The Duality Of Existence And Essence Through

St Augustine And St Thomas Essay, Research Paper

Ancient, Medieval Modern and Contemporary Philosophy

HUM-3551-01

Karim Saliba

Teacher: Dr. Robert L. Shearer

The dichotomy of Existence and Essence

through St Augustine and St Thomas

Submitted: 11/8/2000

We have been analyzing in the class of the category the development of idea in the Western Civilization. This survey has of class started with the Grecian minds and philosophers. Their manner of idea has had a great consequence on the manner the whole western civilisation approached life, and the cardinal constructs behind it. Plato is the philosopher that most likely had the most influence on the manner idea has evolved in western society. But his logical thinking put Essence above Existence, which is in contradiction with the religion that is promoted subsequently on by Aristotle at first, and so by the reaching of Christian idea into the western universe.

Plato was the first philosopher that promoted a manner in which Essence was the Urstuff, or what he would name the Good ( he besides called this the universe of dateless thoughts ) . Plato & # 8217 ; s division of world and his theory of signifiers have influenced all farther western thought, and have besides found a manner to act upon Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine was seeking to happen a manner of idea that would be in agreement with his moral thoughts and still would be somehow rational. He found that thought in Plato & # 8217 ; s thoughts, and most particularly in Plotinus & # 8217 ; reading of those thoughts in his Enneads.

Saint Augustine so converted to Christianity Plato & # 8217 ; s thought, since this idea put a higher being ( that Saint Augustine identified as God ) as the foundation of the existence, and therefore this tantrum in the Christian tenet really easy. This is where Saint Augustine became someway contradictory with himself, since his uninterrupted efforts to do everything a theodicy, a justification of God & # 8217 ; s being.

Where Saint Augustine & # 8217 ; s accounts and justification failed, Saint Thomas saw a cardinal defect, and sought for an account, non in more efforts at theodicy, but in a wholly different attack of the Christian tenet through the reading of Aristotle & # 8217 ; s works. Indeed, Aristotle, even though he was Plato & # 8217 ; s pupil and his rational follower, diverged on the building of his existence. Aristotle believed in a more Experiential point of position, in which & # 8220 ; he could detect no decisive ground for denying that the universe ever existed alternatively of being created at a point in time. & # 8221 ; ( S. Stumpf, 1994, p. 179 ) . This is really contradictory with Saint Augustine & # 8217 ; s Essentialist position, and besides contradictory with the church & # 8217 ; s tenet. Saint Thomas didn & # 8217 ; t contradict the church on many things though, since his reading of Aristotle retains the thought of the Unmoved Mover as God, and the fact that everything is hence caused by God. Still, even though he himself didn & # 8217 ; t recognize it, Saint Thomas was pro

moting an Existentialist position that was adhered to in portion by the church.

So what precisely are Essentialism and Existentialism? & # 8220 ; The kernel of a thing is what the thing is ; being refers instead to the sheer fact that the thing is. Therefore when I say? I am a adult male, ? the? I am? denotes the fact that I exist, while the predicate? adult male? denotes what sort of existent I am, viz. a man. & # 8221 ; ( W. Barrett, 1958, p. 102 ) . Essentialism is a extremely religious manner of sing in which you think that Essence is the urstuff. Essentialism has been a ruling doctrine in western thought through the Christian tenet and besides in some Eastern doctrines, in which the psyche is normally precursor to the flesh, and reincarnation is possible. But throughout the ages, the people who have supported the Essentialist thought of the universe have tried to give their theory a foundation that would do sense, in both the existent universe ( what Plato would name the universe of visual aspect ) and the definition in relation to the construct of God/the Good. This justification started with Plato, and continued with Augustine, and through all the other Essentialists.

Existentialism on the other manus has an attack in which the being of the thing precedes its kernel. For Saint Thomas, the basic premiss that leads him into his peculiar position of Christianity is the followers: & # 8220 ; Man is a rational animate being & # 8221 ; . This thought of seting ground above all is common to both the Grecian philosophers and those who have picked up the thoughts of these Grecian philosophers. Reason has been a driving force, and has mingled with Faith in the Christian faith. But where Essentialism promotes the mingling of Faith and Reason, or Faith through Reason, since essentialist positions have to utilize some sort of justification to explicate the separation between thoughts and signifiers. Existentialism promotes Reason before anything else.

We can therefore see that Essentialism and Existentialism, even though they are but two sides of the same coin, are two wholly different and detached views/constructions of world. Saint Augustine was the first Christian mind to dig into the Grecian doctrine and integrate it and accommodate it to the Christian tenet. He chose Plato & # 8217 ; s position, which is an essentialist position, and therefore influenced Christian tenet. On the other manus, subsequently on in clip, when the church was confronted to a rise of the plants of Aristotle in the West, and that Reason was going an of import factor, Saint Thomas adapted Aristotle & # 8217 ; s position to Christianity. These two ways of sing life are still really much nowadays today, and even though, through Sartre and other Existentialists, it seems that Existentialist thought is today more popular, both ways are still present and will stay because of their built-in dichotomy.

Bibliography

Mentions

? Stumpf, Samuel Enoch. Doctrine: History & A ; Problems. McGraw-Hill, Inc, 1971

? Barrett, William. Irrational Man. Anchor Books Editions, 1958

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