Brother Sun, Sister Moon: A Neo-Thomist Personalistic explication of the metaphysical grounds for St. Francis’ Canticle

The issue of Solidarity is pressing.  Counterpoised to this is the temptation of materialism, wherein we are so bound in attachment to seek the material to the overlooking of the spiritual[1], of which consequences are Hobbesian diffidence and division, as Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP writes,

“[material goods, unlike those of the spirit, cannot belong wholly and simultaneously to more than one person; t]his truth, so simple and so sublime, gives rise to an illuminating principle: it is that…material goods, the more they are sought for their own sake, tend to cause disunion among men…”[2]

The error of educators or mentors, perhaps, when they prepare youths transiting into the working world, the corporate jungle, so to speak,  is to merely assist them ally the symptoms of this disease instead of striking the ill at its root.  And so we are often warned about the “world outside”, and how we must even outwit it. But this is only to infuse Machiavellianism in us, and in the end - if we do indeed progress in virtù -  we might turn out worse off than that which we first despised.  Should we then be surprised, that even in the family, the basic community, man and woman try to outwit one another, for the sake of matter? You easily see the far-reaching and very real consequences of this painful evil.

But we still - and must - hold out hope, and I’d say this hope is not unlikely the good mean between the excess of presumption and the defect of despair. Obviously our hope is not grounded in the maneuver of matter, for as Garrigou-Lagrange OP warns:

“[d]o what you will with these material goods: share them equally, make them the common property of all.  It will be no remedy for the evil; for so long as earthly possessions retain their nature and man retain the nature which is his, he will never find his happiness in them”[3]

 Nevertheless, our solution is a certain spiritual solidarity and citizenship set up in contradistinction and contradiction to materialism and its effects of disunion. This is in turn fulfilled, from the most fundamental societal unit to the most complex, where there is the experience of an other as having intrinsic value.  The means of achieving this is to assist one another arrive at that kind of intensive visualization [4] or intuition of being [5] so dulled by Original Sin perhaps [6], yet which is proper to the spiritual principles of our intellect, which opens us up to a world which is more than the material, to a world in which we locate ourselves as among a community of  rational existents, i.e., of persons, including God the Person, so that we are able to see the other existent human being not merely as an object useful to the attainment of any material end, but as a true good-in-himself, even as I am a true good, with the goodness built right into the existential (esse) constituent of my being, held in existence by God,  to be loved and cherished for its own sake, and not for the sake of some other good.

Hence, we rest our hope in our spirit. Beyond the brutes, we are the only (rational) animals equipped for seeing and loving one another in this way, and so to have a kind of personalistic solidarity which is more noble than utilitarian kinds: a solidarity binding a citizenship of persons. . To my mind the perfect expression of such a solidarity is fulfilled in St. Francis of Assisi.  I do not, of course, pretend to interpret St. Francis of Assisi. Nevertheless, my constant fascination with this friar minor has been a certain inspiration of the following vision of a universal solidarity.  In part I am happy to be able to fulfill in an analogous manner Dante’s paradiso wherein St. Thomas Aquinas was made to praise St. Francis[7]: here I am putting my reading of the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi into (Neo-) Thomistic categories. But the greater part of my joy is to pay my tribute, in this little experimental work, to the Saint who has always been a source of inspiration and challenge since the very beginning of my Christian life.

A solidarity of persons, amongst a citizenship of persons.

The Boethian definition of a person, which umbrellas human beings,  is: an individual substance of a rational nature.  Persona est rationalis naturae individua substantia.  This is a definition which St. Thomas Aquinas and Thomists adopt.  You will notice that the definition has at least two parts: the fact that (a) the person is an individual substance, and, that (b) the person has a rational nature.  Both parts of the definition are important, because concerning the theme of solidarity which I wish to explore, the first and second parts of the definition of the person are like the edge points of the jigsaw, which permit one piece of jigsaw to hinge onto another piece, so to form a connection. They are like the poles on a magnet, permitting the magnet to attract and hang onto another magnet.  Likewise, the two parts of the definition make possible the particular ‘coming together’ of persons, which the lacking of any part of the definition would impede. 

