Aquinas' exemplarism; Aquinas' Voluntarism


How should one understand Aquinas's Augustinean claim that

God has proper ideas for everything he might have made as well as

exemplars for everything he makes? We have to look at

philosophical issues about possibility and reference and criticse

John Wippel's1 explanation of Aquinas on the status of the

possibles, to stake out a basis in Aquinas's text for the view

that God creates the natures of things and all possibility with

content ad extra2.

When one takes all of Aquinas's explicit qualifications of

Augustinean formulas about divine ideas into account, not only

are possibilia not identical with divine ideas, and instead, the

product of creation, but the Gilson3 and Maurer4reading of divine

ideas as "models" for actual, and even unmade, things, or as

"forms to be received in things," need to be reread.

Voluntarism, the reading of Aquinas under which God creates

the natures of things and thus the content of possibility ad

extra, is not new. In this century it has been urged a number of

times, notably by Gerard Smith, Beatrice Zedler and Aime Forest.5

(I think it is the view Suarez attributes to Aquinas in D.M.

31.12.40-47 too.) But the response of other Aquinas specialists

has been dismissive and disparaging. Part of the fault is that

the "voluntarists" (as I call these interpreters) were not clear

enough about what is being claimed and why the text requires it.

Still, the larger fault is that the establishment interpreters do

not acknowledge any strain between what they say Aquinas said,

and the rest of Aquinas's text. (There are also, of course, the

conflicts to be found in the text itself.)

I. Exemplarism

1. The General Background. Thomas Aquinas said God knows

everything he makes, as well as everything he might have made,

the first by exemplars, and the second by "rationes" ("types"),

ia.14 and 15; D.V. 3, 1-8. How can God have complete and

"proper" knowledge of what he might have made without there being

any reality ante res to what is merely possible ("the

possibles")? Gilson, Maurer, Geiger, and others, read Aquinas on

God's ideas (Ia. 14 and 15, 1-3; D.V. 3, 1-8; C.G. I 47-55) as a

complete exemplarist,6 postulating "an infinity of forms which

will later be the forms of things" [Gilson] and "an infinite

number [of ideas]... each of which is a model... primarily of

individuals" [Maurer]. Taking exemplars and types together, they

say that God has ideas for whatever he makes or might have made.

John Wippel, in harmony with that general approach, says,

"divine ideas or divine rationes obtain even for possibles in the

purest sense, that is, for those that will never be realized in

fact" [Wippel, 1966]. He then identifies the merely possible

with divine ideas: "From the ontological standpoint, one may say

that a possible is identical with its appropriate divine idea",

p. 169; "as we have already seen, for such a thing to exist as a

divine idea is for it to be a possible", p. 173. That

identification has the consequence that the thing which is

possible is something (a divine idea) other than the thing which

might have come to be.

Aquinas has, in effect, been read by Gilson, Maurer and

Wippel (as much as they converge) as a photo-exemplarist,7 as one

who holds that God has ideas, like photographs or blueprints,

"for each thing and each kind, both actual and possible." I have

argued elsewhere (see note 2, above) that photo-exemplarism, is

inconsistent. In a word, that is because a nature cannot be

logically exhausted by individuation, perfection cannot be

logically exhausted by limitation, and being cannot be logically

exhausted by participation--all principles that follow from

Aquinas's general metaphysics. So, there cannot be a domain of

"all possible creatures" or "every possible indivdual of every

possible kind" because there is nothing to "divide" being into

"all possible kinds" or, say, "humanity" into "all possible


Fr. Wippel's interpretation of Aquinas extends the readings

by Gilson, Maurer, and others by saying that possibilia are the

same as God's ideas. Surprisingly (to me) the reviewers of

Wippel's Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas namely, Norman

Kretzmann9, and Fathers Weisheipl10 and Le Roy11 O.P.,

did not object.

That reading does not allow Aquinas's Aristoteleanism to

transform the neoplatonic surface of his words. Aquinas

modulates the Augustinean theme, "God has proper knowledge of

whatever he might have made." As I will show, (i) Aquinas's

explanation of "proper knowledge" in Ia.14,6c and Ia.15 and

"proper likeness" in C.G. I.54 and (ii) his insistence that God

"does not have knowledge after the manner of enuntiables", that

is, propositional knowledge (D.V. 2,7 ad 3, Ia. 14, a 15.), and

(iii) his saying that there is multimplicity in God's knowledge

only with respect to things known, and (iv) that God's ideas of

other things are by "eminence", yield an account that is vastly

different from the initial verbal appearance. For there is only

one divine idea, the same no matter what God does, and

"possibles" have no status at all prior to creation. (All the

other commentators acknowledge this, of course; but they do not

explain it).

2. Aristotelian Commitments. Aquinas has Aristotelian

commitments that affect these issues. First, his doctrines of

individuation by materia signata quantitate reqrires that there

cannot be individuation exception of actual--and (denominatively)

of proximately potential--things, because individuation is by way

of limitation in being; so there can be no individuated mere

possibilities, no definite "elder brother you might have had."

Secondly, Aquinas's moderate realism about common natures

requires that there are no empty kinds (or real natures without

individuals) and so, there are no merely possible kinds of

natures. God's having ideas FOR whatever might be, "reduces" to

his being the "one sufficing likeness" for all things, Ia.14,

12c; C.G.I. 54, the exemplar for all other things, perfectly


Aquinas has, in effect, been read by Gilson, Maurer and

Wippel, as a photo-exemplarist,4 as one who holds that God has

ideas, like photographs or blueprints, for each thing and each

kind, both actual and possible. It is as if God has, refracted in

his self-knowledge, holograms for everything actually made and

for whatever might have been made. Of course, the plurality of

divine ideas is acknowledged to "reduce" to the one divine self-

understanding, 168, n. 11, but these interpretations don't offer

us any explanation of what remains of the plurality of ideas, or

how it "got" there in the first place.

Elsewhere I have argued (see note 4, above) that photo-

exemplarism, as such, is formally inconsistent. In brief, that is

because a nature cannot be logically exhausted by individuation,

perfection cannot be logically exhausted by limitation, and being

cannot be logically exhausted by participation--all principles

that follow from Aquinas' general metaphysics. So, there cannot

be such a domain as "all possible creatures" or "every possible

individual of every possible kind" because there is nothing to

"divide," formally to partition, the realm of what might have

been into discrete and replete units. Besides, "all possible

creatures" as a "quantifiable" totality, is formally inconsistent

the way "all sets" or "all numbers" is. Now, I say Aquinas did

not hold such a self-refuting view.

Fr. Wippel's interpretation of Aquinas extends the readings

by Gilson, Maurer, and the others mentioned5 by saying that

possibilia are the same as God's ideas, yet the reviewers of

Wippel's Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas namely, Norman

Kretzmann6, and Fathers Weisheipl7 and Le Roy8 O.P., did not

object to Wippel's thereby, attributing reality ante res to

uncreated mere possibilities. Either they were nodding or they


My first objection is that that kind of reading does not

regard Aquinas' Aristoteleanism as transforming the neoplatonic

surface of his words. Aquinas explicitly qualifies and modulates

Augustinean themes, like "God has proper knowledge of whatever he

might have made."; for example, what is the consequence of

Aquinas' explanation of "proper knowledge" in Ia.14,6c, and Ia.15

and "proper likeness" in C.G.I.54, and of his insistence that God

"does not have knowledge after the manner of enuntiables", that

is, propositional knowledge, and of his saying that there is

multiplicity in God's knowledge only with respect to things

known, and that God's ideas of other things are by "eminence"?

