As Light Belongs to Air: Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart on the Existential Rootlessness of Creatures

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 87 (4):567-591 (2013)
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Both Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart draw on the image of illuminated air to explain how being belongs to creatures. While for Aquinas the image reveals how an actus essendi can be a creature’s own, and yet not belong to it by means of its essential nature, Eckhart employs the image to show that being merely flows through creatures without taking up root as a real quality. Eckhart’s parsing of the image, I argue, invokes his claim that nothing is formally in both the cause and effect if the cause is a true cause. Thus, whereas creatures attain an analogical similitude of being according to Aquinas, Eckhart disputes the emergence of finite being distinct from God. He instead advocates detachment from such an apparent perfection, but not because God retains all existential wealth, granting nothing to impoverished creatures. Through detachment, both creatures and God return to their uncreated ground.



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Andrew LaZella
University of Scranton

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