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Dumb Generalities

June 7, 2008

Some have most likely heard, as have I, that one huge problem with the Medieval period is that they considered there to be only one type of being.  The theory goes that from Jon Scotus Eriugena to Meister Eckhart there was no adequate distinction of being as it should be distinguished between Creator and creature.  Against that:

Fergus Kerr has not been alone recently in drawing attention to the extend to which Aquinas, in his understanding of the being of God (a phrase that even here does not say that being and God are the same), draws his understanding not from … the science of being in so far as it is being of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, but from a reading of the Vulgate’s (and behind the Septuagint’s) rendering of Exodus 3:14. (Laurence Paul Hemming, “In Matters of Truth: Heidegger and Aquinas” in Fergus Kerr, Contemplating Aquinas, p. 92)

Aquinas gets his concept of being from the eimi of the Exodus story, similar to Augustine getting his rationes seminales from Ecclesiasticus.  This at least clarifies, Scotus’s concept of univocal being aside, that analogy implies a distinction within being.  And as anyone who has read even the smallest amount of Aquinas knows he strongly separates the Ipsum Esse Subsistens of the Creator from the esse commune of the creature. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 7, 2008 11:10 am

    The charge of no distinction between creator and creature neseems ridiculously oversimplified. To suppose that such an elementary mistake went unnoticed, even by the later Reformers, is pretty hard to buy.

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