it as moving towards greater and greater unity of vision. He wishes to communicate something of the intrinsically interesting character he finds in such vision. In this attempt, he is obliged to propose certain conceptions of the explanation of things, what it is to answer the question "why?". He also must face up to a certain human dissatisfaction with the sort of explanation he thinks is available, and to persuade the reader that such dissatisfaction is unreasonable.

After dealing with the issues of complexity and historical accident as they affect the nature of scientific explanation, Weinberg moves to the problem of "emergence". He says:

... As we look at nature at levels of greater and greater complexity, we see phenomena emerging that have no counterpart at the simpler levels, least of all at the level of the elementary particles. For instance, there is nothing like intelligence on the level of individual living cells, and nothing like life on the level of atoms and molecules. The idea of emergence was well captured by the physicist Philip Anderson in the title of a 1972 article: "More is Different." The emergence of new phenomena at high levels of complexity is most obvious in biology and the behavioral sciences, but it is important to recognize that such emergence does not represent something special about life or human affairs; it also happens within physics itself. (39)(18)

Here, the point is still that such a phenomenon does not entail the rejection of the explanatory power of the physical laws Weinberg has in mind. He presents first the case of thermodynamics, as a domain within physics itself:

... even though thermodynamics has been explained in terms of particles and forces, it continues to deal with emergent concepts like temperature and entropy that lose all meaning on the level of individual particles. (41)

Coming to biology, he continues to maintain the fundamental role of the standard model of elementary particles, but he allows that the scientists in the disciplines that speak in terms of the emergent phenomena are asking questions peculiar to themselves:

... scientists use languages that are special to their own fields... [I]t is ... a reflection of the sort of question we want to ask about these phenomena. Even if we had an enormous computer that could follow the history of every elementary particle in a tidal flow or a fruit fly, this mountain of computer printout would not be of much use to someone who wanted to know whether the water was turbulent or the fly was alive. (43)

Weinberg merely insists that all the things such scientists talk about "work the way they do because of the underlying quantum mechanics of electrons, protons, and neutrons." (44) He says (speaking of chemists, but by implication of all such scientists):

... I see no reason why chemists should stop speaking of such things as long as they find it useful or interesting. (43)

He clearly thinks that his objects of interest are more "fundamental", but obviously the word "fundamental" is as "slippery" as the word "why".

He brings this discussion of emergence to a climax with the case of "consciousness", by which he means specifically human consciousness. He admits he finds this issue "terribly difficult", but envisages coming to an understanding of "objective correlatives to consciousness" in terms of physics. It "may not be an explanation of consciousness, but it will be pretty close". (45)

What I find about this discussion of emergence is that it constitutes a move from potency to act, from material preparations to a new form or actuality. The reason these other scientists have these proper objects of interest is that the objects are interesting just in themselves. In the line of final causality, they give meaning to the existence of the electrons, protons, and neutrons.

What he himself is talking about sounds like something in the line of Aristotle's material cause. He says:

... Indeed, elementary particles are not in themselves very interesting, not at any rate in the way that people are interesting. Aside from their momentum and spin, every electron in the universe is just like every other electron - if you have seen one electron, you have seen them all. But this very simplicity suggests that electrons, unlike people, are not made up of numbers of more fundamental constituents, but are themselves something close to the fundamental constituents of everything else. It is because elementary particles are so boring that they are interesting; their simplicity suggests that the study of elementary particles will bring us closer to a fundamental study of nature. (58)

The simplicity Weinberg is speaking of seems to be that of fundamental constituents in the potential sense, items that are "ready to be anything". In themselves, they offer little distinctive character to the observing mind.(19)

I would say that we should go back and consider the idea of emergence: "more is different". This "more" is obviously not the material "more", i.e. merely juxtaposing identical items. As Weinberg says: see one electron, you have seen them all. So taken, more is not different. No, the "more" in question in emergence is the formal "more". Add a difference and you have a new kind of thing. In this line, Aristotle said that "the forms of things are like numbers": just as the addition of a unit gives a new number, so the addition of a difference gives a new species.(20) This is most obviously true at the level of life, but it seems to have application, too, in fundamental physics; as Weinberg said, there is a sort of "emergence" there.

Now it is just this variety which many of us would like to understand, and the primary notion Weinberg provides is "accident". Obviously, from the viewpoint of fundamental particle physics, there is nothing else to say. However, there is good reason to think that these unities, the tree, the spider, the dog, the human being, also have the status of "universals", even if their appearance here or there in physical reality has the authentically accidental character Weinberg speaks of. And if so, then they too can serve as principles for a "reductionist" program, in which what Weinberg sees as fundamental will appear as "instrumental".(21)

What should engage our wonder? Why does Weinberg himself call certain questions, particularly that about "an interested God" "our deepest questions"?(22) If the object of intellect is universal being, then the more a thing has the aspect of being, the more fittingly it elicits wonder. Weinberg is right in claiming that it is interesting to trace things back to their first principles. Where he is weak is in the narrowness of his conception of principles.

Weinberg tells us:

... we think that by studying quarks and electrons we will learn something about the principles that govern everything. (61, his italics)

He italicized "principles" but I would stress his "govern" and "everything". He wants to talk about all things, and in that he is a budding metaphysician. He uses what he might call a "slippery" word, viz "govern". It certainly is said in many ways, and obviously is not meant by him to express conscious purpose.

I come back to my main point. Weinberg seems to me to be at a Presocratic stage of metaphysics.

Weinberg is an elementary particle physicist, but one interested in "final theories" and "deepest questions". Another scientist with philosophical interests is the biologist, Michel Delsol. A few years ago, an issue of Laval théologique et philosophique was dedicated to discussions of the synthetic theory of evolution.(23) Delsol was particularly prominent in the presentation.(24) He contended that the synthetic theory is quite adequate to explain evolution, including the passage from non-life to life. He expressly featured the issue of the development of the human eye, so well-known as a Darwinian problem.

Delsol held that the synthetic theory is the entirely satisfactory scientific explanation of life as we know it. Those who say otherwise simply do not have the expertise. However, he also contended that there is another whole dimension to human questioning, the metaphysical.

As making room for the metaphysician, beyond the biologist, Delsol can hardly be described as "Presocratic". However, his confidence in the explanatory power of the synthetic theory, as regards the passage from non-life to life, puts him at odds with another scientist I wish at least to mention, one who has made something of a splash this year, the biochemist Michael Behe. In his recent book, Darwin's Black Box,(25) subtitled "The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution", he argues that while evolution need not be rejected altogether, it cannot account for the origin of the cell in living things. Behe presents the cell as what he calls "an irreducibly complex system", and holds that such a system cannot come to be one step at a time. Since the evolutionary explanation requires one step at a time, it cannot be the answer to the question: "whence comes life?" Behe holds that the obvious answer to that question is mind.(26) He does not consider this answer as one outside the bounds of science, since it is the only answer to an altogether scientific question.

Behe begins his book by explaining what he means by "evolution". He says:

In its full-throated biological sense ... evolution means a process whereby life arose from non-living matter and subsequently developed entirely by natural means. That is the sense in which Darwin used the word, and the meaning that it holds in the scientific community. And that is the sense in which I use the word evolution throughout this book.(27)

He aims to present the progress made by biochemistry since the mid-1950s. His question is whether the theory of evolution has been made unacceptable by this progress (p. 3). He says:

For more than a century most scientists have thought that virtually all of life, or at least all of its most interesting features, resulted from natural selection working on random variation. [p. 4]

Behe makes it clear that he does not doubt that the universe is billions of years old, and he finds "the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing..." (p. 5).

As I said, Behe does not altogether reject evolution. Once even one cell is given, evolution could be the answer to much development. He says:

Although Darwin's mechanism - natural selection working on variation - might explain many things, I do not believe it explains molecular life. I also do [p. 6] not think it surprising that the new science of the very small might change the way we view the less small. [pp. 5-6]

He regails us with chapter after chapter of information on the complexity and functionality of living cells. He also mentions various candidates for explaining the origin of this complexity. The first candidate is, of course, Neo-Darwinism (p. 24). At the beginning of his chapter entitled "Intelligent Design" (ch. 9, pp. 187-208), he has made his case against Darwinism as an answer to the question of the origin of "complex biochemical systems". He notes a few attempts to provide different answers, which he also finds unsatisfactory.

Then Behe comes to his own solution, intelligent design. He says:

... To a person who does not feel obliged to restrict his search to unintelligent causes, the straightfoward conclusion is that many biochemical systems were designed. They were designed not by the laws of nature, not by chance and necessity; rather, they were planned. The designer knew what the systems would look like when they were completed, then took steps to bring the systems about. Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent activity. [p. 193](28)

He immediately stresses that this is not some special religious view:

The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself - not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biological systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. [193]

It is at this point that he sets out the look of designed things, and then calls attention to the fact of our concluding that a designer is at work.

Notice that Behe says:

There is no magic point of irreducible complexity at which Darwinism is logically impossible. But the hurdles for gradualism become higher and higher as structures are more complex, more interdependent. [203]

Behe shows that intelligent design need not be the only explanation for the way things are. It may be one of the explanations, together with evolution over centuries, etc. He is also very careful to say that it can only be invoked when the evidence is right.

