Creatures as pure accident

” Sans doute, quand il s’agit des créature muables et changeantes, ce qui ne se dit pas de la substance, se dit de l’accident, car en elles tout est accidentel, la grandeur et les autres qualités, puisque ces qualités sont susceptibles de plus et de moins.”

–Augustine, De Trin. V.5.6

Because he is unchanging, God has no accidents; because they cannot but change, creatures have only accidents.

On this, cf. also David Hart: “No theologian evinces a keener sense of creation as pure surface…than Gregory of Nyssa: creation for him is only as the answer of light to light: apart from this, there is no world to speak of at all. This is true even of ‘material’ nature: Gregory, like Basil before him, in various places denies that the world even possesses any material substrate apart from the intelligible acts that constitute its perceptible qualities; the world of bodies is a confluence of ‘thoughts,’ ‘bare concepts,’ ‘words,’ noetic ‘potentialities…proceeding from the divine nature” (tBotI 258).

In Augustine and Gregory, in Berkeley and Edwards, in Jenson and Hart, a clear trend: every creature is pure accident, without any “substantial” substrate upon which to rest, subsisting only as it is sustained by the Word of God who is being himself.

This entry was posted in Augustine, Being and beings, David Hart, Gregory of Nyssa, Immutability, Jonathan Edwards, Robert Jenson, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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