Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Q115 A2: Whether there are any seminal aspects in corporeal matter?

Yes. Augustine fittingly gave the name of "seminal aspects" [seminales rationes] to all those active and passive powers which are the principles of natural generation and movement because the active and passive principles of the generation of living things are the seeds from which living things are generated.

Convenienter Augustinus omnes virtutes activas et passivas quae sunt principia generationum et motuum naturalium, seminales rationes vocat, quia principium activum et passivum generationis rerum viventium sunt semina ex quibus viventia generantur.

It is customary to name things after what is more perfect, as the Philosopher says (De Anima ii, 4). Now in the whole corporeal nature, living bodies are the most perfect: wherefore the word "nature" has been transferred from living things to all natural things. For the word itself, "nature," as the Philosopher says (Metaph. v, Did. iv, 4), was first applied to signify the generation of living things, which is called "nativity": and because living things are generated from a principle united to them, as fruit from a tree, and the offspring from the mother, to whom it is united, consequently the word "nature" has been applied to every principle of movement existing in that which is moved.

Denominationes consueverunt fieri a perfectiori, ut dicitur in II de anima. In tota autem natura corporea perfectiora sunt corpora viva, unde et ipsum nomen naturae translatum est a rebus viventibus ad omnes res naturales. Nam ipsum nomen naturae, ut philosophus dicit in V Metaphys., primo impositum fuit ad significandum generationem viventium, quae nativitas dicitur, et quia viventia generantur ex principio coniuncto, sicut fructus ex arbore, et foetus ex matre, cui colligatur, consequenter tractum est nomen naturae ad omne principium motus quod est in eo quod movetur.

These active and passive powers may be considered in several orders. For in the first place, as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. vi, 10), they are principally and originally in the Word of God, as "ideal aspects."

Huiusmodi autem virtutes activae et passivae in multiplici ordine considerari possunt. Nam primo quidem, ut Augustinus dicit VI super Gen. ad Litt., sunt principaliter et originaliter in ipso verbo Dei, secundum rationes ideales.

Secondly, they are in the elements of the world, where they were produced altogether at the beginning, as in "universal causes."

Secundo vero, sunt in elementis mundi, ubi simul a principio productae sunt, sicut in universalibus causis.

Thirdly, they are in those things which, in the succession of time, are produced by universal causes, for instance in this plant, and in that animal, as in "particular causes."

Tertio vero modo, sunt in iis quae ex universalibus causis secundum successiones temporum producuntur, sicut in hac planta et in hoc animali, tanquam in particularibus causis.

Fourthly, they are in the "seeds" produced from animals and plants. And these again are compared to further particular effects, as the primordial universal causes to the first effects produced.

Quarto modo, sunt in seminibus quae ex animalibus et plantis producuntur. Quae iterum comparantur ad alios effectus particulares, sicut primordiales causae universales ad primos effectus productos.

These active and passive powers of natural things, though not called "aspects" [rationes] by reason of their being in corporeal matter, can nevertheless be so called in respect of their origin, inasmuch as they are the effect of the ideal aspects [rationes ideales].

Huiusmodi virtutes activae et passivae rerum naturalium, etsi non possint dici rationes secundum quod sunt in materia corporali, possunt tamen dici rationes per comparationem ad suam originem, secundum quod deducuntur a rationibus idealibus.

From the words of Augustine when speaking of these seminal aspects, it is easy to gather that they are also causal aspects, just as seed is a kind of cause: for he says (De Trin. iii, 9) that, "as a mother is pregnant with the unborn offspring, so is the world itself pregnant with the causes of unborn things."

Ex verbis Augustini de huiusmodi rationibus seminalibus loquentis, satis accipi potest quod ipsae rationes seminales sunt etiam rationes causales, sicut et semen est quaedam causa, dicit enim in III de Trin., quod "sicut matres gravidae sunt foetibus, sic ipse mundus est gravidus causis nascentium."

Nevertheless, the "ideal aspects" can be called "causal aspects," but not, strictly speaking, "seminal aspects," because seed is not a separate principle; and because miracles are not wrought outside the scope of these causal aspects. Likewise neither are miracles wrought outside the scope of the passive virtues so implanted in the creature, that the latter can be used to any purpose that God commands. But miracles are said to be wrought outside the scope of the natural active virtues, and the passive potentialities which are ordered to such active virtues, and this is what is meant when we say that they are wrought outside the scope of seminal aspects.

Sed tamen rationes ideales possunt dici causales, non autem proprie loquendo seminales, quia semen non est principium separatum, et praeter huiusmodi rationes non fiunt miracula. Similiter etiam neque praeter virtutes passivas creaturae inditas, ut ex ea fieri possit quidquid Deus mandaverit. Sed praeter virtutes activas naturales, et potentias passivas quae ordinantur ad huiusmodi virtutes activas, dicuntur fieri miracula, dum dicitur quod fiunt praeter rationes seminales.

Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 8): "Of all the things which are generated in a corporeal and visible fashion, certain seeds lie hidden in the corporeal things of this world."

Augustinus dicit, III de Trin., "omnium rerum quae corporaliter visibiliterque nascuntur, occulta quaedam semina in istis corporeis mundi huius elementis latent."