Whether a Creature is More Perfect in Itself or in God's Knowledge According to Saint Thomas Aquinas
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Before comencing with the more technical and detailed analysis of the dissertation itself (which begins with "Chapter One: Introduction"), it will be helpful to give a short account of the genesis of the dissertation topic along with an explanation of its significance. While enrolled in a graduate course some years ago, I learned that the metaphysical position of Saint Thomas Aquinas could be called "authentic existentialism." In other words, for this medieval theologian "to be real" is "to be actually existing." What does "actually to exist" mean? It means: to stand outside of nothingness (i.e., outside of non-being), to stand outside or independent of one's efficient causes, to be other than or exist apart from the intentional universe. The act of existing (esse) is the fundamental perfection which makes any being be real; esse is that which constitutes the very reality of any being. Other traits or attributes such as simplicity, immutability, goodness, unity, infinity, etc., may also be present in a thing, but none of them constitutes the very reality of that thing; none of them makes that being be real. In an authentic existentialism it is the act of existing, and it alone, which makes something be real. Hence, it seemed to follow that something would be more real or more perfect as actually existing than as present (for instance) in the knowledge of its efficient cause, i.e., within the intentional universe...