Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




In this dissertation, I examine a recent discussion within the Thomist tradition concerning the ontological status of essence. The two theories involved in this discussion are what I call the older Thomistic existential ontology (abbreviated as 'OTEO') and the newer Thomistic existential ontology (abbreviated as 'NTEO' and also referred to as 'esseism'). In the Introduction, I summarize the respective positions of the OTEO and NTEO on essence, including its relationship to esse. It is generally accepted in the tradition that 'essence' refers to the "whatness" of being (ens), whereas 'esse' refers to the "thatness" of being. There is a disagreement, however, on the sort of ontological status that is required of an essence in order for it to account for the "whatness" of being. The OTEO position claims that essence is a positive ontological principle. The NTEO position claims that essence is a negative ontological principle. I then elaborate on the meanings of positive and negative principles, I point out the different sorts of relationships which couId obtain between essence and esse, and I identify which of the relationships are held to by the OTEO and the NTEO, respectively.



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