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Thomas Aquinas

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Chapter Summary

Thomas Aquinas has virtually no direct access to the work of Parmenides, Plato, and Plotinus. His chief philosophical sources, apart from Aristotle, are Augustine, Boethius, Pseudo-Dionysius, the Liber de Causis, Avicenna, and Averroes, and his familiarity with the Platonic tradition is mediated by these and other texts and figures. Consequently, the discussion of Aquinas is organized in terms of well-recognized central themes in his metaphysics: the essence-existence distinction; God as ipsum esse; created beings as similitudes of God; analogy of being; the transcendentals. Aquinas' use of the term 'essence' (essentia) differs slightly from the use of this term as a translation of Aristotle's phrase τὸ τίἦν εἶναι. Aquinas concludes similarly that since all things in which existence is distinct from essence are caused to exist, but God cannot be caused to exist, "it is impossible therefore that in God existence is one thing and his essence another".

Keywords: god; Parmenides; Plato; Platonic tradition; Plotinus; Pseudo-Dionysius; Thomas Aquinas metaphysics



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