The net effect of the qualifications is vastly different from the

initial verbal appearance.

I emphasize Aquinas' Aristotelean commitments. First, his

doctrine of individuation by materia signata quantitate that

requires that there cannot be individuation except of actual (and

[denominatively] of proximately potential things); so there can

be no individuated mere possibilities, no definite "elder brother

you might have had." Secondly, Aquinas' moderate realism about

universals requires that there are no empty kinds or real natures

without individuals and so, there are no empty kinds or merely

possible things. God's having ideas FOR such things "reduces" to

his being the "one sufficing likeness", Ia 14, 12c; C.G.I. 54,

the exemplar for all other things. But what he has ideas for has

to be indentified from what is made. Further, Aquinas opposed,

as Aristotle did, any actual numerical infinity. He would not,

therefore, understand "all men are mortal" to require a domain, a

lange of distinct mere possibilities, say all the men there

might have been but never will be. The "possibles" cannot form

an actual and infinite domain. Neither can the divine ideas;

they cannot even form a genuine plurality. Besides, identity

for Aquinas is a rational relation of an actual thing to itself;

so "mere possibilities" have no identity; so there is no mere

possibility that is the elder brother you might have had!

Altogether, Aquinas' metaphysics requires that no reality ante

res be attributed to mere possibilities.

How then, should we understand things like this, Ia,14,6c,

"Now God could not be said to know himself perfectly unless he

knew all the ways in which his own perfection can be shared by

others". There are other, similar passages elsewhere, for

instance: I Sent. d.35,a.3; C.G. I,50; D.V. 2,4: D.P.6,1;Ia

14,13c. How can God know "all the ways" without there being any

rank and file of "all" the ways? That's the strongest argument

in behalf of the interpretation I reject, and its most explicit

basis in the text.

We can say this, God knows "all the ways" his perfection

might be shared, not by knowing an array of possibilities like

a battle array of tin soldiers spread out on a carpet (another

possible world), but by containing in his self-comprehension,

eminently (as the perfect contains the imperfect) a virtual

plurality of ideas denominated from what is made. (In fact, that

sentence is a ________ of the pieces, a mosaic, of what I

attribute to Aquinas.)

Aquinas says what is never to be made is exemplified in

God's "proper knowledge" (I.14,6), and contained in God's essence

"as effect in the power of the cause" Ia.12,8c, and seen "not in

themselves but in himself" Ia.14,5c, itals. added, that for

Aquinas in "proper knowledge" that the perfect contains the

imperfect without displaying it. For instance, if a brass

triangle is used as a model for students' freehand drawing, their

freehand triangles are contained in the model, not as a fixed

domain whose members are antecedently determined like the

natural numbers, but each of the drawn triangles is

denominatively contained, like copies of the Mona Lisa. The

perfections by which one copy is distinguished from another are

contained in the model "in an excelling manner" I.12,5c.

Besides, some possibilities do depend on what God elects,

contrary to what Wippel and the other interpretors lead one to

think: namely, all possibilities in contingent subjects. That

turns out to be all possibilities with content. Possibilities

for things with real natures depend on their creation: "humans

are rational". Were there never humans, there would be no such

proposition even for angels or God. Nor would there have been a

proposition "no humans exist", anymore than there is a

proposition "Antilichts repel grabertrons," or a proposition

"There are no antlichts". [Nor are there any such "states of

affairs", either, as another kind of platonism would suggest; cf.

R. Chisholm.] All general propositions, propositions with common

names, are referentially rooted in actual things and kinds9

So, possibility by reason of a potency (D.P. 3, 14) in a

contingent subject depends on God's will that the subject

exist.10 All real possibility ad extra with content, all

possibility as ability whether passive or active, is in a

subject, and so, is dependent on the will of God. One cannot

attribute to Aquinas the view that possibility in no way depends

on the will of God, as Wipple does.

In fact, even "absolute possibility" (Aristotle Metaphysics

5,12, and Aquinas D.P.1,3c.) is not prior to the being of finite

subjects. Just the other way around. For absolute possibility is

the consistency of the proposition, as both Aristotle and Aquinas

say. The absolute possibility of wood that thinks in the

consistency of the proposition "there is wood that thinks." Now,

there can be no propositions without names, and no names, proper

or common, without things (supposition). Aquinas is committed to

that; and there is nothing for ______ simple suppositing to

signify if there is nothing for them to stand for in _______

supposition. Platonistic expositions of Aquinas' D.P.1,3c treat

"absolute possibility" as if it were prior to and explanatory of

posssibility in a subject, when the explanatory order is the

reverse. They do that because they implicitly assume the ________

propositions primarily signify divine ideas. But for Aquinas,

they do not. To say the names name divine ideas, in the absence

of real things, is simply to invent a position for Aquinas, one

he could not accept. There are no propositions for empty kinds,

and there are no kinds without cases for Aquinas.

Aquinas says "there are many ideas in God," "ideas for

everything that might have been made". But he qualifies the

generalities so that the plurality is denominative, (vantaged

referentially in finite things known) and the containment is

"eminent". The result differs markedly from the first verbal


Aquinas formulates his general answers in terms acceptable

to Augustineans, then he qualifies and modulates them to fit his

Aristotelian metaphysics. For instance, Aquinas did not think

that from the divine "rationes" alone, propositions, with the

names of all individuals that would have existed had God made

them, can be formed. The divine "rationes" are a virtual

plurality of ideas denominated from finite natures, contained

"in an excelling manner", "as the imperfect is within the

perfect" I.14,6c, so that the proper ratio of each thing is

contained in God according to the diverse ways in which different

creatures participate in and imitate God,I.14,6 ad 3, but as

"incomplete ideas", not the ideas of one making such things

(D.P.1,5,ad 11). The outcome is that the ideas are "many"

because things are many and God is the exempler of all things,

because all perfection is "contained" in God's perfection.

What-might-have-been is contained "as regards what

distinguishes one thing from another" (as forms do), I.14,6c, as

"the perfect acts to imperfect" the way a man is compared to an

animal, and not as "the common to the proper". God knows what

might have been, not distributively, but eminently and virtually,

even though no empty singular or general propositions are

formable, more or less in the way knowing a man is knowing an


Framing the Problems. One's interpretation can be prejudiced

by the presumptions of one's questions. Let me illustrate

breifly with the three key questions on which Prof. Wippel's

intrepretation rests. When he asked what is "the ontological

status of not-yet-existent possibles, or, for that matter, even

of those that will never enjoy actual existence even though they

could do so" (p.163) the words treat mere possibility as a realm

within which to make references. By saying that "they" could

"enjoy actual existence, though they will never do so", Wippel

implicitly makes "them" objects of reference, an extension. That

invites his question "what are they identical with?", in a

context where "the divine ideas" is the only candidate for an


He asks, "Do such 'possibles' enjoy any reality, any real

being (ens reale) in themselves?" that employs a reflexive

pronoun, "in themselves", creating an illusion of reference. To

what? (Do witches enjoy any reality in themselves?

