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How do you differentiate "human

act" from "act of man"?


A:
QUICK ANSWER

A human act is an action that is considered to be carried out voluntarily, whereas an


act of man is an involuntary action. The distinctions and nuances between an act of
man and a human act are often a focus of philosophical debate.
In essence it is agreed that a human act is an act on which an individual can make a
conscious decision whether or not to carry out that act. An act of man is the natural
act of vegetative and sense faculties such as digestion, the beating of the heart,
growing, bodily reactions and visual or auditory perceptions. The debate takes place
around the fringes of these definitions. Acts of man, for example, can be considered
human acts if the action is carried out with malice.

http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=5964

Human Acts
Acts are termed human when they are proper to man as man; when, on the contrary,
they are elicited by man, but not proper to him as a rational agent, they are
called acts of man .

NATURE
St. Thomas and the scholastics in general regard only the free and deliberate acts of
the will as human. Their view is grounded on psychological analysis. A free act is
voluntary, that is, it proceeds from the willwith the apprehension of the end sought,
or, in other words, is put forth by the will solicited by the goodness of the object as
presented to it by the understanding. Free acts, moreover, proceed from the will's

own determination, without necessitation, intrinsic or extrinsic. For they are


those acts which the willcan elicit or abstain from eliciting, even though all the
requisites of volition are present. They, consequently, are acts to which the will is
determined neither by the object nor by its own natural dispositions and habits, but to
which it determines itself. The will alone is capable of self-determination or freedom;
the other faculties, as the understanding, the senses, the power of motion, are not
free; but some of their acts are controlled by the will and so far share its freedom
indirectly. The active indeterminateness of the will, its mastery over its own actions,
is consequent upon the deliberation of reason. For the intellect discerns in a given
object both perfection and imperfection, both good and evil, and therefore presents it
to the will as desirable in one respect and undesirable in another. But when an
object is thus proposed, the will, on account of its unlimited scope, may love or hate,
embrace or reject it. The resultant state of the will is indifference, in which it has the
power to determine itself to either alternative. Hence, whenever there is deliberation
in the understanding, there is freedom in the will, and the consequent act is
free; vice versa, whenever an act proceeds from the will without deliberation, it is not
free, but necessary. Wherefore, as deliberate and free actions, so indeliberate and
necessary actions are identical. The free act of the will thus analysed is evidently the
act proper to man as a rational agent. For it is man who is its determining cause;
whereas his necessary actions are unavoidably determined by his nature and
environment. He is the master of the former, while the latter are not under his
dominion and cannot be withheld by him. These, therefore, are properly
styled acts of man, because elicited, but not determined, by him. The human act
admits of increment and decrement. Its voluntariness can be diminished or
increased. Ignorance, as far as it goes, renders an act involuntary, since what is
unknown cannot be willed; passions intensify the inclination of the will, and thus
increase voluntariness, but lessen deliberation and consequently also freedom.

PROPERTIES
Human acts are imputable to man so as to involve his responsibility, for the
very reason that he puts them forth deliberatively and with self-determination. They
are, moreover, not subject to physical laws which necessitate the agent, but to
a law which lays the will under obligation without interfering with his freedom of

choice. Besides, they are moral. For a moral act is one that is freely elicited with
the knowledge of its conformity with or difformity from, the law of
practical reason proximately and the law of God ultimately. But whenever an act is
elicited with full deliberation, its relationship to the law of reason is adverted to.
Hence human acts are either morally good or morally bad, and their goodness or
badness is imputed to man. And as, in consequence, they are worthy of praise or
blame, so man, who elicits them, is regarded as virtuous or wicked, innocent or
guilty, deserving of reward or punishment. Upon the freedom of the human act,
therefore, rest imputability and morality, man's moral character, his ability to pursue
his ultimate end not of necessity and compulsion, but of his own will and choice; in a
word, his entire dignity and preeminence in this visible universe.

