Boethius De Hebdomadibus (on 'seven day cycles', although the title seems irrelevant since the essay is about nine rules) also has the subtitle "How substances may be good from the fact of their existence, although they are not substantial goods?" (Quomodo substantiae in eo quod sint bonae sint, cum non sint substantialia bona). It deals with the problem of the relation between goodness and substance, and may have had some influence on Thomas's distinction between being and essence (also in the Logic Museum).

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Boethius's De Hebdomadibus
[QUOMODO SUBSTANTIAE IN EO QUOD SINT BONAE SINT CUM NON SINT SUBSTANTIALIA BONA] How Can Substances Be Good in Virtue of the Fact That They Have Being When They Are Not Substantial Goods?
Translated by Scott MacDonald
[PROLOGUS] [Prologue]
Postulas ut ex Hebdomadibus nostris eius quaestionis obscuritatem quae continet modum quo substantiae in eo quod sint bonae sint, cum non sint substantialia bona, digeram et paulo evidentius monstrem; idque eo dicis esse faciendum quod non sit omnibus notum iter huiusmodi scriptionum. Tuus vero testis ipse sum quam haec vivaciter fueris ante complexus. Hebdomadas vero ego mihi ipse commentor potiusque ad memoriam meam speculata conservo quam cuiquam participo quorum lasciuia ac petulantia nihil a ioco risuque patitur esse coniunctum. Prohinc tu ne sis obscuritatibus brevitatis adversus, quae cum sint arcani fida custodia tum id habent commodi, quod cum his solis qui digni sunt conloquuntur. Ut igitur in mathematica fieri solet caeterisque etiam disciplinis, praeposui terminos regulasque quibus cuncta quae sequuntur efficiam. You ask that I should set out and explain a little more clearly the obscurity of that question from our hebdomads which concerns the way in which substances are good in virtue of the fact that they have being when they are not substantial goods.[1] <5> And you say that this should be done because the method of writings of this sort is not known to all. Now I myself am your witness how eagerly you have embraced these things before. But I contemplate the hebdomads on my own for myself and keep my thoughts in my memory rather than share them with any of those who, out of perversity and impudence, permit nothing to be composed without jest and laughter. < 11 > Therefore, do not object to the obscurities associated with brevity which, since they are a faithful guardian of a secret, have the advantage of speaking only with those who are worthy. For that reason I have put forward first terms and rules on the basis of which I will work out all the things that follow, as is usually done in mathematics (and other disciplines also).
[TERMINI] [The Axioms]
Communis animi conceptio est enuntiatio quam quisque probat auditam. Harum duplex modus est. Nam una ita communis est ut omnium sit hominum, veluti si hanc proponas: “Si duobus aequalibus aequalia auferas, quae relinquantur aequalia esse” nullus id intellegens neget. Alia vero est doctorum tantum, quae tamen ex talibus communibus animi conceptionibus uenit, ut est: “Quae incorporalia sunt, in loco non esse” et caetera quae non uulgus sed docti comprobant. [I.] < 18> A conception belonging to the common understanding is a statement that anyone approves once it has been heard. There are two types of these. One type is common in the sense that it belongs to all men-e.g., if you propose: "If you take away equals from two equals, what remain are equals," no one who understands it denies it. The other type belongs only to the learned, even though it comes from such conceptions as belong to the common understanding-e.g., "Things which are incorporeal are not in a place," and others that the learned but not the uneducated acknowledge.
[REGULA] [Rules]
[1] Diversum est esse et id quod est; ipsum enim esse nondum est, at vero quod est accepta essendi forma est atque consistit. [II.] <28> Being and that which is are different. For being itself does not exist yet, but that which is exists and is established when it has taken on the form of being.
[2] Quod est participare aliquo potest sed ipsum esse nullo modo aliquo participat. Fit enim participatio cum aliquid iam est; est autem aliquid, cum esse susceperit. [III.] <31> That which is can participate in something, but being itself participates in no way in anything. For participation comes about when something already exists; but something exists when it has assumed being.
[3] Id quod est habere aliquid praeterquam quod ipsum est potest; ipsum vero esse nihil aliud praeter se habet admixtum. [IV.] <35> That which is can have something besides what it itself is; but being itself has nothing besides itself mixed into it.
[4] Diversum est tantum esse aliquid et esse aliquid in eo quod est; illic enim accidens hic substantia significatur. [V.] <38> Being something merely and being something in virtue of the fact that it has being are different. For an accident is signified in the former case, a substance in the latter.
