De Ente et Essentia
On Being and Essence
Quia parvus error in principio magnus est in fine secundum Philosophum in I Caeli et mundi, ens autem et essentia sunt quae primo intellectu concipiuntur, ut dicit Avicenna in principio suae Metaphysicae, ideo ne ex eorum ignorantia errare contingat, ad horum difficultatem aperiendam dicendum est quid nomine essentiae et entis significetur et quomodo in diversis inveniatur, et quomodo se habeat ad intentiones logicas, scilicet genus, speciem et differentiam.
A small error at the outset can lead to great errors in the final conclusions, as the Philosopher says in de Caelo et mundo 1.5, and thus, since being and essence are the things first conceived of by the intellect, as Avicenna says at the beginning of his Metaphysics 1.6, in order to avoid errors arising from ignorance about these two things, we should make plain the difficulties surrounding them by explaining what the terms being and essence each signify and by showing how each may be found in various things and how each is related to the logical intentions of genus, species, and difference.
Quia vero ex compositis simplicium cognitionem accipere debemus et ex posterioribus in priora devenire, ut a facilioribus incipientes convenientior fiat disciplina, ideo ex significatione entis ad significationem essentiae procedendum est.
Since we ought to acquire knowledge of simple things from composite ones and come to know what is prior from what is posterior, we advance in learning more readily when we begin with what is easier, and thus we should first consider the signification of being and then proceed from there to the signification of essence.
De nominis entis et essentiae significatione
On the meaning of the terms ‘being’ and ‘essence’
Sciendum est igitur quod, sicut in V Metaphysicae Philosophus dicit, ens per se dupliciter dicitur: uno modo quod dividitur per decem genera, alio modo quod significat propositionum veritatem. Horum autem differentia est quia secundo modo potest dici ens omne illud de quo affirmativa propositio formari potest, etiam si illud in re nihil ponat; per quem modum privationes et negationes entia dicuntur: dicimus enim quod affirmatio est opposita negationi, et quod caecitas est in oculo. Sed primo modo non potest dici ens nisi quod aliquid in re ponit; unde primo modo caecitas et huiusmodi non sunt entia.
As the Philosopher says in Metaphysics 5.7, ‘being’ has two senses. In one sense, being signifies that which is divided into the ten categories; in another sense, that which signifies the truth of propositions. The difference between these is that in the second sense, anything can be called a being about which an affirmative proposition can be formed, even if the thing posits nothing in reality. In this way, privations and negations are called beings, as when we say that affirmation is opposed to negation, or that blindness is in the eye. But in the first sense, nothing can be called a being unless it posits something in reality, and thus in this first sense blindness and similar things are not beings.
Nomen igitur essentiae non sumitur ab ente secundo modo dicto: aliqua enim hoc modo dicuntur entia quae essentiam non habent, ut patet in privationibus; sed sumitur essentia ab ente primo modo dicto. Unde Commentator in eodem loco dicit quod ens primo modo dictum est quod significat essentiam rei. Et quia, ut dictum est, ens hoc modo dictum dividitur per decem genera, oportet ut essentia significet aliquid commune omnibus naturis per quas diversa entia in diversis generibus et speciebus collocantur, sicut humanitas est essentia hominis, et sic de aliis.
The term ‘essence’ is not taken from being in the second sense, for in this sense some things are called beings that have no essence, as is clear with privations. Rather, the term ‘essence’ is taken from being in the first sense. Thus, in Metaphysics 5, com. 14, the Commentator explains the passage from Aristotle mentioned above by saying that being, in the first sense, is what signifies the essence of a thing. And since, as was said above, being in this sense is divided into the ten categories, essence signifies something common to all natures through which the various beings are placed in the various genera and species, as humanity is the essence of man, and so on.
Et quia illud per quod res constituitur in proprio genere vel specie est hoc quod significatur per diffinitionem indicantem quid est res, inde est quod nomen essentiae a philosophis in nomen quiditatis mutatur; et hoc est etiam quod Philosophus frequenter nominat quod quid erat esse, id est hoc per quod aliquid habet esse quid. Dicitur etiam forma, secundum quod per formam significatur certitudo uniuscuiusque rei, ut dicit Avicenna in II Metaphysicae suae. Hoc etiam alio nomine natura dicitur, accipiendo naturam secundum primum modum illorum quattuor quos Boethius in libro de Duabus naturis assignat: secundum scilicet quod natura dicitur omne illud quod intellectu quoquo modo capi potest, non enim res est intelligibilis nisi per diffinitionem et essentiam suam; et sic etiam Philosophus dicit in V Metaphysicae quod omnis substantia est natura. Tamen nomen naturae hoc modo sumptae videtur significare essentiam rei secundum quod habet ordinem ad propriam operationem rei, cum nulla res propria operatione destituatur; quiditatis vero nomen sumitur ex hoc quod per diffinitionem significatur. Sed essentia dicitur secundum quod per eam et in ea ens habet esse.
Since that through which a thing is constituted in its proper genus or species is what is signified by the definition indicating what the thing is, philosophers introduced the term ‘quiddity’ to mean the same as the term essence; and this is the same thing that the Philosopher frequently terms what it is to be a thing; that is, that through which something has being as a particular kind of thing. Essence is also called ‘form,’ for the certitude of every thing is signified through its form, as Avicenna says in his Metaphysics 1.6. The same thing is also called ‘nature,’ taking nature in the first of the four senses that Boethius distinguishes in his book de Persona et duabus naturis 1, in the sense, in other words, that nature is what we call everything that can in any way be captured by the intellect, for a thing is not intelligible except through its definition and essence. And so the Philosopher says in Metaphysics 5.4 that every substance is a nature. But the term ‘nature’ used in this way seems to signify the essence of a thing as it is ordered to the proper operation of the thing, for no thing is without its proper operation. The term ‘quiddity,’ surely, is taken from the fact that this is what is signified by the definition. But the same thing is called ‘essence’ because the being has existence through it and in it.
