Being and Metaphysics (Aquinas 101)


Video from Thomistic Institute


"The object of metaphysics is being itself. Everything that has being is in some way one and unified, true or intelligible, good and thus desirable, beautiful and therefore pleasing. At this point, when you’ve begun thinking why that might be the case, you’ve arrived; you’re doing metaphysics. Being and Metaphysics (Aquinas 101) - Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P." from video introduction.


"There is a science which investigates being as being and the attributes which belong to this in virtue of its own nature. Now this is not the same as any of the so-called special sciences; for none of these others treats universally of being as being. They cut off a part of being and investigate the attribute of this part; this is what the mathematical sciences for instance do. Now since we are seeking the first principles and the highest causes, clearly there must be some thing to which these belong in virtue of its own nature. If then those who sought the elements of existing things were seeking these same principles, it is necessary that the elements must be elements of being not by accident but just because it is being. Therefore it is of being as being that we also must grasp the first causes. There are many senses in which a thing may be said to "be," but all that 'is' is related to one central point, one definite kind of thing, and is not said to "be" by a mere ambiguity. Everything which is healthy is related to health, one thing in the sense that it preserves health, another in the sense that it produces it, another in the sense that it is a symptom of health, another because it is capable of it. And that which is medical is relative to the medical art, one thing being called medical because it possesses it, another because it is naturally adapted to it, another because it is a function of the medical art. And we shall find other words used similarly to these. So, too, there are many senses in which a thing is said to be, but all refer to one starting-point; some things are said to be because they are substances, others because they are affections of substance, others because they are a process towards substance, or destructions or privations or qualities of substance, or productive or generative of substance, or of things which are relative to substance, or negations of one of these thing of substance itself. It is for this reason that we say even of non-being that it is nonbeing. As, then, there is one science which deals with all healthy things, the same applies in the other cases also. For not only in the case of things which have one common notion does the investigation belong to one science, but also in the case of things which are related to one common nature; for even these in a sense have one common notion. It is clear then that it is the work of one science also to study the things that are, qua being." from the website: Thomistic Institute

Selection from Aristotle, Metaphysics, trans. W. D. Ross in The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon (New York: The Modern Library, 2001), Book 4, chapter 1.



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