The real distinction in creatures between being and essence according to William of Auvergne

Kevin Joseph Caster, Marquette University

Abstract

Scholars agree that the distinction between being and essence plays a pivotal role in the metaphysics of William of Auvergne. They differ radically, however, in their views of what the exact nature of this distinction is for William. For instance, M.-D. Roland-Gosselin holds that William saw the being of a thing as received from another and as really distinct from the essence. Amato Masnovo, on the other hand, considers that, for William, the being of created things is God himself. Of the various interpretations, the most influential has been that of Etienne Gilson; Gilson argues that being and essence are not, according to William, components in the metaphysical structure of the concrete object and that there is not a real distinction between them. To reach a clear understanding of William's distinction between being and essence and to settle the serious disagreement amongst scholars concerning his doctrine, this dissertation provides a thorough examination of William's relevant texts. From this examination, the dissertation concludes that the textual evidence strongly supports the position that, according to William, being and essence are real components in the metaphysical structure of the concrete object and that, moreover, there is a real distinction between being and essence. The dissertation also discusses the distinction between being and essence in William's sources, namely, Boethius and Avicenna, and in St. Thomas Aquinas. The discussion of Boethius and Avicenna enables us to answer the question of whether or not William's teaching represents an advance over his predecessors. But it also supplies material for the examination of William's doctrine itself since, as William's chief sources, Boethius and Avicenna obviously influenced William's position. The discussion of St. Thomas allows us to state whether or not William's teaching may be said to anticipate that of St. Thomas. This dissertation argues that William not only maintains a real distinction between being and essence, but that he represents an advance over Boethius and Avicenna and also anticipates St. Thomas.

Recommended Citation

Caster, Kevin Joseph, "The real distinction in creatures between being and essence according to William of Auvergne" (1995). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9600846.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9600846

Share

COinS