Firstly, let us understand what we mean to say when we say that a person is an individual substance.  We mean to say that it subsists in itself and not in another.  This is to say that it is a substance, as opposed to an accident.  Further, it is an individual substance, which means to say, as Robert Brennan OP puts it, that “[i]t is undivided in itself and divided from everything else”[8].  Being one unit unto itself, and existing apart from other entities, it is hence further a unique concrete, some-one-special-thing existing in reality.  Yet this is not so, we remember, as due to the nature of the existent (because the nature or essence is not the principle of individuality, but of universality and multiplicity), but due to aspects of the existent apart from its nature: namely, the fact that as an individual substance, it is a substance that is not found as something else (ergo individua) nor in something (ergo substantia), but always found apart from any other thing: in a word, having its own being, esse, and never sharing it with another thing, but has it for itself, as a right.  For in so far as something is an existent as an individual substance, it is composed of esse,  which is the act of being, which brings it out from non-being into being; which drags the existent from the abyss of nothingness into the day-light of beings so that this being (ens), or existent, can  exist or to-be (est) without the support of other existents, except the support of Being (Esse) Who supports all beings, yet (and this is important!) in such a way that it makes the being (ens) this being and never another being.  Thus Joseph Owen writes,

“[I]n the real order the basic cause of individuality for him [St. Thomas] is existence [esse].  Existence is what most of all makes a thing a unit in itself and marks it off as distinct from all others. That is the hallmark recognized by him first and foremost for individuation.  The hallmark extends throughout all orders of being.  It applies to God, to angels, to material substances and to all accidents.   Even in the area of what came to be covered in tradition by “the principle of individuation”, namely, material things, the first requirement was that the thing be an actual existent.  Only after that fundamental condition came matter and quantity.  What real existence brought about was always an individual, whether it was a substance or an accident.”[9]

On this Fr. Gerard Vann OP comments, “The human person is not body-spirit merely, but this body and this spirit: hypostatis et persona, says St. Thomas, addunt supra rationem essentiae principia individualia.  We distinguish between principia individualia and principium individuationis:  the latter is the radical principle of numerical plurality of individuals in a species;  the former are the formal principles of uniqueness in each individual as such.”[10]

We might at this point anticipate an ‘objection’, or more properly, a curiosity.  That is, from the above it implies that the person is irreplaceable and uncommon and hence different.  How then can that which gives rise to difference and the fact of this difference be of any contribution to solidarity?  Indeed, that the fact of individual subsistence, its “incommunicability”[11], as it were, due to each existent’s unique ownership of being (esse) should be any cause for coming together or union is reasonably suspect.  Let me suggest that this whole scheme is to work somewhat like a magnet. Now, just as the similar poles of a magnet repel and the differing poles of a magnet attract, so likewise here, the consideration of the first pole of the person is not sufficient to suggest any kind of unity. Quite the contrary - our consideration of this one pole of the person seems to point division.   Let us now examine the second pole of the definition, which I hope to show, if you will permit me, combines with this first pole which we had considered to become the source for a particular kind of solidarity, a solidarity of persons. 

We come then to the second pole of the definition: namely, that the person has a rational nature.  How will that help us?  We saw in the previous paragraphs that the person is an individual substance, having its own being (esse), independent of other existents for being (esse). Now, in the proceeding, I want to suggest that this metaphysical truth is a key component in a kind of personalistic solidarity, i.e., a solidarity brought about by the fusion of this ontic fact about persons and certain operational principles issuing from a rational nature proper to persons as the second part of the definition indicates.   What I want to say is that beings as persons do actualize certain kinds of operations proper to that nature owing to its intellectual cognitive  principles.  I wish to highlight one particular epistemic operation proper to such spiritual or intellectual principles, namely, the ability to appreciate the being (esse) of existents, or what has been called the intuition of being (esse).[12] [13] It is an operation which opens one up to the world and value of persons;  it is this operation that enables persons to appreciate other persons as persons, i.e., as a rational “holder of esse,[14] which in turn leads to the appreciation of the value of the person in himself or herself, apart from anything else.  It is a special kind of intentionality, a kind of visualization which seeks out the other person for himself or herself, without any further reference; it makes for the appreciation of the other person without further consideration of any other good, but locates the goodness in that very subject, the other person, specifically as a habens esse.[15].  How is this so?  As St. Thomas acknowledges, it is the being (esse) which accounts for the goodness of any being (ens), such that something is good (bonum) in so far as it is or has being (esse).[16]   St. Thomas presents this in De Veritate, qu. 21 art. 2, where has asks, “are being and good interchangeable as to their real subjects?”, to which he answers,