[5] Omne quod est participat eo quod est esse ut sit; alio vero participat ut aliquid sit. Ac per hoc id quod est participat eo quod est esse ut sit; est vero ut participet alio quolibet. [VI.] <41> Everything that participates in being so that it exists participates in something else so that it is something.[2] Hence, that which is participates in being so that it exists; but it exists so that it might participate in anything else whatever.
[6] Omne simplex esse suum et id quod est unum habet; [VII.] <45> Every simple has its being and that which is as one.
omni composito aliud est esse, aliud ipsum est. [VIII]. <47> For every composite, being and it itself are different.
[7] Omnis diversitas discors, similitudo vero appetenda est; et quod appetit aliud, tale ipsum esse naturaliter ostenditur quale est illud hoc ipsum quod appetit. [IX.] <49> Every difference is discord, but likeness is to be sought. And what seeks another is itself shown to be naturally the same sort as that very thing which it seeks.
Sufficiunt igitur quae praemisimus; a prudente vero rationis interprete suis unumquodque aptabitur argumentis. These things that we have set down to begin with, therefore, are enough. A careful interpreter of the reasoning will fit each one to its arguments .
[QUAESTIO] [The Question]
Quaestio vero huiusmodi est. Ea quae sunt bona sunt. Tenet enim communis sententia doctorum omne quod est ad bonum tendere, omne autem tendit ad simile; quae igitur ad bonum tendunt bona ipsa sunt. <56> Now the question is of this sort. Things which exist are good. For the common view of the learned holds that everything which exists tends toward good. But everything tends toward its like. Therefore, the things which tend toward good are themselves good.
Sed quemadmodum bona sint, inquirendum est -- utrumne participatione an substantia? <60> But we have to ask how they are good, by participation or by substance?
Si participatione, per se ipsa nullo modo bona sunt; nam quod participatione album est, per se in eo quod ipsum est album non est, et de caeteris qualitatibus eodem modo. Si igitur participatione sunt bona, ipsa per se nullo modo bona sunt; non igitur ad bonum tendunt. Sed concessum est. Non igitur participatione sunt bona sed substantia. If by participation, they are in no way good in themselves. For what is white by participation is not white in itself in virtue of the fact that it itself has being. And the same applies to other qualities. <65> Therefore, if they are good by participation, they are in no way good in themselves. Therefore, they do not tend toward good. But that was granted. Therefore, they are not good by participation but by substance.
Quorum vero substantia bona est, id quod sunt bona sunt; id quod sunt autem habent ex eo quod est esse. Esse igitur ipsorum bonum est; omnium igitur rerum ipsum esse bonum est. Sed si esse bonum est, ea quae sunt in eo quod sunt bona sunt idemque illis est esse quod boni esse. Substantialia igitur bona sunt, quoniam non participant bonitatem. Now for those things the substance of which is good, what they are are good.[3] But that which they are they have from [their] being. <71 > Therefore, their being is good; and therefore, the being itself of all things is good. But if [their] being is good, those things which exist are good in virtue of the fact that they have being, and, for them, being is the same as being good. Therefore, they are substantial goods because they do not participate in goodness.
Quod si ipsum esse in eis bonum est, non est dubium quin substantialia cum sint bona, primo sint bono similia ac per hoc hoc ipsum bonum erunt; nihil enim illi praeter se ipsum simile est. Ex quo fit ut omnia quae sunt deus sint, quod dictu nefas est. Non sunt igitur substantialia bona ac per hoc non in his est esse bonum; non sunt igitur in eo quod sunt bona. Sed nec participant bonitatem; nullo enim modo ad bonum tenderent. <75> But if being itself is good in their case, there is no doubt that since they are substantial goods, they are like the first good. And hence, they will be this good itself; for nothing is like it besides it itself: It follows from this that all things which exist are God, which is an impious claim. Therefore, they are not substantial goods, and hence being is not good in their case. Therefore, they are not good in virtue of the fact that they have being. But neither do they participate in goodness, for then they would in no way tend toward good.
Nullo modo igitur sunt bona. Therefore, they are in no way good.
[SOLUTIO] [The Solution]
Huic quaestioni talis poterit adhiberi solutio. Multa sunt quae cum separari actu non possunt, animo tamen et cogitatione separantur; ut cum triangulum vel caetera a subiecta materia nullus actu separat, mente tamen segregans ipsum triangulum proprietatemque eius praeter materiam speculatur. <86> A solution of the following sort can be offered to this question. There are many things that, although they cannot be separated in actuality, nevertheless are separated in the mind and in thought. For example, although no one separates a triangle (or other [geometric figures]) from the underlying matter in actuality, nevertheless, distinguishing it in the mind, one examines the triangle itself and its essential character apart from matter.
