The following letters were written against the background of my writing The Mystery of Matter which drew on the work of William Carlo and Fr. Clarke. (See also the essays on Carlo: William Carlo, Thomist Metaphysician Extraordinaire and The Ultimate Reducibility of Essence and Matter to Existence.) I thought them worth publishing since their give and take might help shed more light on the difficult yet important question of matter. The picture above comes from a wonderful visit that Fr. Clarke (left) made to us in the forest and to nearby Crater Lake in 2003. Jim Arraj.
Warmest Easter Greetings to you and Tyra and the family! I received the videotape of myself, and I am delighted with it ...
Now as to your question about Carlo, matter, existence, negation, and me. No, I don't think anyone has followed up on Carlo's suggestions about matter as further negation of form. Nor do I see any sign of that on the way. I also do not quite think it should be pushed further. My reasons? Matter then becomes an almost purely negative mode of being, and that does not do justice to its peculiar positive contributions. There is certainly a negative side to it. It ties down form further to a here and now in space and time, that's true. But typical of God's inventions, special new positive elements appear in connection with this negation. In contrast to the intense simplicity of all spiritual being, the invention of material beings allow Gods creativity to express itself in an unimaginable richness of interior unified complexity and interrelations with other beings. There is a special kind of beauty in material things, art, music, etc. which would not be there in the same positive way without matter. Matter opens up new creative possibilities not open to the angels with all their spiritual perfection. Matter also allows, and is necessary for, in Thomass metaphysics, societies of beings that are equal in nature, i.e., species with many essentially equal members, like humans; it allows democracy in social order. God is a society of equals. But angels cannot imitate this, since each one for Thomas is unique in its species, formally different from every other. Hence it seems that although material being comes about through a negation, it allows new positive modes of being not otherwise possible. God brings more out of less, or something new out of less. Hence I don't think one should push this idea of matter as more negation of form too far or too rigorously and rigidly. I don't feel like pushing it myself, because I see better now all the new positivities that have emerged with material being for God to experiment with, unique modes of himself that it seems he can reveal through it. But I may be wrong in this. Still the purely negative presentation of matter seems to me clearly too one-sided.
Such are my present thoughts about this. My deepest gratitude to you,
Sept. 13, 1990
Dear Fr. Clarke,
Here are a few pages in line with Carlo's "metaphysical experiment" on matter. And I am writing them in that experimental spirit, still unsure that I want to commit myself wholly to this radical conception of matter, still less all its implications.
You suggested, if I remember correctly, in one of your letters which I don't have here - that Carlo's position seemed to empty out some of the reality and the beauty of material creation. This, I think, can be avoided. But what happens when we look at human nature in the light of this conception of matter? What are we compelled to say about the nature of the body and how are we to reconcile this with long held theological notions about death and the resurrection of the body? This, I think, is when things become more difficult. I look forward to your critique. Play the devil's advocate, or in this case, matter's advocate and without mercy before matter completely disappears!
Thanks for your letter. You certainly do keep creatively busy! First to your questions. 1) In May 1940 I was finishing my M.A. Thesis in philosophy at Fordham Univ. I started it in Sept. 1939, on returning from Jersey, and finished in one year, with a 120-page thesis on Liberty in Suarez directed by Anton Pegis. 2) The objection of Fr. Donceel comes from the Marechal school, Marechal himself. If there is no pure primary matter somewhere, then we can never get univocal universal concepts expressing the nature of species, which must be formally the same in all members of the species, under pain of destroying the strict metaphysical unity of species. If there are lower forms remaining in the residue from which the specific form is abstracted, then there is some formal difference between members of a species and not perfect equality. For some reason Marechal was very insistent on that as a key position of Thomism throughout his history of philosophy in his first 3 volumes of Le point de depart...
