Accidents Without Substance: Aquinas and Giles of Rome

Marilyn McCord Adams

in Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199591053
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595554 | DOI:
Accidents Without Substance: Aquinas and Giles of Rome

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Experience shows that after consecration, the eucharistic accidents are still extended on the altar and that what remains continues to be causally interactive in all of the ways that bread would be. But theological consensus held that after consecration, the bread-substance does not remain. Two sets of problems arise: from an Aristotelian point of view, independently extant accidents seem to be metaphysically impossible; and if they did exist, they would not fit the profile of Aristotelian agents and patients. How could they act and be acted upon? This chapter charts Aquinas' and Giles' solutions. If it became common place to redraw the distinction between substance and accidents in terms, not of actual but of aptitudinal independence and inherence, Aquinas and Giles insist that quantity alone is capable of independent existence because sensible qualities depend for their individuation on quantity as their proximae subject. Aquinas notes special problems for changes resulting in new substances, while Giles worries about what will persist through quantitative changes in the eucharistic accidents.

Keywords: consecration; eucharistic accidents; altar; Aquinas; Giles

Chapter.  7661 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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