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Giles of Rome (c.1243/7–1316)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-B046-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 25, 2024, from

Article Summary

Giles of Rome was one of the most eminent theologians and commentators on the works of Aristotle at the University of Paris in the second half of the thirteenth century. He was probably a pupil of Thomas Aquinas, who exerted a deep influence on Giles’ metaphysical and theological thought. Giles’ reception of Aquinas’ positions, however, was often critical and original.

For historians of medieval philosophy, Giles’ name is mainly associated with the doctrine of ‘the real distinction’ between essence (essentia) and existence (esse). According to this doctrine, essence and existence are two completely distinct things (res) of which the ontological structure of every created being is composed. On the issue of the relationship between essence and existence Giles took a firm position against his contemporary Henry of Ghent, who maintained that existence is a mere relation of the essence of a created being to its creator. Giles was also involved in the debate over the unity of the substantial form in composite substances, another burning issue in the thirteenth century. As a commentator on Aristotle’s works, Giles made original contributions to the tradition of Aristotelian natural philosophy, especially in his treatment of extension, place, time and motion in a vacuum.

Citing this article:
Del Punta, Francesco and Cecilia Trifogli. Giles of Rome (c.1243/7–1316), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-B046-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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