Current interpretations of Aquinas often attribute to him the claim that no artifact is a substance, or, more precisely, the claim that, (A1) No artifact is a substance in virtue of its form. Robert Pasnau, for example, tells us that “Aquinas is committed to the view that all artifacts are nonsubstances with respect to their form.” And Eleonore Stump writes: An artifact is thus a composite of things configured together into a whole but not by a substantial form. Since only something configured by a substantial form is a substance, no artifact is a substance. In fact, however, Aquinas’s position on the metaphysical status of artifacts is more nuanced than these standard interpretations suppose. This paper will examine three hitherto overlooked passages in Aquinas’s writings in an attempt to clarify his position, and to show how it (his actual position) can overcome some of the philosophical problems which pose difficulties for the stronger claims often attributed to him.
History of Philosophy Quarterly