Sed quia ens absolute et primo dicitur de substantiis, et per posterius et quasi secundum quid de accidentibus, inde est quod essentia proprie et vere est in substantiis, sed in accidentibus est quodammodo et secundum quid. Substantiarum vero quaedam sunt simplices et quaedam compositae, et in utrisque est essentia; sed in simplicibus veriori et nobiliori modo, secundum quod etiam esse nobilius habent: sunt enim causa eorum quae composita sunt, ad minus substantia prima simplex quae Deus est. Sed quia illarum substantiarum essentiae sunt nobis magis occultae, ideo ab essentiis substantiarum compositarum incipiendum est, ut a facilioribus convenientior fiat disciplina.
But because being is absolutely and primarily said of substances, and only secondarily and in a certain sense said of accidents, essence too is properly and truly in substances and is in accidents only in a certain way and in a certain sense. Now some substances are simple and some are composite, and essence is in both, though in the simple substances in a truer and more noble way, as these have existence in a nobler way: indeed, the simple substances are the cause of the composite ones, or at least this is true with respect to the first simple substance, which is God. But because the essences of these substances are more hidden from us, we ought to begin with the essences of composite substances, for we advance in learning more readily when we begin with what is easier.
De essentiis substantiarum compositarum
On the essences of composite substances
In substantiis igitur compositis forma et materia nota est, ut in homine anima et corpus. Non autem potest dici quod alterum eorum tantum essentia esse dicatur. Quod enim materia sola rei non sit essentia, planum est, quia res per essentiam suam et cognoscibilis est, et in specie ordinatur vel genere; sed materia neque cognitionis principium est, neque secundum eam aliquid ad genus vel speciem determinatur, sed secundum id quod aliquid actu est. Neque etiam forma tantum essentia substantiae compositae dici potest, quamvis hoc quidam asserere conentur. Ex his enim quae dicta sunt patet quod essentia est illud quod per diffinitionem rei significatur; diffinitio autem substantiarum naturalium non tantum formam continet sed etiam materiam, aliter enim diffinitiones naturales et mathematicae non differrent. Nec potest dici quod materia in diffinitione substantiae naturalis ponatur sicut additum essentiae eius vel ens extra essentiam eius, quia hic modus diffinitionum proprius est accidentibus, quae perfectam essentiam non habent; unde oportet quod in diffinitione sua subiectum recipiant, quod est extra genus eorum. Patet ergo quod essentia comprehendit et materiam et formam.
In composite substances we find form and matter, as in man there are soul and body. We cannot say, however, that either of these alone is the essence of the thing. That matter alone is not the essence of the thing is clear, for it is through its essence that a thing is knowable and is placed in a species or genus. But matter is not a principle of cognition; nor is anything determined to a genus or species according to its matter but rather according to what it is in act. Nor is form alone the essence of a composite thing, however much certain people may try to assert this. From what has been said, it is clear that the essence is that which is signified by the definition of the thing. The definition of a natural substance, however, contains not only form but also matter; otherwise, the definitions of natural things and mathematical ones would not differ. Nor can it be said that matter is placed in the definition of a natural substance as something added to the essence or as some being beyond the essence of the thing, for that type of definition is more proper to accidents, which do not have a perfect essence and which include in their definitions a subject beyond their own genus. Therefore, the essence of a composite substance clearly comprises both matter and form.
Non autem potest dici quod essentia significet relationem quae est inter materiam et formam, vel aliquid superadditum ipsis, quia hoc de necessitate esset accidens et extraneum a re, nec per eam res cognosceretur: quae omnia essentiae conveniunt. Per formam enim, quae est actus materiae, materia efficitur ens actu et hoc aliquid; unde illud quod superadvenit non dat esse actu simpliciter materiae, sed esse actu tale, sicut etiam accidentia faciunt, ut albedo facit actu album. Unde et quando talis forma acquiritur, non dicitur generari simpliciter sed secundum quid.
Nor can it be said that essence signifies the relation between the matter and the form or something superadded to these, for then the essence would of necessity be an accident and extraneous to the thing, and the thing would not be known through its essence, all of which are proper to an essence. Through the form, surely, which is the act of the matter, the matter is made a being in act and a certain kind of thing. Thus, something that supervenes does not give to the matter existence in act simply, but rather existence in act in a certain way, just as accidents do, as when whiteness makes something actually white. Hence, when such a form is acquired, we do not say that the thing is generated simply but only in a certain way.
Relinquitur ergo quod nomen essentiae in substantiis compositis significat id quod ex materia et forma compositum est. Et huic consonat verbum Boethii in commento Praedicamentorum, ubi dicit quod usia significat compositum; usia enim apud Graecos idem est quod essentia apud nos, ut ipsemet dicit in libro de Duabus naturis. Avicenna etiam dicit quod quiditas substantiarum compositarum est ipsa compositio formae et materiae. Commentator etiam dicit super VII Metaphysicae: Natura quam habent species in rebus generabilibus est aliquod medium, id est compositum ex materia et forma.