He then makes a very interesting move. He presents intelligent design as a new scientific response to certain definite givens. He says:

The discovery of design expands the number of factors that must be considered by science when trying to explain life... Unlike Darwinian evolution, the theory of intelligent design is new to modern science, so there are a host of questions that need to be answered and much work lies ahead. For those who work at the molecular level, the challenge will be to rigorously determine which systems were designed and which might have arisen by other mechanisms. [230]


... Since the simplest possible design scenario posits a single cell - formed billions of years ago - that already contained all information to produce descendent organisms, other studies could test this scenario by attempting to calulate how much DNA would be required to code the information (keeping in mind that much of the information might be implicit)... [231](29)

Behe sees the introduction of intelligent design as a theory into science as "a useful tool for the advancement of science in an area that has been moribund for decades." [231]

Thus, he is proposing that this is the only acceptable scientific answer to a certain problem. I underline "scientific" because, even in the blurb on the dustjacket of the book, Robert Shapiro is quoted as saying that "Behe selects an answer that falls outside of science...". Well, that is not how Behe describes what he is doing, anyway.(30)

Weinberg I call a "Presocratic". Delsol and Behe differ as to the origin of life. Behe is proposing what he regards as the only available scientific explanation. Is he reliving the experience of Anaxagoras with infinitely better observational opportunities? Delsol thinks that Neo-Darwinism can account for life. He wrote before Behe, but one may be forgiven for thinking he might reject the Behe approach.

Delsol's reasons for thinking there is room for a "metaphysical" discussion of the same reality seems very largely to depend on his not being ready to account for the human mind other than as the product of a mind. In this connection, he speaks of "the logic of things", but that, healthy as it is, needs spelling out.

Both Delsol and Behe are impressed by the possibilities they see as provided from the outset in the life of the cell, or in even more elementary things. I would say they would be well completed by recourse to Charles De Koninck's views on the "Cosmos" and on the "indetermination" of nature.(31)

However, DeKoninck's argument for the causality of a separate substance, a purely spiritual agent, takes its start from the analysis of movement in terms of act and potency. That is an ontological analysis, one that finds its roots in an approach to reality from the viewpoint of being. So also, the Gilsonian call for hylomorphism, the conception of things as composites of substantial form and prime matter, itself is an approach to change in the light of the notion of substance. Thus, the primary point I wish to insist on today is the importance of substance and our grasp of things from the viewpoint of substance.


Reality consists primarily of beings, and indeed, of substances.(32) There are many substances, differing from one another in kind, and differing from one another numerically within one kind. The intellectual grasp of these substances in their diversity and multiplicity is the starting-point of metaphysics.(33) Substances are not all that there is. There are all the things-which-happen-to-substance or things-that-are-found-in-substances - there are "accidents" and movements and so on.(34) However, all these others have being only in dependence upon substances. If other beings do not "flow" from the substance in which they have being, then they "flow" from some other substance which is thus "influencing" the substance in which they are found. All the things that are depend for their existence on substances.(35)

What sort of thing is substance? What are some of the characteristics by which we recognize it, discern it, and keep from confusing it with other things? It is difficult to present because it is so well known and it is on it as basis that questions of "recognition" (even, "how will I recognize substance?") are posed, understood, and answered. To ask for "identifying marks" is to know already what "identity" is. Now, identity is a notion which expresses unity, and not mere unity as to quantity (the "same" size), as "equality" does, or mere unity as to quality, as "similarity" does (two white things look "the same"), but unity in substance (things are truly "identical", unqualifiedly "the same", when they are one substance). We see how we depend on substance to make sense, and employ its notion in various watered-down ways to talk about everything else.(36)

Substance, along with "a being", belongs to the domain of what all naturally know. Metaphysical reflection can only serve to render that knowledge less subject to impediments, freer from the influence of our various lesser habitual cognitive stances. Among these, physics, because of its proximity to metaphysics (physics is "second philosophy", relative to metaphysics being "first"),(37) is very likely to cause confusion. Although and even because physics is developed (by Aristotle) in accordance with and under the rule of substance, so that its principles are the matter and the form in the order of substance, physics can act as a smokescreen between the real and metaphysical reflection.

Thus, it is in physics that the doctrine of matter and form as parts of substance is first presented (first, speaking of pedagogical order).(38) However, our vision of substance, in physics, remains tied to the problems of mutual influence, through action and passion, proper to the physical interest. That is why, for example, in the ancient doctrine of the elementary substances, fire and water were seen as contraries, one to the other, a view ultimately requiring correction (or interpretation) by the metaphysician - since a substance, as such, has no contrary. A substance, as such, simply is, absolutely. We have to purge our vision of substance of influences coming from the "mobility" setting.(39)

Approaches to being and substance always oblige us to talk about something at least conceptually slightly different. To talk about "indivisibility" is to shift the discussion at least into the domain of unity. The beings that we know most readily are composites, and we easily see that it is one and the same thing to preserve one's being and to preserve one's unity. Remember the Biblical incident of Solomon and the two women both claiming the one baby. The real mother refuses to take half a baby. Half a baby is no baby at all.(40)

Many issues requiring insistance on the indivisible character of substance could be mentioned. There is need for a theory of elements and how they persist in the resultant substance.(41) There is need for a theory of parts and how they unite in a substantial whole.(42) There is need for a doctrine of substantial identity throughout a lifetime of metabolism.(43) There is need for a discussion of the substantiality of cadavres.(44)

One of the reflective occasions provided by St. Thomas which seems to me very helpful for fixing our attention on substance and its primacy occurs in the De potentia discussions of God's conservational causality. Thomas's doctrine is that creatures would not remain in being were it not for God's conservational causality. The objectors see other efficient causes as simply establishing things in being in such a way that they no longer need the efficient cause: the housebuilder builds a house which has no need of him later; why not envisage God's role that way?(45) The objector I am especially interested in is rejecting a distinction employed by Thomas between a "cause of coming to be" and a "cause of being". This is a distinction exemplified by the difference between the housebuilder (who causes the coming to be of the house, but not its constantly remaining in being) and the natures of cement, stones, and wood, which are receptive of and conservative of composition and order, the form of the house (thus the being of the house depends on those natures).(46)

The idea (and it is indeed Thomas's) would be to explain the need for God as conserver by claiming that the proximate causes of things, the lower agents, are merely causes of coming to be, not causes of being. That is why one can take them away and still have the effect. However, God is a cause of being, and so must "stay around" and conserve things even once they have been produced.

The objector says that using this distinction, in such a way as to make lower agents mere causes of coming to be, puts one in the camp of Plato and Avicenna, and against Aristotle. Aristotle taught that it is forms in matter which cause forms in matter. Thus, since something, inasmuch as it is cause of form, is cause of being, to say that the lower causes (corporeal causes) do not cause being but only coming to be, is to say that they do not cause form. Hence, one is holding that the forms in matter must come from separate forms (the Platonic position) or that they come from the "giver of forms" (the Avicennian position).(47)

Thomas replies that since corporeal agents can act only by producing changes, and since nothing is changed except by reason of matter, the causality of corporeal agents can extend only to those things which are in some way in matter. The Platonists and Avicenna did not posit that forms are educed from the potency of matter, and so they were forced to say that natural agents merely dispose matter: the introduction of forms was from an incorporeal principle. If we say (as Thomas does say) with Aristotle, that substantial forms are educed from the potency of matter, then natural agents will not be merely the causes of the dispositions of matter, but even the causes of the substantial forms. However, Thomas qualifies this as follows:

... but just so far and no farther, viz that the forms are educed from potency into act. Consequently, the natural agents are principles of being as regards beginning to be [essendi principia quantum ad inchoationem ad esse], and not as regards being, absolutely [et non quantum ad ipsum esse absolute].(48)

Obviously, Thomas's distinction between "cause of becoming" and "cause of being" is not the same as that of Avicenna. However, it is a distinction which must be maintained because, in our very consideration of mobile substances, we see that substantial being, as such, lies beyond the order of motion and change. As Thomas says in the body of the same article:

... Since the being of form in matter [esse formae in materia], speaking of this just in itself, implies no movement or change, except, if one will, per accidens, and since no body brings to actuality anything except "the moved" ... therefore it is necessary that the principle on which form as such depends be some incorporeal principle.(49)(50)

The metaphysical vision grasps the integrity of the whole, the indivisible, the "being of form in matter". The importance of totality(51) and indivisibility(52) for the grasp of substance needs stressing.

Notice that while we are dealing with the very same matter and form which is talked about in (Aristotelian) physics, they are now seen as ingredients and principles of substance, rather than as principles of movement. We grasp substance first, and develop the substantial but subordinate notions of "form" and "matter" in order to respect the substantiality of the movable and changeable thing.(53)

The metaphysician directs our attention to substances, as lying beyond generation and corruption. Substance is not the terminus of generation, except per accidens. It is rather what simply is (even though it has been generated). Form, the principle of substantial being, is recognized as form, in part, because it is the unity, through time, in spite of changes in things, of something recognizable. And by "being" [Latin esse] we mean the actuality of a substance, the remaining one in the midst of change. When generation and corruption reveal the ontological status of a substance as "a possible with respect to being and not being" (to use the language of Thomas's "Third Way"),(54) and so as caused, our only recourse, in order to explain why there is anything at all, is to admit there is a higher kind of substance, a necessary being. (And inasmuch as that too can be found in a caused instance, we are eventually led to uncaused necessary substance.)

