The Ways to Wisdom

Aquinas Day By Day


Aquinas’s topic: the subject of logic

Scripture: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he place it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.” Luke 8: 16

Aquinas’s text: Sententia super Metaphysicam, Bk. 4, lec. 4, n. 574, written 1270-1

Br. Thomas here uses his distinction between the two senses of “being” to explain that the subject of logic is not the real beings in the world, but is the kind of beings found in human reason, which he calls here Abeing of reason (ens rationis)” and “intention (intentio).”

Now a being is twofold, namely, a being or reason and a being of nature. Now a being of reason is properly said of those intentions that reason devises in considering things, such as the intentions of genus, species, and similar things. These are not found in the natures of things, but they follow on the consideration of reason. Now something of this sort, namely, a being of reason, is properly the subject of logic. Intellectual intentions of this sort are as broad as the beings of nature, because all the beings of nature fall under the consideration of reason. Therefore, the subject of logic is extended to all the things about which a being of nature is predicated. Consequently, [Aristotle] concludes that the subject of logic is as wide as the subject of philosophy, namely, as a being of nature.

Ens est duplex: ens scilicet rationis et ens naturae. Ens autem rationis dicitur proprie de illis intentionibus, quas ratio adinvenit in rebus consideratis; sicut intentio generis, speciei et similium, quae quidem non inveniuntur in rerum natura, sed considerationem rationis consequuntur. Et huiusmodi, scilicet ens rationis, est proprie subiectum logicae. Huiusmodi autem intentiones intelligibiles, entibus naturae aequiparantur, eo quod omnia entia naturae sub consideratione rationis cadunt. Et ideo subiectum logicae ad omnia se extendit, de quibus ens naturae praedicatur. Unde concludit, quod subiectum logicae aequiparatur subiecto philosophiae, quod est ens naturae.

[Introductions and translations © R.E. Houser]

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The Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas is the only graduate philosophy program uniquely focused on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas in the United States. The Center is founded on the Church’s insistence of the perennial value of the thought of Aquinas as the new millennium proceeds.
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