Entity. Ens. The latter of
these words is a participial form derived from esse, and signifying
something that exists. It stands in the same relation to essentia that
the Greek ὀν does to
ὀυσία. Entia, existences, are divided into
rationis, which can be figured by the mind, but have no external
reality, as a man a thousand feet high, and entia realia.
Entitas, entity, was used by the schoolmen as the
general and abstract term for existence. An ens
was a being, entitas beinghood. Everything that is
has that which constitutes its being, its entity.
The entity of animals lies in their animality, of men in their
Whether entities in this the true sense of the word have any reality is
the question at issue between Nominalists and Realists.
The word ens not being vernacular, and there being a strong though
pernicious tendency in modern speech to use the abstract and general
term to denote the concrete specimen, as in the case of locality and
many others, entity is now employed where the schoolmen would have
spoken of ens. An entity means with us something that exists, a
nonentity that which does not.
Ens was also used by the schoolmen to denote existence in the abstract,
and was thus one of the ante-predicaments or transcendentals. See
Transcendental. It was antecedent to and implied in any category, even
that of substance.
Everyone knows Milton's academical exercise composed at the age of
nineteen, wherein Ens appears as the father of the ten predicaments, and
addresses his eldest son Substance.