The Problem of Matter and Form in the de Ente et Essentia of Thomas Aquinas

The Problem of Matter and Form in the de Ente et Essentia of Thomas Aquinas

The Problem of Matter and Form in the de Ente et Essentia of Thomas Aquinas

The Problem of Matter and Form in the de Ente et Essentia of Thomas Aquinas

Excerpt

The purpose of this study is to examine the significance of Aquinas' criticism in the De Ente et Essentia of the doctrine of universal matter and universal form. Aquinas attributes this doctrine to Avicebron, author of the Fons Vitae. It is the problem of Chapter I to examine the nature of the doctrine of the Fons Vitae in the light of Aquinas' own views. Yet the importance of Aquinas' criticism extends far beyond the particular doctrine of Avicebron. The popularity of the Fons Vitae in the thirteenth century, a fact which Aquinas' own concern with this work clearly indicates, suggests that it had found a sympathetic intellectual climate. Chapter II examines the possible basis for this affinity in the writings of Augustine. Chapter III returns to the De Ente et Essentia to discuss the distinction between essence and existence as Aquinas' solution to the problem of matter and form.

The author wishes to express his gratitude to Professor Étienne Gilson and Professor H. A. Wolfson for many suggestions in the preparation of this study. The author, however, is wholly responsible for any shortcomings which this study may contain. The generosity of the Harvard Department of Philosophy has made possible the publication of this volume.

J. G.

CAMBRIDGE September, 1939 . . .

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