“Since the essence of good consists in this, that something perfects another as an end, whatever is found to have the character of an end also has that of good.  Now two things are essential to an end: it must be sought or desired by things which have not yet attained the end, and it must be loved by the things which share the end, and be, as it were, enjoyable to them.  For it is essentially the same to tend to an end and in some sense to repose in that end…These two properties are found to belong to the act of being.  For whatever does not yet participate in the act of being tends toward it by a certain natural appetite…[and] everything which already has being naturally loves its being and with all its strength preserves it…Existence itself, therefore, has the essential note of goodness.  Just as it is impossible, then, for anything to be a being which does not have existence, so too it is necessary that every being be good by the very fact of its having existence, even though in many beings many aspects of goodness are added over and above the act of existing by which they subsist.”[17]

It must be stressed that this goodness is that goodness which belongs to the first act of the being, and not its second act.  Hence it is a goodness which is grounded in its very constitution, not the good actions which follow from this being.  Again, in reply 6, St. Thomas thus,

“A thing can be called good both from its act of existing and from some added property or state.  Thus a man is said to be good both as existing and as being just or chaste or destined for beautitude.  By reason of the first goodness being is interchanged with good, and conversely.”[18]

In this way, a person may be a leper of secondary acts, which are his accidental constitution, but insofar as concerns his primary act, he deserves that kiss of St. Francis which expresses the his bountiful intrinsic goodness as an existent, a creature of God. We might, at this point, also insist that it is an intuition of being, and not simply an analytical or dialectical understanding of being, because of the danger of what J. Maritain calls notionalism.[19]  We call for the experience of the intuition, rather than the attainment of merely the notion or concept of being.  The ability to relate the concept of ‘being’  with the concept of a ‘person’ is insufficient.  What we are demanding here is an experiential attainment of the intuition of being, to see, for oneself, in an extra-mental way, the wonder and treasure of goodness convertible with the grandeur of the being (esse) of the person before you.[20] Now, this is not to say that I am intuiting his or her goodness. As much as goodness is due to being, nevertheless it is being we intuit.  Still, from the knowledge of that esse is grounded the metaphysical apprehension of its convertability with goodness, as is explained above.  For when we are given to objectify; given to see this “stranger” before me as useful to me, good to me for some reason or other, so that without this “some reason or other” we are given to remark, “What is he to me?”, then we will recall that this “what” before you is not merely a what, but a what composed with esse, the latter thanks to which he is a good in itself, worthy of esteem. But this presupposes that you agree that he is not merely a what, a quiddity, not merely even a rational what, but a “what is”, which is intuitively clear before you.  This is the unavoidable conclusion which the principles of St. Thomas Aquinas lead to and proclaim, from qu. 21 of the De Veritate,  to his commentary on Boethius’ Hebdomanibus where developed his own sense of participation[21], that this esse, which the metaphysician intuits, is the very turn-coin of the proto-value of beings (ens).  And the consequences of such a perspective should be enormous. Ultimately nothing in this is necessary; people can still merely use one another after appreciating each other’s intrinsic worth. Yet at least now, you and I have good reasons not to, and tell others not to.

When persons are able to see others as personsgood-in-themselves: worthy of cherishing in their own right, we make a way for a solidarity of beings which is founded on mutual sincere esteem and not merely on utility, the latter of which lacks the character of true friendship.[22] Only in this way, is founded a solidarity of persons: a solidarity of persons, with persons.  Of persons, because, recalling and revising the distinction of St. Thomas between human acts and acts of a man,  personal acts, which are acts issuing from a rational nature, come only from persons to foster such solidarity; with persons, because we are not coming together with objectified subjects, but with subject-persons we acknowledge to be so,[23] for a subject, suppositum,  is none other than that which has more than mere quiddity, but is an existing quiddity, an existent. Fr Gerard Vann OP, quoting M. Buber,  puts across a similar idea beautifully this way,

