DE&E: Chapter 6:3

In this paragraph, Thomas goes on describing the relationship between accidents and substances.

But since that which is greatest and truest in a genus is the cause of the lesser things in the genus (as fire, which is at the extreme of heat, is the cause of heat in other hot things, as the Philosopher says in II Metaphysicae cap. 1 (993b24-27)), thus substance, which is first in the genus of beings and which has essence in the truest and greatest way, is the cause of accidents, which participate in the notion of being only secondarily and in a certain sense.

Disregarding the comments about fire, it’s clear that substance is the cause of accidents; you can’t have accidents without a substance to hang them on. But how is the trick done?

But this happens in a variety of ways. Since the parts of substance are matter and form, certain accidents are principally a consequence of form, and certain accidents are principally a consequence of matter.

Some accidents depend mostly on form, and some mostly on matter.

Now, while we find some forms, like the intellectual soul, whose existence does not depend on matter, matter does not have existence except through form. Hence, among those accidents that are a consequence of form, there are some that have no communication with matter, such as understanding, which does not take place through a corporeal organ, as the Philosopher proves in III De Anima cap. 1 (429a18-b5).

In fact, some accidents depend only on form. Understanding, for example, is an accident related to the intellect, and has no material component. Interesting.

Other accidents that are a consequence of form do have communication with matter, and among these is sensation. But no accident a consequence of matter is without some communication with form.

But there are no accidents that depend solely on matter. There is always a formal component.

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