“Active and Passive Potency” in Thomistic Angelology by Howard P. Kainz Ph. D. (auth.)

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By Howard P. Kainz Ph. D. (auth.)

A. "SEPARATE components" AND lOR" ANGELS"? it truly is fascinating to notice that, in an expressly theological treatise corresponding to the Summa theologiae, St. Thomas as a rule makes use of the time period "angel", instead of "separate substance"; whereas in works with a much less particular theological purpose - e. g. the Summa contra gentiles and the De substantiis separatis 1 - he in general prefers the time period "separate substance". yet at any cost there's no doubt that the 2 phrases, "separate sub­ stance" and "angel" have a undeniable interchangeability and equivalence within the works of St. Thomas. In different phrases, "the separate substance" is comparable to "the angel, insofar as its life and attributes are knowable via human cause alone". And this has led Karl Barth 2 to cost that St. Thomas' angelology is basically a philosophical presenta­ tion, with little relevance to theology. 1 we'd say that those works are "philosophical" insofar as arguments from cause are emphasised in them, instead of arguments from revelation or religion. besides the fact that, as Lescoe issues out (in the advent to his variation of the De substantUs separatis, p. 8), the treatise on separate elements leads as much as theological subject-matter in Ch. 's XVII ff- specifically, an exposition of Catholic educating as present in Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, and particularly Dionysius. And Chenu keeps that the Summa contra gentiles is essentially a theological paintings, since it not just leads as much as theological subject-matter in Bk.

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42, q. 2, a. 1. 46 S. , I, Q. 25, Art. 5, ad. 1. THE THOMISTIC DOCTRINE ON POTENCY 43 d. Ordered potency, on the other hand, is this same creative power of God, considered in its de facto union and identity with His will and wisdom 47. e. Natural potency is the self-sufficiency of natural powers to perform certain operations, without any special assistance in the supernatural order 48. For example, the agent intellect of man is self-sufficient to lead him to knowledge in the light of first principles.

D. SUBDIVISIONS OF ACTIVE AND PASSIVE POTENCY To conclude our discussion of these fundamental active and passive types of potency, let us examine some of the subtypes or aspects of potency, which St. Thomas mentions explicitly or implicitly, and which can be categorized, respectively, on the basis of their operative (active) or receptive (passive) orientation. 1. Subdivisions of active potency a. , more eminent, gradation in the hierarchy of potential beings. Thus the angelic intelligence extends to all the objects which inferior intelligences encompass in their scope; and the active potency of God extends to all of creation, continually actuating it and conserving it in being 44.

4, § 5. 8 9 50 THE POWERS OF SEPARATE SUBSTANCES sary that there should be separate Forms corresponding to all of our universal ideas 14. Although it is safe to say that, in general, inferior realities must be ordered to a higher reality or higher realities 15, it is unwarranted for us to conclude that there must be separate higher realities conforming to all the distinct logical constructs we make of material being 16. 3. Other subsidiary methods mentioned by St. Thomas : a. Praeternatural phenomena.

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