Amoueamus igitur primi boni praesentiam paulisper ex animo, quod esse quidem constat idque ex omnium doctorum indoctorumque sententia barbararumque gentium religionibus cognosci potest. Hoc igitur paulisper amoto ponamus omnia esse quae sunt bona atque ea consideremus quemadmodum bona esse possent, si a primo bono minime defluxissent. Therefore, let us remove from our mind for a little while the presence of the first good. (That it does exist is, of course, certain on the basis of the view of the learned and the unlearned and can be known from the religions of barbarian races.) <95> Therefore, having removed this for a little while, let us suppose that all things which are good exist. And let us consider how those things could be good if they had not flowed down from the first good.
Hinc intueor aliud in eis esse quod bona sunt, aliud quod sunt. Ponatur enim una eademque substantia bona esse alba, gravis, rotunda. Tunc aliud esset ipsa illa substantia, aliud eius rotunditas, aliud color, aliud bonitas; nam si haec singula idem essent quod ipsa substantia, idem esset gravitas quod color, quod bonum, et bonum quod gravitas -- quod fieri natura non sinit. Aliud igitur tunc in eis esset esse, aliud aliquid esse, ac tunc bona quidem essent, esse tamen ipsum minime haberent bonum. Igitur si ullo modo essent, non a bono ac bona essent ac non idem essent quod bona sed eis aliud esset esse aliud bonis esse. From this point of view I observe that, in their case, that they are good and what they are are different. For let one and the same good substance be supposed to be white, heavy, and round. Then that substance itself, its roundness, its color, and its goodness would all be different, for if these items were the same as the substance itself, heaviness would be the same as color, [color] as good, and good as heaviness. < 105> But nature does not allow this. Therefore, in their case, being and being something would be different; and then they would indeed be good but they would not have [their] being itself as good. Therefore, if they did exist in any way, then they would not be from the good and they would be good and they would not be the same as good; but, for them, being and being good would be different.
Quod si nihil omnino aliud essent nisi bona, neque gravia neque colorata neque spatii dimensione distenta nec ulla in eis qualitas esset, nisi tantum bona essent, tunc non res sed rerum uiderentur esse principium nec potius uiderentur sed uideretur; unum enim solumque est huiusmodi, quod tantum bonum aliudque nihil sit. But if they were nothing else at all except good, neither heavy nor colored nor extended in spatial dimension nor were there any quality in them excepting only that they were good, then it would seem that they are not [merely] things but the source of things. <115> Nor would "they" seem [so], but rather "it" would seem [so], for there is one and only one thing of this sort that is only good and nothing else.
Quae quoniam non sunt simplicia, nec esse omnino poterant, nisi ea id quod solum bonum est esse voluisset. Idcirco quoniam esse eorum a boni voluntate defluxit, bona esse dicuntur. Primum enim bonum, quoniam est, in eo quod est bonum est; secundum vero bonum, quoniam ex eo fluxit cuius ipsum esse bonum est, ipsum quoque bonum est. Sed ipsum esse omnium rerum ex eo fluxit quod est primum bonum et quod bonum tale est ut recte dicatur in eo quod est esse bonum. Ipsum igitur eorum esse bonum est, tunc enim in eo. But because they are not simple they cannot exist at all unless that thing which is only good willed that they exist. Therefore, they are said to be good because their being flowed from the will of the good. For the first good, because it is, is good in virtue of the fact that it is.[4] But a second good, because it flowed from that whose being itself is good, is itself also good. <124> But the being itself of all things flowed from that which is the first good and which is such that it is properly said to be good in virtue of the fact that it is. Therefore, their being itself is good, for it is then in it [-that is to say, the first good].