RECENT VIEWS
Recent philosophic speculation discards free will conceived as capability of selfdetermination. The mainreason advanced against it is its apparent incompatibility
with the law of causation. Instead of indeterminism, determinism is now most widely
accepted. According to the latter, every act of the will is ofnecessity determined by
the character of the agent and the motives which render the action desirable.
Character, consisting of individual dispositions and habits, is either inherited from
ancestors or acquired by past activity; motives arise from the pleasurableness or
unpleasurableness of the action and its object, or from the external environment.
Many determinists drop freedom, imputability, and responsibility, as inconsistent with
their theory. To them, therefore, the human act cannot be anything else than
thevoluntary act. But there are other determinists who still admit the freedom of will.
In their opinion a free action is that which "flows from the universe of the character of
the agent." And as "character is the constitution of Self as a whole", they define
freedom as "the control proceeding from the Self as a whole, and determining the
Self as a whole." We find freedom also defined as a state in which man wills only in
conformity with his true, unchanged, and untrammelled personality. In like manner
Kant, though in his "Critique of Pure Reason" he advocates determinism,
nevertheless in his "Fundamental Metaphysics of Morals " admits the freedom of the
will, conceiving it as independence of external causes. The will, he maintains, is a
causality proper to rational beings, and freedom is its endowment enabling it to act

without being determined from without, just as natural necessity is the need proper
to irrational creatures of being determined to action by external influence. He adds,
however, in explanation, that the will must act according to unchangeable laws as
else it would be an absurdity. Free acts thus characterised are termed human by
these determinists, because they proceed from man's reason and personality. But
plainly they are not human in the scholastic acceptation, nor in the full and proper
sense. They are not such, because they are not under the dominion of man. True
freedom, which makes man master of his actions, must be conceived
as immunity from all necessitation to act. So it was understood by the scholastics.
They defined it as immunity from both intrinsic and extrinsic necessitation. Not so the
determinists. According to them it involves immunity from extrinsic, but not from
intrinsic, necessitation. Human acts, therefore, as also imputability and responsibility,
are not the same thing in the old and in the new schools.
So it comes to pass, that, while nowadays in ethics and law the very same scientific
terms are employed as in former ages, they no longer have the same meaning as in
the past nor the same in Catholic as in non-Catholic literature.

HUMAN ACTSIntroduction
Human persons intelligent and free

capable of determining our own livesby our own free choices

HOW?


by freely choosing to shape our lives and actions in accord with thetruth

by making
good moral choices

These choices performed as free persons are called


HUMANACTSDEFINITION OF HUMAN ACTS

Acts which man does as man = acts proper to man as man

Acts of which he is properly master = because he does them with


fullknowledge and of his own will
= actions performed by man
knowingly andfreely = will

properly enlightened by
knowledge

supplied by the
intellect

Therefore,

Human acts are those acts which proceed from a deliberate freewill
HUMAN ACTS THE CONCERN OF MORALITY

only human acts are moral acts = it is only with human acts that
man isresponsible for his actionsREASON AND FREEDOM
makes man a moral subject
REASONHuman acts are either in agreement or in disagreement with the
dictates ofreason

dictates of reason
- shared consciousness of prudent people about the manner ofaction or behaviorNorm of morality which is the standard by which actions are judged as
good or evil

= good --in harmony with reason


= evil --opposed to reason
= indifferent --neutral
1

FREEDOMmakes man a moral subject- when man acts in deliberate manner --- he is the
father of his acts

- man is thus responsible for those acts --- he can


acknowledge
that he has donethem because he wanted to --- and he can
explain
why he decided to do them =those acts can be
morally classified
they are either good or evil
INTELLECT AND WILL IN HUMAN ACTSintellect and the will are
not 2 successive acts
but 2 elements of human acts
it is not that the
intellect that knows
and
the will that decides
but
man
whoboth know and decides through
simultaneous
use of the 2 faculties
- will
directs the intellect to know
- intellect
directs the will to want the object it proposes
WILL
- the only object which
necessarily

attracts the will --ABSOLUTE GOOD


perfectly known as suchPartial goods or God imperfectly known
will not necessarily attract the willWILL naturally inclined to the good but man
may sometimes deliberately choosesomething
morally evil,
how come?- In this case, the will chooses a
partially good
that the will itself hascommanded the intellect to present as such = how did
it happen?