Impossibilities?) Wippel also asks, "Before any man actually

existed, did the essence of man, or of any particular man, enjoy

some kind of reality?" Wippel is contemplating an affirmative

answer, "identity with a divine idea", when I think Aquinas'

answer is an unqualified negative both as to the individual and

as to the essence.12 Wippel asked, "Can God do or make

certain things only because they are possible in themselves?" He

thinks the answer is "yes". The key point of my examination of

possibility, below, is that "things possible in themselves" have

possibility consequent upon being, not the other way around. The

thing God creates is, of course, "possible in itself". But not

"before" God makes it, because it has no being at all prior to

creation. (See D.P. 3,5 ad 2.)13

Aquinas says there is possibility "in potency", in a thing

able to do or make something (say, to think for a man, to make a

house for a builder), or in a thing able to undergo something,

(wood to be burned). That sort of possibility is in the ability

of a subject. It requires an existing or, perhaps, potential

thing with a real, perhaps, created nature (See D.P. 3,14). Such

finite subjects have to be created.

Something is also possible, "unqualifiedly" or

"absoultely", when, says Wippel, "the terms in which it is

expressed are not self-contradictory or incompatible" (italics

added, W. p.164). What exactly is the "it"? What is possible

is, I say, de__________ for the thing made. In D.P. 1,3c Aquinas

speaks this way: " A thing is said to be impossible not in

respect of any power, but in itself by reason of the mutual

exclusion of terms". Both formulations suppose there are non-

empty terms to express the situation. Before creation the world

was possible in that God was able to create it (citing,D.P.3,1 ad

2;3,17 ad 10;C.G. II,37;Ia.46,1 ad 1). The world "was"

"absolutely" possible, too, in the sense that no contradiction

would have been entailed by "the world exists". However, to

keep that non-contradiction from being trivial and vacuous, as in

the case of 'antilichts repel grobitrons', we have to suppose

that "the world" designates, that is, that the object designated

does or will exist. So as St. Thomas says D.P. 3,17 ad 10,

"before the world was made" (suitably understood), God was able

to make the world. But, "the world" (as an indexical designator)

could have no referent prior to the being of the world. Such a

proposition was not formable (among those "quae formari possunt",

D.V. 2, 7; Ia.14, 14), except in reference to what God actually

makes, and, thus, only denominatively. Thus the non-

contradictoriness of the expression, "the world might exist,"

does not explain the possibility but assumes it, because there is

such a possibility with content only from the vantage,

referentially, of the world actually made.

About 'humans are animals' Wippel says, "prior to the

creation of men, or at least of angels, such truths did not

exist, maintains Thomas, except in the divine intellect" (p.166).

That is because there is no truth outside thought. But besides,

the truth, 'humans are animals', depends on the creation of

humans, because Aquinas says, with Avicenna and Aristotle, the

nature comes into being with the individuals and perishes with

the individuals. Thus, the names name only if the natures are to

be. So, there are no eternal truths14 about empty kinds.

Aquinas thinks that strictly there is only one eternal truth,

conforming to God's being ,I Sent.19,5,3;I 17,7. Eternity is the

duration of God's being( I.46,1), interminabilis vitae tota simul

et perfecta possessio. God cannot give eternal being to any

creature; Maurer15, says "there is no room in St. Thomas' thought

for created eternal truth" (p.105). Similarly, there is no

genuine necessity in creatures either, because the natures of

things have being with the individuals and perish with the

individuals: "nulla veritas est necessaria in creaturis", I Sent.

19,5,3. Nothing is necessary outside God.

Augustine's saying, De Lib Arbit.11,8 "there is nothing more

eternal than the nature of a circle, and two added to three makes

five" is understood by Aquinas as "perpetual", without beginning

or end "in the mind of God" I 16,7 ad 1, and not as involving any

compliant reality other than God. If we understand eternity as

"perpetuity in the mind of God", then, every truth, even about

the most fleeting event, is eternal because God knows everything

forever.16 Overall, Aquinas does not talk as if there are

everlasting objective relationships of platonic forms to which

the divine thought conforms, so that the eternity of the truth is

from the perpetuity (and independent reality) of the situation it

conforms to. For Aquinas the eternity of truth is from the being

of the thinker, hence without God there is no eternal truth at

all, and for God all truth is eternal.

The key difference on this matter between Aquinas and later

scholastic thinkers like Scotus and Henry of Ghent is that (i)

Aquinas did not commit himself to the reality of any mathematical

or geometric objects, or to the unmade reality of necessities of

nature ("humans are animals", "iron rusts"); and (ii) Aquinas

explicitly denied that that there are any uncreated natures to

constitute unbegun and everlasting "realities" (like 'to be human

is to be sentient') to which eternal truths (God's perpetual

thought) must conform. Rather, because God thinks "that way,"

things are to be "that way": cognitio dei causa rerum.

Wippel says "prior to the actual creation of a given entity

there is a divine idea to which the creature will correspond if

it is ever brought into actual being." This is exactly what I

think Aquinas did not say. The possibility prior to being is

God's ability to make the things, like the possibility of a blow

in the strength of an arm. The "priority" of divine ideas is

descriptively situated in what is made, since nothing else can

distinguish ideas from one another that are contained by

eminence. Absolute possibility aimed at a particular thing is

logically consequent on the real existence of the thing.

Is the relation among divine ideas supposed to be the

truthmaker for the necessities of nature (e.g., 'men are

sentient' 'magnets attract iron')? Certainly not.17 Aquinas

rejects an alien truthmaker18 for the necessities of nature. When

God knows forever that men are sentient, what he knows is not a

relation among divine ideas, but rather something about things of

a real nature: that to be human is to be sentient. Yet there is

no real nature unless there are individuals.19

The "eternal" truth, God's thought, is made true (formally)

by the coincidence of being human and being sentient in actual

humans, though the efficient cause of truth (God's understanding)

is eternal and immutable.

A. Maurer, loc.cit.106, says "if essences perish with the

existence of things--if they have no essential being of their own

and distinct from their existential being--so too do necessary

propositions in which essential predicates are attributed to a

subject. . .These propostions, then, are not eternal or necessary

but contingent truths."

Plurality from the Ideated The plurality of divine ideas is

by extrinsic denomination from the things understood. That means,

to say there are many ideas in God is to talk referentially from

a vantage where names point to what God made, the creatures.20

Aquinas says that in several places: "there are as many divine

ideas as there are things understood," and the things that might

have been are "seen not in the ______ but in _________" Ia, 14,

52. In D.P. 1,5 ad 11, Aquinas says:

The question is whether there is in God

an idea of those things that neither exist nor

will exist, nor have existed and that

nevertheless God is able to make. Seemingly

the reply should be, if we take an idea in its

complete signification, namely as signifying

the art-form [the working-idea] not only as

conceived by the intellect but also as

directed to execution by the will, then of

such things God has no idea. On the other

hand, if we take an idea in its incomplete

state,as the mere conception of the worker,

then God has an idea of those things. For it

is clear that the created craftsman conceives

works that he has no intention of executing.

