published on September 20, 2016
John F. X. Knasas
Existential Thomist Reflections on Kenny
The Incompatibility of the Phoenix and Subsistent Existence
My target is Kenny’s claim that if God can be thought not to be in the same manner as men or phoenixes, then God too is an essence/existence composite. I argue that our ignorance about the existence of the phoenix and our ignorance about God do not have the same bases and so they do not lead to the same conclusion, namely, a distinction between thing and existence in both cases. The notion of the phoenix is existence neutral because it is reflective of conceptual notes that have to be existence neutral in order to be in existential multiplicities. Our notion of subsistent existence is not existence neutral but it is composed of a formed intention of existence that gives it an independence from the context of the second operation in which it was formed. The first case leads to a situation involving a distinction between essence and existence. Knowledge of the existence of the phoenix adds something over and beyond the essence of the phoenix. In the second case, knowledge of the existence of subsistent existence does not do that because existence is what the formed intention here is of. What knowledge of subsistent existence adds does not belong to it. It belongs to us. It adds our second operation knowledge of the esse of sensible things and our reasoning from that to subsistent existence.