It remains, therefore, that the term ‘essence,’ used with respect to composite substances, signifies that which is composed of matter and form. This conclusion is consistent with what Boethius says in his commentary on the Categories, namely, that ousia signifies what is composite; ousia, of course, is for the Greeks what essence is for us, as Boethius himself says in his book de Persona et duabus naturis. Avicenna even says (Metaphysics 5.5) that the quiddity of a composite substance is the very composition of the form and the matter. And commenting on Book 7 of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, the Commentator says: The nature that species in generable things have is something in the middle; that is, it is composed of matter and form (Metaphysics 7, com. 27).
Huic etiam ratio concordat, quia esse substantiae compositae non est tantum formae neque tantum materiae, sed ipsius compositi; essentia autem est secundum quam res esse dicitur: unde oportet ut essentia qua res denominatur ens non tantum sit forma, neque tantum materia, sed utrumque, quamvis huiusmodi esse suo modo sola forma sit causa. Sic enim in aliis videmus quae ex pluribus principiis constituuntur, quod res non denominatur ex altero illorum principiorum tantum, sed ab eo quod utrumque complectitur: ut patet in saporibus, quia ex actione calidi digerentis humidum causatur dulcedo, et quamvis hoc modo calor sit causa dulcedinis, non tamen denominatur corpus dulce calore sed sapore qui calidum et humidum complectitur.
Moreover, reason supports this view, for the existence of a composite substance is neither form alone nor matter alone but is rather composed of these. The essence is that according to which the thing is said to exist; hence, it is right that the essence by which a thing is denominated a being is neither form alone not matter alone but both, although existence of this kind is caused by the form and not by the matter. Similarly, we see that in other things that are constituted from many principles, the thing is not denominated from just one or the other of the principles but rather from that which embraces both. Thus, with respect to flavors, sweetness is caused by the action of a warm animal body digesting what is wet, and although in this way warmth is the cause of the sweetness, nevertheless a body is not called sweet by reason of the warmth, but rather by reason of the flavor, which embraces both the warmth and the wetness.
Sed quia individuationis principium materia est, ex hoc forte videtur sequi quod essentia, quae materiam in se complectitur simul et formam, sit tantum particularis et non universalis: ex quo sequeretur quod universalia diffinitionem non haberent, si essentia est id quod per diffinitionem significatur. Et ideo sciendum est quod materia non quolibet modo accepta est individuationis principium, sed solum materia signata; et dico materiam signatam quae sub determinatis dimensionibus consideratur. Haec autem materia in diffinitione quae est hominis in quantum est homo non ponitur, sed poneretur in diffinitione Socratis si Socrates diffinitionem haberet. In diffinitione autem hominis ponitur materia non signata: non enim in diffinitione hominis ponitur hoc os et haec caro, sed os et caro absolute quae sunt materia hominis non signata.
But because matter is the principle of individuation, it would perhaps seem to follow that essence, which embraces in itself simultaneously both form and matter, is merely particular and not universal. From this it would follow that universals have no definitions, assuming that essence is what is signified by the definition. Thus, we must point out that the principle of individuation is not matter understood in just any way, but only signate matter is the principle of individuation. I call ‘signate matter’ matter considered under determinate dimensions. Such matter is not included in the definition of man as man, but it would be included in the definition of Socrates, if Socrates had a definition. In the definition of man, however, is included non-signate matter: in the definition of man we do not include ‘this bone’ and ‘this flesh’ but only bone and flesh absolutely, which are the non-signate matter of man.
Sic ergo patet quod essentia hominis et essentia Socratis non differt nisi secundum signatum et non signatum; unde Commentator dicit super VII Metaphysicae: Socrates nihil aliud est quam animalitas et rationalitas, quae sunt quiditas eius. Sic etiam essentia generis et speciei secundum signatum et non signatum differunt, quamvis alius modus designationis sit utrobique: quia designatio individui respectu speciei est per materiam determinatam dimensionibus, designatio autem speciei respectu generis est per differentiam constitutivam quae ex forma rei sumitur. Haec autem determinatio vel designatio quae est in specie respectu generis, non est per aliquid in essentia speciei exsistens quod nullo modo in essentia generis sit; immo quicquid est in specie est etiam in genere ut non determinatum. Si enim animal non esset totum quod est homo sed pars eius, non praedicaretur de eo, cum nulla pars integralis de suo toto praedicetur.
Hence, the essence of man and the essence of Socrates do not differ except as the signate differs from the non-signate, and so the Commentator says, in Metaphysics 7, com. 20: Socrates is nothing other than animality and rationality, which are his quiddity. Similarly, the essence of a genus and the essence of a species differ as signate from non-signate, although in the case of genus and species a different mode of designation is used with respect to each. For the designation of the individual with respect to the species is through matter determined by dimensions, while the designation of the species with respect to the genus is through the constitutive difference, which is taken from the form of the thing. This determination or designation, however, which is made in the species with respect to the genus, is not through something that exists in the essence of the species but in no way exists in the essence of the genus. On the contrary, whatever is in the species is also in the genus as undetermined. If animal were not all that man is but rather only a part of him, then animal would not be predicated of man, for no integral part may be predicated of its whole.
Hoc autem quomodo contingat videri poterit, si inspiciatur qualiter differt corpus secundum quod ponitur pars animalis, et secundum quod ponitur genus; non enim potest esse eo modo genus quo est pars integralis. Hoc igitur nomen quod est corpus multipliciter accipi potest. Corpus enim secundum quod est in genere substantiae dicitur ex eo quod habet talem naturam ut in eo possint designari tres dimensiones; ipsae enim tres dimensiones designatae sunt corpus quod est in genere quantitatis. Contingit autem in rebus ut quod habet unam perfectionem, ad ulteriorem etiam perfectionem pertingat; sicut patet in homine, qui et naturam sensitivam habet, et ulterius intellectivam. Similiter etiam et super hanc perfectionem quae est habere talem formam ut in ea possint tres dimensiones designari, potest alia perfectio adiungi, ut vita vel aliquid huiusmodi. Potest ergo hoc nomen corpus significare rem quandam quae habet talem formam ex qua sequitur in ipsa designabilitas trium dimensionum, cum praecisione: ut scilicet ex illa forma nulla ulterior perfectio sequatur, sed si quid aliud superadditur, sit praeter significationem corporis sic dicti. Et hoc modo corpus erit integralis et materialis pars animalis: quia sic anima erit praeter id quod significatum est nomine corporis, et erit superveniens ipsi corpori, ita quod ex ipsis duobus, scilicet anima et corpore, sicut ex partibus constituetur animal.
