Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bonaventure on the Difference between Nature and Essence

In III Sententiarum, d.5 a.2 q.1 ad 4: "In hoc enim differt essentia a natura, quia essentia nominat rei formam in quadam abstractione, natura eam nominat entem in motu et materia ut naturalium operationum principium. Et ideo doctores catholici magis isto verbo uti voluerunt 'Deus assumsit humanam naturam', quam hoc 'Deus assumsit humanam essentiam', quamvis utraque sit vera; ista enim est magis propria."

In this essence differs from nature, that essence names the form of a thing in a certain abstraction, nautre names a being in motion and in matter as a principle of natural operations. And therefore the catholic doctors more mean to use "God assumed human nature," than this "God assumed a human essence", although each is true; for that one is more proper.

Somewhat obvious you may say, but distinctions are important, or so the Scotist in me says. We should be clear about such basic notions when we discuss more complicated issues, as I've found in recent discussions about the Eucharist, if we want to avoid simply talking past each other.

For long time fans, compare this to the bit I once posted from Peter Thomae's Questio de distinctione predicamentorum, who elaborates a whole series of different types of distinctions with their corresponding types of identity.

1 comment:

Michael Sullivan said...

This distinction is similar to Bonaventure's understanding of the quo est/quod est distinction, as he says a number of times in In I Sent.