‘To man the world is twofold, in accordance with his two-fold attitude.  The attitude of man is two fold, in accordance with the twofold nature of the primary worlds which he speaks…The primary word is the combination I-Thou.  The other primary word is the combination I-It; wherein, without a change in the primary word, one of the words He and She can replace It…Primary words do not signify things, but they intimate relations.’  The world of I-It is the world of subject-object relations, the world of experience.  But ‘the man who experiences has no part in the world.  For it is “in him” and not between him and the world that the experience arises’.  If I consider a tree I can look on it as a picture, as movement, as an expression of law, or I can study it and classify it as a species; and in all this it remains my object.  But it may come about, ‘if I have both will and grace, that in considering the tree I become bound up in relation to it.  The tree is no longer It.’  So too ‘if I face a human being as my Thou, and say the primary word I-Thou to him, he is not a thing among things…nor is he a nature able to be experienced and described, a loose bundle of names qualities.  But with no neighbour, and whole in himself, he is Thou and fills the heavens.  This does not mean that nothing exists except himself.  But all else lives in his light…And just as prayer is not in time but time in prayer, sacrifice not in space but space in sacrifice, and to reverse the relation is to abolish the reality, so with the man to whom I say Thou.  I do not meet with him at some time and place or other…I do not experience the man to whom I say Thou.  But I take my stand in relation to him, in the sanctity of the primary word…All real living is meeting.’  Very wisely (unless we are degrading words by abusing them) we say not that love is in us but that we are in love.[24]

A contrary remark from Maritain

However, Maritain, speaking of knowing other persons, writes in Existence and the Existent, “[b]eing the only subject which is subject for me in the midst of a world of objects which my senses and intelligence know only as objects, I am the center of the world”[25] Yet on the contrary it is especially in the encounter of subjects, even whilst they may be objects yet to me, that I am liberated from objectivity, to intuit for once that very being before me as an existential being, a habens esse. W. Norris Clarke SJ lately in an article made a very interesting suggestion regarding the epistemic arrival of  the existential act.  In “The ‘We Are’ of Interpersonal Dialogue as the Starting Point of Metaphysics”, Fr. Clarke writes,

Let us unpack the implicit content in the experience of carrying on a sincere dialogue with a respondant, where one exchanges meaningful messages (information) with the other, sincerely asking questions the answer to which one does not know on one’s own, and listening the answers which makes sense and lead to successful practical action in the real world, e.g., “Where did you put the beer?” “Would you like a drink before dinner?” “Will you marry me?”  “Do you know what I heard about my boss today?”  “Do you believe in God?” etc., etc.  What is implicitly being affirmed here?…[R]eflection on the lived experience of sincere interpersonal dialogue reveals with an evidence not open to prudent, realistic doubt that (1) I am in touch with another being as real as myself, i.e., an actively present, actively self-communicating subject; (2) I know the nature or whatness of this other real being as like me, sharing similar cognitive and communicative abilities, hence as a thinking, talking being, i.e., an embodied mind; (3) I can therefore take in information, intelligibly structured messages from the outside world through my sense receiving set, with significant (not necessarily perfect or complete accuracy, and communicate the same to others in a common world.[26]

We note, as Fr. Clarke SJ explains, that such conclusions, though not deductively arrived at from a strict analysis of the dialogue experience, at the same time cannot be reasonably denied without being lodged in an existential awkwardness, as it were so that these three points denied “is irreconciliably as odds with his lived experience…especially since in this case he cannot go on acting like a philosopher; that is, explaining and defending his position to others, without engaging in meaningful dialogue with them, with all the implications of the latter.”[27]  In which case, he must by a reductio ad absurdum, as it were, deny his denial.  Hence, these three implications stand as they are.  Other consequences follow:

The intellectual awareness of We are immediately reveals to us real (i.e., actually existing) being, not as a solitary ego or object, but as a field of interaction which is at once one yet many.  The I and Thou of the dialogue are both real, actually existing, therefore sharing in the common attribute of existence (esse for St. Thomas): “We are. Yet the I and the Thou are each irreducibly distinct beings, because distinct centers of sending out communications and receiving them: “We are”; while at the same time joined in interactive communication with each other - distinct yet related.  Each of the beings also reveals itself as endowed with a distinct nature or essence: that of an intelligibly talking, hence thinking, being, communicating by means of a material body endowed with sensory modes of communicating with similarly endowed beings; i.e., each is an embodied mind..[28]

As it were, the real being of the person, as yet to me an object, intrudes my intentionality to return to it being, to force upon the concept of him or her a marry with intentional being, to awaken my mind to the world of beings and not merely notions, such that that which is before me  shall no longer merely be a what, but a what-which-at-the-same-time-exists;  I would have formed such as judgment as permit me to break through the barrier of concepts, and of objectivity, and enter into the consciousness of existents.  Short of being dishonest, these beings before me can thus be no more mere objects, but  subjects.

