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The Trinity Is One God Not Three Gods by Boethius

IV. There are in all ten categories which can be universally predicated of thingsà

There are in all ten categories which can be universally predicated of things, namely, Substance, Quality, Quantity, Relation, Place, Time, Condition, Situation, Activity, Passivity. Their meaning is determined by the contingent subject; for some of them denote real substantive attributes of created things, others belong to the class of accidental attributes. But when these categories are applied to God they change their meaning entirely. Relation, for instance, cannot be predicated at all of God; for substance in Him is not really substantial but super-substantial. So with quality and the other possible attributes, of which we must add examples for the sake of clearness.

When we say God, we seem to denote a substance; but it is a substance that is supersubstantial. When we say of Him, |He is just,| we mention a quality, not an accidental quality -- rather a substantial and, in fact, a supersubstantial quality. For God is not one thing because He is, and another thing because He is just; with Him to be just and to be God are one and the same. So when we say, |He is great or the greatest, we seem to predicate quantity, but it is a quantity similar to this substance which we have declared to be supersubstantial; for with Him to be great and to be God are all one. Again, concerning His Form, we have already shown that He is Form, and truly One without Plurality. The categories we have mentioned are such that they give to the thing to which they are applied the character which they express; in created things they express divided being, in God, conjoined and united being -- in the following manner. When we name a substance, as man or God, it seems as though that of which the predication is made were itself substance, as man or God is substance. But there is a difference: since man is not simply and entirely man, and therefore is not substance after all. For what man is he owes to other things which are not man. But God is simply and entirely God, for He is nothing else than what He is, and therefore is, through simple existence, God. Again we apply just, a quality, as though it were that of which it is predicated; that is, if we say |a just man or just God,| we assert that man or God is just. But there is a difference, for man is one thing, and a just man is another thing. But God is justice itself. So a man or God is said to be great, and it would appear that man is substantially great or that God is substantially great. But man is merely great; God is greatness.

The remaining categories are not predicable of God nor yet of created things. For place is predicated of man or of God -- a man is in the market-place; God is everywhere -- but in neither case is the predicate identical with the object of predication. To say |A man is in the market| is quite a different thing from saying |he is white or long,| or, so to speak, encompassed and determined by some property which enables him to be described in terms of his substance; this predicate of place simply declares how far his substance is given a particular setting amid other things.

It is otherwise, of course, with God. |He is everywhere| does not mean that He is in every place, for He cannot be in any place at all -- but that every place is present to Him for Him to occupy, although He Himself can be received by no place, and therefore He cannot anywhere be in a place, since He is everywhere but in no place. It is the same with the category of time, as, |A man came yesterday; God is ever.| Here again the predicate of |coming yesterday| denotes not something substantial, but something happening in terms of time. But the expression |God is ever| denotes a single Present, summing up His continual presence in all the past, in all the present -- however that term be used -- and in all the future. Philosophers say that |ever| may be applied to the life of the heavens and other immortal bodies. But as applied to God it has a different meaning. He is ever, because |ever| is with Him a term of present time, and there is this great difference between |now,| which is our present, and the divine present. Our present connotes changing time and sempiternity; God's present, unmoved, and immoveable, connotes eternity. Add semper to eternity and you get the constant, incessant and thereby perpetual course of our present time, that is to say, sempiternity.

It is just the same with the categories of condition and activity. For example, we say |A man runs, clothed,| |God rules, possessing all things.| Here again nothing substantial is asserted of either subject; in fact all the categories we have hitherto named arise from what lies outside substance, and all of them, so to speak, refer to something other than substance. The difference between the categories is easily seen by an example. Thus, the terms |man'' and |God| refer to the substance in virtue of which the subject is -- man or God. The term |just | refers to the quality in virtue of which the subject is something, viz. just; the term |great| to the quantity in virtue of which He is something, viz, great. No other category save substance, quality, and quantity refer to the substance of the subject. If I say of one |he is in the market| or |everywhere,| I am applying the category of place, which is not a category of the substance, like |just| in virtue of justice. So if I say, |he runs, He rules, he is now, He is ever,'' I make reference to activity or time -- if indeed God's |ever| can be described as time -- but not to a category of substance, like |great| in virtue of greatness.

Finally, we must not look for the categories of situation and passivity in God, for they simply are not to be found in Him.

Have I now made clear the difference between the categories? Some denote the reality of a thing; others its accidental circumstances; the former declare that a thing is something; the latter say nothing about its being anything, but simply attach to it, so to speak, something external. Those categories which describe a thing in terms of its substance may be called substantial categories; when they apply to things as subjects they are called accidents. In reference to God, who is not a subject at all, it is only possible to employ the category of substance.

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