Now whatever God knows is in him as something

thought out, since in him actual and habitual

knowledge do not differ: for he knows his

whole power and whatsoever he is able to do;

hence in him are thought out as it were, the

ideas of whatsoever things he is able to


This passage is easily confusing, I take it that Aquinas

wants to underline the activity of God's self-understanding: so

his knowledge of what might have been is not potential; it is not

actual; yet such knowledge is "incomplete", not because something

is left out, but because it is not operative (the knowing of one


Aquinas says of actual individuals (Ia, 14, 11c) that God's

knowledge extends as far as his causation, which includes

individualizing matter. But the causation of what might have been

is virtual, I.14, 16 ad 1; so, too, the practical knowledge for

such things is virtual,I.15,3 ad 2 and I 14,16c. "Mere possibles"

can have no individualizing matter and cannot be termini of

divine causation.21

In Ia.15,2c he says,

[S]o far as God knows his essence as

capable of such imitation by any creature, he

knows it as the particular type and idea of

that creature: and in like manner as regards

other creatures. So it is clear that God

understands many particular types of many

things and these are many ideas.

And in 15,2 ad 2 he says "an idea {is} that which God


So there are as many ideas as there are many things which

God understands; but there is only one self-understanding by

which he understands the many things. Is that consistent? Only

if there are two ways of counting ideas. One way is by counting

the acts of the thinker, God; so there is only one idea. The

other way is by counting the things understood. That is why the

plurality of ideas is denominative from the things made. It is

the same as saying you saw many things: a house, a ___, the sky,

etc; so there are many seeings.

To say God has "proper" concepts for all things, even merely

possible singulars, is not to say God has Leibnizian "complete

concepts". Aquinas is explicit, D.P.1,5 ad 11 that God has ideas

"in the incomplete form", the mere conceptions of a worker for

things not to be made. And that comes to this:

The divine essence excells all creatures.

Hence it can be taken as the proper ratio of

each thing according to the diverse ways in

which diverse creatures participate in and

instantiate it. Ia,14,6 ad 3.

That's what Aquinas' explanation comes to.

We would mislead ourselves to say "a possible is identical

with its appropriate divine idea "(Wippel,p.168). Aquinas'

exemplarist commitment in Ia.14 and 15 and in D.V. 2,7-8-9, is

limited by his denying, I.15,2c,that God has ideas "as images

which he understands", "an understanding formed by many images".

Even with actual things, God's ideas are not like images; all the

more so, there are no images of things that never are. Rather,

"ideas are said to be many in as much as many types are

underestood through the self-same essence." I.15,3 ad 1. God's

knowledge of what might have been is speculative, knowledge of

simple understanding the way I know Fields inpersonations,

whereas his knowledge of the actual is practical knowledge "of

vision", "of what has being outside the seer". It's like the

difference between my knowledge of what gestures I am able to

make, but do not, and my knowledge of the gesture I did make.

Why then does Aquinas so systematically "save" Augustine's

claims that God has many ideas and that God knows what might

happen? I think it is because he feels that traditional

explanation of the faith demands it and because he can give

harmless analysis of such statements that makes their literal

sense accord with the scientific truth. There is doubt, though,

that the outcome is different from what the Augustineans meant.

Empty Names. For a platonist, "antilichts repel chronons"

is truth-valued just in case the general terms "antilichts" and

"chronons" name (or can be analysed into names for) eternally

existing Forms. Neoplatonists, like Augustine, relocated the

forms as divine ideas. But for Aquinas, if there never is

anything that is an antilicht or a chronon, then there is no

formable ennuntiation (no "expressable thought", no proposition).

No possibility with content is picked out by such collections of


That means that "absolute " possibilities (D.P.3,14) cannot

be expressed with empty names. So our capacity to say what is

possible outside God is dependent on what is actually made and

restricted to what we can "reach" from it. Even though there is

no contradiction in "antilichts repel chronons", nothing

possible "in itself" is picked out. That is a consequence of

Aquinas' theory that real esences cannot be apart from existing

things. As a result, "absolute" possibility with determinate

content is consequent on finite being, and is a result of, rather

than an explanation of "possibility in the capacity of a

subject".22 That reverses the explanatory ______ commentators

like Wipple ______ to Aquinas.

If there were never any humans, what could "human" in

"Humans are sentient" have named? Nothing at all. To say "the

nature", is just what Aquinas' moderate realism requires him to

deny, for there would have been no such nature when there were no


To say "human" names the divine idea FOR humans, is to

substitute Augustine's position for that of Aquinas. It is to

reinterpret the utterance, not as a statement about humans, but

as a statement about the overlap of divine ideas. Aquinas does

not regard relations of divine ideas as an alien23 truthmaker for

necessities of nature .

The common names in propositions designate (supposit for)

things, and sometimes the natures of things and sometimes the

forms and materials of things, depending on how the names are

used.24 For example, Aquinas thought the reason "animals are

self-moving" is true, and thought by God, even "before" there

were animals in nature, is that "animals" supposits for the real

animals that come to be. Otherwise, there would be nothing

expressible. The compliant reality for "men are sentient" is not

a relation among divine ideas, but the real coincidence of being

human and being sentient in humans; see Suarez for the same

interpretation of Aquinas, D.M.. 31,12.40-41. In fact, Aquinas

does not say there is an overlap of divine ideas, or describe any

truth-making relations of divine ideas (except, perhaps, for

arithmetic and geometry--a matter I have not inquired into). That

is why Suarez says the truth-maker for the proposition, for

Aquinas, is the reality that is going to be, "id quod futurum

esse", the actual coincidence of being human with being sentient

in the humans that are to be. Suarez disparages that answer in

favor of his own view (which seems to be either a "creation of

truth-making divine ideas" view, or something like Scotus' common

nature realism.)24

Aquinas reshaped the "going" vocabulary, by describing God's

cognition of what might have been as a virtual and denominative

plurality, relatively to things made, entirely contained in God's

slef-understanding. The possibility that there might have been

men is founded in the undifferentiated perfection of God; as a

differentiated possibility, it is rooted in the actual things

made. The possibiity is not based in reality the way Suarez may

have thought (D.M.31,12,10) in esse essentiae, in uncreated

essences that are like dents in the saranwrap of pure

possibility. Rather, the essences come to be with the things.

D.P. 3,5 ad 2 "ipsa quidditas creari dicitur," see Maurer, op.

cit. p.106.

The idea behind Aquinas' "nulla veritas est necessaria in

creaturis" I Sent.16,5 3, is that "iron rusts" is in nature the

way "the queen moves any open distance in any direction" is in

chess, a condition for the order of things, and so necessary to

the being there is, but such that there need not have been such

an order, it being derived entirely from the will of the creator.

[Descartes carried that further with his "king's laws" account

that did not require any antecedent or consequent real natures,

except for res cogitans and res extensa.] Aquinas explains

at length, D.P.3,16, that how the world is ordered is entirely

from the divine will. Some features of things are necessitated

from the choice of others. "Thus we might say, for instance,

supposing God intends to make a man, that it is necessary and due

that he give him a rational soul and an organic body, without

which there is no such thing as a man" D.P. 3.16c. Furthermore,

he says, "Even as the divine goodness is made manifest through

the things that are and through this order of things, so it could

be made manifest through other creatures and another order." D.P.