=
the

will has a
fixed inclination
to the good the will can only choose something badwhen it is
presented under its good aspects
= it is due to the disordered disposition ofthe will with respect to its last end, and
themeans leading to it = there lies theculpability of the choice
2

ACTS OF MAN
- those acts which man performs without being master of them through hisintellect
and will = therefore, they are not voluntary
EXAMPLES OF ACTS OF MAN

The natural acts of


vegetative
and
sense faculties
- digestion, beating of heart, growth, corporal reactions, visual or auditiveperceptions
.- but these acts
may become

human acts
when they are performed with malice,or when we are directed by the will, when we
look at something or arouseourselves

Acts of persons
without the proper use of reason
children or insanepersons

Acts of people
asleep
or under the influence of
hypnosis
,
alcohol
or other
drugs
.- however, there may still be some degree of control by the will- but there is indirect
responsibility if the cause of the loss of control isvoluntary

Primo-primi acts

quick and nearly automatic reactions

reflex and nearly instantaneous reactions without time for theintellect or will to
intervene

Acts performed under serious physical or in some cases

1. HUMAN ACTS ACTS OF MANCONSTITUENTS OF HUMAN ACTS KINDS


OF VOLUNTARINESSDETERMINANTS OF MORALITY IMPEDIMENTS TO
MORALITY NORMS OF MORALITY
2. 2. MAN AS THE ACTING PERSON CONCEPT AND NATURE OF HUMAN
ACTS ACTUS HUMANIACTS THAT PROCEED FROM REASON AND FREE
WILL RIGHTLY CALLED PERONAL ACTS
3. 3. ACT OF MAN ACTUS HOMINISACTIONS WHICH ARE PERFORMED
WITHOUT THEINTERVENTION OF THE INTELLECT AND THE FREE WILL
THEY COMPRISE ALL SPONTANEOUS BIOLOGICAL AND SENSUAL
PROCESSES
4. 4. CONSTITUENTS OF HUMAN ACTS KNOWLEDGEThe faculty of thought.
The intellect discerns in a given object both perfection and imperfection, both
good and evil, andtherefore presents it to the will as desirable in one respect
and undesirable in another
5. 5. FREEDOM the ability to act without restraint. In the context of internal
control,freedom is also known as self-determination, individual sovereignty, or
autonomy.
6. 6. when an object is proposed, the will, on account of its unlimited scope, may
love or hate, embrace or reject it. Whenever there is deliberation in the
understanding,there is freedom in the will, and the consequent act is free;vice
versa, whenever an act proceeds from the will without deliberation, it is not
free, but necessary.
7. 7. FREE WILL EVERY VOLUNTARY ACT OF MAN INCLUDES A
ECESSSARY ELEMENT: THE QUEST FOR GOODAND A FREE ELEMENT:
THE CHOICE OF THE CONCRETE OBJECT IN WHICH THE GOOD IS
SOUGHTIF A MAN IS NOT FREE TO CHOOSE WHAT HE WOULDLIKE
ACCORDING TO HIS INSIGHT AND WILL BUT HAS TO ACT AGAINST HIS
WILL, HIS ACTION IS NOT FREE AND CONSEQUENTLY NOT A HUMAN
ACT
8. 8. KINDS OF VOLUNTARY ACTS PERFECTLY VOLUNTARY ACTIS AN ACT
WHICH IS PERFORMED WITH FULLATTENTION AND FULL CONSENT OF
THE WILL.
9. 9. IMPERFECTLY VOLUNTARYIS AN ACT IF ATTENTION OR CONSENT
OF THE WILL OR BOTH TOGETHER ARE IMPERFECT
10.10. DIRECTLY VOLUNTARY IF THE ACT IS INTENDED AS AN END IN
ITSELF ORIF IT IS INTENDED AS A MEANS FOR ANOTHER END