The metaphysical habituation of the mind, the relentless return to substance and that-which-is as principles of judgment of all experience, requires long practice. Physics, on the one hand, is an invitation and disposition towards the metaphysical, but it is also a source of possible "forgetfulness of being", as it already was for Thales.(55)

To repeat, both the Aristotelian physicist and the metaphysician are interested in the analysis of natural changeable substances into form and matter. The physicist locates in matter and form the principles of the movements or changes (and rests) found in things. The metaphysician, on the other hand, keeps his eye fixed on substance as a primary unit or "indivisible". He then sizes up the "ingredients" or components of composite substance, from the viewpoint of being. It is the composite which properly has being (and so it is what we mean primarily by "a being".(56) As such, it is called "the subsisting thing". The matter, just in its own nature, is a being, potentially or is a being in potency. Form is that by virtue of which the matter has definiteness and being. It is the composite which is.(57)

We must dwell on the (intellectual) vision we can have of the existing substance, if we are to come to a truly philosophical understanding of these questions. I imagine the existing substance by imagining a bear coming at me in the forest. It is the "one", independent of me, which I encounter in the bear. It is not just the bear's movements, but the unity of source of those movements. It is not even the bear's being source of movement which I wish to point out, though from the strictly practical point of view, i.e. my own safety, that is what counts; also, that is what interests the physicist. But for the metaphysician, it is the ONE(58) which is at the source. I might kill the bear, but what I am pointing to is just what is there until I kill it.

We have a strong tendency to reduce things to a mechanical character. We have a tendency towards a particle theory, i.e. to think of each distinctive being as made up of "a lot of little beings (substances)". The bear, one might say, is an assemblage of "molecules" or some other sort of small item. "Mr. Smith is a bundle of events."(59) This kind of picture is a formula for permanently setting aside the being of things, a technique for evading "substance".

If we are to have a grasp of substance, we must allow the unity of substance to dominate the multiplicity of parts. We can see something of this in Thomas Aquinas's discussion of the human soul, in which he is teaching that the soul is the substantial form of the body. He is asked whether the soul is in every part of the body. What he says applies, not merely to the human soul, but to any and every substantial form relative to the body in which it is:

... if the soul were united to the body merely as a source of movement, then one could say that it was not in every part of the body, but only in one part, by means of which it moved the others. But because the soul is united to the body as its form, it is necessary that it be in the whole of the body and in every part. For it is not an accidental form of the body, but rather the substantial form.

Now, the substantial form is not merely the perfection of the whole, but of every part whatsoever. For since the whole is constituted out of the parts, a form of the whole which does not give being [esse] to each of the parts is [merely the sort of] form which is composition and order, as for example the form of a house: and such a form is an accidental form.(60) But the soul is a substantial form; hence, it is necessary that it be the form and the "act", not merely of the whole, but of every part. Thus, if the soul withdraws, just as the thing is no longer called "an animal" or "a human being", save equivocally, the way one says such things of a pictured animal or of the statue of an animal, so also this is the case as regards a hand or an eye, or flesh and bone...(61)

In fact, this is only the first moment in Thomas's reflection on soul and substantial form. Not only is the soul in every part of the body, but the whole soul is in every part. We should not leave this aside, not only because it helps liberate us from mere imagination, but because Thomas provides some helpful distinctions about totality. He says;

And that the whole [soul] is in every part [of the body] can be considered from this, viz that since a whole is what is divided into parts, in accordance with three [sorts of] division, there is threefold totality.

For there is a whole which is divided into quantitative parts, such as the whole line or the whole body.

And there is also a whole which is divided into the parts of the notion and of the essence: as the defined [item] is analysed into the parts of the definition, and the composite [is analysed] into the matter and the form.

But the third whole is the potential [whole], which is divided into the parts of the power [virtutis].(62)

Now, these distinctions are applied:

Now, the first mode of totality does not pertain to forms, save perhaps by association [per accidens]; and [even then] only to those forms which have an indifferent relation to the quantitative whole and to its parts. For example, whiteness, as regards its own [proper] character, stands equally as regards being in the whole surface or being in any part of the surface; and so, if the surface is divided, the whiteness is divided by association. However, the [sort of] form that requires diversity in the [quantitative] parts, such as is soul, and especially soul [as found] in perfect animals, does not stands equally as regards the [quantitative] whole and the parts; hence, it is not divided by association, i.e. through the division of the quantity. Thus, therefore, quantitative totality cannot be attributed to soul, either on its own account or by association.

But the second [sort of] totality, which is seen in function of perfection of notion and essence, belongs to forms properly and on their own account [per se].

And similarly, the totality of power [belongs to form as such], because form is the principle of operation.(63)

The diversity of totalities is now illustrated by the consideration of the form which is whiteness. Thomas says:

If, therefore, one inquires about whiteness, whether it is as a whole in the whole surface and in its every part, one must distinguish. Because if mention is made of quantitative totality, which whiteness has by association, then the whole [of the whiteness] is not in every part of the surface. And the same thing is to be said regarding totality of power: for the whiteness which is in the whole surface can affect sight more than [can] the whiteness which is in some part [of the surface]. But if mention is made of the totality of the species and the essence, then the whole whiteness is in every part of the surface.(64)

We see how these distinctions help us to "zero in" on the nature and role of form precisely as such.

Lastly, we have the application to the soul. We continue:

But because the soul does not have quantitative totality, either on its own account or by association, as has been said, it suffices to say that the whole soul is in every part of the body as regards totality of perfection and essence; but not according to totality of power. Because it is not in every part of the body in function of every [one of] its powers; rather, in function of sight, it is in the eye, in function of hearing, in the ear, etc.

Nevertheless, it is to be noted that, because the soul requires diversity of parts, it does not stand related to the whole [body] and to [its] parts in the same way; rather, [it stands related] to the whole primarily and of itself, as to its proper and proportionate perfectible [item]; whereas [it stands related] to the parts secondarily, inasmuch as the parts have an order towards the whole.(65)

I know of no substitute for this sort of analysis, if one is truly to grasp the sort of being which the substantial form, and particularly the souls of perfect animals, have. Thomas clearly does not want to say that substantial form and even soul in some less complex animals does not have the sort of relation to quantity which he sees in whiteness. However, someone like Behe is saying that life as such requires a complexity, i.e. a diversity of parts. Thomas, I think, would draw the conclusion that soul as such, i.e. substantial form in living things, does not have quantitative totality even by association. However, the general lesson is that we should have our eye on the sort of "perfection", "totality", "being all there" which pertains to form as such, if we are to see things, animate or inanimate, from the viewpoint of substance.

Thus, if we are to see well what is meant by "substance", we must keep it at a distance from our images of "sensible things". I would insist very much on the need to base all philosophizing on "sensible, natural things": metaphysics must begin with that-which-is [Latin: ens], as found in sensible things. Still, it must be said that substantial natures and substantial being are not objects of sense, are not "sensible".(66) Or rather, they are only "sensible" if this word is used in a wide sense, to include what immediately occurs to the intelligence on the basis of experience of sensible things in sense cognition. We see and hear that-which-is-colored and that-which-is-sounding, a particular sensible unity. But the substance "dawns on" the mind, the intellect, because of such sensible experience.

The substance, as such, is not even really imaginable. Rather, we "get the point" of experience. Here is a passage from Thomas Aquinas on the meaning of the word "intellect", which, I would say, could be taken as a guide in these matters:

... The word "intellect" suggests a deeply penetrating knowledge: the Latin word "intelligere" suggests "reading the interiors". And this is quite clear to anyone considering the difference between intellect and sense: for sense-knowledge has to do with exterior sensible qualities; whereas intellective knowledge penetrates right to the essence of the thing: for the object of the intellect is what the thing is... Now, there are many sorts of thing which are "hidden inside" [as it were], regarding which it is necessary that human knowledge "penetrate to the interior", so to speak. Thus, "within" the accidents lies hidden the substantial nature of the thing; "within" words lie hidden the meanings of words; "within" likenesses and symbols lies hidden the symbolized truth; and effects lie hidden in causes, and vice versa. Hence, with respect to all these cases, one can speak of "intellect".(67)

I am saying these things because I want to encourage you to form an idea of the problem of penetrating the sensible real with genuine metaphysical perspicacity. We find such items as substantial form difficult to grasp. Still worse is matter. Some of the things said about these items are strange. But part of the problem is that we have not seen, at the outset, how strange is sensible substance itself. It is a target of the mind, the mind "reading the interior" of sensible phenomena.

It is the metaphysician's business to "double back" on what seem to be natural concepts and judgments in order to show that they are not all "flat earth" errors.(68) We surely do conceive of things as many in kind and in number. Philosophers (or scientists) very early on proved unable to accept this.(69) Aristotle's work, in part, is aimed at honouring the original natural judgment. We ourselves can exploit various advances in observational technique to confirm it.(70) While far from admitting that the natural judgment is a mistake, we do, nevertheless, insist that, for its well-being, it needs the advantages of reflection.