This was a convenient position that kept Thomistic met. and epist. neat and tidy. Now I am no longer so impressed by it. I think we can just say that there are no relevant formal differences between individuals in a species from the perspective which interests us here. Eventually, though, I think there would have to be some purely formless dimension, otherwise there would have to be individually unique forms in a given member, not present in any other--which does not seem to be the case, since there are always many hydrogen atoms, etc. in each member, no matter if the collocation is unique. But I sort of wish now I had dropped that qualification, that substantial form informs primary matter immediately and exclusively, with no intermediary subordinate forms under orders from above.
Now about your chapters on matter. There is good history here, and many good metaphysical points. Particularly suggestive was your idea that the spectrum of actual existence as distinct from form allowed for lower levels of reality than just form, with matter as pure deficiency of form. But stimulated by your fine exposition and critique of Luyten's article, I have suddenly gotten some new insights on this problem of matter which I never seemed to get in focus before, even when you questioned me and pushed me hard. So I am afraid--for your sake--that my thinking is a bit different now, and all I can do is lay out my new thought, not respond to every statement of yours in detail.
1. First of all, Luyten's classic exposition is absolutely insufficient to do justice to the role of matter, even in the Thomistic system as it unfolds in practice, even though it is frequently borne out by Thomas' language in particular contexts. If matter were purely a principle of substantial change, merely a potency for the presence of some different form, then the world would really be made up of nothing but forms, with a negative power to be another form than the present one. There would be no other positive influence at work. But in fact that is not the case at all. The forms of material things remain abstract and incomplete in themselves. They can neither exist nor act on their own. To do so they must be forms of something else which completes them, they must actively structure and mold something non-formal. This "other" indeed provides the potency to shift to other forms, but while under this form this other is here and now doing something positive different from just being a spiritual form, which the notion of pure potency does not adequately express. The extra which the matter is doing is to spread out the form, or immerse it in a new space-time dimension of quantitative extension of parts outside of parts. This allows the form indeed to be replaceable by another, but it does considerably more. It spreads it out in a new dimension quite different from that of form itself, though it demands that form organize and structure it.
This makes the form itself a different kind of form entirely than a spiritual one with its own activities self-contained in itself. It is a form that must be immersed in and organize this new quantitative dimension in order to exist at all, and its actions are now in and through this new material dimension only, as immanent (not emergent) form. Thus the form is not merely deficient, diminished in being and unity over forms not in matter. This very deficiency, if you will, now calls up a new dimension of being, space-time quantitative extension, or quantitative multiplicity, dispersion, that generates extension over space. This new dimension of being complementing the deficiency of a certain level of form now makes possible all the rich positive field of art, of all kinds of creative expression of spirit in matter, including loving sex that can generate new beings on its own level, which pure spirits cannot do. It also makes possible the creation of orders of being which are equal in specific essence, have the same specific form, and thus, as in humans, can form social groups of equals, i.e. democracies, which are not possible among pure spirits, where each is a qualitatively different essence or form.
It remains entirely true that ace. to the Thomistic insight, this dimension has no form of its own, is thus not a thing or being that can exist on its own, as Ockham and others concluded; it always needs the complementarity of organizing and unifying form. As purely non-formal, it can in this sense be called pure potency. It is a potency for other forms, but not merely this; it does something to the form itself. In other words, forms existing in matter are not simply deficient forms. They are a different kind of form entirely, which must be rethought simultaneously with matter as a new level of being. Hence I can no longer say that matter is where form stops, becomes deficient. No; matter is now a positive remedy for the deficiency of form, allowing for a whole distinctively new order of being, expressing different kinds of forms from the pure self-sufficient forms above it.
How to get an intellectual hold on this mysterious real but below formal dimension with its unique positive effect, not due to form, of generating spatial extension, something to be structured and informed? This is where some of your remarks about the new broader spectrum of esse, extending beyond form both above and below, not available to Aristotle, suddenly lit a fire in me. You have put your finger here, I think, perhaps beyond what you realize, on the way to new and better thinking about matter, although I fear you cannot exploit it adequately if you stick to Carlo's purely negative interpretation of matter as deficiency of form. What you have opened up is this: There are not just three levels of perfection of existence, pure subsistent esse, pure finite forms (angels), and deficient forms, so that below form there is nothing positive. All created reality is not exhausted by form--as Aristotle is forced to hold--so that below it is nothing positive. No; the spectrum of esse extends beyond form above, into pure Esse, and also--the new insight beyond Thomas--below form, so that there is below form an incomplete dimension of reality that is like a restless pool of formless, materially extended energy--the mark of all esse--that needs form in order to exist and act in some determinate way, but is not it, but still within the order of esse as its lowest level, and now permits a new level of being itself, forms expresssing themselves over space and time in matter.
