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By Anthony Kenny

Anthony Kenny deals a severe exam of Thomas Aquinas's influential account of being, arguing that it suffers from systematic confusion. due to the centrality of the doctrine, this has implications for different components of Aquinas's philosophical procedure. Kenny's transparent and incisive research dispels the confusion and gives philosophers and theologians a advisor in the course of the labyrinth of Aquinas's ontology.

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16 It is not always clear what exactly is meant to be the difference between a real and a notional distinction; but it seems safe to assume that there is only a notional, and not a real distinction, where one and the same object is identified by two different concepts. Thus, for instance, there will be a notional, but not a real, distinction between the morning star and the evening star, or between the square of 2 and the square root of 16. On the other hand, there will be a real distinction between the planet Mars and the planet Venus, and between the square root of 9 and the cube root of 16.

11 The point would be made in Latin by saying that it gives esse quid not esse simpliciter.  On Being and Essence: II that there can be substances to which the analysis of matter and form does not apply, rather than that there are substances in which there is form without matter (or substances in which there is incorporeal matter). In some places, as we shall see, this seems to be a line favoured by Aquinas: but in the present context he prefers to explore the concept of pure form. 12 Following the teaching of Avicenna, Aquinas draws two consequences from the contrast between simple substances whose essence is pure form and compound substances whose essence involves both matter and form.

Joseph Owens, ‘Quiddity and Real Distinction in St Thomas Aquinas’, Mediaeval Studies, 27 (1965), p. 5. On Being and Essence: II  Once again, the doctrine, whether or not its formulation is confusing, seems to be true and important. It is when the doctrine is employed to mark a fundamental difference between creatures and God that it becomes more difficult to comprehend. For it seems that, in the same way as I can have a concept of phoenix without knowing whether or not there are phoenixes, so I can have a concept of God without knowing whether or not there is a God.

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