Monday, January 01, 2007

Q65 A4: Whether the forms of bodies are from the angels?

No. Corporeal forms are not from the angels but from God because all contrary opinions seem to have a common error (they all, in fact, seek for a cause of forms as though the form were of itself brought into being) whereas, as Aristotle (Metaph. vii, text. 26,27,28), proves, what is, properly speaking, made, is the "composite."

Thus material forms come, not by emanation, but by motion.

We must not look for the cause of corporeal forms in any immaterial form, but in something that is composite, as this fire is generated by that fire. Corporeal forms, therefore, are caused, not as emanations from some immaterial form, but by matter being brought from potentiality into act by some composite agent.

But since the composite agent, which is a body, is moved by a created spiritual substance, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 4,5), it follows further that even corporeal forms are derived from spiritual substances, not emanating from them, but as the term of their movement. And, further still, the species of the angelic intellect, which are, as it were, the seminal types of corporeal forms, must be referred to God as the first cause.

But in the first production of corporeal creatures no transmutation from potentiality to act can have taken place, and accordingly, the corporeal forms that bodies had when first produced came immediately from God, whose bidding alone matter obeys, as its own proper cause.

According to the Platonists, the order of forms corresponds to the order of those separate substances; for example, that there is a single separate substance, which is horse and the cause of all horses, whilst above this is separate life, or "per se" life, as they term it, which is the cause of all life, and that above this again is that which they call being itself, which is the cause of all being.

Avicenna, however, and certain others, have maintained that the forms of corporeal things do not subsist "per se" in matter, but in the intellect only. Thus they say that from forms existing in the intellect of spiritual creatures (called "intelligences" by them, but "angels" by us) proceed all the forms of corporeal matter, as the form of his handiwork proceeds from the forms in the mind of the craftsman. This theory seems to be the same as that of certain heretics of modern times, who say that God indeed created all things, but that the devil formed corporeal matter, and differentiated it into species.