Here are some of the fruits of today's research. I offer it here because it may (or may not) be of interest to any of the Smithy's readers, and is otherwise not
easy to find.Richard of Middleton. Commentarium super quartum Sententiarum. Venice: Bonetus Locatellus, 1499.II. Sent. dist. III art. 1 q.1.
In discussing the nonsimplicity of the angels Richard asks first whether the angels are composed of essence and existence. He concludes that in a certain respect they are, but not in a way that precludes or renders unnecessary a composition of the angelic essence from matter and form.
“Respondeo quod eo modo quo essentia angeli et suum esse differunt, est ibi compositio ex essentia et esse.” If the angel’s essence and existence differ only notionally (secundum rationem), then it only has a notional composition. But this can’t be the case because the two are not simply interchangable in predication: “[Hic] praedicatio est falsa: essentia angeli est suum esse.” According to Hugo, Didascalicon i.6, only in God are essence and existence the same.
How then should we understand the relation of essence to existence in angels? Richard first recognizes three ways in which the essence can be said to be in potency to its existence: 1) The essence without existence can be understood as simply lacking the perfection of actuality (carentiam perfectionis actualitatis); 2) or as having some intelligible matter, that is, a nature not simply potential, but potential with respect to the form of the angel; 3) or as having some purely potential nature (aliquam naturam pure potentialem).
1) The first option posits no positive reality (non dicat aliquid reale positivum) other than the essence itself. Nothing can enter into composition with a privation or negation, nor can a privation or a negation be an essence or part of an essence. This option then is equivalent to declaring that the actual being of the essence of the angel is really the same as that essence, differing by nothing positive, which Richard rejects as insufficient.
2) The second way still posits nothing of the essence of the angel besides actuality: “quia sicut possibilitas formae non esset eius essentia, sic nec possibilitas materiae; sed tantummodo constitutum ex actualitate materiae in completa, et actualitate formae complete: et sic ad hoc sequeretur quod actuale esse angeli esset realiter idem quod eius essentia, non pars eius.”
3) The third way is more probable, supposing that we could posit some purely potential nature in the angelic essence which would need the addition of an extrinsic principle of existence to be. “Sed sicut patebit inferius illud quod est loco materiae in angelo non est natura pure potentialis: et ideo illi opinioni non consentio.”
Others say that for an angel to exist some “absolute thing” must be added to the angel’s essence which is neither a part nor an accident of the essence, but something nobler than the essence, “quid nobilius essentia”, since the essence itself has more “possibility” than its being.
But others say, what Richard himself agrees more with, “quibus magis consentio”, that actual existence adds nothing absolute over the essence of the angel himself, but only a real relation to the giver of his being, “tantummodo realem relationem ad datorem ipsius esse.” Existence cannot be anything accidental to the substance, because it is natural for substance to exist, “substantia nata est existere in se.” An accident is that whose nature is to exist in another (and not as a part of that other), nor can it exist per se, except miraculously. Therefore, if actual existence were some absolute thing besides the essence of the angel itself, since it would not the sort of thing that could exist in itself, but in the essence, it would be a certain (quoddam) accident of the essence, “quod est inconveniens”, because then, since existence is supposed to be something more actual than the essence, an accident would have more actuality than its subject, which is inconvenient.
Because of this Richard declares that existence adds nothing real to the essence beyond a relation to God insofar as He is the giver of existence itself. Essence therefore bespeaks absolutely what existence bespeaks in relation to the giver of that existence. Therefore this predication is unacceptable: the existence of a creature is its essence. “A run” is not the same thing as “running”, since “a run” denotes something absolute, whereas “running” is said in relation to a runner.
“Concedendum est quod in angelo et in omni creata substantia est aliqua realis compositio ex essentia et esse.” II. Sent. dist. III art. 1 q.2.
“Secundo quaeritur utrum angelorum essentia sit compositum ex materia et forma.”
Obection 1) Then angels couldn’t understand forms abstracted from matter, but they do.
Reply: angels do understand forms abstracted from matter, and this is not prevented by their having their own matter. The abstracted form is received in a subject having matter (the angel); but it doesn’t follow that the abstracted form is in the intellect materially. Every abstracted species is rather an accidental form in the intellect. The angel understands something composed of matter and form by a similitude of the composite, which is not itself composed of matter and form.
2) Since a form exists more truly in an intellect than in an external thing (in re extra), then since a form can make an extramental thing such-and-such, e.g. hot or black, much more would the same form make the intellect hot or black, if it had matter just as the extramental thing. Reply: The form of heat is not more truly in the angelic intellect than it is in fire, for it is in fire according to the truth of its essence, but in the intellect by its similitude. . . . As fire is hot by the reality of heat, so proportionally the intellect is similar to heat by a similitude of heat. [Therefore the angel does not become hot when understanding heat.]