That does not say anything about how the nature of man

('human') came to be determined. Nor does the logical division of

categorical substance by differentiae determine the nature of

"man"; for instance, in the broad sense of "animal", rational

birds would do as well to make species. We also know that we

often determine the natures of things, both causally and

cognitively, inventing hands in cards, pieces of furniture,

kitchen appliances, tools, machines, processes, materials, even

plants (sugar and cream corn), procedures (indictment), status

(corporations), and outcomes (cooked). The sorts of things can

not be determined in some platonic heaven or from God's

understanding alone. God makes the natures of things. (See below)

Moreover, God can, compatably with creation, act above, against

and beside the present order of things.25

Maximum degree of reality? Wippel says,

before the actual creation of a given entity,

however, and before the actual creation of the

universe, its divine idea is the maximum

degree of reality enjoyed by any possible

entity, whether or not it will eventually come

into existence.

The "maximum degree of reality" for a thing before its

creation is none at all, D.P. 3,5 ad 2. Possibility "before

creation" is not a kind of reality for me, but for God. God sees

what might be "not in themselves but in himself", I.14,5c. The

possibility for the unmade IS the power of God. There is no "in

itself" except relatively to a proposition, which logically

requires real kinds, already existent in cases or potential

cases, and thus requires the actual existence of discursive

created minds as well as of the things designated. "Absolute

possibility" is not explan_____ prior to possibility as capacity

in a subject.

God's "Sufficing Likeness" and "Proper Knowledge". Wippel's

phrase (169) "insofar as it [the divine being] is viewed as

capable of being imitated in a given way", is constrained so that

the reference to an imitation is logically prior to the

decription of the respect in which God is imitated. The phrase

applies no more than metaphorically to what is never to be

because no such reference is possible.

The positive claim "God knows all the ways he might be

imitated", and "etiam intelligit se intelligere multa per

essentiam suam", Ia.15,2 ad 2, follows from the impossibility of

its contradictory, "God is ignorant of some way he might be

finitely imitated", and so, is without commitment to a

decomposite domain of how God might be imitated.

God's essence "has therefore the nature of an idea with

respect to other things" Ia.15,1 ad 2, and "the species of the

divine intellect, which is God's essence, suffices to represent

all things; hence by understanding his essence, God knows the

essences of all things, and also what can be accidental to them"

Ia.14,14c (Italics added). Similarly, we recognize the W.C.

Fields-impersonations from knowing the exemplar, not by a prior

image of each imitation. Ia. 14,13 c, "The divine essence,

whereby the divine intellect understands, is a sufficing likeness

of all things that that are or can be, not only as regards their

universal principles, but also as regards the principles proper

to each one, as shown above."(italics added).

That "sufficing likeness" is not itself "broken up" into

individual likenesses, any more than the Mona Lisa is broken up

into the elements captured by each copy. Rather, all

distinguishing forms "by which each thing is constitued in its

own species" are said to pre-exist in God eminently, I.14,6c.

And In D.P. 3,16 ad 5, he explains that "Accordingly, God is the

proper cause of each creature in as much as he understands each

creature and wills it to be. The statement that the same thing

cannot be proper to many applies to a relation of equality and

not to the case in point." Rather, God's understanding "contains"

all essences "as perfect acts to imperfect", as if I were to

compare 'man' to 'animal' or six, a perfect number, to the

imperfect numbers contained under it" I. 14,6c.

When he says, "whoever knows the number six, knows the

number three by proper knowledge", I.14.6c. and, "whoever knows a

man knows an animal by proper knowledge", this is not, as you

might think, knowledge by logical containment, or by the

containment of something that is common to many, "as unity is to

numbers, or as a center to [radiating] lines." I. 14.6c. Rather,

this is the way the perfect contains the imperfect. "Proper

knowledge" is the very opposite of decomposite knowledge. It is

more like the way the Standard meter contains the distances on a

surveyor's tape, and the potential divisions of the length of a


Aquinas, Ia. 15,2 c, denies that God understands "as it

were by a plurality of images". He saves the Augustinean notion

that "each thing was created by God according to the idea proper

to it" (quoted at I.15,2c,and said to involve the forms required

for difference of species,at I. 14,6c) by making clear that the

plurality of ideas is the plurality of the ideated, because there

is one thing, the divine essence, that has "the nature of an

idea", as I explained above. That is, of course, what the

simplicity doctrine demands as well; I.15,2c says that

understanding many things is "not repugnant to the simplicity of

the divine mind. . . though it would be repugnant to its

simplicity were his understanding to be formed by a plurality of

images." Further, I.44,3c, "ideas, though multiplied by their

relations to things, in reality are not apart from the divine

essence, according as the likeness to that essence can be shared

diversely by different things." The one "sufficing likeness" of

all things IS the "idea proper to it" according to which each

thing is made. (See, too, D.P. 3, 16 ad 5, quoted above). Also,

C.G. I 54.4:

Thus, by understanding his essence as

imitable in the mode of life and not

knowledge, God has the proper form of a plant;

and if he knows his essence as imitable in the

mode of knowledge and not of intellect, God

has the proper form of animal, and so forth.

Every participation is properly known as the imperfect is

understood in the perfect, that does not require that "each" be

somehow replicated, rather, each is contained "eminently". "Now

all the things that are in the divine knowledge must fall under

one intention...God by seeing his essence, sees all things

together." C.G.I 55.5.

Identity? I disagree with this: "From the ontological

standpoint, one may say that a possible is identical with its

appropriate divine idea." (p. 168) And: "from the ontological

standpoint a divine idea and a possible are one and the same"

(p.168). That cannot be true.27 No finite temporal being could be

"a possible" in that case. Finite things are creatures; the

divine self-knowedge is not. Divine ideas exist necessarily

(loosly speaking); creatures do not. Divine ideas are actual;

what "God can do" is "not actual", I.14,9c. Moreover, the

knowledge of vision, I.14,9c, "so-called because the things we

see around us have distinct being outside the seer, "contrasts

with the knowledge of what is merely possible, which is contained

in God's knowledge of his own power: "Whatever he himself can do,

all are known to God, although they are not actual. And in so far

it can be said that he has knowledge even of things that are not"

(I.114,9c, itals. added). Could it be more clear that

possibilities are not identical with divine ideas?

Aquinas' exemplarism should not be understood as the "models

for everything" interpretations propose. Instead, Aquinas'

theory of divine ideas comes to this: whatever is possible is

understood in God's self-comprehension by eminent containment of

a virtual and denominative plurality, with knowledge of vision

for things that are made, and by simple understanding of his

own ability, without reference to anything else, for things that

are never made. The plurality of ideas is plurality of the


I kept the footnotes as they are numbered here and in your text,

rather than making them consecutive with the former section

VOLUNTARISM. Whence, then, come the content of possibility

ad extra? Say, that humans are possible but rational electrons

are not. What makes it true, when there are no humans yet, that

humans are animals? Most interpreters of Aquinas are resolutely

anti-voluntarist. They regard the natures of things as fixed and

pre-given by divine ideas. But they do not get all the elements

of Aquinas' metaphysics into one story. In particular, they do

not accomodate; (i) that there are no genuine necessities in

creatures, (ii) that the natures of things are made with the

things and cease with the things, until the cessation of things,

the names and definite _________________, (iii) that "necessities

of nature" (like "humans are organic", "magnets attract iron"

[Aquinas' example]) are made true by real natures that are solid

with the things that come to be, and cease with them; and so,

(iv) there are no such truths for empty natures, (like "antichos

repel gravitons" or "________ absorbs ________") and there are no

empty natures or individuals, (v) nor is there identity or

individuation for anything that is not actual (or potential); so

there are no more possibles (possibilia) for Aquinas at all,

hence the supposition of _________ interpretation is mistaken.

