Primary matter: “created” or “con-created”?

The foregoing post on the subject notwithstanding, it is not entirely clear to me that Aquinas is entirely consistent or systematic in his use of the terms creation and concreation. In ST 1.7.2 ad 3, for example, Thomas makes the same claim on behalf of primary matter as he does in ST 1.45.8 with regard to form, namely that because it “does not exist by itself in nature, since it is not being in act, but in potency only,” therefore “it is something concreated rather than created.” Yet in ST 1.44.2 Thomas argues, and without any comparable qualification, that “thus it is necessary to say that also primary matter,” which never exists apart from some form, “is created by the universal cause of being” (“Et sic oportet ponere etiam materiam primam creatam ab universali causa entium”). On Thomas’s own admission, however, prime matter (i.e., matter considered in abstraction from its form) cannot be created, but only concreated.

(For Dante’s own application of Thomas’s notion of con-creation, incidentally, see Paradiso 29.22-30, where Beatrice instructs the pilgrim poet how, when the world was first made, the three elements of form, matter, and their union were together “concreate.”)

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