Joseph Pilsner

in The Specification of Human Actions in St Thomas Aquinas

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199286058
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603808 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs


More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Christian Theology


Show Summary Details


Aquinas sometimes says that matter specifies a human action, and frequently uses ‘matter’ as an alternative term for ‘object’. He does not hold that all matter can determine a human action’s species, but only that matter to which an action is specially related, called the ‘matter about which’ an action takes place or its ‘due’/‘undue’ matter. Aquinas has two different ways of explaining how matter can specify. On occasion, he argues that just as particular kinds of matter predispose for certain substantial forms (for instance, only flesh and bones can accommodate the human soul), so the distinctive characters of things willed predispose for certain kinds of human actions and habits (for example, pleasures of touch predispose for temperance, not courage). In other contexts, Aquinas uses explanations more familiar in his moral teaching: he says that matter specifies because a human agent wills some matter as an end, or because matter possesses a distinctive formal aspect (like an object’s).

Keywords: determinate matter; due matter; end; human action; matter; object; species; specification; virtue

Chapter.  14256 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.