We can see how this happens by considering how body taken as a part of animal differs from body taken as the genus of animal, for body cannot be a genus in the way it is an integral part. The term ‘body’ can thus be accepted in several ways. Body is said to be in the genus of substance in that it has a nature such that three dimensions can be designated in it. These three designated dimensions are the body that is in the genus of quantity. Now, it sometimes happens that what has one perfection may attain to a further perfection as well, as is clear in man, who has a sensitive nature and, further, an intellective one. Similarly, above this perfection of having a form such that three dimensions can be designated in it, there can be joined another perfection, as life or some similar thing. This term ‘body’ therefore can signify a certain thing that has a form such that from the form there follows in the thing designatability in three dimensions exclusively: namely, such that from this form no further perfection follows, but if some other thing is superadded, it is beyond the signification of body thus understood. And understood in this way, body will be an integral and material part of animal, because in this way soul will be beyond what is signified by the term ‘body,’ and it will supervene on body such that from these two (namely, soul and body), animal is constituted as from parts.
Potest etiam hoc nomen corpus hoc modo accipi ut significet rem quandam quae habet talem formam ex qua tres dimensiones in ea possunt designari, quaecumque forma sit illa, sive ex ea possit provenire aliqua ulterior perfectio, sive non; et hoc modo corpus erit genus animalis, quia in animali nihil erit accipere quod non implicite in corpore contineatur. Non enim anima est alia forma ab illa per quam in re illa poterant designari tres dimensiones; et ideo cum dicebatur quod corpus est quod habet talem formam ex qua possunt designari tres dimensiones in eo, intelligebatur quaecumque forma esset: sive anima, sive lapideitas, sive quaecumque alia. Et sic forma animalis implicite in forma corporis continetur, prout corpus est genus eius.
This term ‘body’ can also be understood as signifying a certain thing that has a form such that three dimensions can be designated in it, whatever form this may be, such that either from the form some further perfection can arise or not. Understood in this way, body will be the genus of animal, for there will be understood in animal nothing that is not implicitly contained in body. Now, the soul is not a form other than that through which there can be designated in the thing three dimensions, and therefore, when we say that body is what has a form from which three dimensions can be designated in the body, we understand that there is some kind of form of this type, whether soul, or rockness, or any other form. And thus the form of animal is implicitly contained in the form of body, when body is its genus.
Et talis est etiam habitudo animalis ad hominem. Si enim animal nominaret tantum rem quandam quae habet talem perfectionem ut possit sentire et moveri per principium in ipso existens, cum praecisione alterius perfectionis, tunc quaecumque alia perfectio ulterior superveniret haberet se ad animal per modum compartis, et non sicut implicite contenta in ratione animalis: et sic animal non esset genus. Sed est genus secundum quod significat rem quandam ex cuius forma potest provenire sensus et motus, quaecumque sit illa forma: sive sit anima sensibilis tantum, sive sensibilis et rationalis simul.
Such too is the relation of animal to man. For if ‘animal’ named just a certain thing that has a perfection such that it can sense and move by a principle existing in itself, excluding any other perfection, then whatever further perfection may supervene would be related to animal as another part thereof, and not as implicitly contained in the notion of animal, and in this way animal would not be a genus. But animal is a genus when it signifies a certain thing from the form of which sensation and motion can arise, whatever this form may be, whether a sensible soul only or a soul both sensible and rational.
Sic ergo genus significat indeterminate totum id quod est in specie, non enim significat tantum materiam. Similiter etiam et differentia significat totum, et non significat tantum formam; et etiam diffinitio significat totum, et etiam species. Sed tamen diversimode: quia genus significat totum ut quaedam denominatio determinans id quod est materiale in re sine determinatione propriae formae, unde genus sumitur ex materia—quamvis non sit materia—ut patet quia corpus dicitur ex hoc quod habet talem perfectionem ut possint in eo designari tres dimensiones, quae quidem perfectio est materialiter se habens ad ulteriorem perfectionem. Differentia vero e converso est sicut quaedam denominatio a forma determinate sumpta, praeter hoc quod de primo intellectu eius sit materia determinata; ut patet cum dicitur animatum, scilicet illud quod habet animam, non enim determinatur quid sit, utrum corpus vel aliquid aliud; unde dicit Avicenna quod genus non intelligitur in differentia sicut pars essentiae eius, sed solum sicut ens extra essentiam, sicut etiam subiectum est de intellectu passionum. Et ideo etiam genus non praedicatur de differentia per se loquendo, ut dicit Philosophus in III Metaphysicae et in IV Topicorum, nisi forte sicut subiectum praedicatur de passione. Sed diffinitio vel species comprehendit utrumque, scilicet determinatam materiam quam designat nomen generis, et determinatam formam quam designat nomen differentiae.
