St. Thomas Aquinas on Mixture and the Gappy Existence of the Elements

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
Patrick TonerWinston Salem

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When elements join together in a mixture, those elements remain in the mixture, but only virtually. They are present with their powers, but without their substantial forms. When the mixture corrupts, the elements come to be actually present. And so my question: according to St. Thomas, are the elements that come to be actually present as a result of the corruption of the mixed body numerically identical with the elements that came together to create the mixture? I answer yes. This answer entails not only that St. Thomas believes in the doctrine of “gappy existence”, but that he believes gappy existence can occur purely naturally, with no Divine intervention required. Both entailments are controversial. The second will be widely viewed as entirely indefensible: this paper provides a defense.

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