3) An angel is created by one creation. But two things are not created by one passive creation. Therefore the essence of an angel is not composed of two things. Reply: Two things are created in the creation of an angel. But matter and form are two things constituting one essence, therefore not two things in act but only in potency.
4) Matter is only necessary where there is a possibility for its being something. But angels were created out of nothing, not out of anything preexisting; nor is there in an angel now anything which has a possibility to be something else. Reply: Richard replies that matter is not only necessary to account for the possibility of substantial change, but also to account for the possibility of movement of any kind.
In the body of this question Richard first considers whether the composition of essence and existence he has just recognized in the angel can dispense with the need to posit a composition of matter and form in the angelic essence. For some say that the essence of an angel is not composed of matter and form, whether the matter in question is of the same kind (unigenea) as the matter of corporeal things or not. For that essence is not purely actual, but is possible in some way, nor is it necessary that every kind of possibility requires matter. For every created form, insofar as it is from God, is dependent on him and hence possible.
. . . [here I skip a paragraph where Richard quotes authorities apparently in agreement with this formulation]
But this attempt to dispense with matter in angels rests on a false foundation (falso fundamento). For matter is not said to be necessary in order that something (res) may be possible with respect to the first cause, but in order that it may be possible with respect to itself, or to something inferior to itself. But an angel, when it moves itself from one will to another will (de uno velle ad aliud velle), and from one thought (cogitatione) to another, and even from one place to another, is possible in some way with respect to itself, since to be moved is as such to be possible with respect to the mover. [The authorities quoted deny that angels have the same matter as corporeal things, which Richard agrees with.]
Nor should those denying spiritual matter rely on the authority of Aristotle, Avicenna, or the author of the Liber de causis
, for they thought that the intelligences never began, and that they were in no way possible, except with respect to the first cause, and that they were wholly immutable (nullo modo mutabiles). It’s no wonder, then, that, remaining in this error, they denied matter in the angels. (Et ideo non fuit mirum si, in hoc errore permanentes, in eis negaverunt materiam.) If the philosophers had believed that the intelligences began to be, and were mutable, and could move themselves, they would have without a doubt admitted that there was matter in them.
“Videtur igitur mihi dicendum quod essentia angeli composita est ex materia et forma, extendendo [nomen] materiae ad omnem naturam possibilem ex qua et alia natura magis actuali constituitur unum per essentiam.” For one and the same thing cannot be both agent and patient with respect to the same thing. An agent acts insofar as it is in act, and not insofar as it is in potency; and a patient receives (patiatur) insofar as it is in potency, and not insofar as it is in act. Otherwise one and the same thing would be simultaneously in act and not in act, and in potency and not in potency, and contradictories would be true. . . . But to move is to act and to be moved is to receive (pati). Therefore something cannot be both moving and moved with respect to one and the same thing. Since, therefore, an angel moves itself from one will to another, and from one thought to another, and from one place to another, if he were a simple immaterial form he would be both moving and moved with respect to the same thing. Therefore, in his essence there is one thing through which he moves himself, and another thing through which he is moved; the first thing we call form, [the second we call matter] accepting matter as was said at the beginning of this opinion.
[Richard quotes the standard authorities in support of this position, Boethius, Augustine, etc.]
II. Sent. dist. III art. 2 q.1.
“utrum materia angelorum sit unigenea cum materia corporalium.”
Richard argues that things can only be said to have matter univocally when they can be transmuted into each other. All of the elements can be changed into each other; all bodies can be broken down and recomposed into any other kind of body. But bodies can never be changed into spirits, nor vice versa. The matter of angels is determined to receive only spiritual forms, and the matter of bodies to receive only corporeal forms. They are not therefore the same kind of matter.
“Ad secundum dicendum quod materia non ideo dicitur natura potentialis quod nullam penitus habeat actualitatem propriam, ut dicunt quidam; sed quia materia generabilium et corruptibilium tenet infimum actualitatis gradum: rem in potentia ad substantialem formam. Unde non est inconveniens dicere quod materia angelorum plus habeat de propria actualitat quam materia corporum, quamvis ita sit potentialis, respectu magnae actualitatis formae angelicae: sicut materia corporum, respectu parvae actualitatis formae corporeae.” Furthermore, even if matter could be said to be pure potency, this would not require that all matter be univocal, more one kind of matter could be “pure potency”, but only with respect to corporeal forms, and another kind could be “pure potency”, but only with respect to spiritual forms.
That's all for today, folks!