11. 11. INDIRECLTY VOLUNTARYIF AN ACT IS NOT INTENDED BUT MERELY


PERMITTED AS THE INEVITABLE RESULT OF AN OBJECT DIRECTLY
WILLED.
12.12. PRINCIPLES: INDIRECTLY WILLED ACT PRINCIPLE OF DOUBLE
EFFECTTHE MORAL OBJECT MAY NOT BE EVIL IN ITSELF
13.13. THE GOOD AND EVIL EFFECT MUST PROCEED AT LEAST EQUALLY
DIRECTLY FROM THE ACT
14.14. THE INTENTION OF THE AGENT MUST BE GOODTHE AGENT MAY
NOT INTEND OR APPROVE OF THE EVIL EFFECT
15.15. THERE MUST BE A PROPORTIONATELY GRAVE REASON IN ORDER
TO PERMIT THE EVIL EFFECT.
16.16. BRIEFLYUNDERTAKING AN ACTION FROM WHICH A GOOD AND EVIL
EFFECT ARE FORESEEN IS PERMISSIBLE : IF THE ACTION IN ITSELF IS
NOT EVIL, IF THE BAD EFFECT IS NOT INTENDED IF THERE IS
SUFFICIENTLY GRAVE REASON TO PERMIT THE EVIL.
17.17. POSITIVELY VOLUNTARY ACTTHE WILL EFFECTS SOMETHING
POSITIVELYBY EXERCISING ACTIVE INFLUENCE ON THE CAUSATION
OF AN OBJECT FOR EXAMPLE, INJURING A NEIGHBOR BY SETTING HIS
HOUSE ON FIRE
18.18. NEGATIVELY VOLUNTARY ACT THE WILL EFFECTS SOMETHING
NEGATIVELY BY VOLUNTARY OMISSION OF AN ACT WHICH COULD
HAVE AVERTED AN EVIL TO ANOTHER PERSON ORHELPED HIM TO
SECURE A GOOD FOR EXAMPLE, NOT TO EXTINGUISH A FIRE
ALREADY STARTING IN A NEIGHBORS HOUSE
19.19. DETERMINANTS OF MORALITY THE OBJECT FINIS OPERISTHE
OBJECT OF THE HUMAN ACT IS THAT EFFECT WHICH AN ACTION
PRIMARILY AND DIRECTLY CAUSES THE OBJECT CHOSEN IS A GOOD
TOWARD WHICH THE WILL DELIBERATELY DIRECTS ITSELF
20.20. CIRCUMSTANCES THE PARTICULARS OF THE HUMAN ACT WHICH
ARE NOT NECESSARILY CONNECTED WITH THE HUMAN ACT BUT
WHICH AFFECT THE MORALITY OF THE ACT KINDS OF
CIRCUMSTANCESWHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WITH WHAT MEANS,
HOW
21.21. CIRCUMSTANCES CAN INFLUENCE THE MORALITY OF AN ACT IN
THE POSITIVE SENSE:A CIRCUMSTANCE CAN MAKE BETTER AN ACT
GOOD IN ITS OBJECTA CIRCUMSTANCE CAN MAKE GOOD AN

