What Is Creatio For Thomas Aquinas?June 26, 2021
Thomas Aquinas, in the first article of the 44th question of his Summa Theologica, states that all beings that appear in human perception must have been created absolutely. The beginning of this creation is God (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Ia, Q. 44, art. 1, Respondeo). The relationship between the created (that is, the necessary) and the Creator (that is, the necessary) is an essential relationship.
This essentiality becomes more evident in a process where the creature takes a share. Participation is actually a Platonic term and is important in establishing and understanding the relationship between the Idea and the physical object. It is interesting that Aquinas, who was actually an Aristotelian, used a Platonic concept. This small conceptual deviation entered his philosophy through Augustine. Thomas Aquinas adopts some of the concepts used by Augustinian philosophy. Therefore, although his Aristotelianism is accepted as the main axis, it is sometimes possible to see such acceptances. Nothing created can survive on its own.
All beings that have a beginning in time need an existence other than themselves in order to maintain their existence. This need creates a sense of Unity so that diversity and multiplicity can be meaningful—that is, have a goal. This is why Thomas Aquinas attaches importance to Plato’s idea that unity must precede multiplicity, which he points out in the Parmenides dialogue. He supports this idea with Aristotle’s statement in Metaphysics that “the greatest in being and the greatest in truth is the cause of every being and every truth”. According to Thomas Aquinas, for example, the greatest (thing) in terms of temperature is the cause of all heat (Thomas Aquinas, Sum. Theol., Ia, Q. 44, art. 1, Respondeo). So, there is a deep relationship between Being and Truth in terms of understanding existence. This relationship goes as far as the identity of Being and Truth. Therefore, the knowledge of the created world and the reason for the existence of that world must coincide.
The term participio (taking a share) used by Thomas Aquinas is a term used by Plato and Platonists in general terms. The Greek for the term is methexis, and we need to think of the term in the context in which it is used in Plato’s Phaedo [100d] and Parmenides [130c-131a]. Aristotle also points out that there is only a verbal distinction between the Platonic term methexis and the Platonic term mimesis (imitation) [Metaphysics, 987b]. The term was started to be used with its former importance by Proklos, a philosopher from Istanbul after Plato (Peters, 1967: 117).
According to Thomas Aquinas, everything that exists through taking part also comes into existence for a reason. The act of taking part is actually the beginning of the Principle flowing out of itself (emanatio) and essentially connecting everything to itself through this flow. It is out of question for an entity that is exposed to the act of taking a share to exist without reason. To put it another way, if an act such as taking a share is mentioned, there must be an entity that is complete in its own existence and has the power and ability to be the cause of those similar to itself. Otherwise, we can never talk about a situation like getting a share. The one who takes a share requires the one from whom a share is taken, and this is a mandatory asset.
Such a presupposition means the division of existence into two. In this way, according to Thomas Aquinas, existence is divided into two as “necessary” and “necessary”. Necessary being is that which, in a sense, remains what it is and cannot exist in any other way than the state it is itself. This Being is God himself. In creation, God is an “impressive cause” for all beings other than himself. That’s why everything was created by God. God is a competent “influencing cause” because His actions are not done to meet any individual need. According to Thomas Aquinas, each creature makes an effort to attain its own perfection. These competencies share in Divine Competence and Goodness. Thus, according to Thomas Aquinas, God is not only a competent “effective cause”; It also appears as an Ultimate Cause, an Purpose Cause to which everything is directed (Thomas Aquinas, Sum. Theol., Ia, Q.45, Respondeo and Ad 1-4). This is an indispensable condition of Creation. To put it more clearly, everything comes from God and returns to Him. This expression was coined by an Irish philosopher, Ioannes Scotus Erigena. According to him, it is possible to talk about two important stages in Creation: “analysis” and “synthesis”. In the analysis process, creation begins with God’s ideas and continues until everything returns to God (coagulatio). The return to God marks the synthesis process. According to Erigena, Creation ends with the beginning of the universe.