Qua in re soluta quaestio est. Idcirco enim licet in eo quod sint bona sint, non sunt tamen similia primo bono, quoniam non quoquomodo sint res ipsum esse earum bonum est sed quoniam non potest esse ipsum esse rerum, nisi a primo esse defluxerit, id est bono; idcirco ipsum esse bonum est nec est simile ei a quo est. Illud enim quoquomodo sit bonum est in eo quod est; non enim aliud est praeterquam bonum. Hoc autem nisi ab illo esset, bonum fortasse esse posset sed bonum in eo quod est esse non posset. In this the question has been resolved. For although they are good in virtue of the fact that they have being, nevertheless they are not like the first good. For it is not just in any way whatever in which things have being that their being itself is good, but because the being itself of things cannot exist unless it has flowed down from the first being, i.e., the good. Therefore, [their] being itself is good and it is not like that from which it has being. < 134> For [the first good] is good in virtue of the fact that it is in whatever way it is, for it is not anything other than good. But [a second good] could perhaps be good but it could not be good in virtue of the fact that it has being unless it were from [the first good].
Tunc enim participaret forsitan bono; ipsum vero esse quod non haberent a bono, bonum habere non possent. Igitur sublato ab his bono primo mente et cogitatione, ista licet essent bona, tamen in eo quod essent bona esse non possent, et quoniam actu non potuere exsistere, nisi illud ea quod vere bonum est produxisset, idcirco et esse eorum bonum est et non est simile substantiali bono id quod ab eo fluxit; et nisi ab eo fluxissent, licet essent bona, tamen in eo quod sunt bona esse non possent, quoniam et praeter bonum et non ex bono essent, cum illud ipsum bonum primum{+ est del. Tester} et ipsum esse sit et ipsum bonum et ipsum esse bonum. For then it would perhaps participate in good; but they could not have being itself, which they would not have from the good, as good. Therefore, when the first good is removed from them in the mind and in thought, these things could not be good in virtue of the fact that they have being, even though they could be good. And since they could not exist in actuality unless that which truly is good had produced them, their being is good, and that which flowed from the substantial good is not like it. < 146> And if they had not flowed from it, they could not be good in virtue of the fact that they have being, even though they could be good-this is because they would be both other than the good and not from the good, while that thing is itself the first good and is being itself and the good itself and being good itself.
[OBIECTIO PRIMA] [First Objection]
At non etiam alba in eo quod sunt alba esse oportebit ea quae alba sunt, quoniam ex voluntate Dei fluxerunt ut essent alba? And will it not also be necessary that white things are white in virtue of the fact that they have being, since those things that are white have flowed from the will of God so that they are white?
Minime. Aliud est enim esse, aliud albis esse; hoc ideo, quoniam qui ea ut essent effecit bonus quidem est, minime vero albus. Voluntatem igitur boni comitatum est ut essent bona in eo quod sunt; voluntatem vero non albi non est comitata talis eius quod est proprietas ut esset album in eo quod est; neque enim ex albi voluntate defluxerunt. Itaque quia voluit esse ea alba qui erat non albus, sunt alba tantum; quia vero voluit ea esse bona qui erat bonus, sunt bona in eo quod sunt. Not at all. For being and being white are different in their case because of the fact that he who produced them so that they exist is indeed good but not white.[5] <155> Therefore, it followed from the will of the good that they are good in virtue of the fact that they have being. But it did not follow from the will of what is not white that the essential character such that a thing is white in virtue of the fact that it has being belongs to it; for they have not flowed down from the will of the white: And so, because he who willed those things to be white was not white, they are white merely. But because he who willed those things to be good was good, they are good in virtue of the fact that they have being.
[OBIECTIO SECUNDA] [Second Objection]
Secundum hanc igitur rationem cuncta oportet esse iusta, quoniam ipse iustus est qui ea esse voluit? Therefore, according to this reasoning, must not all things be just since he is just who willed them to exist? No indeed.
[RESPONSIO] [reply]
Ne hoc quidem. Nam bonum esse essentiam, iustum vero esse actum respicit. Idem autem est in eo esse quod agere; idem igitur bonum esse quod iustum. Nobis vero non est idem esse quod agere; non enim simplices sumus. Non est igitur nobis idem bonis esse quod iustis sed idem nobis est esse omnibus in eo quod sumus. Bona igitur omnia sunt, non etiam iusta. < 165> For being good has to do with essence, but being just with an act. In him, however, being is the same as acting, and therefore being good is the same as being just. But, for us, being is not the same as acting, for we are not simple. For us, therefore, being good is not the same as being just; but, for us, all [and only] the things in virtue of which we have being are the same.[6] Therefore, all things are good [but] not also just.
Amplius bonum quidem generale est; iustum vero speciale nec species descendit in omnia. Idcirco alia quidem iusta alia aliud omnia bona. Further, good is of course general, but just is specific, and a species does not descend into all [the members of its genus]. Therefore, some things are just, some another [species of good], [but] all things are good.