DE&E: Chapter 5:1

On to Chapter 5!

Having treated these matters, we can see clearly how essence is found in various kinds of things. There are three ways in which substances may have an essence.

Three ways. This paragraph only begins to talk about the first of them, so we’ll have to accumulate them as we go along.

First, surely, is the way God has his essence, which is his very existence itself, and so we find certain philosophers saying that God does not have a quiddity or essence because his essence is not other than his existence.

So that’s the first way:

  • Ways in which substances may have an essence
    • As God has His essence, His existence
    • ???
    • ???

It’s sufficiently different from the others that some philosophers don’t regard it as an essence at all.

From this it follows that he is not in a genus, for everything that is in a genus has a quiddity beyond its existence, since the quiddity or nature of the genus or species is not in the order of nature distinguished in the things of which it is the genus or species, but the existence is diverse in diverse things.

All animals, for example, have a quiddity that is common among them, but each has its own existence. God is, on the other hand, solely His own existence, and so He is not in a genus.

Thomas goes into this in greater detail in the Compendium Theologiae; see Chapter 13.

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