Both essence and substance are objects of natural intellectual knowledge, though not equally so.(71) First of all, prior to our intellectual knowledge, and cause of our intellectual knowledge,(72) is sense-knowledge, a vital process of memories and reasoned, i.e. comparative experience, which has its climax in a perception of the universal-in-the-particular. Human sense has as its object, not merely the singular in its singularity, but somehow the universal-in-the-singular, e.g. "this man" or "this animal".(73) This is to say that the human sensorium is quiddity-oriented. The anthropos is by nature onto-centric.(74)

It is such a sensitive life which is properly disposed for intellection. And intellection is a continuation of that cognitive life of comparison, of reasoning, of seeing where something leads. That cognitive life is intellection when it moves beyond experience. This is true of all intellection, but most of all in intellection at its height, the cause of all intellection, knowledge of "a being" and "substance". The absoluteness of those objects requires that such knowledge be visions of "where experience leads us to" or "points us to".

In a remarkable passage in De malo 6, a discussion of the existence of human free choice, we are presented with the following argument against saying that man has free choice:

... The principle of all human knowledge is the senses: therefore, man can know something only to the extent that either it or its effect falls under sense. But the [supposed] power itself, having a stance vis-à-vis opposites [i.e. the power of free choice], does not fall under sense; and in the effects of that power which do fall under sense, two contrary acts are not to be found existing simultaneously, but rather we always see that determinately one act always actually occurs. Therefore, we cannot judge that there is in man any active power having a stance vis-à-vis opposites.(75)

To this Thomas replies as follows:

... the beginning [or principle] of all human knowledge is from the senses, and nevertheless it is not necessary that whatever is known by man be subject to sense, or be known immediately through a sensible effect. Because the intellect itself has intellective knowledge of itself through its own act which is not subject to sense; and similarly, [the intellect] has intellective knowledge of the interior act of the will, inasmuch as through the act of the intellect the will is in a way rendered operative [literally: moved] and in another way the act of the intellect is caused by the will... [and so the intellect understands the act of the will] as an effect is known through its cause and a cause through its effect. - Nevertheless, even if we grant that the power of the will having a stance vis-a-vis opposites could not be known except through a sensible effect, still [the adversary's] argument does not follow. Because just as the universal, which is always and everywhere, is known by us through singulars which are here and now, and primary matter, which is in potency to diverse forms, is known by us through the succession of forms which nevertheless are not simultaneously in matter, so also the power of the will having a stance vis-à-vis opposites is known by us, not indeed by the opposite acts existing simultaneously, but because they succeed one another successively from the same source.(76)

This reply reveals a conception of intellect and its relation to sense which flies in the face of what is often called "empiricism".

I say it is the absoluteness of the objects, "a being" and "a substance", which require the work of intellect. This is because the more absolute an object is, the less it is being taken as engaged in motion and change.


To complete this meditation on the importance of essence and substance, I wish to look at some of the things Charles De Koninck said about species in his presentation of cosmic evolution.(77)(78) This is important because many people would say that the very notion of a "species" is questionable,(79) and that Aristotelian substantial form is an idea which can be blamed for thousands of years of intellectual (and seeming natural) stasis.(80)

What I am most interested in in DeKoninck's study is the conception of the forms and essences of material things.(81) He presents a view of these "absolutes" as being very weak absolutes. The texts I think of in St. Thomas that help see where DeKoninck is going are such as ST 1.11.4.ad 3, on diverse substances or essences as having diverse powers of effecting unity; SCG 2.68 (cited by DeKoninck) on the greater unity of higher form;(82) the doctrine of "partial form" in the In De caelo;(83) and the general doctrine of hierarchy of form in Thomas.(84) I would say that DeKoninck is explaining the oft-repeated doctrine that natural forms are "educed from the potency of matter", being present in matter not actually but potentially.

What then is DeKoninck's conception? He tells us that Thomas distinguishes between necessary forms and contingent forms. DeKoninck says:

... Those forms are necessary which are entirely determined, and which constitute, [p. 123] just by themselves essences - the pure spirits; and the forms which determine their matter sufficiently so as to be inseparable from it - [the forms] of the celestial bodies in an outmoded astronomy and those of men in the definitive future state of our universe. The forms of corruptible beings are contingent.(85)Among these beings, we distinguish those which are entirely corruptible secundum totum et secundum partem; and those which are only in part [corruptible], - such as men in the present state of the world. Thus, we obtain forms that are absolutely contingent, and forms which are contingent secundum quid. Natural beings are contingent because there is in them a real potency for not-being: prime matter. [pp. 122-123]

I take it that in the above he is calling the human soul a secundum quid contingent form, i.e. contingent "in a certain respect". He goes on to explain his conception of contingent form:

Precisely what do we mean by the contingency of the form? Indeed, the form is not contingent because its co-principle is for it a potency towards not-being; the composite is corruptible because its form is contingent. It is the contingency of the form which is the intrinsic reason for the precariousness and the uncertainty of its [the composite's] existence. That is why we can conceive of a form which would not be contingent, in spite of its union with matter - the human form after the resurrection, where the composite is incorruptible.(86)

And he continues, underlining indetermination:

The upshot is then that the form is contingent because it is not sufficiently determined in itself. Indeed, it is the lack of determination and the incapacity to individuate itself which call for matter,(87) and which are the ultimate cause of the essential complexity of mobile being. The existence of cosmic essence will be complex in its way, i.e. successive and continuous.(88) Indeed, the nature of existence is measured by the nature of essence. Quantum unicuique est de forma, tantum inest ei de virtute essendi.(89) If the form is not necessary, its existence cannot be totally assured.

Having thus focused on the ontologically hierarchical character of form, he goes on:

This need for matter which is the form [qu'est la forme] introduces into it [the form] an irreducible obscurity. Of the cosmic form(90) there cannot be a distinct idea, [an idea] independent of the idea of the composite; even the separated human form implies a relation to matter. And the matter which enters into this idea is not determined save as also signifying determinability relative to an infinity of other forms. A non-subsistent form is not a quiddity in the strict sense. This is to say that the different sub-species, such as the canine species and that [p. 125] of the elephant, cannot be absolutely opposed, as are the individual-species which are the pure spirits; this is also to say that their definition will include the notion of matter, i.e. the possibility of an infinity of other sub-specific forms which can be drawn forth from matter. If they were determined in the matter, there would be of each one of them an idea independent of matter; and it [matter] would not be pure potency; there would be latitatio formarum, or else all the forms would come along ab extrinseco.(91)

I must say that, reading the above, I was not sure why De Koninck was speaking of "sub-species". This comes out much more clearly in his slightly later Revue Thomiste article, wherein he is much more explicit regarding "natural species" as distinct from "sub-species". There he says:

... the different natural forms are not contingent from every angle. The contingency only affects the sub-species; but since the sub-human natural species are only realized in sub-species, the importance of this contingency is appreciable.

Let us suppose, to illustrate this idea, a finite intelligence contemplating the world at the moment when there was in it no thing actually alive. This intelligence could foresee infallibly the coming of man into this world and also all that conditions absolutely the determination of matter in view of the human composite: it foresees the plant and the brute, but it is impossible for it to foresee all the concrete ways in which the natural species will be realized. These species, which are quasi-genera relative to the sub-species, are certain, a priori, because they constitute irreducible degrees of being: there is no intermediary between "being", "living", "knowing", and "understanding". Besides, the absolute character of this gradation finds its foundation in the idea of man whose soul is formally sensitive, vegetative, and form of corporeity. Because the soul of man is all that, not merely eminently but formally, these degrees of being are susceptible to being distinctly realized outside of him. The inorganic, the plant, and the animal are species-limits and [are] certain. But it is impossible that the proper determination of the sub-species which realize in a particular way these natural species participate in this certitude. Otherwise, the ways in which the animal and the plant can be realized would be determined in advance in matter; or, again, the matter included in the idea of man would signify explicitly all and the only possible forms: this is to say that there would not only be an idea of matter, but determinate ideas.(92)

He goes on to say that all sub-species were at a given moment future contingents. Thus, "cow" as "cow" is "philosophically indefinable". Its determinate truth is a posteriori. And:

The fixity of sub-human forms is thus only a counterfeit fixity. We are naturally metaphysicians: hence, the need to see the necessary and to assimilate, in the present case, the cosmic hierarchy to the series of whole numbers or to the immobile series of pure spirits, though there exists between them only an analogy.(93)

Perhaps you see why I wished to qualify the meditation on substance in itself with these observations, so interesting from the viewpoint of evolution.