INDIFFERENT ACT IN ITSELF IN THE NEGATIVE SENSE: A


CIRCUMSTANCE CAN MAKE WORSE AN ACT EVIL IN ITS OBJECT A
CRCUMSTANCE CAN MAKE EVIL AN ACT INDIFFERENT IN ITSELF
22.22. THE END INTENDED BY THE AGENT FINIS OPERANTISTHE REASON
FOR WHICH THE AGENT UNDERTAKES THE ACT
23.23. THE END OR EFFECT INTENDED BY THE AGENT IN AN ACTION MAY
BE THE SAME AS THE OBJECT OF THE ACTIONIN WHICH CASE, FINIS
OPERIS AND FINIS OPERANTIS ARE THE SAMEIN PLACE OF END, THE
TERM INTENTION IS ALSO OFTEN USED TO NAME THE THIRD SOURCE
OF MORALITY INTENTION RESIDES IN THE ACTING SUBJECT
24.24. IMPEDIMENTS TO MORALITY IMPAIRMENTS TO HUMAN FREEDOM
ARE REALITIES WITH WHICH ETHICS AND JURISPRUDENCEHAVE TO
RECKON CONCERNING THE MORALITY OF THE HUMAN ACT
IMPAIRMENTS OF REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE: IGNORANCE ERROR
INATTENTION IMPAIRMENTS TO FREE CONSENT: PASSION FEAR AND
SOCIAL PRESSURES VIOLENCE DISPOSITIONS AND HABITS
25.25. IGNORANCE Ignorance is lack of knowledgeabout a thing in a being
capable of knowing.Ignorance is divided as invincible and vincible.
26.26. INVINCIBLE IGNORANCETHAT IGNORANCE WHICH A MAN IS NOT
ABLE TO DISPEL BY SUCH REASONABLE DILIGENCETHIS
COMPLETELY TAKES AWAY THE VOLUNTARINESS OF THE MALICE AND
HENCE ITS RESPONSIBILITY TOO.
27.27. VINCIBLE IGNORANCE IGNORANCE THAT CAN BE DISPELLEDTHIS
DOES NOT TAKE AWAY CULPABILITY AS IT IS VOLUNTARY IN CAUSE OR
IS PROVOKED BY CONSCIOUS NEGLIGENCE OR EVEN BAD WILL
28.28. VINCIBLE IGNORANCE GENERALLY DIMINISHES VOLUNTARINESS
AND RESPONSIBILTY, SINCE ACTUAL INSIGHT AT THE TIME OF ACTING
IS LACKING THREE KINDS OF VINCIBLE IGNORANCESUPINE, SIMPLY
VINCIBLE, AFFECTED IGNORANCE
29.29. PRINCIPLES THAT APPLY TO IGNORANCE AND ITS
RESPONSIBILITY: INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE PREVENTS THE HUMAN
ACTFROM BEING VOLUNTARY IN REGARD TO THAT WHICH IS NOT
KNOWN VINCIBLE IGNORANCE DOES NOT TAKE AWAY THE
VOLUNTARINESS DIMINISHES VOLUNTARINESS, AS LONG AS THE
IGNORANCE IS NOT AFFECTED SIMPLE NEGLIGENCE OR LAZINESS
DOES NOT USUALLY IMPLY A FULL CONSENT TO ALL THE POSSIBLE
EVIL CONSEQUENCES WHICH MAY COME THEREFROM SUPINE

IGNORANCE IN A SERIOUS MATTER GENERALLY MAKES THE SIN


GRAVE AFFECTED IGNORANCE DOES NOT DIMINISH GUILT BECAUSE
THERE IS FULL CONSENT THERE IS FULL CONSENT TO THE SINFUL
EFFECTS WHICH RESULT FORM SUCH IGNORANCE
30.30. ERROR FALSE JUDGMENT OR CONVICTION IT ARISES FROM
DEFICIENT EDUCATION, BAD COMPANY OR MISLEADING
INFORMATION ONE IS NOT RESPONSIBLEFOR THE CONSEQUENCES
OF ERROR MADE IN GOOD FAITH
31.31. INATTENTION REFERS TO MOMENTARY DEPRIVATION OF
INSIGHTIF ATTENTION IS COMLETELY LACKING, THERE IS NO HUMAN
ACT BUT ONE IS RESPONSIBLE TO THE EXTENT THAT THE ACT IS
VOLUNTARY IN CAUSE
32.32. PASSION OR CONCUPISCENCEA MOVEMENT OF THE SENSITIVE
APPETITE WHICH IS MOVEDBY THE GOOD OR EVIL APPREHENDED BY
THE IMAGINATION MOVEMENT OF THE SENSITIVE APPETITE THAT
PRECEDES THE FREE DECISION OF THE WILL
33.33. DIVISIONS OF PASSIONS CONCUPISCIBLE:PASSION THROUGH
WHICH THE SOUL IS SIMPLY INCLINED TOSEEK WHAT IS SUITABLE
ACCORDING TO THE SENSES, AND TO FLY FROM WHAT IS HURTFUL.
IRASCIBLE:WHEREBY AN ANIMAL RESISTS THE ATTACKS OF ANY
AGENTS THAT HINDER WHAT IS SUITABLE AND INFLICT HARM ITS
OBJECT IS SOMETHING ARDUOUS, BECAUSE ITS TENDENCY IS TO
OVERCOME AND RISE ABOVE OBSTACLES.
34.34. CONCUPISCIBLE SIMPLE INCLINATION WITH RESPECT TO
SENSIBLE OBJECT ATTRACTION REPULSION TOWARDS OBJECT AWAY
FROM OBJECT (GOOD OBJECT) (EVIL OBJECT) LOVE JOY DESIRE
HATRED SADNESS AVERSION GOOD PRESENT ABSENT EVIL PRESENT
ABSENTAS SUCH GOOD GOOD AS SUCH EVIL EVIL
35.35. IRASCIBLE INCLINATION IN VIRTUE OF AN ARDUOUS OBJECT
GOOD EVIL DIFFICULT TO ATTAIN DIFFICULT TO AVOID NO HOPE
DESPAIR ANGER COURAGE FEARPRESENT ABSENT ABSENT PRESENT
THREATENING THREATENING GOOD BUT UNATTAINABLE EVIL BUT
INCONQUERABLEDIFFICULT ATTAINABLE GOOD CONQUERABLE
EVILTO ATTAIN GOOD EVIL
36.36. FEAR: IS MENTAL TREPIDATIONDUE TO AN IMPENDING EVIL IT IS
FEAR OF THE SENSES AND NOT INTELLECTUAL FEAR WHICH IS ONE
OF THE PASSIONSINTELLECTUAL FEAR (FOR EXAMPLE THREAT OF
TORTURE DOES NOT JUSTIFY DENIAL OF FAITH) THE EMOTION OF

