Sigerus de Brabant’s Conception of God and the UniverseJune 28, 2021
Although Sigerus’s understanding of metaphysics is built on an understanding originating from Aristotle, it still contains some Neoplatonic elements. He, like Aristotle, says that the subject of the first philosophy is being as being. In addition to this, the first being or the first cause is also the subject of metaphysics.
According to him, being and one point to the same thing; however, they are not synonymous. Because while being shows the act of existence (actus essendi), it describes an indivisibility within itself (indivisum in se). The act of being belongs to the essence of being and is not something added to it later. According to Sigerus, things are not pure acts. Their multiplicity is already proof of this. So there are two aspects in things that make them up; existence (esse) and the potential to exist (potentia ad esse) (Bazan, 2006: 636).
This combination of “esse” and “potentia ad esse” of Sigerus is actually a metaphysical dependency that affects and also determines all created beings. According to him, only individual and perishable substances have this combination. Whereas, the world (or universe) as a whole, genera, and separate substances only have the potential to exist. In other words, the ontological states of the universe, species and separate substances are not based on their non-existence potentials (potentia ad non esse); but their existence is determined by their potential. God is the First Being and the First Cause of all things. Because of these features, we can say that God has a pure existence. The moon created by God in the six worlds; In other words, we can talk about contingency, that is, the possibility of something existing or not (Maurer, 1982: 195).
The so-called contingency is certainly not due to God’s meddling in worldly affairs. This is more about matter. Matter, according to Sigerus, is a deficiency that will prevent the effects of the heavenly realms and Divine Intelligence, which act as a mediator between God and the physical universe in the act of creation, from being fully received. Therefore, nothing happens by necessity in the sublunar realm. “This world is the scene of many contingent events that cannot be predicted with certain certainty; because none of these events are the product of necessary causes. Even God cannot know future contingent events, except that he knows, in general, that he is the remote cause of everything” (Maurer, 1982: 195).
Sigerus de Brabant, in his work De Aeternitate Mundi, considers the universe as a structure with no beginning and no end. The most surprising aspect of the matter is that the species in the universe are also considered eternal. The human being among these species is also a structure that has no beginning and no end in time. To put it another way, man was not created, so we cannot speak of a first man and there will not be a last man. Such an approach stems from his Aristotelian mentality. However, after expressing this understanding, he said somewhat sarcastically: “This conclusion reached by reason (by faith) must be absolutely rejected.” Sigerus, who expelled the bond between God and the first man in this way, opposed the thoughts of philosophers before him and some of his contemporaries, saying that both essence and existence in man were created by God (Maurer, 1982: 196; Bazan, 2006: 637).
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook