Thursday, January 01, 2009

Q66 A1: Did formlessness of created matter precede in time its formation?

No. The formlessness of matter was not prior in time to its formation because an imperfect effect proves imperfection in the agent, but God is an agent absolutely perfect.

Informitas materiae corporalis non praecesserit tempore formationem ipsius. Quod imperfectio effectus attestatur imperfectioni agentis. Sed Deus est agens perfectissimum.

Nature produces effect in act from being in potentiality; and consequently in the operations of nature potentiality must precede act in time, and formlessness precede form. But God produces being in act out of nothing, and can, therefore, produce a perfect thing in an instant, according to the greatness of His power.

Natura producit effectum in actu de ente in potentia, et ideo oportet ut in eius operatione potentia tempore praecedat actum, et informitas formationem. Sed Deus producit ens actu ex nihilo, et ideo statim potest producere rem perfectam, secundum magnitudinem suae virtutis.

If formless matter preceded in duration, it already existed; for this is implied by duration, since the end of creation is being in act: and act itself is a form. To say, then, that matter preceded, but without form, is to say that being existed actually, yet without act, which is a contradiction in terms.

Si enim materia informis praecessit duratione, haec erat iam in actu, hoc enim duratio importat, creationis enim terminus est ens actu. Ipsum autem quod est actus, est forma. Dicere igitur materiam praecedere sine forma, est dicere ens actu sine actu, quod implicat contradictionem.

Nor can it be said that it possessed some common form, on which afterwards supervened the different forms that distinguish it. The supervening form would not simply make an actual being, but 'this' actual being; which is the proper effect of an accidental form. Thus the consequent forms would be merely accidents, implying not generation, but alteration.

Nec etiam potest dici quod habuit aliquam formam communem et postmodum supervenerunt ei formae diversae, quibus sit distincta. ... Superveniens forma non faceret simpliciter ens actu, sed ens actu hoc, quod est proprium formae accidentalis; et sic sequentes formae essent accidentia, secundum quae non attenditur generatio, sed alteratio.

Hence we must assert that primary matter was not created altogether formless, nor under any one common form, but under distinct forms.

Unde oportet dicere quod materia prima neque fuit creata omnino sine forma, neque sub forma una communi, sed sub formis distinctis.