FEAR WHICH COMPLETELY DARKENS THE MIND OR PARALYZES THE


WILL EXCUSES FROM IMPUTABILITY
37.37. VIOLENCE COMPULSIVE INFLUENCE BROUGHT TO BEAR UPON
ONE AGAINST HIS WILL BY SOME EXTRINSIC AGENT. VIOLENCE IS
CAUSED BY SOME PHYSICAL OR PSYCHIC AGENT THERE IS NO
IMPUTABILITY, EXCEPT INSOFAR AS THE INNER WILL MAY HAVE
CONSENTED OR EXTERNAL RESISTANCE HAVE FALLEN SHORTOF THE
DEGREE NECESSARY AND POSSIBLE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCE
38.38. INTERNAL RESISTANCE IS ALWAYS NECESSARY WHILE EXTERNAL
RESISTANCE MAY NOT ALWAYS BE CALLED FOR IT IS REQUIRED ONLY
TO THE EXTENT THAT IT IS FORESEEN TO BE EFFICACIOUSIN
PREVENTING ACTION OR FORESTALLING SCANDAL
39.39. HABITS :FACILITY AND READINESS OF ACTING IN A CERTAIN
MANNER ACQUIRED BY REPEATED ACTS
40.40. DELIBERATELY ADMITTED HABITS DO NOT
LESSENVOLUNTARINESS, AND ACTIONS RESULTING THEREFROM ARE
VOLUNTARY AT LEAST IN THEIR CAUSE
41.41. OPPOSED HABITS LESSEN VOLUNTARINESS AND SOMETIME
PRECLUDE IT COMPLETELY.THE REASON IS THAT HABIT WEAKENS
INTELLECT AND WILL IN A CONCRETE SITUATION IN A SIMILAR WAY.

