further comments in answer to your questions
From a little research, I found that ousia (οὐσία), or being, isn't a reference to a particular thing but is more a reference to a particular property of all things that exist.
Being is not a thing. I have said many times it's an act. that's from Aquinas it doesn't necessary play well with Augustine or the Platonist. I think it's misleading to say that Ousia means a property of things or of being. It can be seen that way, and that's close to the way the scholastic saw it.
It's not a thing like a can opener or a tree, it's not a perrty necessarily either. It's not like you can find the "beingness" in a trees.Here's the wood, here's the being." that would be to reduce being to thinghood.
Ousia is a complex term that can be used many ways. I try to seep as close to Socrates as I can. When he's talking about "substance" or "essence" that's what he's talking about. Being = essence.
essence doesn't' mean a property per se it means the thing that makes something what it is. So a horse has the essence of being a horse which means it has a main and along neck long face four leg, tail. This is why Gilson says "to be is to be a certain thing." From that Aquinas reasons that Gos existence is his essence.
all of that has to be unpacked and requires a lot of prior knowledge.
How do you reconcile this fact with your idea that being can itself have properties?
here's another passage from my unpublished work. This deals with what I'm trying to express about what Gilson says.
Most people tend to think of God as a big man in the sky. Feminism tries to counter by thinking of God/ess as a big woman in the sky, but it’s the same principle. God is seen as a thing, a human, a big person who is only the most powerful but still part of creation. Even those of us trained in a more liberal kind of theology still have a hard time shaking the childhood notion. In trying to discuss Tillich’s ideas with both Christians and atheists I find atheists are as committed to “the big guy in the sky” as are fundamentalist Christians. Both can be very strong about insisting that Tillich’s idea is not the Christian concept of God. Of course Tillich was convinced that he had hold of a deep forgotten truth buried beneath the tradition that one can see hinted at by all the major theologians. I will discuss in this chapter some of the theologians whom Tillich uses as such examples, but I will not critique his understanding of them extensively. I assume Tillich was reading into the theologians he liked ideas that may not be there originally. On the hand some of the ideas are obvious. I will get that toward the end of this chapter. In this chapter I want to explore the idea that while Tillich’s idea is controversial and in some quarters much objected to, in a general sense its concerns if not its assertions are generally favorable to Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox, and that one can find in all of these traditions major thinkers who are in a general sense in agreement with either Tillich’s idea or his concerns. I think at least we can say these views are not anti-Christian, not heretical.
Two Major Passages
We start with the Bible since that for so many forms the basis of Christian theological tradition. There aren’t many passages that blatantly say God is being itself. There is one but I’ll come to that. Of course we are not going to find one that says “verily Verily, I say unto you, Tillich is right.” The main aspect of Biblical theology in which we can expect to find support is not the overt quotation of passages but the imagery and other theological devices used to communicate truth about the nature of God and God’s relation to reality. Also the relation of the concept of being to the concept of God as we see it used in the Bible is a major aspect of this evidence. Moreover, the endorsement of the idea outright by other theologians both living and ancient is a major part of the proof. Nevertheless, there is one passage that may be taken as an overt statement of God as being itself. Thais passage is actually a translation; it’s the Septuagint (LXX) version, the Greek translation of the OT produced in the Intertestamental period. This passage is found in Exodus 3: 11 where God speaks to Moses out of the burning bush and tells him to go demand of Pharos “let my people God.” Moses says “whom shall I say is calling?” God tells him, as translated from Hebrew to English from the Masoretic text, “I am that I am.” In the LXX however, he says ego eimi ‘O on, which literally means “I am the being.” But it would not be proper to say “the being” because the definite article, which denoting “the” as opposed to “a” is not always translated. But while one could say “I am being” one could also as easily say “I am being itself.” I would stick that “itself” on there because there is a rule that says definite article at times can imply the quality rather than just the definite article. Example in John 1:1 we don’t say “the word was The God” we say “the word was God.” But it would be as correct to say “The word was Deity.” In that passage ego eimi is “I am” and on is “being.” The definite article, as all students of Greek know, is formed with the rough breathing (slight h sound) portrayed as ‘ and the omicron, o, So that ‘o is the “ho” or the definite article.