Coming back to the Québec paper, we see that De Koninck is able to convey the unforseeability of just what particular forms will emerge as nature moves towards its goal:

Thus, the existent varieties are analogous to the cuts made in a continuum which are determinately true only a posteriori. Consequently, the determination which is a material form is something yet to be made [est à faire], precisely as determination. If it were entirely made in advance, then generation, for example, would be a pure launching into existence of a form already determined in the matter. [pp. 124-125]

We go on, now, to consider the field of species. We are told:

Two neighboring angelic forms are infinitely close in that they admit no intermediary species; they are also infinitely distant in that a transition from one species to the other is impossible, because they do not have in common a physical genus; they are absolutely heterogeneous. Natural sub-species, on the contrary, are infinitely close by their common natural genus; infinitely distant by the real possibility of an infinity of other intermediate sub-species. Thus, the vegetal realm has no absolute extreme limits. Between the most perfect of plants that exist and the lowest of animals, there is the possibility of an infinity of more perfect plants and of less perfect animals, even if this infinity is incompossible, from the viewpoint of existence. [p. 126]

And at last we come to some remarkable conceptions of the "natural species" and the "sub-species":

... Natural species should be conceived of as zones of probability. No natural and individual form is an absolute type of a sub-species, nor [is] any sub-species [an absolute type] of its natural species. "The dog", "the carrot" are statistical entities like "the Frenchman" or "the Englishman". None of the elements exhausts the essence of its class. (That is why racism, which erects nations as absolute entities, and its contrary, atomism, are forms of determinism. The satirical poet is right to say:

All men are fools, and, despite all their care,
Differ among themselves only as to more or less.

Because the reasonable man also is only a statistical entity.) [pp. 126-127]

It is hard to say what to attribute to form, and what to attribute to matter here. And what is meant by a "statistical entity"? This makes it seem as though it is the truly statistical mode of knowing which gets at the specific real. Have we lost the property of form here? Perhaps not. Rather, it might be said that form only comes into its own in intellectual consideration.(94) The sensible real is only potentially intelligible. As Thomas says:

... the intelligible in act is not something existing in natural reality, as far as the nature of sensible things is concerned, which do not subsist outside of matter.(95)

De Koninck is challenging us to take seriously the form as perfection of matter, and even as only a partial perfection of matter, matter which is open to an infinity of such partial perfections.

Here, we get an important point at to what DeKoninck means to say about nature and its evolutionary process. He tells us:

The higher one climbs in the hierarchy of species, the more the forms become necessary and consequently intelligible. Quanto magis distant a materia, tanto magis necessariae.(96) But only the human form will have an existence which is totally assured, by the fact that it is spiritual and that its duration [sa durée], leaving aside the time which it involves by its union with matter, is eviternal.

The idea is constantly to give us more and more a sense of the nature of corporeal forms, as having something of determination and something of indetermination.

Obviously. De Koninck is giving us an interpretation of Thomas's doctrine. The merit of it, as I see it, quite aside from modern interests in evolution, is the extent to which it adds to the intelligibility of "educing form from the potency of matter". Is his argument compelling? His contention is that if the "sub-specific" forms were determinate, we would find ourselves in a doctrine of "hiddenness of forms" or else in a doctrine which gives a definite idea or ideas of matter. Yet he allows his hypothetical observer to foresee, not only the human form, but even the "natural forms" or "quasi-genera". The question then is: if one can foresee any form at all, without ruining the doctrine of "educing from the potency of matter", why cannot one posit that one can see all forms within the "zone" of the natural forms? I suppose the answer must lie in the need to preserve the indetermination, the infinity of possibilities, which such matter has.(97)

What is clear is that De Koninck helps us see the many levels of form which Thomas really has in mind. And that is all to the good.

I have never heard any public discussion of this doctrine of De Koninck's (perhaps I have just not been in the right place at the right time), but I think it merits exploration.


1. Etienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain, Correspondance, 1923-1971 (ed. Géry Prouvost), Paris, 1991: Vrin, p. 250 (letter of Gilson, Sept. 8, 1971). Speaking of "la science moderne", Gilson said:

Ce qui nous en sépare irréparablement est la notion aristotélienne (et de sens commun) de la Forme Substantielle ... Descartes en a dépeuplé la nature. On ne comprends plus rien depuis qu'on a oublié la grande parole d'Aristote, qu'il n'y a "aucune partie d'un animal qui soit purement matérielle ou purement immatérielle." Ce n'est pas le mot philosophie, c'est le mot nature qui nous sépare de nos contemporains. Comme je n'espère pas les convaincre de la vérité (pourtant évidente) de l'hylémorphisme, je ne crois pas possible de leur proposé notre hypothèse comme scientifiquement valide.

2. Some abbreviations for works of Thomas: "ST", Summa theologiae (pagination indications are for the Piana edition, Ottawa, 1941: Collège Dominicain); "SCG", Summa contra gentiles; "CM", In libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis commentarium; "CP", In libros Physicorum Aristotelis expositio.

3. ST 1.85.1.ad 2.

4. Consider what Thomas says about the natures of particular sciences (among which, physics or natural philosophy) and metaphysics [CM 6.1 (1147), concerning Aristotle at 1025b7-10]. We read:

All these particular sciences, which have just been mentioned, are about some one particular domain of being, for example, about number or magnitude, or something of that order. And each one treats circumscriptively about its own subject-domain, i.e. so [treats] of its own domain, that [it treats] of nothing else; for example, the science which treats of number does not treat of magnitude. For none of them treats of being, unqualifiedly, that is, of being in its generality [de ente in communi], nor even about any particular being inasmuch as it is a being. For example, arithmetic does not determine about number inasmuch as it is a being, but inasmuch as it is number. For to consider any being, inasmuch as it is a being, is proper to metaphysics. [italics mine]

5. Along these lines, Thomas tells us that the geometer proves his own principles by taking on the role of the metaphysician. Cf.Expositio libri Posteriorum 1.21 (ed. Leonine, lines 75-79, concerning Aristotle at 77b3-5)(ed. Spiazzi, #177):

... contingit in aliqua sciencia probari principia illius sciencie, in quantum illa sciencia assumit ea que sunt alterius sciencie, sicut si geometra probet sua principia secundum quod assumit formam philosophi primi.

6. The "perennial Presocratic" could be said to be the theme of Étienne Gilson's The Unity of Philosophical Experience, New York, 1937: Scribners.

7. Aristotle, Metaph. 4.1 (1003a26-32):

... Now since we are seeking the first principles and the highest causes, clearly there must be some thing to which these belong in virtue of its own nature. If then those who sought the elements of existing things [Greek: ton onton] were seeking these same principles, it is necessary that the elements must be elements of being not by accident but just because it is being. Therefore it is of being as being that we also must grasp the first causes.

Aristotle, Metaphysics 1.3 (983b1-6), speaks of the thought of his predecessors in a similar vein:

... let us call to our aid those who have attacked the investigation of being [episkepsin ton onton] and philosophized about reality [peri tes aletheias] before us. For obviously they too speak of certain principles and causes; to go over their views, then, will be of profit to the present inquiry, for we shall either find another kind of cause, or be more convinced of the correctness of those which we now maintain.

8. Metaph. 1.3 (983b8-18 and especially 984a31-33).

9. Plato, Phaedo 97B-99D. The entire passage, 95B-102A, in which Socrates recounts his disappointment with the doctrines of the natural philosophers, his admiration for and disappointment with Anaxagoras, and his own eventual solution concerning the cause of being, is fundamental for the consideration of "perennial Presocratism".

10. Metaph. 1.3 (984b8-22) and 1.7 (988b6-11).

11. Aristotle reviews and criticizes the causal views of all his predecessors, and eventually he concludes at Metaph. 1.10 (993a11-16):

... It is evident, then, even from what we have said before, that all men seem to seek the causes named in the Physics, and that we cannot name any beyond these; but they seek these vaguely; and though in a sense they have all been described before, in a sense they have not been described at all. For the earliest philosophy is, on all subjects, like one who lisps, since it is young and in its beginnings.

Concerning the formal cause in particular, notice Metaph. 1.7 (988a34-b1) :

The essence [to ... ti en einai], i.e. the substantial reality [ten ousian], no one has expressed distinctly. It is hinted at chiefly by those who believe in the Forms...

Especially regarding the physical philosophers, cf. 1.8 (988b28-29):

... they err in not positing the substance [ten ousian], i.e. the essence [to ti esti], as the cause of anything...

12. Thomas, Commentary on the Physics [henceforth "CP] 2.5 (ed. Maggiolo, Rome\Turin, 1954: Marietti, #176), explaining Aristotle at 2.3 (194b16-23):

... firstly, he shows the necessity of determining about the causes... [for] to consider concerning causes as such is proper to the first philosopher [i.e. the metaphysician]: for cause, inasmuch as [it is] cause, does not depend on matter as regards being, for in those also which are separated from matter one finds the intelligible aspect: cause. But consideration of causes is taken on by the natural philosopher because of some necessity: nor nevertheless is it taken on by him to consider concerning causes save according as they are causes of natural changes. [my italics]

Of course, one sees well the abstract nature of the notion of cause by considering it as applicable to the separate entities; however, only because such notions are abstract from the start can one raise the question of separate entity.

13. Thomas Aquinas, CM 7.11 (1526) commenting on Metaph. 7.11 (1037a10-16):

... in this science [i.e. metaphysics or "first philosophy"] we try to determine concerning sensible substances ... for the sake of immaterial substances; because theorizing concerning sensible and material substances in a way pertains to physics, which is not first philosophy, but second, as was established in book 4.

For first philosophy is about the first substances, which are immaterial substances, about which it theorizes not merely inasmuch as they are substances, but inasmuch as they are such substances, i.e. inasmuch as they are immaterial. About sensible substance it does not theorize inasmuch as they are such substances, but inasmuch as they are substances, or even beings, or inasmuch as through them we are led to the knowledge of immaterial substances.