Now, that's a lot of pieces not to fit. And it is not all. That

does not include the ________ with supposition theory, the

existential presumption of the syllogims or Aquinas' view on

naming and _________.

To avoid leaving Aquinas' metaphysics clashing with his

exemplarism, we will have to acknowledge that whatever God makes

is "contained eminently" in "one sufficing likeness", and that

possibility ad extra with content is created .42 Aquinas in S.T.

Q14, D.V. and S.G. 54 has interpreted away to multiplicity of

divine ideas and their particularity; and he has not identified

the "ratioentis" for _______ with God's self-knowledge.

Wippel says, "It is difficult to see how his [Aquinas'] God

could fail to view himself as imitable in any given way, or in

other words, how any possible could be freely rather than

necessarily such from eternity." Gilson shares that general

stance too.46

Now if there were determinate extensions of all the "ways"

of imitating God, like pickets on a fence, Wippel would be right.

God would know each of its elements. But such an extension

(_________ domain of possibility) is inconsistent.43 cp 12. [The

main reason for that is that being cannot be exhausted by kinds

or kinds by causes.] Sometimes Aquinas does use extensionalist

phrasing; for instance, in D.P.1,7c he says God's power "extends

to whatever is possible in itself".44 p. 12 And he says "unless

God understands however his perfection can be shared by other

things, nor would he understand the nature of perfect being

unless he know every kind of being." But "the ways" God can be

imitated cannot be logically distinguished except by reference to

what God makes, and God does not make everything he is able to

make.44 Put simply, Wippel understands "God's not understanding

all the ways he might be imitated" as equivalent to "God's

failing to understand some ways he might be imitated", when there

is no such equivalence because there is no such domain. This

___________ point is central to interpreting Aquinas. The

underlying mistake of the interpretation I am opposing is to

suppose there is a domain, or range, a determinate extension of

________ possibilities that is somehow refracted, like a rainbow,

through the prism of God's self-understanding.

Instead, think of construals of a landscape, or of table-

settings (of glasses, dishes and silverware). There is no range

of "all settings", because settings are not like rearrangments of

pickets on a fence or combinations of cards; there is no domain

of "all" combinations because the leements to be construed are

not ________. There are "other settings" only by reference to a

putative (actual) setting. Nevertheless, there could be "one

sufficing likeness" for every one, say a picture in an etiquette

book. Settings can be made by reference to the exemplar. They are

good or bad as they realize, or fail to, the perfections, the

principle, of the exemplar.

Furthermore, what might have been is logically determinate

only as far as it is anchored by reference in the actual and

_______, "picked out" by the actual. And even anchored

possibilities are never fully individual. In fact, they are far

vaguer than one tends to think. Thus, my having been a doctor is

possible; but the condition, "my having been a doctor", is not

determinate the way my being a philosopher is. That is because

only the actual is individual. The "rest"--what is logically and

physically unsettled about by my being a doctor--say, where the

office is, how long it was rented or owned, what color its

furniture is--is cognitively inaccessible. (Aquinas says God's

conception of what is not made is "incomplete", like an artist's

marked out conception of something he is not going to make.

D.P.000). The accessible "otherwise", the parts we can pick out

from what is so (say, ____________) is an infinitesmal part of

what might have been. (Of course, the statable actual is an

infinitesmal part of what is so, too.)

The outcome of these considerations is that God's will has

a role in what is possible. All possibility with content ad

extra is created. Thus, there are four points to be corrected


(1) Possibilities in a subject (like my having been a

physician) logically depend on the actual being of the subject,

which is created.

(2) Other possibilities in a subject--e.g. whether rational

animals can swim but not fly--are the result of God's choice

designing the sorts in nature, rather than other sorts. In D.P.

3,1 ad 3; 3,17c Aquinas says, why a creature is such and such can

be found in some other creature, up to a point, or at least "from

the order of the universe"; but the form of the whole universe

has no other reason that that "their maker willed it so". Aquinas

does not think the form of the whole is simply the aggregate of

the parts, but that the explanatory ______ goes ______ from the

whole (which is ______ from God's will) to the parts to the lot

of creatures to one another. Similarly he says, "For no reason

can be given for the distance of this star from that one, or any

other disposition we see in the heavens save the ordinance of

divine wisdom," D.P. 3,17 c; also, "no other reason can be given

except that their maker willed it". Nowadays the analogue would

be the values of the _______ contents, rather than star


(3) Absolute possibility is grounded in God's being (I. 25;

so too, Wippel, p.168-9); "not contradictory" is a marker for

"what is possible in itself" (D.P.1,5 ad 4;1,7c) but is not what

makes something possible.44 Possibility is explained not by the

absence of contradiction, but by ratio entis. "Ratio entis",

"quod non implicat ens et non ens simul" is FROM God for

anything ad extra. God can make a thing, because it has rationes

entis, because it is possible, is not to be understood to imply

that there is a logical subset of being prior to God's making.

No, it is Aquinas' way of making clear that creating possibility

is not, formally, for God`s power but from God's exemplary being

sketches of an artistic model are grounded by content in the

model, but in the power of the artist is however powerful, his

skills. Yet the model is not "----" into all sketches of it,

they depend on creative power.

(4) The fact that I cannot detect radio waves and convert

them to sounds or visual appearances (without instruments) is

from a decision of the creator as to what traits rational

animals are to have; see D.P. 3, 17c.46 Still, that is not to be

misunderstood to imply that I might have been able to detect

radio waves, or to fly. No particular thing or kind could have

been essentially different; but there might have been different

kinds, perhaps "radio-wave dectector terminals." [I give that

description as an example, but not claiming to pick out a real,

but empty kind.]

Might God have made rational birds or aquatic persons, or

wood that thinks? (Cf.John Locke, Essay,III.1v.6,p.540 f; Second

Reply, p.460 f). Most theists say God can make them, it being

supposed that such things are possible because no contradiction

is contained in the descriptions.47 Thus, they presuppose that

(i) whatever is consistent lies within God's power and (ii)

belongs to some divine idea for a finite imitation of God.

Did St. Thomas say that consistency of description is

sufficient for the real possibiility of what is described? He did

not. He did say tht God's power "extends to what is possible in

itself." He said not requiring "esse et non esse simul" is

sufficient. "Not implying a contradiction" is necessary.

Contradiction is a semantic or syntactic register of what _______

"ens et ens simul," but they are obviously not the same because

there was not always human language to supply the formulation for

contradiction. Even given that the terms are not empty,

consistency is not equivalent to possibility because there might

be conflicting "overflow" universals that make impossible what

is otherwise consistent: "rational birds". Consistency of a

description can neither assure that the terms are not empty,

"groms are croms", nor assure that the overflow universals,

"rational birds", are not repugnant, like "indetectable masses".

It is not that other kinds are not possible, rather we cannot

pick them out by recombining terms for real kinds because we have

no way of telling whether the result is repugnant or what the

overflow necessities would be.

insert p. 14 of TP for notes. . . what does that mean?

Either Aquinas was basically wrong about the role of

"posssibility in itself" or he has been understood wrongly.

