DE&E: Chapter 4:4

So far, I’m enjoying Chapter 4 more than Chapter 3, because I’m having an easier time understanding it (at least, I think I am). This continues in paragraph 4.

Therefore, the essence of a composite substance and that of a simple substance differ in that the essence of a composite substance is not form alone but embraces both form and matter, while the essence of a simple substance is form alone.

As Thomas indicated in the previous paragraph.

And from this two other differences arise. One is that the essence of a composite substance can be signified as a whole or as a part, which happens because of the designation of the matter, as said above. Hence, in one way, the essence of a composite thing is not predicated of the composite thing itself, for we cannot say that a man is his own quiddity.

Right. Here’s a big chunk of Chapter 3 in a nutshell.

But the essence of a simple thing, which is its form, cannot be signified except as a whole, as in this case there is nothing beyond the form that might receive the quiddity, and so, however we take the essence of a simple thing, the essence is predicated of it. Hence, Avicenna says in Metaphysicae V, cap. 5 that “the quiddity of a simple thing is the simple thing itself,” because there is no other thing to receive the form.

The phrasing “receive the quiddity” is odd, but I’m pretty sure I get it. In a composite substance, the quiddity or essence embraces form and matter. In a simple substance, there’s no matter, so matter cannot be essential; and so all that’s left to be essential is form.

Well, there’s also existence, and simple substances are set to be a composite of form and existence. But we also know (from Compendium Theologiae) that only God has existence as His essence.

The second difference is that the essences of composite things, because they are received in designate matter, are multiplied according to the division of matter, and so it happens that some things are the same in species but different in number. But since the essence of a simple thing is not received in matter, there can be no such multiplication in this case, and so among such substances we do not find many individuals of the same species, as Avicenna expressly says in Metaphysicae V, cap. 2.

Right. We’ve talked about this before as well. Matter is the principle of individuation, which allows there to be many individuals with the same essence. But among simple substances, multiplicity of individuals requires multiplicity of forms.

I still want to know what individuates souls after the death of the body.

3 Responses to “DE&E: Chapter 4:4”

  1. What individuates souls after death: I would guess its prior relation to its body, to which it still bears a relation, even after death, in some way.

    So are you staying at a Holiday Inn during your sojourn, because you really seem to be getting this stuff. No comments is good comments.

  2. Will says:

    Nope, it’s a Comfort Suites. (What does “Holiday Inn” have to do with it? Obviously I’m missing the reference.)

  3. It’s a rather old ad campaign of theirs.