A Brief Introduction into the Nature of Reality
by Jonathan Dolhenty, Ph.D.
We have seen that the ultimate question we can ask of anything is about its very being. The term being is at first the vague, general being of common sense. We have disassociated being from its strictly sensible manifestation and taken it to the highest abstraction possible. We have investigated the various kinds of being: real, ideal, and logical. We have also seen that we must recognize the term being in an analogical sense, one of proportionality.
The supreme principles of being are of utmost importance. We have seen that they are basic to any understanding of reality. These principles are: the principle of identity, the principle of contradiction, the principle of excluded middle, and the principle of sufficient reason.
Oneness or unity, truth or trueness, and goodness are the transcendental properties of all being. Beauty and perfection are general properties of some, but not necessarily all, being. Besides the most general aspects of being which are found in common in all beings, there are special aspects of being which reveal certain lines of division running through creation.
We have considered being from the standpoint of its intelligibility and saw that there is a twofold aspect in being: existence and essence. We have also considered being from the standpoint of its action and saw that the concepts of act and potency give us another way of dividing the term being. Lastly, we have considered being from the standpoint of its existence as outside our intellects and divided being into substance, that being which can exist in itself, and accidental being, that being which must exist in another.
We have used the concepts of act and potency to explain the concept of change and we have identified and explained the category of substance and the nine categories of accidental being.
The study of the causes of being is perhaps one of the most important studies we make in metaphysics. We have seen how the four causes, material, formal, efficient, and final, explain reality, becoming, and change in all their fullness and richness.