Either he took consistency of propositions ("absolute

possibility") to be the basis, the explanation of possibility, or

he has been ______ that way, and wrongly. It is the latter;

"absolute" possibility has been given priority over being, a

priority that it does not have in his metaphysics.

Whether there is such a real nature as a rational bird

depends on whether God makes such things (see qualifications,

below); whether a bird (something of the same nature as a

sparrow, an eagle and a buzzard) could be cerebrally complex

enough to be rational depends on the order of natural repugnancy

God sets up; not everything can be produced from everything else,

St. Thomas says, "it does not thereby follow that a being of one

kind can be produced from one of another kind, for instance, a

shape from a color", D.P. 3,2c. So there is an order of

obediential potency in nature; it is ________ true, as Locke

supposed, that God can add any power he likes to any sort of


Aquinas says: "Ideo enim deus aliquid facit quia vult; non

tamen ideo potest quia vult, sed quia talis est in sua natura."

I.25,5 ad 1. This can be made to give the wrong impression,

(see Wippel, note 18 at p.171). Aquinas is not saying here,

"things are not possible because God wills them, but willed on

condition that they are possible in themselves", as Wippell says,

000. Instead, Aquinas says that God can make anything he wants

to; not that he is able to know he wants to, rather be one, he is

able to from his nature.

The rest of Q.25 and of D.P.1, do not say how intentional

objects get the status of "implying" (or not) a contradiction,

("God's power considered in itself, extends to all such objects

as do not imply a contradiction" D.P. 1, 7c.) Does "wood that

thinks" imply a contradiction? "Rational birds?" "Conscious

electrons?" "Stone moving faster than light"? "Perpetual

motion"? (of the universe? Of part of the universe?) Wippel is

right that things are not possible because God can make them.

But that does not mean there is a realm of the possible, say

divine ideas "given" by the divine nature, from which the creator

selects, as from a catalogue, of what can be. That is the wrong

picture for Aquinas entirely.

Overflow Significations and Incorporation. Take a common

name, say "water". The conditions a liquid has to meet in order

for the common name to apply EXCEED the conditions laid down by

its linguistic meaning. A luquid has to be "potable, colorless,

tasteless, and odorless", and more to be water. These are de re

necessities incorporated into the signification [the conditions

of applicability] by reference [by use of the term to refer to a

paradigm case, say a resevoir]. Water has to be made of H2O.

Another example, "human" applies only to rational animals;

furthermore, only to things that are made of organic compounds;

'being of an organic compound' is a condition of applicability

incorporated by the reference of "human" to paradigms necessarily

made of organic compounds. Now Saint Thomas is explicit that this

is so. D.P. 9,4c, and 9,4 ad 6, he distinguishes the meaning

conditions from the additional conditions, explaining that use of

a term with a difference of (what I call) "overflow" conditions

(but the same linguistic conditions) is not equivocation. He not

only makes the distinction I mention, he relies upon it, as John

of St. Thomas, Cursus Philosophicus Thomisticus also indicates,

Pt.I, Bk 2, Ch10, p.29. Now this is very important because

whether something purportedly designated by a nominal or

descriptive phrase is really possible depends not only on the

consistency of the name but on the non-repugnancy of the

"overflow" conditions. So Aquinas is NOT committed to holding

that consistency of description is by itself sufficient for the

real possibility of what is described.

Thus, some decriptive combinations, like 'rational bird' or

'wood that thinks' may be semantically (linguistically)

consistent and yet the designata may be de re impossible

because the universals incorporated by reference may be naturally

repugnant. 'Being wood' and 'thinking' are semantically

compatible but the overflow natural necessities repel one

another. Whatever is really wood cannot think.48 What things are

naturally repugnant is the result of the will of God.48 Whether

God's power to bring about what is "above" nature involved

unlimited obediential capacity in matter is not settled here.

The active power of things are limited. Those limits come from


A Treasury of Traits? Aquinas does not postulate a

treasury of logically independent traits (like "flying",

"rational", "walking", "aquatic", "animal") whose intersections

or combinations can be "instanced" by divine choice. That's the

way contemporary neoplatonists, like modal actualists, talk.49

(15 of notes)

So whether there might have been rational birds is not

settled by some infinite list of logically independent traits

given to God by his nature, that God can combine at will. God

makes the natural order of things. "Given that he wished to make

the universe such as it is, it was necessary that he should

produce such and such creatures whence such and such form of

universe would arise." "Accordingly we must conclude that the

multitude and diversity of creatures proceeded from one

principle. . . from the order of wisdom." D.P.3,16c; also

I.47,1;C.G. II,34 ff.

Had God made animals and angels but not men, it would have

been a "necessity of nature" (not Aquinas' term) that no animal

is rational. Yet, rational animals would have been within God's

power to make. That is, it would have been naturally impossible

for there to be rational animals, in the same sense in which it

is impossible for a man to fly (D.P. 1, 3,C.) though, absolutely,

that is within God's power. So something can be beyond the power

of nature to produce and still within God's power.50

Anything is within God's power that does not have to

be and not be at the same time; see Ia. 25, 3c; D.P. 1, 3; I

Sent. 42, 2, 2. Whether a proposed thing requires both being

and non-being at the same time may depend on what else God makes

(Cf.I.47,3c) because a complete making (a universe) involves

inventing universals (real natures51) arranged into patterns of

natural repugnancy, for which the final reason is the divine will

alone,D.P.3,17c. See also I.44 and C.G. II 34ff.

Aquinas never says that "perfect being" can be

exhausted by kinds (natures) or that any kind can be exhausted by

individuation, or that a nature can exist without individual

cases. In fact, the opposite; see Suarez,D.M.31,12,4047. So I

find nothing to justify the confidence of so many imterpreters

that real natures are representationally prefigured, rather than

just eminenced, by the nature of God, especially given that

Aquinas says the reason for creatures' being the ways they are

(and that presumably, includes not just the accidental ways

alone) is "to an extent" to be found in the fit of things to one

another, but that the reason for it all is found only in the

divine will.

The issue of voluntarism in Aquinas has been misconstrued.

Some disputants discount the dependence of possibility in

contingent subjects on God's will, thinking that "absolute

possibility" is somehow independent of contingent subjects and

independent of God's will. But it is not. There is no platonic

realm of "all propositions"; Aquinas' view of propositions as

linguistically expressive contents of thought (what he called

enu_________) preclude such a domain. Propositions are not

"formable" without things designated; there can be no things

without creation. So, there is no "locus" for absolute

propositional possibility without creation. Further, being-as-

such (ens ut ens) places no limitation on what can be made. The

limits, from natural repugnancy, come from God's will and

coincide with what is made, having no basis in being outside

created things.52

As indicated by his explicit acknowledgment of "overflow"

conditions by reference, Aquinas knew that descriptive

consistency (absence of contradiction) is not enough to guarantee

that a "thing" does not require "esse et non esse simul". Whether

it does depends on the divine arrangement of nature in general.

Not everything is describable by us; for what God might have

done, entirely other than what was made, lies beyond our ability

to describe. Aquinas remarded that not just anything in God's

power can be expressed propositionally. Further, he did not say

that whatever has a consistent description is possible, but

rather that whatever does not require "ens et non ens simul" is

within God's power. Whether "esse et non esse simul" is impicated

("implicat") is determined by God's essence;cf.Ia.25. But how

God's essence determines the ratio entis for things has been

construed platonistically. That was a mistake.

