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Attributes of Being

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Metaphysics: The Transcendental Attributes of Being

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Introduction While Plato had also covered the notions surrounding the properties of being, Aristotle was the first to bring the term transcendental to the context of the attributes of being. Plato offered valuable insight regarding the four transcendental attributes of being. [1] Aristotle shaped the transcendentals in a specific manner and refined his own perspective. Later philosophers also expanded the discussion surrounding the transcendental attributes of being. These transcendentals become significant in the context of theology because they possess a link with Christian theology and unfold in the form of what man desires. For explicating the four transcendental attributes of being, it becomes significant to first explore the definition of an attribute. An attribute falls under the category of that aspect which does not exist in the form of the embodiment but originates from the same. As regards ‘being’, it can only give rise to what is also being and thus, a ‘being’ cannot spawn attributes or properties while discussing these terminologies in a firm manner. Nevertheless, while approaching the subject in a broader manner, an attribute can be defined for a specific perspective on being as long as it applies to each instance of being and overall entities that fall into the category of being. [2] The four transcendental attributes of being and their explanation follows below:
The First Transcendental: Unity or Oneness One of the transcendental attributes of being accentuates that its count of one and every being is required to possess the fundamental attribute of unity or oneness. A being has to demonstrate a core level of oneness for it to be properly called a being. Furthermore, a being, which has the property of being split within, can go through or be on the receiving end of a refusal. Each being possesses the attribute of being one and demonstrates unity. As far as the function of the expression one is concerned, it brings no element of positivity to the being it is “predicated” but it removes or exempts the notion engulfing several or that of the partition of a being into several. [3] In other words, there exists a certain negative element in this understanding. A being is one when it cannot be several and does not have components within. Moreover, a being does not refer to the property surrounding loneliness. In addition, several distinctive classifications of beings based on the property of oneness also become important to note. The fact that the being is free from division and demonstrates an inability of splitting in the form of a spirit falls under the category of metaphysics. A being comes into the category of physical when natural phenomenon engages in unifying different components in the manner of a whole, such as a human being, a shell or a plant. The same unity fall into the simulated or artificial category when a number of components come together as a result of the expertise or work of man, for instance, a chair, a refrigerator, etc. When several individuals are connected by a specific moral link, this unity falls into the category of moral unity and its examples include a nation or a group of friends. Furthermore, unity may also arise as a resultant of an accident such as several grains of rice lying together and in this case, the unity is accidental. [4] The Second Transcendental: Truth While approaching or observing a being in connection to other instances of beings, humans may perceive the being to be compliant to to the phenomenon of knowledge and consider it to be true or for it to adhere to the truth. Truth is the second transcendental attribute of being. Truth, in this case, falls under the category of an “ontological” or metaphysical form of truth. [5] Truth makes a statement about the compliance of a being to knowledge. Truth in the context of pure knowledge raises the level of a being. The knowledge of God is the criterion or norm that assists in the procedure of weighing every instance of being, and since human beings' knowledge originates from what has been created by God, these act as the criteria that human beings can draw parallels with their knowledge for it to possess a quality of truth.
God is always successful in giving rise to His creations the way in which He models or wishes them to. Furthermore, God’s creations have to comply with or adhere to His knowledge. This line of thought indicates that there is no possibility of existence for a metaphysical fallacy. Truth, based on reasoning, is the primary point of reference or parallelism. For a being to exist in the manner of an entire and complete entity, it has to possess a sense of truth and knowledge of God. The Third Transcendental: Goodness
Man may also engage in the practice of approaching or observing each being as fractional to a wish or hunger and assign it the term of good. While approaching the phenomenon of goodness in the context of the transcendental attributes of being, parallels are being drawn to the aspect of desire because goodness possesses the quality of being desirable. [6] Everybody wants himself and others to be good and this raises the demand for goodness to a considerable degree. The quality of a being of being perfect gives rise to its goodness. A being acquires the state of perfection when it successfully manages to possess every component needed by its nature. If a being misses even a single required or underlined quality, others would highlight the being as imperfect instead of perfect. Additionally, the quality of perfection enables a being to be known as good. A being will meet the definition of being sought-after when it can cause perfection in the being that wants it. A being can accomplish this as long as it possesses the quality of being. Every being can be good because goodness can be pursued. Perfection, based on reasoning, exhibits a level of uniqueness from goodness because while perfection considers the being in its existence, goodness views it in the context of or in connection to the being that harbors a desire for it. The Fourth Transcendental: Beauty Beauty comes to attention since it stands distinctive among good entities that provide bliss or satisfaction. Beauty refers to the perfection of an entity in the context of its ability to function as a means of contentment and satisfaction for a spectator. Beauty serves the function of being pleasing to the eye of the beholder and catches and captures his or her attention. Since beauty is desired, it falls into the classification of goodness but is still unique from goodness for a number of reasons. While what is good acts as a source of joy for the one who owns it, what is beautiful is a source of happiness for the one who observes or looks at it. While beauty is mostly viewed or seen, it can also be heard or appreciated in the form of a desirable characteristic. [7] Some categories of beauty make an emphatic statement that physical beauty refers to the quality of perfection in those entities that are natural while intellectual beauty makes a mention of what intellect personifies. Moral beauty appreciates the wonder of morality or one's virtue. Analysis of the Four Transcendentals of Being In light of Aristotle's text, Scotus underlines the query as to whether being and one denote an identical nature. According to Scotus, this query entails some complexities. Scotus underlines a number of four such complications but dedicates his attention mostly to the last which highlights as to whether the one, when it engages in the act of transcendence, exhibits something else instead of "being". [8] In accord with Scotus, this specific doubt engulfs every single transcendent. This line of thought also accentuates that if "one", "true" and "good" are exchangeable with "being", an issues arises when it is a question of approaching the discrepancies between them. [9]