But the physicist, conversely, determines about material substances, not inasmuch as they are substances, but inasmuch as they are material [substances] and [as] having in them a principle of movement. [my italics]

14. Plato, Sophist 246A-249D.

15. 246C.

16. 249D. - Notice that in their "tamed" form, the giants hold rather that to "be" is well circumscribed as the ability to act upon another or be acted upon by something, thus dunamis: 247D-E.

17. Stephen Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory, New York, 1993: Pantheon.

18. The notion of "complexity" should be scrutinized. It is a "material causality" approach. It is a treatment of parts as material parts. For example, the word "item" or the word "time" is more complex than the word "act" or the word "cat". The insight that a more complex being is somehow "higher" on the scale of beings is not altogether wrong. In the realm of material things, the simpler things are not able to perform all the operations that the more complex perform. Still, there is a simplicity of form as form, and thus, as we mount in a scale of immaterial being, simpler is better. Cf. ST 1.77.2.

19. Of course, a true particle would not be merely a building block, but would have a nature of its own. I am speaking only of Weinberg's line of thinking. - Cf. William A. Wallace, "Are Elementary Particles Real?", in From a Realist Point of View: Essays on the Philosophy of Science, Washington, D.C., 1979: University Press of America, pp. 187-200. - It is significant that Weinberg thinks what he should be after is "fundamental constituents". This means that he looks to some elementary kind of thing as what is fundamental. I.e. he has not the idea of primary matter in the Aristotelian sense, and so his ontology is really mechanistic, which is to say that he sees all forms as accidental.

20. Aristotle, Metaphysics 8.3 (1043b32-1044a14); Thomas, CM 8.3 (ed. Cathala, #1722-1727).

21. See the criticism of the Presocratics by Aristotle, De gen. et corr. 2.9 (335b30- 336a12).

22. Dreams, p. 245:

... Will we find an interested God in the final laws of nature? ... premature as the question may be, it is hardly possible not to wonder whether we will find any answer to our deepest questions, any sign of the workings of an interested God, in a final theory. I think we will not. (my italics)

23. Laval théologique et philosophique 50 (1994) pp. 3-143, is a "dossier" presented under the title: "La théorie synthétique de l'évolution".

24. Michel Delsol, Philippe Sentis, Roger Payot, Régis Ladous, and Janine Flatin, "Le hasard et la sélection expliquent-ils l'évolution? Biologie ou métaphysique", Laval théologique et philosophique 50 (1994), pp. 7-41.

25. Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, New York, 1996: The Free Press. - Cf. also his op-ed article, "Darwin Under the Microscope", New York Times, Oct. 29, 1996, written on the occasion of Pope John Paul II's statement that evolution is "more than just a theory".

26. Notice the way Behe sums up his line of thinking:

... The irreducibly complex Rube Goldberg machine required an intelligent designer to produce it; therefore the irreducibly complex blood-clotting system required a designer also. [218]

27. Behe, p. xi. His italics.

28. Notice that not every appeal to intelligence is truly a case of "finality". It may be more the needed agent of a technique, rather than the true causality of the good as such. Thus, in the treatment of Anaxagoras in the CM, Thomas speaks of:

... the cause of the good, which indeed is the final cause, though it was not proposed by them save incidentally, as will be clear later. (CM 7.5 [97])

The later place Thomas has in mind we find at CM 7.11 [177]. He says:

... Those who said that the cause is intellect or love posited them as causes as [being] something good. For they said that such things are causes that things are in a good condition. For the cause of the good can only be the good. Hence it follows that they posited that intellect and love are causes in the way that the good is a cause.

But "the good" can be understood in two ways. In one way, as the final cause, inasmuch as something is done for the sake of some good. In the other way, in the mode of the efficient cause, as we say that the good man does what is good. Therefore, these philosophers did not say that the aforementioned causes are good, such that for the sake of them [horum causa] something of beings is or is made, which pertains to the idea of final cause; but that from the aforementioned items, i.e. intellect and love, there issued forth some movement towards the being and becoming of things, which pertains to the idea of efficient cause.

And in #179, Thomas explains that this is to touch upon the final cause merely incidentally. This seems to me to be true even of Behe.

29. Obviously, there are many questions to be asked about the possibilities present in an original cell: is this a doctrine of substantial potentiality, of seminal plans, or what? - Notice that St. Thomas, ST 1.65.4 (400a32) calls the ideas [species] of natural kinds in the angelic intellect "seminal plans" [seminales rationes]. And ST 1.73.1.ad 3 (431b17-22) tells us that if new species of animals arise from the interbreeding of already given species, these preëxisted in some active causal powers from the beginning.

30. I might note a review of Behe's book: H. Allen Orr, "Darwin v. Intelligent Design (Again)", Boston Review, Dec.-Jan., 1996-1997, pp. 28-31. This is in tone very hostile, using the word "screed" to characterize the work. Rhetoric aside, it claims to have an answer to Behe at the level of evolutionary theory. However, judging from the examples and from the description of the theory, Orr is working with the adjusting of already given irreducibly complex systems. Now, Behe's claim is that the only explanation for the original existence of an irreducibly complex system is mind. He quite explicitly rejects the claim that the changes in such systems are exclusively the result of mind. Thus, I would say that Orr is quite off the mark.

31. I refer to these below.

32. The following 12 paragraphs are an adaptation from my paper, "Something Rather than Nothing, and St. Thomas' Third Way", Science et Esprit 39 (1987), 71-80, at p. 77.

33. Thomas Aquinas, De substantiis separatis, ch. 6 (ed. Leonine, in Opera omnia, t. 40, 1969) lines 88-129):

... [Gebirol's] position does away, indeed, ... with the principles of first philosophy, taking away unity from singular things, and consequently the true entity and diversity of things...

And also De veritate 5.2.ad 7:

... the necessity of the mentioned [absolutely first] principles follows upon the divine providence and disposing: for from this [fact], that the things have been produced in such a nature, in which they have determined being [esse terminatum], they are distinct from their negations: from which distinction it follows that the affirmation and the negation are not simultaneously true; and from this principle there is necessity in all other principles, as is said in Metaphysics 4.

34. Thomas Aquinas, CM 4.1 (Cathala #540-543) - Thomas there presents four "modes of being", beginning with the weakest, the least, and moving towards the strongest. The four are (1) negations and privations, (2) generations and corruptions and movements, (3) inhering accidents, and (4) substances.

35. On the primacy of substance among beings, cf. Thomas, CM 7.1 (1246-1259). On the causal "flow" of all beings from substances, cf. ST 1.77.6. The whole of SCG 3.97 should be read.

36. Cf. Thomas, CM 7.4 (1331-1334), concerning the fact that all the categories participate in the mode of entity proper to substance, viz being a "what" [quid]. On identity as substantial unity, cf. CM 4.2 (561).

37. I use the word "physics" here to encompass all interest in the mobile as such. Cf. Thomas Aquinas, CM 7.11 (1526-7), quoted above, n. 13.

38. Thomas teaches (CP 1.12 [Maggiolo, #107 [10]]) that to prove through a reason ["per rationem"] that in all natural production there must be a subject pertains to metaphysics; that is why, in the Physics 1.7 (190a31-190b11), Aristotle proves it merely by induction.

39. For this issue, cf. Thomas, CP 5.3 (ed. Maggiolo #663-664) and In De Caelo 1.6 (ed. Spiazzi, #67). In the latter, we are told:

... there is not something contrary to substance, which is maximally evident in animals and plants (similarly, neither is there anything contrary to shapes and to relations...


... nothing is contrary to substance as regards the composite, nor as regards the matter, nor as regards the substantial form: nevertheless, there is something contrary to it as regards the proper disposition to such a form, as for example fire is said to be contrary to water by the contrariety of the hot and the cold. And such contrariety is required in all those things which are generated and corrupted. And the contrariety of the movements according to the heavy and the light follow upon such contrariety...

In the former, Thomas seems to have trouble with the above line of thinking. There, he at first had put that solution this way:

... fire is the contrary of water in function of active and passive qualities, which are the hot and the cold, the wet and the dry; but not as regards substantial forms. For it cannot be said that heat is the substantial form of fire, since in other bodies it is an accident in the genus of quality. For what is in the genus of substance cannot be an accident for something.

This he forthwith rejects:

But this answer has an obvious difficulty. For it is evident that the proper affections are caused by the principles of the subject, which are the matter and the form. If, therefore, the proper affections of fire and water are contraries, since the causes of contraries are contraries, it would seem that the substantial forms are contrary. Furthermore, in Metaph. 10.8 (1058a11-22) [CM 10.10 (2122-2123)], it is proved that every genus is divided by contrary differences; but the differences are taken from the forms, as is established in book 8 of the same work (Metaph. 8.2 [1042b10-1043a29], and CM 8.2 in toto); it would seem, then, that there is contrariety in substantial forms.

