St. Thomas On Being and Nothingness.

In him we live and move and have our being’…‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ — Acts 17:28

A Breviary of Philosophy from the Works of St. Thomas Aquinas

by Thomist philosopher Josef Pieper

The Creature is vanity in so far as it comes from nothingness, but not in so far as it is an image of God. {23}

Even though created beings pass away, they will never sink back into nothingness.{24}

The creature is darkness in so far as it comes out of nothing. But in as much as it has its origin from God, it participates in his image and this leads to likeness to him.{25}

God cannot be the cause of a tendency to not-being. Rather the creature has this of itself in so far as it has developed out of nothing.{26}

The further a being is distant from that which is Being of itself, namely, God, the nearer it is to nothingness. But the nearer a being stands to God, the further away it is from nothingness. {27}

In the beginning was the Word

The movement proper to the nature of a creature is not a tendency towards nothingness: this movement has a fixed direction towards good and the tendency towards nothingness is only a defect in it{28}.

Since free will comes from nothingness, it is its peculiar property not to be naturally confirmed in good.{29}

The property of being pliant to evil belongs to the will in virtue of its origin from nothingness and not because it comes from God. {30}

The intellectual creature cannot naturally be relieved of the possibilities of sinning; since it has arisen out of nothingness, it can be capable of defect.{31}

It is clearly not a convincing argument to say that what is derived from nothing tends of itself to nothingness and thus the potency to not-being resides in all created things. For beings created by God can only be said to tend towards nothing in the same way as they have also taken their origin from nothing. This, however, happens only through the power of the agent. Hence the potency to not-being does not dwell in creatures, but God has the power either to give them being or to allow the inflow of being into them to dry up.{32}

Even that which is stable in things would sink back into nothingness, since it arises from nothing, were it not held up by the hand of the governor of all things.{33}

The potency to not-being of spiritual creatures dwells more in God, who can withdraw the influx of his power, than in the nature of those creatures themselves.{34}

If God were to reduce a being to nothingness, he would not do it by an action, but because he would cease to act.{35}

There can be good without evil; But there cannot be evil without good {36}

Good and true and being are one and the same thing in reality, but in the mind they are distinguished from each other.{40}

— from “The Human Wisdom of St. Thomas: A Breviary of Philosophy from the Works of St. Thomas Aquinasby Thomist philosopher Josef Pieper


{23} Car. 1 ad 11. {24} I, 65, 1 ad 1. {24} I, 65, 1 ad 1. {25} Ver. 18, 2 ad 5. {26} I, 104, 3 ad 1. {27} C. G. 2, 30. {28} Pot. 5, 1 ad 16. {29} Ver. 24, 8 ad 14. {30} Ver. 22, 6 ad 3. {31} 2, d. 23, 1. {32} C. G. 2, 30. {33} I, 103, 1 ad 2. {34} I, 104, 1 ad 1. {35} I, 104, 3 ad 3. {36} I, 109, 1 ad 1. {40} I-II, 29, 5.

Being and the Law of Non-contradiction