560 LLOYD P. GERSON
uses the same metaphor in behalf of an explanation of creation, not in contrast to it.3 Conceding this, there is still the reasonable sus picion that some fundamental difference remains between Plotinus' metaphysics and a creation metaphysics such as that of Aquinas. I conjecture that the reason for this suspicion is that Plotinus is
supposed to be the faithful inheritor of the Parmenidean legacy
which lays down the axiom that ex nihilo nihilfit. Aquinas, however, understands creation as ex nihilo. So it would seem just incorrect to construe the metaphors of emanation in a manner which would make Plotinus contradict that axiom. This reasoning seems less cogent when we begin to explicate the term ex nihilo; for one thing Aquinas does not mean by creatio
ex nihilo is temporal origin. That God is the creator of all Aquinas
believes he can demonstrate; that the world did not always exist is held by faith alone.4 Thus, the philosophical core of the notion of creation is causal dependence of being: Deus est causa universalis totius esse. The proper effect of God's causal activity is the being of everything.5 Let us compare this with a text of Plotinus: But how is that One the principle of all things? Is it because as principle it keeps them in being, making each one of them to be? Yes, and because it caused them to be. (18.104.22.168-30)6 A good question for proponents of emanationism in Plotinus to ask themselves at this point is how this passage and similar ones express a noncreationist metaphysics. One proposal sometimes made in order to differentiate a non creationist from a creationist metaphysics is that in the former creatures exist of necessity whereas in the latter they do not. 3 See, for example, Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae I, q. 45, a. 1: Sicut igitur generado hominis est ex non ente quod est non homo, ita creatio, quae est emanatio totius esse, est ex non ente quod est nihil. Heinrich D?rrie provides a useful survey of the literary uses of the language of emanation in his Emanation. Ein unphilosophisches Wort im sp?tan tiken Denken, in Parusia, ed. Kurt Flasch (Frankfurt am Main: Minerva, 1960), 211-28. 4 See Summa theologiae I, q. 46, a. 2. 5 Illud autem quod est proprius effectus Dei creantis, est illud quod praesupponitur omnibus aliis, scilicet esse absolute ; Summa theologiae I,
q. 46, a. 5. 6 ottoos be eneivo apxv r v iravro?v; ?pa, on avr? ou?ei ev enaarov avTcov 7TOL7]aaaa elvac, rj koI otl virearrjaev avra. Cf. Enneads 22.214.171.124-2, 126.96.36.199-6, 188.8.131.52-14, 184.108.40.206-7, 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168-2.