[664 (5)] Therefore, it is to be said that the contrariety of the differences, which is in all genera, is seen as regards the common root of contrariety, which is excellence and deficiency, to which opposition all contraries are reduced, as is had in the first book of this present work [CP 8.2]. For all differences dividing a genus stand in this relation, that one of them is in the role of the abundant, and the other in the role of the deficient relative to the first. For which reason Aristotle says in Metaph. 8 that the definitions of things are like numbers, whose species vary by addition and subtraction of unity. (Aristotle, Metaph. 8.3 [1043b34-1044a11]; Thomas, CM 8.3 [1722-1727]) Nevertheless, it is not necessary that in every genus there be contrariety according to the proper intelligible character of this or that species; but merely according to the common character of excellence and deficiency.

For since contraries are [items] which are maximally distant [from each other], it is necessary that in any genus [where] there is found contrariety, there be found two terms maximally distant, in between which fall all those things which are of that genus.

Nor will [even] that suffice for there to be movement in the genus, unless from one extreme to the other it happens that one continuously proceed.

Therefore, in some genera these two conditions are lacking, as is clear in the case of numbers. For though all the species of number differ according to excellence and deficiency, nevertheless one cannot take two extremes maximally distant in that genus; for one can take a minimum number, viz duality, but not a maximum. Similarly, there is no continuity between the species of number: because any species of number is formally perfected by unity, which is indivisible and not continuous with another unity.

And it is similar, also, in the genus of substance. For the forms of diverse species are different from each other according to excellence and deficiency, inasmuch as one form is more noble than another; and for that reason, from diverse forms diverse passions can be caused, as it was objected. Nevertheless, one specific form as regards its proper intelligible character is not contrary to another.

First of all, [this is] because in substantial forms one does not find a maximum distance between some two forms, such that from one of them one does not come [to the other] in an orderly way save through intermediaries; but rather matter, when it is deprived of one form, can indifferently receive diverse forms without order. Hence, Aristotle says in De generatione 2, that when from earth comes fire, it is not necessary that it undergo a transit through intermediate elements.

Secondly, because, since the substantial being of anything whatsoever is in some indivisible, one cannot find continuity in substantial forms, such that there be a continuous movement possible from one form into the other in function of the remission of the one and the intensification of the other.

Hence, Aristotle's proof, by which he proves that in substance there is no movement because there there is no contrariety, is demonstrative, and not merely probable, as the Commentator [Averroës] seems to imply. Though it is true that it can be proved by another argument that movement is not in [the genus of] substance; which [argument] he presented earlier: viz because the subject of substantial form is a being only in potency [ens in potentia tantum].

40. 1 Kings 3:16-28.

41. ST 1.76.4.ad 4.

42. CM 7.16 (1631-1636). - This touches on the important question of survival of parts of living things when separated.

43. Thomas, In De generatione 1.17 (118).

44. Thomas, In De generatione et corruptione 1.8 (#60 [3]), concerning Aristotle at 1.3 (318b1-14).

45. De potentia 5.1.obj. 4.

46. Cf. ST 1.104.1 (622b43-623a4).

47. De potentia 5.1.obj. 5.

48. De potentia 5.1.ad 5.

49. De potentia 5.1. - See my paper, "St. Thomas, Joseph Owens, and Existence", New Scholasticism 56 (1982), 399-441. Fr. Owens conceives of the substantial being of movable things as intrinsically a "flux", ignoring the per accidens aspect of such being's being measured by time. Charles De Koninck strikes me as tending in this same direction: cf. e.g. his "Thomism and Scientific Indeterminism", in Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association (for 1936), Washington, 1937: Catholic University of America Press, pp. 58-76, at pp. 60-61.

50. Closely linked to this doctrine of the absoluteness of substantial being, to be dissociated from the motions it may involve, is the teaching of Quodl. 4.3.2 [5] (Leonine Opera omnia, t. XXV.2, Rome/Paris, 1996: Commissio Leonina/Vrin, p. 325), that by a miracle it is possible for God to restore to existence the numerically same substance which has ceased to exist, whether it has been corrupted or even annihilated, whereas it is impossible to restore movements once interrupted.

The reason is that some things, such as movement and time, have within the notion of their very unity the continuity of duration, so that any interruption is directly contrary to their numerical unity. To restore the being of such an item is thus intrinsically contradictory. But permanent things (and this is primarily the case of a substance) are such that their unity does not have in its notion continuity of duration, save per accidens, inasmuch as their being is subjected to motion: so taken, their being is one and continuous in accordance with the unity and continuity of time. And because the natural agent cannot produce such things without movement, thus it is that the natural agent cannot restore such things in their numerical identity, if they have been returned to nothing, or if they have been substantially corrupted. But God can restore such things without movement, because it is in his power to produce the effect without the intermediate causes, and so he can restore them in their numerical identity, even if they have been reduced to nothing. - The Quodlibet 4 is dated at Easter, 1271.

51. ST 1.76.8 (461b39-43 and 462a8-11).

52. ST 1.85.8 (534b22-31); 1.76.3 (454a24-48); 1.76.4.ad 4 (457a3-16).

53. For the point that it is the same matter which is considered by the physicist and by the metaphysician, cf. CM 7.2 (1285); for the difference in outlook of the two, cf. 7.11 (1526), cited above at n. 13.

54. ST 1.2.3 (14a44-b15), the "third way" of proving the existence of a God.

55. Thales depreciated the being of sensible substances, inasmuch as he held that nothing comes to be or ceases to be.

56. See Thomas Aquinas, ST 1.45.4.:

... [the act of] being belongs properly to subsisting things, whether they be simple, as are separate substances, or composite, as are material substances. For, to that [sort of item] it belongs properly to be, which has being, and that is what is subsisting in its own being. Forms, on the other hand, and accidents, and other items on that level, are not called "beings" as though to say that they themselves ARE, but rather because in function of them something is; for example, whiteness is called "a being" for this reason, that in function of it the subject [i.e., e.g. the dog] is white. Hence, according to Aristotle, an accident is more properly said to be "OF a being" rather than simply "a being".

This text speaks of "form" as something that does not subsist; however, we eventually reason to the existence of subsisting forms.

57. CM 8.1 (1687), concerning Aristotle at 8.1 (1042a24-31).

58. Thomas raises the question: whether "one" adds anything to "a being". He replies:

... "one" does not add on, over and above "a being", some real thing, but merely the negation of division.

For "one" signifies nothing else but "an undivided being"; and from that very fact it is apparent that "one" is interchangeable with "a being". For every being either is simple or composite. But what is simple is undivided both actually and potentially. But what is composite does not have being [esse] so long as its parts are divided, but [only] after they constitute and compose the composite. Hence, it is evident that the being [esse] of anything whatsoever consists in indivision. And thus it is that each thing, just as it protects its being, so also it protects its unity.

This is to say that "a being" and "a unit" are two words for the very same thing. The word "one" or "unit" adds a notion not expressed by the word "a being"; "one" says "being" but adds "undivided". "Undivided" is a negative notion, viz the negation of "division". Thus, using the word "one" does not say any real thing more than "a being": it adds a mere negation.

59. Concerning this view as presented by Bertrand Russell, cf. Charles De Koninck, The Hollow Universe, London, 1960: Oxford U.P., pp. 60-69.

60. Cf. CM 7.2 (1277).

61. ST 1.76.8 (461b5-26). I should note that Thomas goes on to say:

... A sign of this is that no part of a body has its proper operation, given the removal of the soul; whereas nevertheless everything which retains its species retains the operation of the species.

Obviously, present-day transplant surgery raises a question here. The answer required by the nature of substance is that which we find in Thomas, In De gen. et corr. 1.8 (#60 [3]), concerning Aristotle at 1.3 (318b1-14). There are incomplete or imperfect forms, as one moves from the living thing to its degenerate states.

62. 461b33-45.

63. 461b46-462a13.

64. 462a13-25.

65. 462a26-42.

66. See Thomas Aquinas, In De gen. et corr. 1.8 (62 [5]):

... no substantial form is essentially [per se] perceptible to sense, but only to intellect, whose object is the "what it is" [quod quid est]; rather, the forms which are essentially perceptible to sense are qualities of the third species [of qualities], which for that reason are called "experienceable" [passibiles], since they inscribe impressions [passiones] on the senses, as is said in the Categories...

67. ST 2-2.8.1. See also ST 2-2.180.5.ad 2:

... human contemplation, as found in the present life [as distinct from life after death], cannot be without images [in the imagination], because it is connatural to man that he see intelligible conceptions in images, as Aristotle says in De anima 3.7 (431a16). Nevertheless, intellectual knowledge does not come to rest in the images themselves, but in them it contemplates the purity of intelligible truth.

68. Cf. Lawrence Dewan, "Laurence Foss and the Existence of Substances", Laval théologique et philosophique 44 (1988), 77-84, at pp. 82-84.

69. This is true of thinkers like Thales, inasmuch as he views everything as substantially the same, but it reaches most alarming extremes in the Eleatics, who reject all variety. Cf. Aristotle, Metaph. 1.5 (986b10-987a2); 1.3 (984a29-b4); Phys. 1.2-3 (184b25-187a10).