Thus then, as I have tried to put forth above, are the epistemic and metaphysical presuppositions of  personalistic solidarity: wherein the members of a community are willing and able to acknowledge the intrinsic worth in one another as persons, and to be bonded to one another just on that account, apart from the other kinds of bonds based on mutual material beneficence. Such a community truly merits the name “brotherhood” or “fraternity”, since it is a bond totally abstracted from mutual exploitation and use, but grounded in the mutual appreciation of one another’s intrinsic goodness.  No less appropriate then I should think, did St. Francis choose for himself and his followers to be called “little brothers”, for theirs was a vocation of brotherhood.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

But we must not end here, no.  Indeed this very metaphysical realization extends also to the non-personal substances, simply because of the fact that these substances are also individual substances,  and as such are composed of esse, to wit are thus good in themselves, on account of their first act or perfection, for something is good in so far as it is, as has been said.  The relational drama between a person such as I with such non-personal substances will differ from that with another person, for these former will lack the relational capacity to return the appreciation, as would be possible were it also a rational being. Nevertheless, on my part, still, I can appreciate its intrinsic goodness.   Thus too with them I form a community, i.e., a community of existents, and I can acknowledge this community, because I, rational creature that I am, can appreciate their intrinsic goodness as existents, just as I am an existent.  Thus, here too is another brotherhood, since I here acknowledge their worth not merely as they are useful to me, but also because they have a certain intrinsic goodness of themselves.   In this way, when I call such non-personal entities my “Brother”, this is not merely a piece of literary equivocation or metaphor, but properly and correctly expresses a metaphysical reality: namely, that I as rational creature acknowledge the truth that these non-personal creations of God share with me a common bond of intrinsic goodness, according as we all participation in the same act of being, esse.  We are all, together, a community of being (esse), and because of this a community of intrinsic goods.  Now this last is particularly important, because the goodness of existence is essential in the justification of my application of the term “Brother”. Simple similarity apart from this intrinsic goodness does not suffice:  how shall I call another thing a brother, unless it were a good?  If it were merely similar, that wants my acknowledgment, but to it I will be related with indifference.  But if it were a good, then only may indifference turn into appreciation, because to relate to something with affection is to relate to goodness.  One does not call another a brother merely because he and I are clones, but to call another “brother” is to designate a bonding. It is to acknowledge something is good and to want to move towards it, to be united to it, i.e., to bond with it.  Thus St. Francis in his Canticle of Brother Sun,[29]

Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun,

Who is the day and through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;

and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,

in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

This then expresses my vision of a universal solidarity, as the life and works of St. Francis of Assisi has afforded me.  Where I may have misrepresented him I beg for his pardon, but as I have said, I do not pretend to interpret him, but only to articulate how he has inspired me.  Here, I end my paper.


End Notes

[1] By this I do not mean religious, but non-material.

[2] Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP, The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life, 1977: TAN (USA). pp. 2-3

[3] Ibid., pg. 4

[4] c.f. Jacques Maritain,  A Preface to Metaphysics: Seven Lectures on Being. 1939: Sheed & Ward (London). Esp. 2nd, 3rd and 4th Lectures. Also eidetic visualization. For a very complete discussion and defense of this see Matthew S. Pugh, “Maritain, the Intuition of Being, and the Proper Starting Point for Thomistic Metaphysics”, in The Thomist, 61, no.3 , July 1997, pp. 405.

[5] Maritain, op. cit., Also Etienne Gilson. See esp. John F.X. Knasas, The Preface to Thomistic Metaphysics, 1990: Peter Lang (USA). pp. 185-6.

[6] “In the state of fallen nature the philosophical intelligence, when it sets itself with all its conceptual equipment to the work that is properly and uniquely its domain alone…has a natural inclination to notionalism, to a notionalism that admits of the most varying degrees but by its very nature acts as an  obstacle to the intellectual intuition of being. (This intuition…is precisely what we lack to a greater or lesser degree because of the wound in our nature)” J. Maritain, Untrammeled Approaches,  The Collected Works of Jacques Maritain, Vol. 20. 1997: Univ. Notre Dame Press (USA). Pg 216.

[7] See Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, Allen Mandelbaum (trans.) 1986: Bantam (USA),  Canto XI, pp. 92-99.

