Actus purus

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Actus Purus (Latin: "pure act") is an expression of the scholastic philosophy for the absolute perfection of God .

Created beings have unrealized possibilities, both in terms of their imperfections and their perfections. Only God is all that he can be, infinitely real and infinitely perfect at the same time. “I am who I am” ( Ex 3.14  EU ). Its properties and its actions are identical to its essence, and its existence ( being -there ) is indissolubly part of its essence ( how-to -be ).

In creatures, possibility precedes reality; before a perfection is realized, its realization must be possible. In absolute terms, however, the reverse is true: Reality precedes possibility. Because in order to experience change, a thing has to be worked on (put into a new state). Change and potentiality therefore presuppose existence in actu . This existence, insofar as it is still mixed with potentiality, presupposes a previous reality - and so on, until the actus purus , the reality without a remnant of mere possibility, is reached.

The term “actus purus” goes back to Aristotle : “actus” is the Latin word for ἐνέργεια, energeia . In Metaphysik XII 7, 1072b ff. Aristotle characterizes the immobile mover as pure energeia .

In high scholasticism, the act-potency doctrine of Aristotelian metaphysics is received and modified by Thomas Aquinas . When applied to God, this leads to his characterization as actus purus :

"Deus est actus purus, not have aliquid de potentialitate"

- Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica I q. 3 art. 2 resp.

Nicolaus von Cues describes God as "actus purissimum".

According to Leibniz , God is absolute activity and at the same time actus purus.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Möller, Joseph: Actus purus. , in: Josef Höfer; Karl Rahner (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church (LThK). - Herder: Freiburg. Vol. 1. 2. Edition 1957 (special edition 1986), Col. 118 f.
  2. So the rendering in dictionaries, more precisely: "Respondeo dicendum quod impossibile est in Deo esse materiam. Primo quidem, quia materia est id quod est in potentia. Ostensum est autem quod Deus est purus actus, non habens aliquid de potentialitate. Unde impossibile est quod Deus sit compositus ex materia et forma. ", cf. about
  3. a b actus purus. In: Apel, Ludz: Philosophical Dictionary. 6th edition de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1976.