Potentiality[edit]
Potentiality and potency are translations of the Ancient
Greek word dunamis () as it is used by Aristotle as a concept contrasting
with actuality. Its Latin translation is "potentia", root of the English word potential,
and used by some scholars instead of the Greek or English variants.
Dunamis is an ordinary Greek word for possibility or capability. Depending on
context, it could be translated "potency", "potential", "capacity", "ability", "power",
"capability", "strength", "possibility", "force" and is the root of modern English words
"dynamic", "dynamite", and "dynamo".[5] In early modern philosophy, English authors
like Hobbes andLocke used the English word "power" as their translation of
Latin potentia.[6]
In his philosophy, Aristotle distinguished two meanings of the word dunamis.
According to his understanding of nature there was both a weak sense of potential,
meaning simply that something "might chance to happen or not to happen", and a
stronger sense, to indicate how something could be done well. For example,
"sometimes we say that those who can merely take a walk, or speak, without doing it
as well as they intended, cannot speak or walk". This stronger sense is mainly said
of the potentials of living things, although it is also sometimes used for things like
musical instruments.[7]
Throughout his works, Aristotle clearly distinguishes things that are stable or
persistent, with their own strong natural tendency to a specific type of change, from
things that appear to occur by chance. He treats these as having a different and
more real existence. "Natures which persist" are said by him to be one of the causes
of all things, while natures that do not persist, "might often be slandered as not being
at all by one who fixes his thinking sternly upon it as upon a criminal". The potencies
which persist in a particular material are one way of describing "the nature itself" of
that material, an innate source of motion and rest within that material. In terms of
Aristotle's theory of four causes, a material's non-accidental potential, is the material
cause of the things that can come to be from that material, and one part of how we
can understand the substance(ousia, sometimes translated as "thinghood") of any
separate thing. (As emphasized by Aristotle, this requires his distinction
between accidental causes and natural causes.)[8]According to Aristotle, when we
refer to the nature of a thing, we are referring to the form, shape or look of a thing,
which was already present as a potential, an innate tendency to change, in that
material before it achieved that form, but things show what they are more fully, as a
real thing, when they are "fully at work".[9]
Actuality[edit]

Actuality is often used to translate both energeia ()


and entelecheia () (sometimes rendered in English as "entelechy").
"Actuality" comes from Latinactualitas and is a traditional translation, but its normal
meaning in Latin is "anything which is currently happening".
The two words energeia and entelecheia were coined by Aristotle, and he stated that
their meanings were intended to converge.[10] In practice, most commentators and
translators consider the two words to be interchangeable. [11][12] They both refer to
something being in its own type of action or at work, as all things are when they are
real in the fullest sense, and not just potentially real. For example, "to be a rock is to
strain to be at the center of the universe, and thus to be in motion unless
constrained otherwise".[2]
Energeia[edit]
Energeia is a word based upon (ergon), meaning "work".[11][13] It is the source
of the modern word "energy" but the term has evolved so much over the course of
thehistory of science that reference to the modern term is not very helpful in
understanding the original as used by Aristotle. It is difficult to translate his use
of energeia into English with consistency. Joe Sachs renders it with the phrase
"beingatwork" and says that "we might construct the word is-at-work-ness from
Anglo-Saxon roots to translate energeiainto English".[14] Aristotle says the word can
be made clear by looking at examples rather than trying to find a definition. [15]
Two examples of energeiai in Aristotle's works
are pleasure and happiness (eudaimonia). Pleasure is an energeia of the human
body and mind whereas happiness is more simply the energeia of a human being a
human.[16]
Kinesis, translated as movement, motion, or in some contexts change, is also
explained by Aristotle as a particular type of energeia. See below.
Entelechy or entelechia[edit]
Entelechy, in Greek entelcheia, was coined by Aristotle and transliterated
in Latin as entelechia. According to Sachs (1995, p. 245):
Aristotle invents the word by combining entels (, "complete, full-grown")
with echein (= hexis, to be a certain way by the continuing effort of holding on in that
condition), while at the same time punning on endelecheia (,
"persistence") by inserting "telos" (, "completion"). This is a three-ring circus of
a word, at the heart of everything in Aristotle's thinking, including the definition of
motion.

Sachs therefore proposed a complex neologism of his own, "being-at-work-stayingthe-same".[17] Another translation in recent years is "being-at-an-end" (which Sachs
has also used).[2]
Entelecheia, as can be seen by its derivation, is a kind of completeness, whereas
"the end and completion of any genuine being is its being-at-work" (energeia).
The entelecheiais a continuous being-at-work (energeia) when something is doing
its complete "work". For this reason, the meanings of the two words converge, and
they both depend upon the idea that every thing's "thinghood" is a kind of work, or in
other words a specific way of being in motion. All things that exist now, and not just
potentially, are beings-at-work, and all of them have a tendency towards being-atwork in a particular way that would be their proper and "complete" way.[17]
Sachs explains the convergence of energeia and entelecheia as follows, and uses
the word actuality to describe the overlap between them:[2]
Just as energeia extends to entelecheia because it is the activity which makes a
thing what it is, entelecheia extends to energeia because it is the end or perfection
which has being only in, through, and during activity.