Superphysics
Part 1

# What is Potentiality?

##### 3 minutes  • 528 words

‘Being’ is used in 2 senses:

1. It used to refer to an individual thing, quality, and quantity
2. It used to refer to potency and complete reality, and of function

But what is potency and complete reality?

Potentiality and actuality extend beyond the cases that involve a reference to motion.

There other kinds of potency.

‘Potentiality’ and the word ‘can’ have several senses.

Of these, I neglect all the potencies that are so called by an equivocation.

These are based on analogy. For example in geometry, we say one thing is or is not a ‘power’ of another because of the presence or absence of some relation between them.

I accept all the potentialies that conform to originative sources of some kind. These are called “potencies in reference to one primary kind of potency”.

• This primary potency is an originative source of change in another thing or in the thing itself qua other.

Such potencies are of different kinds:

1. A potency of being acted on

This is when the originative source, in the very thing acted on, is passively changed by another thing or by itself qua other.

1. A potency of being not susceptibile to change for the worse

This is when the originative source resists destruction by another thing or by the thing itself qua other

These imply the formula if potency in the primary sense.

These so-called potencies are potencies either of:

• passively acting or
• passively being acted on, or
• actively acting or
• actively being acted on

In the formulae of the “active”, the formulae of the “passive” kinds of potency are implied.

A thing may be ‘capable’ either because:

• it can itself be acted on or
• something else can be acted on by it

And so, the potentiality of acting and of being acted on is the same but different.

For the one is in the thing acted on; it is because it contains a certain originative source, and because even the matter is an originative source, that the thing acted on is acted on, and one thing by one, another by another.

An oily thing can be burnt. A yielding thing can be crushed.

But the other potentiality is in the agent, e.g. heat and the art of building are present, one in that which can produce heat and the other in the man who can build.

And so, in so far as a thing is an organic unity, it cannot be acted on by itself.

For it is one and not two different things.

And ‘impotence’ and ‘impotent’ stand for the privation which is contrary to potency of this sort, so that every potency belongs to the same subject and refers to the same process as a corresponding impotence.

Privation has several senses. It means:

1. that which has not a certain quality
2. that which might naturally have it but has not it, either
• in general or
• when it might naturally have it, and either
• in some particular way, e.g. when it has not it completely, or
• when it has not it at all. And in certain cases if things which naturally have a quality lose it by violence, we say they have suffered privation.