Therefore, the genus signifies indeterminately the whole of what is in the species and not the matter only. Similarly, the difference also signifies the whole and not the form only. So, too, the definition signifies the whole, as does the species. But although these all signify the same thing, they do so in different ways. For the genus signifies the whole as a certain denomination determining that which is material in the thing without a determination of its proper form, whence the genus is taken from the matter, although it is not the matter. This is clear from the fact that we call something a body in that the thing has a perfection such that in it three dimensions can be designated, and this perfection is related materially to some further perfection. Conversely, the difference is like a certain denomination taken from the determined form, beyond the first conception by which the matter is determined. So, when we speak of something animated (that is, something that has a soul), this does not determine what the thing is, whether it is a body or something else. Hence, Avicenna says (Metaphysics 5.6) that the genus is not understood in the difference as a part of its essence but only as a being beyond its essence, even as a subject is with respect to the concept of a passion. And thus the genus is not predicated of the difference in itself, as the Philosopher says in Metaphysics 3.8 and in Topics 4.2, unless perhaps as a subject is predicated of a passion. But the definition or the species comprehends both: namely, the determined matter that the term ‘genus’ designates and the determined form that the term ‘difference’ designates.
Ex hoc patet ratio quare genus, species et differentia se habent proportionaliter ad materiam et formam et compositum in natura, quamvis non sint idem quod illa: quia neque genus est materia, sed a materia sumptum ut significans totum; neque differentia forma, sed a forma sumpta ut significans totum. Unde dicimus hominem esse animal rationale, et non ex animali et rationali sicut dicimus eum esse ex anima et corpore: ex anima enim et corpore dicitur esse homo sicut ex duabus rebus quaedam res tertia constituta quae neutra illarum est, homo enim neque est anima neque corpus. Sed si homo aliquo modo ex animali et rationali esse dicatur, non erit sicut res tertia ex duabus rebus, sed sicut intellectus tertius ex duobus intellectibus. Intellectus enim animalis est sine determinatione specialis formae, exprimens naturam rei ab eo quod est materiale respectu ultimae perfectionis; intellectus autem huius differentiae rationalis consistit in determinatione formae specialis: ex quibus duobus intellectibus constituitur intellectus speciei vel diffinitionis. Et ideo sicut res constituta ex aliquibus non recipit praedicationem earum rerum ex quibus constituitur, ita nec intellectus recipit praedicationem eorum intellectuum ex quibus constituitur: non enim dicimus quod diffinitio sit genus aut differentia.
From this is it clear why the genus, the difference, and the species are related proportionally to the matter, the form, and the composite in nature, although they are not the same as these things. For the genus is not the matter, although it is taken from the matter as signifying the whole; nor is the difference the form, although it is taken from the form as signifying the whole. We thus say that man is a rational animal, but not that he is composed of animal and rational in the sense that we say that man is composed of soul and body: man is said to be composed of soul and body as from two things from which a third thing is constituted different from each of the two, for man is neither body nor soul. But if man is said in some sense to be composed of animal and rational, it will not be as a third thing composed from these two things, but as a third concept composed from these two concepts. The concept of animal is without determination of a special form and expresses the nature of the thing from that which is material with respect to its ultimate perfection; the concept of the difference, rational, consists in the determination of a special form. From these two concepts are constituted the concept of the species or the definition. Thus, just as a thing constituted from other things does not have predicated of it these other things, so too a concept does not have predicated of it the concepts of which it is constituted: clearly, we do not say that the definition is either the genus or the difference.
Quamvis autem genus significet totam essentiam speciei, non tamen oportet ut diversarum specierum quarum est idem genus, sit una essentia, quia unitas generis ex ipsa indeterminatione vel indifferentia procedit. Non autem ita quod illud quod significatur per genus sit una natura numero in diversis speciebus, cui superveniat res alia quae sit differentia determinans ipsum, sicut forma determinat materiam quae est una numero; sed quia genus significat aliquam formam—non tamen determinate hanc vel illam—quam determinate differentia exprimit, quae non est alia quam illa quae indeterminate significabatur per genus. Et ideo dicit Commentator in XI Metaphysicae quod materia prima dicitur una per remotionem omnium formarum, sed genus dicitur unum per communitatem formae significatae. Unde patet quod per additionem differentiae remota illa indeterminatione quae erat causa unitatis generis, remanent species per essentiam diversae.
Although the genus may signify the whole essence of the species, nevertheless the various species of which it is the genus do not have the same essence, for the unity of the genus proceeds from its very indetermination or undifferentiation. Nor is it the case that what is signified through the genus in the various species is numerically one nature such that to it there supervenes some other thing, which is the difference that determines it, as a form determines matter that is numerically one. Rather, the genus signifies some form (though not determinately this one or that one), which the difference expresses determinately, the very one that is signified indeterminately through the genus. And thus the Commentator says in Metaphysics 12, com. 14, that prime matter is called ‘one’ by the removal of all forms, but the genus is called ‘one’ through the commonality of forms signified. Hence, once the indetermination (which was the cause of the unity of the genus) is removed through the addition of the difference, the various species remain diverse by essence.
Et quia, ut dictum est, natura speciei est indeterminata respectu individui sicut natura generis respectu speciei: inde est quod, sicut id quod est genus prout praedicabatur de specie implicabat in sua significatione, quamvis indistincte, totum quod determinate est in specie, ita etiam et id quod est species secundum quod praedicatur de individuo oportet quod significet totum id quod est essentialiter in individuo, licet indistincte. Et hoc modo essentia speciei significatur nomine hominis, unde homo de Socrate praedicatur. Si autem significetur natura speciei cum praecisione materiae designatae quae est principium individuationis, sic se habebit per modum partis; et hoc modo significatur nomine humanitatis; humanitas enim significat id unde homo est homo. Materia autem designata non est id unde homo est homo, et ita nullo modo continetur inter illa ex quibus homo habet quod sit homo. Cum ergo humanitas in suo intellectu includat tantum ea ex quibus homo habet quod est homo, patet quod a significatione excluditur vel praeciditur materia designata; et quia pars non praedicatur de toto, inde est quod humanitas nec de homine nec de Socrate praedicatur. Unde dicit Avicenna quod quiditas compositi non est ipsum compositum cuius est quiditas, quamvis etiam ipsa quiditas sit composita; sicut humanitas, licet sit composita, non est homo: immo oportet quod sit recepta in aliquo quod est materia designata.