[8] Robert Brennan O.P., Thomistic Psychology: A  Philosophic Analysis of the Nature of Man.1950: The MacMillan Company (USA) Pg. 283

[9] Joseph Owens C.s.S.R., “Thomas Aquinas” in Individuation in Scholasticism: The Later Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation, 1150 - 1650. Jorge J. E. Gracia. (ed.) 1994: State Univ. of New York (USA).  Pg. 188.  Now, Fr. Owen’s position has somewhat been criticized in a recent paper “The Individual as a Mode of Being According to Thomas Aquinas” in The  Thomist, 63 (1999):403-24, by Fr. Dewan OP, inwhich he finds the evidence for the causal relation between esse and individuality much lacking.  Apart from the seeming lack of distinction between individuation and individuality (a distinction made well by Fr. Vann OP)  so that one wonders if he is here involved in an ignoratio elenchi, he at least admits that “all it shows is that existence and individuation stand and fall together, [although i]t does not show that existence is a cause of individuation”(pg. 412). Hence we may still say that in so far as something is an individual, we may from there discern that that being must of necessity be a participant of esse, and so forth.  Hence a person, insofar as it is individual substance, must have esse, since both individuation and existence stand and fall together.  Individuation and habentis esse are such as without one, the other is not.

[10] Gerard Vann OP, Moral Dilemmas, 1966: The Catholic Book Club (London),  p. 153.

[11] R. Brennan O.P. op. cit., Pg. 283-4

[12] J. Maritain, passim.

[13] Notwithstanding the many different opinions with regard the starting point for Thomistic metaphysics, whether by separatio or judgment, (see John F. Knasas, The Preface to Thomistic Metaphysics: A Contribution to the Neo-Thomist Debate on the Start of Metaphysics, 1990: Peter Lang (USA)) or even in interpersonal dialogue (see W. Norris Clarke, S.J., “The ‘We Are’ of Interpersonal Dialogue as the Starting Point of Metaphysics” in Explorations in Metaphysics: Being. God. Person., 1994: Univ. Notre Dame Press (USA))  the possibility of the (epistemic) arrival of the fact of existents as having esse remains.

[14] C.f. Joseph de Torre, Generation and Degeneration: a Survey of Ideologies, 1995: Southeast Asian Science Foundation, Inc. (Philippines). Pg. 114  

[15] Ibid.

[16] See an excellent presentation of this by Rudi A. te Velde, Participation and Substantiality in Thomas Aquinas. 1995: E.J. Brill (Netherlands).

[17] St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, Vol. 3, Robert W. Schmidt, SJ (transl.) 1994:Hackett (USA). pg. 11

[18] Ibid.

[19] J. Maritain, op. cit.

[20] see Elizabeth G. Salmon, The Good in Existential Metaphysics. 1953: Marquette Univ. Press (USA)

[21] see Rudi te Velde, op. cit.

[22] Kevin P Doran, Solidarity:  A Synthesis of Personalism and Communalism in the Thought of Karol Wojtyla / Pope John Paul II. 1996: Peter Lang (USA). Pg. 95

[23] see Karol Wojtyla / Pope John Paul II, Love and Responsibility. 1981: Collins (London). Also see his “Thomistic Personalism” in Person and Community: Selected Essays,  Catholic Thought from Lublin, Vol. 4.  Theresa Sandok,  OSM. (trans.) Andrew N Woznicki. (ed.). 1993: Peter Lang (USA). Pp. 172-3.

[24] Gerard Vann OP, op. cit., p. 156-157

[25] J. Maritain, Existence and the Existent, op. cit., pg. 74

[26] W. Norris Clarke SJ, “The ‘We Are’ of Interpersonal Dialogue” in Explorations in Metaphysics: Being, God, Person. Pp. 31-44.

[27] Ibid., pg. 38

[28] Ibid., pp. 40-41 Immediately Fr Clarke adds: “The stage is now set for the whole dialectical analysis of being as a participation system, each being participating in the all-embracing actuality of existence by his own act of existence, that makes it to be an active presence in the world, and yet restricted by it own particular limiting essence to be this being and not that one. The fundamental essence/existence structure of reality, the centerpiece of Thomistic metaphysics, is now ready to be worked out.”  The limitation of esse to be this being and not that being refers to the limitation of esse by essence; so that the principle of individuation in the being is the essence-potency.  This position seems to differ from the Owensian account earlier in the paper, where the this-ness of the being is accounted for by the esse, and not by the receptive principle of esse. I think this problem takes us beyond the limits of this paper.  For our purposes, it suffices that through the We are, we are brought to the undeniable existence of the person.

[29] St. Francis of Assisi, “The Canticle of Brother Sun”, in Francis and Clare: the Complete Works, Regis Armstrong OFM Cap, (trans.) ed. 1982: Paulist Press (USA) Pg 38

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