70. I think of the knowledge of cell life presented by someone like Behe.

71. I leave discussion of the difference for another occasion.

72. The causality exercized by the phantasm is described in ST 1.84.6 (520b11-19), as "the matter of the cause" [quodammodo... materia causae] of intellectual knowledge. Now, the relevant causality is that applied by an object to a passive cognitive power. At ST 1.77.3 (466a31-33), it is characterized as "principium et causa movens". Thus, one might say that the phantasm is the matter of the moving cause, in the sense that the object of a passive power is a moving cause. I do not think it need or should be characterized merely as "material causality".

73. Thomas Aquinas, Expositio libri Posteriorum II.20 (Leonine ed., in Opera omnia, tome I* 2, Rome and Paris, 1989: Commissio Leonina\Vrin, at lines 258-271):

... it is evident that it is the singular that is sensed, properly and through itself, but nevertheless the sense is in some measure also of the universal: for it knows Callias not merely inasmuch as he is Callias, but also inasmuch as he is this man, and similarly Socrates inasmuch as he is this man. And thence it is that, such a grasp by sense being already in existence, the intellective soul can consider man in both. But if the situation were such that the sense apprehended only that which there is of particularity, and in no way apprehended along with that the universal nature in the particular, it would not be possible that from the apprehension of sense [ex apprehensione sensus] universal knowledge be caused in us. [my italics]

Cf. Thomas, Sentencia libri De anima (in Opera omnia, t. 45/1, Rome/Paris, 1984: Commissio Leonina/Vrin), 2.13 (lines 191-220). The human "cogitative" power is contrasted with the lower animal's "estimative" power. The human inner sense power participates in something of the intellective:

... the cogitative apprehends the individual as existing under the common nature [ut existentem sub natura communi], which happens to [the cogitative] inasmuch as it is united to the intellective, in the same subject; hence, it knows this man inasmuch as he is this man, and this tree inasmuch as it is this tree; but the estimative does not apprehend some individual according as it is under the common nature, but only as it is the terminus or principle of some action or passion, as the sheep knows this lamb not inasmuch as it is this lamb, but inasmuch as it is nursible by it, and this grass inasmuch as it is its food...

Cf. also T.G.R. Bower, "The Object in the World of the Infant", Scientific American vol. 225, n. 4 (October, 1971), pp. 30-38.

74. On the power of discernment or comparison as running all through our cognitive life, cf. Thomas Aquinas, Sentencia libri De anima 2.27 (in Opera omnia, t. 45, 1, Rome/Paris, 1984: Commissio Leonina/Vrin), in toto but esp. lines 229-236.

75. Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de malo 6.obj. 18 (in Opera omnia 22, Rome/Paris, 1982: Commissio Leonina/Vrin, lines 166-176).

76. De malo 6.ad 18 (Leonine lines 641-664). My italics.

77. De Koninck, Charles, "Le problème de l'indéterminisme", in L'Académie Canadienne Saint-Thomas d'Aquin (Sixième session, 9 et 10 octobre 1935), Québec, 1937: Typ."L'Action Catholique", pp. 65-159.

De Koninck published a shorter study on the general idea of indeterminism, "Thomism and Scientific Indeterminism", in Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association (for 1936), Washington, 1937: Catholic University of America Press, pp. 58-76. In this (p. 68, n. 20), he refers us to the Québec item for more detail.

Subsequently he published "Réflexions sur le problème de l'Indéterminisme", Revue Thomiste t. 43 (1937), pp. 227-252 and 393-409. - I would like to have used some material from the recently published "Le cosmos (1936) - Extrait", Laval théologique et philosophique 50 (1994), pp. 111-143. However, I call attention to this important paper, which presents evolution as requiring the causality of an extra-cosmic pure spirit. - The footnotes in what follows are mine, not DeKoninck's, unless indicated.

78. De Koninck ("Le cosmos") says:

And if we do not seem able to follow the Angelic Doctor, is it not because we have excluded from the universe the efficient and sufficient cause moving the cosmos and pushing it upwards? Our timerous attitude is only too easily explained. Since Suarez we have resolutely put a plug on the world's top side: we wish to explain everything in nature by means of intracosmic causes. Suarez, in denying the apodictic value of the arguments presented by saint Thomas for demonstrating on strictly rational lines the existence of pure spirits, cut every essential link between the cosmos and the created spiritual universe. Let us add to that his hybrid notion of prime matter, and we arrive logically at the barbarous creationism of our philosophy manuals. It is obvious that if we sterilize the world from its outset, nothing more can come forth. Creationism, which from all angles opens the world directly on God, passing to one side of the universal hierarchy, implicitly rejects what is essential to the universe: unity of order. [129]

DeKoninck says that since Suarez the Scholastics abandon more and more the ontological study of nature. They think that scientific explanations replace the philosophy of nature. The philosophers concentrate only on notions of interest to the theologians. Cosmic repulsion may explain the expansion of the universe, and the theory of genes explain mutations, but none of that is an explanation of why anything is in motion. He says:

... none of that can explain the simple deplacement of a material point from the ontological point of view. And to do that, one cannot have direct recourse to the general notions of metaphysics - we must find appropriate causes. If I have a headache because God wills it, that does not prevent my attributing it to a too long evening, and [does not prevent] its being removable by an asperin. [129]

And he continues:

Now, I say that no intracosmic cause can provide for me an ontological explanation of the movement of the moon, not that the movement of the moon interests me particularly in philosophy of nature, but it is the movement of an inorganic phenomenon, and it is as such that I consider it. [130]

79. Michel Delsol, "Où mène la biologie moderne? Questions aux théologiens et aux philosophes", Laval théologique et philosophique 52 (1996), pp, 339-353: the second section is entitled "The Disappearance of the Notion of Species". The idea is that the picture of the species as something well defined is to be abandonned: pp. 340-341.

80. Cf. e.g. David L. Hull, "The Effect of Essentialism on Taxonomy - Two Thousand Years of Stasis", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, XVI (1965), no. 60, pp. 314-327 and no. 61, pp. 1-18.

81. I set aside for another time discussion of the general conception De Koninck has concerning the philosophy of evolution, particularly as presented in "Le cosmos".

82. SCG 2.68 (para. 6, i.e. "Hoc autem modo mirabilis..."), where Thomas concludes:

... But something is not less one [if composed] out of intellectual substance and corporeal matter than out of the form of fire and its matter, but perhaps more [one]: because the more a form conquers matter, the more a unit [magis unum] is brought about out of it and matter.

83. In De caelo 1.6 (63 [6]).

84. See especially SCG 3.97 in its entirety.

85. I would underline that this is true of them, not as form, but as such form. See my paper, "St. Thomas Aquinas against Metaphysical Materialism", in Atti del'VIII Congresso Tomistico Internazionale, Vatican City, 1982: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, t. V, 412-434.

86. Notice here that he has this idea of the human soul in the present state as in a measure "contingent". This is a recognition of the essential incompleteness of the human form. His eye is on the composite.

87. Cf. CM 5.10 (905):

... matter is included in the first mode [of substance, i.e. particular substance], because particular substance does not have it that it be substance and that it be individual in material things, save by virtue of matter [ex materia]. (my italics)

88. Here, I would note that the esse of temporal things is only per accidens measured by time; but it is measured by time. Cf. Quodl. 4.3.2 [5], summarized in Endnote b.

89. DeKoninck gives no reference for this, but it is doctrinally the same as what is said in In De caelo 1.6 (Spiazzi #62 [5]): each thing is, i.e. has being, through its form; hence, just so much and for so long each thing has of being, viz just as great as is the power of its form.

90. This means the sort of form which we find in the world of generation and corruption.

91. On these two positions concerning form, see ST 1.45.8; "latitatio formarum", i.e. the forms are "hidden" in the matter, considers the forms as already actual but "lying low"; obviously, the coming of forms from outside also views them as having complete being. Thomas's doctrine is that higher, i.e. spiritual, beings employ movement and change to exercize causality upon composite, i.e. material, agents, which bring form out of the potency of matter into act: cf. ST 1.65.4.ad 2.

92. De Koninck, Revue Thomiste, p. 234. In the Québec article, in a footnote (and again, one much more intelligible when one has read the RT article) he says:

... By existent varieties I mean the sub-species included within the limits of absolute natural species. Note nevertheless that a sub-species which constitutes in fact a limit of a natural species is never the absolute limit of this natural species. It tends towards a limit which is to be found at infinity. In the last analysis, the absolute character of natural species is founded on matter as essentially ordered towards its ultimate act, towards its last end - the human form, which is formally and in eminent fashion, at once sensitive, vegetative, and the form of corporeity. [p. 125, n. 1]

What he seems to mean is that the absolute lower forms are likenesses of what we see in the highest form of matter, and that it is matter, as calling for that highest form, which calls for forms which possess that sort of likeness.

93. Revue Thomiste, p. 235.

94. ST 1.75.5 (444a6-11):

... the intellective soul knows some thing in its nature absolutely, for example, the stone inasmuch as it is a stone, absolutely. Therefore, the form of the stone, absolutely, according to its proper formal character, is in the intellective soul...

95. ST 1.79.3.ad 3.

96. He is speaking of the cosmic forms, and so cf. such texts as ST 1.76.1 (449b37-450a5), or ST 1-2.85.6 (1181b4-27) on forms as aiming at incorruptibility.

97. On the infinity of forms to which matter is in potency, cf. CM 1.12 (198) and ST 1.7.2.ad 3.