Furthermore, since, as was said above, the nature of the species is indeterminate with respect to the individual just as the nature of the genus is with respect to the species, and since, further, the genus, as predicated of the species, includes in its signification (although indistinctly) everything that is in the species determinately, so too does the species, as predicated of the individual, signify everything that is in the individual essentially, although it signifies this indistinctly. In this way, the essence of the species is signified by the term ‘man,’ and so man is predicated of Socrates. If, however, the nature of the species is signified in such a way as to exclude designate matter, which is the principle of individuation, then the species is related to the individual as a part; and this is how the term ‘humanity’ signifies, for humanity signifies that by which a man is a man. Designate matter, however, is not that by which a man is a man, and it is in no way contained among those things that make a man a man. Since, therefore, the concept of humanity includes only those things by which a man is a man, designate matter is excluded or omitted, and since a part is not predicated of its whole, humanity is predicated neither of man nor of Socrates. Thus, Avicenna says (Metaphysics 5.5) that the quiddity of a composite thing is not the composite thing of which it is the quiddity, even though the quiddity itself is composite, just as humanity, while composite, is not man. On the contrary, it must be received in something that is designate matter.
Sed quia, ut dictum est, designatio speciei respectu generis est per formam, designatio autem individui respectu speciei est per materiam, ideo oportet ut nomen significans id unde natura generis sumitur, cum praecisione formae determinatae perficientis speciem, significet partem materialem totius, sicut corpus est pars materialis hominis; nomen autem significans id unde sumitur natura speciei, cum praecisione materiae designatae, significat partem formalem. Et ideo humanitas significatur ut forma quaedam, et dicitur quod est forma totius; non quidem quasi superaddita partibus essentialibus, scilicet formae et materiae, sicut forma domus superadditur partibus integralibus eius: sed magis est forma quae est totum, scilicet formam complectens et materiam, tamen cum praecisione eorum per quae nata est materia designari.
But since, as was said above, the designation of the species with respect to the genus is through form, and the designation of the individual with respect to the species is through matter, the term signifying that from which the nature of the genus is taken, when it excludes the determinate form that completes the species, signifies the material part of the whole: for example, as body is the material part of man. However, the term signifying that from which the nature of the species is taken, when it excludes designate matter, signifies the formal part. Thus, humanity is signified as a certain form, and it is said that it is the form of the whole: not, certainly, as a form superadded to the essential parts (the form and the matter) as the form of a house is superadded to its integral parts. Rather, humanity is the form that is the whole, embracing both form and matter, although excluding those things through which matter can be designated.
Sic igitur patet quod essentiam hominis significat hoc nomen homo et hoc nomen humanitas, sed diversimode, ut dictum est: quia hoc nomen homo significat eam ut totum, in quantum scilicet non praecidit designationem materiae sed implicite continet eam et indistincte, sicut dictum est quod genus continet differentiam; et ideo praedicatur hoc nomen homo de individuis. Sed hoc nomen humanitas significat eam ut partem, quia non continet in significatione sua nisi id quod est hominis in quantum est homo, et praecidit omnem designationem; unde de individuis hominis non praedicatur. Et propter hoc nomen essentiae quandoque invenitur praedicatum de re, dicimus enim Socratem esse essentiam quandam; et quandoque negatur, sicut dicimus quod essentia Socratis non est Socrates.
Therefore, the term ‘man’ and the term ‘humanity’ both signify the essence of man, though in diverse ways, as was said above. The term ‘man’ signifies the essence as a whole: in other words, insofar as the essence does not exclude designation of matter but implicitly and indistinctly contains it, in the way in which we said that the genus contains the difference. Hence, the term ‘man’ is predicated of individuals. But the term ‘humanity’ signifies the essence of man as a part because it contains in its signification only what belongs to man insofar as he is man, and excludes all designation. Thus, it is not predicated of individual men. And for this reason the term ‘essence’ is sometimes found predicated of the thing, as when we say that Socrates is a certain essence; and sometimes the term ‘essence’ is denied of the thing, as when we say that the essence of Socrates is not Socrates.
Quomodo essentia se habet ad rationem generis speciei et differentiae
How essence is related to genus, species, and difference
Viso igitur quid significetur nomine essentiae in substantiis compositis, videndum est quomodo se habeat ad rationem generis speciei et differentiae. Quia autem id cui convenit ratio generis vel speciei vel differentiae praedicatur de hoc singulari signato, impossibile est quod ratio universalis, scilicet generis vel speciei, conveniat essentiae secundum quod per modum partis significatur, ut nomine humanitatis vel animalitatis; et ideo dicit Avicenna quod rationalitas non est differentia sed differentiae principium; et eadem ratione humanitas non est species, nec animalitas genus. Similiter etiam non potest dici quod ratio generis vel speciei conveniat essentiae secundum quod est quaedam res exsistens extra singularia, ut Platonici ponebant, quia sic genus et species non praedicarentur de hoc individuo; non enim potest dici quod Socrates sit hoc quod ab eo separatum est, nec iterum illud separatum proficeret in cognitionem huius singularis. Et ideo relinquitur quod ratio generis vel speciei conveniat essentiae secundum quod significatur per modum totius, ut nomine hominis vel animalis, prout implicite et indistincte continet totum hoc quod in individuo est.
