Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Dictionary of philosophy and psychology including many of the principal conceptions of ethics, logics, aesthetics ... and giving a terminology in English, French, German and Italian, vol. 1 [a-laws]
Baldwin, James Mark
but still is no fiction, and no mere product of 
the human intellect. In fact, the men not 
yet born have no existence; but they have 
perfectly real essence. 
(6) Like the participle or noun ens, the 
infinitive form esse, or in fact the verb esse in 
all its forms, has the same tendency to a 
variety of meanings. Esse has its logical use 
as the copula, and also its ontological use, as 
expressing the fact, or at least the appearance, 
of being. But even when taken in an ontological 
reference, esse may still be viewed as esse in 
intellectu (in the usage which St. Anselm’s 
discussion of the ontological proof made 
famous), i. e. as what Thomas calls the esse 
intentionale ; not as if this latter were always 
identical with the esse of the mere fiction, but 
in so far as esse in the mind, while it may 
well represent a real being independent of the 
mind, is still different from esse in re, or real 
external being as such. The distinction 
between essence and existence also often finds 
its expression in various phrases that include 
esse. The word esse, taken simply, is often 
used (when in contrast with any of the special 
terms for essence) as in itself sufficient to 
express existence. More formally expressed 
is the contrast between esse essentiae and esse 
existentiae, employed to name respectively the 
essence and the existence of things. This 
contrast is often used in later scholasticism. 
But these later expressions are pleonastic, as 
Suarez (Dis?)., ii. 115) points out. The first 
of them, as he there says, adds nothing to the 
term essentia beyond the mere fashion of con¬ 
ception or of expression. And esse, when 
taken in contrast with essentia, already suffi¬ 
ciently distinguishes, in the opinion of Suarez 
and in the frequent usage of St. Thomas, the 
existence of things from their nature or 
essence. Very frequent in scholastic writers 
is the expression esse in actu for existence, 
and the explanatory phrase extra causas suas 
is also constantly used by such writers to 
express the sense in which a created thing 
exists. But of course the esse in actu, or the 
actualitas, which is thus attributed to any 
existent thing, implies laying stress upon a 
somewhat different aspect of reality from the 
one directly emphasized in the term esse, when 
the latter is taken as simply equivalent to 
existence. Eor existence, as such, is in contrast 
with essence ; but actus is contrasted with 
potentia. In brief, then, to sum up the truly 
important features of this overwealthy collec¬ 
tion of technical terms for existence, an object 
is said to be real, in scholastic usage, in so far 
as it is viewed as outside of the knowing mind, 
and so as in contrast to a mere idea. It is 
said to possess esse, or esse existentiae, or to 
be an existent object, so far as it is taken in 
contrast to its own mere essence or quiddity, 
or, again, in so far as it is conceived as outside 
of its causes. It is said to be in actu, or to 
possess actuality, in so far as it is contrasted 
with the potential being to which the Aristo¬ 
telian metaphysic opposes whatever is a realized 
being. These four contrasts—( 1 ) of the external 
object, with the object viewed as in the mind ; 
(2) of the existent object and its mere essence ; 
(3) of the existent thing and other existent 
things (especially its causes, outside of which 
it exists) ; and (4) of the actual thing and the 
merely potential thing—are all of them 
founded in the Aristotelian doctrine, and 
play a great part not only in scholastic, but 
in all later metaphysical discussions. They 
are, however, seldom very sharply or per¬ 
manently sundered in metaphysical discus¬ 
sions, but they are emphasized, upon occasion, 
in various ways ; and the only objection to 
this part of the scholastic vocabulary is that 
it is not sufficiently settled as to its use of the 
means for distinguishing the four, and that 
it has for all of them, and especially for the 
first and second, a confusing wealth and 
variety of expressions. That just this way of 
classifying the ontological expressions is not to 
be found so formally emphasized by Aristotle 
as are other classifications is indeed true. 
But it is not, in spirit, at all opposed to his 
treatment of the subject. 
(7) Passing from the terminology of exis¬ 
tence to that more directly concerned with the 
essence or nature of things, we find, as in fact 
we have already found, that here, too, there 
is a perplexing variety of expressions. The 
word ova la, in Aristotle, is one of his most 
puzzling terms, even when one abstracts from 
all direct reference to the precise meaning of 
existence, and when one dwells alone upon the 
nature of that which is said, according to 
Aristotle’s doctrine, to exist. The scholastic 
doctors did much to clarify, but little to 
simplify, the situation here in question. The 
starting-point of the older scholastic discus¬ 
sion of the term substantia was, of course, the 
Aristotelian treatise upon the categories. 
Substantia and essentia are frequently em¬ 
ployed as synonymous terms. But when they 
are distinguished, substantia (in its more 
proper sense) is that which, whenever it exists 
at all, exists in itself, as opposed to that which 
(namely as an accident) exists in another as 


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