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314 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 26:2 APRIL 1988 Barry F. Brown. Accidental Being. A Study m the Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. Lanham , MD: University Press of America, 1985. Pp. xii + 427 . Cloth, $31.oo. Paper, $19.5o. Thomas Aquinas is not always consistent in his statements about whether an accident has its own being, or esse. He says at times that "an accident.., does not have being" and at other times that relations "have their proper mode of being according to their proper notion, just as is the case in the other accidents." Different commentators have reacted to this tension with differing claims as to whether or not Aquinas thinks accidents have a being different from substantial being. In his study of this matter, Barry F. Brown argues effectively that a denial of accidental being is not found in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. His study begins with a careful explanation of the topic along with a description of how it is to be explored. Some ways of stating the question, such as statements which treat esse univocally as substantial esse, are rejected because they decide the issue ahead of time. Given the seemingly contradictory statements by Aquinas, Brown examines a large number of passages to work out general principles of interpretation. The basic problems arise from passages attributing esse to substance but denying it to accidents. Brown considers these passages and concludes that they are not definitions of substance and accident, but are explanations of the ways in which they do or do not have being. What seem to be denials of accidental esse are denials that accidents have substantial esse, not denials that accidents have any esse at all. The problem that must be solved at this point is that of clarifying the substance-accident relationship so that the kind of esse accidents have and the way they acquire it can be better understood. Brown argues that an analysis of texts shows that Aquinas understands accidents as having their own kind of esse. Substantial forms, for example, cannot be possessed to a greater or lesser degree; however, accidental forms can be possessed in this way, so they must have an esse different from that of substance. In some cases the questions Aquinas investigates, such as the question of how the human body and soul are united or of how the human and divine natures of Christ are united make no sense unless there is a difference between the kind of being substance has and the kind of being possessed by accidents. Brown does not limit himself to presenting numerous arguments of this sort, he also tries to describe accidental esse. He concludes by a process of elimination that accidental esse is the result of the efficient causality of substance. Since the result of an efficient cause has an esse different from that of the efficient cause, an accident has its own esse which is a non-substantial esse. Brown goes on to conclude that the efficient causality involved is one of "emanation" or of"natural resultancy." In arguing that accidents have their own esse, Brown risks fragmenting the unity of substance. He attempts in Chapter Four to reunite it. Unfortunately, he earlier used accidental form to argue that accidental esse differed from substantial esse. He then tries to use the same form to reunite substance and accident. It is clear that Aquinas thinks that substance and accident are unified; however, it is not clear that Brown has worked out the details of Aquinas's understanding of that unity. BOOK REVIEWS 315 The wealth of metaphysical analysis in Brown's study establishes that the positions he attacks are inaccurate. What the work shows is that we need as complete an analysis of the inesse of accident in substance as we have of the roles of matter and form in substance. Brown goes beyond mere verbal formulations that assert that there are two kinds of being which are united in some way, but more is needed if we are to understand the role ofesse in the metaphysics ofens and of causality. JOHN V. WAGNER Gonzaga University Susan M. Babbitt. Oresme's "Livre de Politiques" and the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 314-315
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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