Having seen what the term ‘essence’ signifies in composite substances, we ought next to see how essence is related to the logical intentions of genus, species, and difference. Since that to which the intentions of genus or species or difference is appropriate is predicated of this signate singular, it is impossible that a universal intention, like that of the species or genus, should be appropriate to the essence if the genus or species is signified as a part, as in the term ‘humanity’ or ‘animality.’ Thus, Avicenna says (Metaphysics 5.6) that rationality is not the difference but the principle of the difference. For the same reason, humanity is not a species, and animality is not a genus. Similarly, we cannot say that the intention of species or genus is appropriate to the essence as to a certain thing existing beyond singulars, as the Platonists used to suppose, for then the species and the genus would not be predicated of an individual: we surely cannot say that Socrates is something that is separated from him, nor would that separate thing advance our knowledge of this singular thing. And so it remains that the intention of genus or species is appropriate to the essence as the essence is signified as a whole, as the term ‘man’ or ‘animal’ implicitly and indistinctly contains the whole of what is in the individual.
Natura autem vel essentia sic accepta potest dupliciter considerari. Uno modo, secundum rationem propriam, et haec est absoluta consideratio ipsius: et hoc modo nihil est verum de ea nisi quod convenit sibi secundum quod huiusmodi; unde quicquid aliorum attribuatur sibi, falsa est attributio. Verbi gratia homini in eo quod est homo convenit rationale et animal et alia quae in diffinitione eius cadunt; album vero aut nigrum, vel quicquid huiusmodi quod non est de ratione humanitatis, non convenit homini in eo quod homo. Unde si quaeratur utrum ista natura sic considerata possit dici una vel plures, neutrum concedendum est, quia utrumque est extra intellectum humanitatis, et utrumque potest sibi accidere. Si enim pluralitas esset de intellectu eius, nunquam posset esse una, cum tamen una sit secundum quod est in Socrate. Similiter si unitas esset de ratione eius, tunc esset una et eadem Socratis et Platonis nec posset in pluribus plurificari. Alio modo consideratur secundum esse quod habet in hoc vel in illo: et sic de ipsa aliquid praedicatur per accidens ratione eius in quo est, sicut dicitur quod homo est albus quia Socrates est albus, quamvis hoc non conveniat homini in eo quod homo.
The nature, however, or the essence thus understood can be considered in two ways. First, we can consider it according to its proper notion, and this is to consider it absolutely. In this way, nothing is true of the essence except what pertains to it absolutely: thus everything else that may be attributed to it will be attributed falsely. For example, to man, in that by which he is man, pertains animal and rational and the other things that fall in his definition; white or black or whatever else of this kind that is not in the notion of humanity does not pertain to man in that by which he is a man. Hence, if it is asked whether this nature, considered in this way, can be said to be one or many, we should concede neither alternative, for both are beyond the concept of humanity, and either may befall the conception of man. If plurality were in the concept of this nature, it could never be one, but nevertheless it is one as it exists in Socrates. Similarly, if unity were in the notion of this nature, then it would be one and the same in Socrates and Plato, and it could not be made many in many individuals. Second, we can also consider the existence the essence has in this thing or in that: in this way something can be predicated of the essence accidentally by reason of what the essence is in, as when we say that man is white because Socrates is white, although this does not pertain to man in that by which he is man.
Haec autem natura duplex habet esse: unum in singularibus et aliud in anima, et secundum utrumque consequuntur dictam naturam accidentia; in singularibus etiam habet multiplex esse secundum singularium diversitatem. Et tamen ipsi naturae secundum suam primam considerationem, scilicet absolutam, nullum istorum esse debetur. Falsum enim est dicere quod essentia hominis in quantum huiusmodi habeat esse in hoc singulari, quia si esse in hoc singulari conveniret homini in quantum est homo, nunquam esset extra hoc singulare; similiter etiam si conveniret homini in quantum est homo non esse in hoc singulari, nunquam esset in eo: sed verum est dicere quod homo, non in quantum est homo, habet quod sit in hoc singulari vel in illo aut in anima. Ergo patet quod natura hominis absolute considerata abstrahit a quolibet esse, ita tamen quod non fiat praecisio alicuius eorum. Et haec natura sic considerata est quae praedicatur de individuis omnibus.
The nature considered in this way, however, has a double existence. On the one hand, it exists in singulars, and, on the other hand, it exists in the soul, and from each of these the nature acquires certain accidents. In singulars, furthermore, the essence has a multiple existence according to the multiplicity of singulars. Nevertheless, if we consider the essence in the first, or absolute, sense, none of these pertain to the essence. For it is false to say that the essence of man, considered absolutely, has existence in this singular, because if existence in this singular pertained to man insofar as he is man, man would never exist outside this singular. Similarly, if it pertained to man insofar as he is man not to exist in this singular, then the essence would never exist in the singular. But it is true to say that man, but not insofar as he is man, has whatever may be in this singular or in that one, or else in the soul. Therefore, the nature of man considered absolutely abstracts from every existence, though it does not exclude the existence of anything either. And the nature thus considered is the one predicated of each individual.
