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Suto Taki

Affiliate Master Yamaguchi University

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Thomas Aquinas uses the term “mode” (modus) in various contexts, and some remarkable usages are found in his discussions on virtues. Aquinas places virtues other than the four cardinal virtues in the “potential parts” of the cardinal virtues, for instance, placing generosity (liberalitas) as a potential part of justice. Although the potential parts of a cardinal virtue are not species of the cardinal virtue, they have close connections with it. In order to explain these connections, Aquinas says that the potential parts of a cardinal virtue agree with the cardinal virtue in mode. He also claims that the mode of a virtue is, as it were, a sort of a form of the virtue, whence the virtue derives its praise and its name (ST II-II, q. 157, a. 3). In this claim, we find metaphysical, ethical, and semantic aspects of modes. In this article, we first examine Aquinas’s usages of “modes of virtues” in order to see these aspects of modes. We conclude that “mode” means “a limit which is not to be exceeded” and “a way.” Next, we move on to the metaphysical aspect. Aquinas has elaborate discussions on “modes,” interpreting Augustine’s triad of “mode-species-order,” the three elements which Augustine claims to be in every good created being. We will analyse three major texts in which Aquinas treats the triad as three essential components of every good creature: ST I, q. 5, a. 5, De veritate, q. 21, a. 6, and ST II-I, q. 85, a. 4. By analyzing and connecting Aquinas’s different statements about modes, we clarify what modes are and how they are related to being (esse) and forms in Aquinas’s metaphysical system. Finally, we consider the semantic aspect, building on the preceding analyses. Since “mode” is a word that can connote perfection as well as limitation, it is possible to state that God is a mode. Since the mode is a higher principle than the form, which determines the genus and species, the mode can be a foundation of analogical predication, in which the same word is applied to things of different genera and beyond (i.e., God).
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