Scotus offers his solution to the aforementioned issue by underlining the notion of "unitive containment". [10] Scotus centers on a number of two issues that have a link with both the “identity” and “non-identity” associated with both one and being. [11] Furthermore, in accord with the perspective of Balthasar, the transcendentals possess the quality of being undividable. If one engages in the act of ignoring or not giving the required amount of significance to one of the transcendentals, it can leave a negative or detrimental impact on the rest. [12] Conclusion In brief, the four transcendental attributes of being signify the desired qualities of that which is being. A being needs to fulfill the qualities of being one, true, good and beautiful for it to exist in the form of a being. When one applies the aforementioned four attributes to human beings, it becomes clear that these attributes act as the foundation of how a human being should be or act because they underline the fundamental prerequisites for a being. By adhering to these attributes a person can fulfill the basic needs of his or her definition.

Aertsen, Jan A. Medieval Philosophy As Transcendental Thought: From Philip the Chancellor (Ca. 1225) to Francisco Suárez. Leiden [etc.]: Brill, 2012.
Coppens, Charles. A Brief Text-Book of Logic and Mental Philosophy. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2005.
Groeschel, Benedict J. I Am with You Always: A Study of the History and Meaning of Personal Devotion to Jesus Christ for Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010.
Heaney, Maeve Louise. Music As Theology: What Music Says About the Word. Eugene, Or: Pickwick Publications, 2012.

[1] Benedict J. Groeschel, I Am with You Always: A Study of the History and Meaning of Personal Devotion to Jesus Christ for Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 79.

[2] Charles Coppens, A Brief Text-Book of Logic and Mental Philosophy (New York: Cosimo Classics, 2005), 21.

[3] Coppens, A Brief Text-Book, 21. [4] Coppens, A Brief Text-Book, 22.

[5] Coppens, A Brief Text-Book, 24.

[6] Coppens, A Brief Text-Book, 25. [7] Coppens, A Brief Text-Book, 27.

[8] Jan A. Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy As Transcendental Thought: From Philip the Chancellor (Ca. 1225) to Francisco Sua[pic]rez (Leiden [etc.]: Brill, 2012), 419.

[9] Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy As Transcendental Philosophy As Transcendental Thought: From Philip the Chancellor (Ca. 1225) to Francisco Suárez (Leiden [etc.]: Brill, 2012), 419.

[10] Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy As Transcendental Thought, 419.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Maeve Louise Heaney, Music As Theology: What Music Has to Say About the Word (Eugene, Or: Pickwick Publications, 2012), 194.

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