Aquinas holds, as Wippel says, that things are not

possible because God can make them but makeable because possible,

cf.Ia,15,2 ad 2 and Ia,25,3c, "Nihil autem opponitur rationi

entis, nisi non ens. Hoc igitur repugnat rationi possibilis

absoluti, quod subditur divinae omnipotentiae, quod implicat in

se esse et non esse simul." Also, D.P.1,3 where Aquinas says

inconsistency is sufficient for impossibility, and I Sent. 42,2

ad 2, and Ia,24,5 ad 1;Ia.25,3, "whatever can have "ratione

entis" is included in the absolutely possible, with respect to

which God is called all powerful."

Now that might look as if it settles the matter. But those

statements are neutral to what is at issue. Even the instructions

that it is better to say about a contradiciton, "such things

can't be made" than to say "God can't make them", and to say,

Ia.25, 4 ad 2, that a thing is not subject to God's power

because it lacks possibility, are neutral to whether

possibility ad extra "absolute possibility," has any priority

over actual being or any reality apart from God's power. Of

course, it does not. Variations on a theme are made

possible by the perfections of the theme; so too,the possibility

for creatures is determined by the "one sufficing likeness",

without its thereby blueprinting the variation so that the

composer just fills in the note-shapes with the ink of

contingent being. No, the exemplar delineates what counts, but

not by preempting invention (creation). The content of

possibility ad extra is created. The essences of things are

created; the necessities of nature ( "iron rusts") are made; they

are not from the divine intelligence as from an ALIEN truthmaker.

(see Maurer, "Aquinas on the Eternal Truths", cit. supra).

Proponents of voluntarist readings of Aquinas, like G.

Smith, B. Zedler and A. Forest (all cited by Wippel) don't work

things out in enough detail to carry the day: (a) sometimes they

do not distinguish the explanation of mathematical and pure

formal truth from the explanations of the "regularities of

nature", like "humans have free will" and "spiders have eight

legs", truths Aquinas says are contingent (I. Sent.); (b)

sometimes they do not distinguish what MAKES (formally and

efficiently) the formal truths true (like "for all _______ there

are __________) from what (efficiently) makes "iron rusts", true

(God's will), and (c) sometimes they do not draw heavily enough

on Aquinas' commitment that in order for common names to be in

personal supposition in propositions expressing "necessities of

nature", (for instance, "elephants are herbivorous"), there have

to be actual (or proximately potential) things of the common

natures and the natures themselves have to be real (not just

ideas). With those additional resources, any notion that the

content of possibility ad extra is determined item-by-item by the

divine exemplar becomes simply fanciful.

Fr. Norris Clarke55 offered a reading I approve of God's

self-understanding is said to be the "supreme anlogical mode or

norm" for whatever is or might be. That is what I suggest, too,

using analogies like a theme and variations, model and

construals, paradigms and renderings, conceptions and paintings,

and original (W.C. Fields) and the mere imitations (W.C. Fields-

impersonations). The possibility is delimited by the norm, but

the content of the realization has to be created.

Besides, the options to explain "the regularities of

nature" (the per se predicates of things, cf. Aquinas, Comm in

Post Anal, 1, less. 10) are limited to the one I suggest (and

think Fr. Clarke had in mind), and the one I think Wippel is

committed to. But the latter, ikonic neoplatonism (the treasury

of articulate exemplars), is logically inconsistent, as I have

repeatedly sketched (and see note 4); furthermore it is

incompatible with Aquinas' metaphysics and with his explicit

qualifications, mentioned above. Nor can we say the common

terms, "humans" and "horses ", etc., are in simple supposition

for the real natures in such propositions as "horses are

herbivores" and "humans are sentient." For then, the propositions

would be different from what we are supposed to be explaining--

that horses are herbivores and humans are sentient, and yet would

still be about the real natures which have no being apart from

things. Propositional "necessities of nature" ("iron rusts") are

not, of course,about divine ideas; nor are they made true or

false by relations among divine ideas.54 That is why Aquinas is

commited to the view that the reality-to-be, not divine ideas, is

what makes the "necessities of nature" true, when there are no

humans (yet). (Suarez attributes that to him, D.M. 31,12,40.) So

only the first option is left.

Natural necessity is a necessity that is not absolute but

hypothetical (and as Aquinas says in I. Sent. ), not really

necessary at all) is from God's will, as is all created being.

Fr. Maurer says, "if essences perish with the existences of

things--if they have no essential being of their own, distinct

from their existential being--so too do necessary propositions,

in which essential predicates are attributed to a subject".

(loc.cit. p.106) He says, "From the perspective of the being of

things, then, there is no necessary truth in _______________" See

I. Sent. d.19, q5, a.3. p. 496) Thus, "humans are animals" might

have been otherwise, not because there might have been non-animal

humans, but because there might have been no humans at all,

something else instead. That precludes ikonic neoplatonism as a

position for Aquinas.

Created Natures. Aquinas' moderate realism and his

supposition theory allow neither empty kinds nor empty

individuals, nor empty names, nor ideas (full in all particulars,

that require prime matter) for "them". Nor can universal

propositions be formed with empty names ("phlogiston outweighs

caloric"), as the existential presupposition of the syllogism

indicates. So it would seem that possibility (and necessity) with

content ad extra (like"animals with hearts have livers" and

"pressure applied to an enclosed liquid is equally distributed

over the entire container" and "silicon-based life is capable of

intelligent forms"), has to be created with actual things. God

designs the kinds and the things that are to be (D.P.3,17c).

The "silicon based life" example should make obvious that

real possiblility is not a simple consequence of descriptive

consistency. We do not actually know whether silicon based life

is possible. What is possible is relative to what else is actual,

to what universals55 there are in nature. So, silicon-based

intelligent life is or is not possible depending on the natural

repugnancies among real naturess.56 God makes the repugnancies

in nature.

So, God makes the kinds, the natures and the universals.

What is possible is "freely constituted by the divine will in

accord with its wisdom",57 cf. D.P. 3,16c;I,47,1;C.G.II 34 ff.

Whether there might have been rational birds is not settled by

some infinite list of freely combinable independent traits. It

could not be.

Conclusion. The assumptions needed to maintain the old

interpretation, bolstered by what was thought also to be the

philosophical truth, are not to be found in the text, conflict

with Aquinas' own commitments (on real natures, supposition, and

individuation) and grind against what seems to be the obvious

truth about naming now.

There is not enough explicit text to settle the voluntarist

issue without appeal to the truth about names and the commitments

about natures. What some others took to be obvious is not even

true and was not held by Aquinas. So my argument has to be seen

in two parts. First, mainly negative, that the text is enough to

show that Aquinas did not hold the "identity" of possibility with

divine ideas, that Wippel attributes to him and that Aquinas did

not hold an ikonic neoplatonism about divine ideas, and held a

different view, that mere possibilities have no reality "in

themselves" at all. Secondly, that careful speculation based on

what Aquinas said, despite his sketchy views on possibility,

particularly his somewhat divergent comments about "absolute"

possibility, the consistency of propositions, settles it that

the natures of things are created, and not by combinations of

independent traits given by God's nature as ikons.