ACTUAL (quod est in actu) is opposed by Aristotle to potential. A rough stone is
a statue potentially; when chiselled, actually.
"The relation of the potential to the actual Aristotle exhibits by the relation
of the raw material to the finished article; of the unemployed carpenter to the
one at work upon his building; of the individual asleep to him awake.
Potentially the seed is the tree, but the grown-up tree is it actually; a
philosopher is the philosopher not philosophising; even before the battle the
better general is the potential conqueror; in fact, everything is potential
which possesses a principle of motion, of development, or of change; and which,
if unhindered by anything external, will be of itself.
Actuality or entelechy,
on the other hand, indicates the perfect act, the end as gained, the completely
actual (the grown-up tree, e.g., is the entelechy of the seed-corn), that
activity in which the act and the completeness of the act fall together, e.g.,
to see, he thinks and he has thought, he sees and he has seen, are one and the
same, while in these activities which involve a becoming, e.g., to learn, to go,
to become well, the two (the act and its completion) are separated" (Schwegler,
Hist, of Phil., Stirling, p. 108; cf. Lotze, Metaphysic, bk.
I. sec. 41).—