Non tamen potest dici quod ratio universalis conveniat naturae sic acceptae, quia de ratione universalis est unitas et communitas; naturae autem humanae neutrum horum convenit secundum absolutam suam considerationem. Si enim communitas esset de intellectu hominis, tunc in quocumque inveniretur humanitas inveniretur communitas; et hoc falsum est, quia in Socrate non invenitur communitas aliqua, sed quicquid est in eo est individuatum. Similiter etiam non potest dici quod ratio generis vel speciei accidat naturae humanae secundum esse quod habet in individuis, quia non invenitur in individuis natura humana secundum unitatem ut sit unum quid omnibus conveniens, quod ratio universalis exigit. Relinquitur ergo quod ratio speciei accidat naturae humanae secundum illud esse quod habet in intellectu.
Nevertheless, the nature understood in this way is not a universal notion, because unity and commonality belong to the notion of a universal, but to human nature, considered absolutely, neither of these belong. For if commonality were in the concept of man, then in whatever humanity were found, there would be found commonality, and this is false, because no commonality is found in Socrates, but rather whatever is in him is individuated. Similarly, the notion of genus or species does not pertain to human nature because of the existence that that nature has in individuals, for human nature is not found in individuals with a unity that it will be one thing in all the individuals, which the notion of a universal demands. It remains, therefore, that the notion of species pertains to human nature according to the existence human nature has in the intellect.
Ipsa enim natura humana in intellectu habet esse abstractum ab omnibus individuantibus; et ideo habet rationem uniformem ad omnia individua quae sunt extra animam, prout aequaliter est similitudo omnium et ducens in omnium cognitionem in quantum sunt homines. Et ex hoc quod talem relationem habet ad omnia individua, intellectus adinvenit rationem speciei et attribuit sibi; unde dicit Commentator in principio de Anima quod intellectus est qui agit in rebus universalitatem; hoc etiam Avicenna dicit in sua Metaphysica. Et quamvis haec natura intellecta habeat rationem universalis secundum quod comparatur ad res extra animam, quia est una similitudo omnium, tamen secundum quod habet esse in hoc intellectu vel in illo est quaedam species intellecta particularis. Et ideo patet defectus Commentatoris in III de Anima, qui voluit ex universalitate formae intellectae unitatem intellectus in omnibus hominibus concludere; quia non est universalitas illius formae secundum hoc esse quod habet in intellectu, sed secundum quod refertur ad res ut similitudo rerum; sicut etiam si esset una statua corporalis repraesentans multos homines, constat quod illa imago vel species statuae haberet esse singulare et proprium secundum quod esset in hac materia, sed haberet rationem communitatis secundum quod esset commune repraesentativum plurium.
Human nature in the intellect has existence abstracted from everything that individuates, and thus it is related uniformly to all individuals that exist outside the soul, as it is equally a likeness of all of them, and it leads to knowledge of all of them insofar as they are men. Since the nature in the intellect has this relation to each individual, the intellect invents the notion of species and attributes it to the nature. Hence, the Commentator, in de Anima 1, com. 8, says that the intellect is what makes universality in things; and Avicenna says the same in his Metaphysics 5.2. Although this nature understood in the intellect has the notion of a universal in relation to things outside the soul (because it is one likeness of them all), as the nature has existence in this intellect or in that one, it is a certain particular understood species. The Commentator, therefore, is in error in de Anima 3, com. 5, when he wants to infer the unity of intellect in all men from the universality of the understood form, because the universality of the form does not arise from the existence the form has in the intellect but rather from its relation to things as a likeness of them. It is as if there were a corporeal statue representing many men; that image or species of statue would have a singular and proper existence insofar as it exists in this matter, but it would have the character of commonality insofar as it was a common representative of many men.
Et quia naturae humanae secundum suam absolutam considerationem convenit quod praedicetur de Socrate, et ratio speciei non convenit sibi secundum suam absolutam considerationem sed est de accidentibus quae consequuntur eam secundum esse quod habet in intellectu, ideo nomen speciei non praedicatur de Socrate ut dicatur Socrates est species: quod de necessitate accideret si ratio speciei conveniret homini secundum esse quod habet in Socrate, vel secundum suam considerationem absolutam, scilicet in quantum est homo; quicquid enim convenit homini in quantum est homo praedicatur de Socrate.
Since human nature, considered absolutely, is properly predicated of Socrates, and since the notion of species does not pertain to human nature considered absolutely but only accidentally because of the existence the nature has in the intellect, the term ‘species’ is not predicated of Socrates, for we do not say that Socrates is a species. We would have to say that Socrates is a species if the notion of species pertained to man arising from the existence that the nature has in Socrates or from the nature considered absolutely, that is, insofar as man is man. For whatever pertains to man insofar as he is man is predicated of Socrates.
Et tamen praedicari convenit generi per se, cum in eius diffinitione ponatur. Praedicatio enim est quiddam quod completur per actionem intellectus componentis et dividentis, habens fundamentum in re ipsa unitatem eorum quorum unum de altero dicitur. Unde ratio praedicabilitatis potest claudi in ratione huius intentionis quae est genus, quae similiter per actum intellectus completur. Nihilominus tamen id cui intellectus intentionem praedicabilitatis attribuit, componens illud cum altero, non est ipsa intentio generis, sed potius illud cui intellectus intentionem generis attribuit, sicut quod significatur hoc nomine animal.
But ‘to be predicated’ pertains to a genus in itself, because being predicated is placed in its definition. Now, predication is completed by the action of the intellect in compounding and dividing, and it has as its basis the unity in the real thing itself of those things one of which is said of another. Hence, the notion of predicability can be placed under the notion of this intention which is the genus, which is itself completed by an act of the intellect. Still, that to which the intellect attributes the intention of predicability by compounding it with another is not itself this intention of genus; it is rather that to which the intellect attributes the intention of genus, as, for instance, to what is signified by the term ‘animal.’