The famous passage of God appearing out of the burning bush and giving Moses his name as “I am” is an important passage, not only is it important for movie goers and Charlton Hesston fans but also in the history of philosophy. It was upon the basis of this passage that Etinene Gilson says Thomas Aquinas based the notion he had of God as the primary act of existence, and the basis of the argument about existential energy.
Quote the passage in Gilson
Why, St. Tomas asks, do we say that Qui est is the most proper name among all those that can be given to God? And his answer is because it signifies ‘to be.’ : ipsum esse. And what is it to be? In answering this most difficult of all metaphysical questions, we must carefully distinguish between the meaning of two words which are both different and yet immediately realted, ens, or being and esse or ‘to be.’ To the question “what is being” the correct answer is, “being is that which is, or exits” If for instance we ask the same question with regard for God the correct answer would be “the being of God is an infinite and boundless ocean of substance.” But esse or to be is something else and much harder to grasp because it lies more deeply hidden in the metaphysical structure of reality. The word being as a noun designates some substance;the word “to be”—or esse—is a verb, because it designates an act. To understand this is also to reach beyond the level of essence, the deeper level of existence…we first conceive certain beings, then we define their essences, and last we confirm their existences by means of a judgment. But the metaphysical order of reality is just the reverse of the order of human knowledge. What first comes into it is a certain act of existing, which. Because it is this particular act of existing, circumscribes at once a certain essence and causes a certain substance to come into being. In this deeper sense “to be” is the deeper and fundamental act by virtue of which a certain being actually is, or exists…to be is the very act whereby an essence is.
Of course for those not enamored of Thomistic philosophy this may seem a bit questionable but the point in bringing it up is to show the profound power and importance of the passage, which served as a spring board for a major movement in the history of philosophy and of faith. The meaning is obviously bound up in questions of the metaphysical nature of being and what it means to be. The Scholastics derived from this idea of essence and existence the notion that God alone is unique because the divine essence (what God is) is the same as the divine existence (the fact that God is), or to put it another way God’s essence is the same as his existence. For everything else existence is a function of essence. The up shot of all of this is that the thing God is is an eternally existing act. The job description of God so to speak is to always be because what God is eternal necessary being. We can see that in the passage just by translating in the stadanrd way form Hebrew as “I am that I am.”
Aquinas’ view of God is counter to that of Tillich even though they are both termed “existential.” Wolfhart Pannenberg used Aquinas to actually counter Tilich (one can see the contradiction between Aquinas’ use of the term “existence of God” and Tillich’s abhorrence f the term). Even so I would argue that weather one works from the Hebrew derived translation “I am that I am” or the Greek “I am being” it’s hinting at the same thing. He doesn’t say “I am the most powerful being” or even “I am the creator” but either way it definitely rests the relationship between God and the world upon the notion of God as the basis of reality. “I am that I am” implies a self sustaining uncaused or eternal state, aka aseity, and that implies that the one who has aseity would have to be the foundation of all reality and the creator of all things. The interview between God and Moses is so crucial to the Christian concept of God, it is the unveiling of God’s identity to the great Patriarch of Israel, their leader out of slavery and to the promised land. This is a very key verse. This is where we are given the basic revelation of who God is. What does it tell us but that God is fundamentally connected to being at the most foundational level? The Hebrew word most used for God derives from this passage and it basically means “being.” “The name of god, which in Hebrew is spelled YHWH, is difficult to explain. Scholars generally believe that it derives from the Semitic word, "to be," and so means something like, "he causes to be."
the sources on that
Find, LXX Using my own skills in Greek such as they are. Classical Greek was my undergraduate language but I am far from expert.
Etienne Gilson, God and Philosophy. New Haven and London: Yale University press, Powell lectures on Philosophy Indiana University, 1941, 63-64.
Jewish Virtual Library, “Egypt and the Wanderings:Moses and the Cult of Yahweh ” visited 4/23/10, URL: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/.../hebegypt.html “the Hebrews a Learning Module Washington State Universality, copyright Richard Hooker 2010.
then you asked:
How do you reconcile this fact with your idea that being can itself have properties?
as I said above on the boards I dumb down being to being = existence rather than try to unpack Heidegger for a bunch of people who don't really care and aren't going to read it.
I've been through this so many times where I work real hard to answer something and they just go "you didn't get your Ph.D. so you didn't know." That's why I dumb it down.
so you can take two halves of my view and put them together as one and get Heidegger. For simplicity sake I just distinguish between as existence and the aspects of that which are properties or an act.