I am in possession of Edward Feser’s book with an introduction to the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas and have attempted to read it twice already, but I never made it quite through. In fact, I only got through the first two or three dozen pages until I was either confused or forgot to continue and thus lost the connection.
Anyway, I remember that Saint Thomas makes a distinction that the Church uses to explain Transubstantiation between the essence and the accidents of a given thing. An example used is that of a plastic ball, the essence being its “ballness” and the accidents being things like colour, hardness, etc. Applied to the Blessed Sacrament, the essence is “bread” before the Consecration and “Christ” afterwards, while the accidents remain: taste of bread, smell of bread, structure and chemical composition of bread. At least that’s how I understand it and would phrase it.
Now, I struggle to understand the distinction of essence and accidents in general. I know what Saint Thomas means by them, I think, but somehow it seems foreign. Thinking about it for a bit, I came up with this question to express my understanding of it. Obviously, it is anything but a philosophical treatise, but I feel it expresses my struggle well.
The question is this: Isn’t the essence of a thing basically the sum of all its accidents?
Perhaps I have failed to completely understand Saint Thomas’ approach, who knows! Maybe a Thomist here could help me. Thanks!