Here we take a hint from modern physics. For it, matter is ultimately convertible with energy. This formless spatially extended stuff is not some heavy inert stuff, as Aristotle imported from the scientific culture of his time--and Thomas following him--but is rather a fixed "amount" (= conservation of energy principle) of restless formless energy, which passes from form to form more or less rapidly, but always needs some form. Thus physicists sum up all that is going on in the material world as "transformations of energy." Note that the changing forms are not the energy itself, but transformations of it. The two elements are distinct, irreducible, but complementary and inseparable. Pure formless energy by itself would be indeterminate and undetectible by any means, and nothing purely indeterminate can exist. This ultimate lowest level of existence, below form, but not nothing or purely negative potency for something else, is a new limitation of esse itself, but this time not by form but by something indescribable below it. It is only by a failure of imagination that we have gotten locked into Aristotle's limited metaphysical vision and not freed ourselves to conceive of a real dimension of active esse below form. Note that the essential requirement of all the arguments of Aristotle and Thomas for primary matter is that this principle be indeterminate, formless in itself and open to determination by form. The arg. does not require that this principle be inert heavy stuff, that all motion be explained exclusively by form. The pool of restless formless, material or spatialized energy of the physicists, parts of which are captured temporarily by some form, which determines and channels its of itself formless energy and enables it to be a real being in a world of determinate agents.
At this point all my other emendations to the traditional doctrine take their place: in a given substantial change you don't have to reach all the way down to the level of pure formless matter to avoid an accidental change. The potency necessary for substantial change is satisfied if the lower elments in a higher compound are such that are potential to be taken over at the substantial level itself by a higher form and integrated into a single existential unity-whole. The pure potency needed in most cases is only potentiality at the substantial level, which is formless only in the sense of having no fully autonomous acting substantial form--autonomous in being and action--still operating within it, but only a virtual, subordinated presence, a "subsidiary form," if you wish, as Terence Nichols calls it, or a "holon." This change in the lower elements thus subordinated to the higher whole is not merely an accidental change, but goes much deeper into the very substantial being of the lower elements, so that they are plastic, open to be taken over by the higher. The lower the elements, the more easily they can be taken over; the higher the less easily. Higher forms of life cannot simply be taken over by other higher ones. Tigers, dogs, humans cannot be integrated into some higher whole, as can atoms, molecules, cells, plant grafts, etc. It is part of the nature of the lower forms that they be ordered toward integration into higher substantial wholes.
There you have it. You have given me the push to a new richer conception of matter in the perspective of participation in esse beyond form, above and below. It's all your fault, and thank you very much for it. The one dimension missing before for me was the possibility of a positive participation in esse below form--definitely beyond the Aristotelian vision. So I fear I can no longer go along with Carlo and you in describing matter in purely negative terms, either as mere potency for change or as mere negative deficiency of form itself. It opens up the possibility of a new order of form entirely, less perfect than the pure spiritual self-contained ones, admittedly, but doing something new as teamed up with matter.
At this point my metaphysical lights are all dimming and I must give up and go to bed. I hope this helps, despite the disorienting of what you have already done. I guess I should now write an article on a fresh look, a new "creative retrieval" of the notion of matter in Thomism.
Oct. 12, 1995
Dear Fr. Clarke,
That was quite a letter on matter! But before I come to that, I want to thank you for the use of the photos, which will be returned before too long, and the info about your stay in Jersey. The reason I asked about Jersey was because the next chapter after the one that describes some of your work opens with a section on Mersch, and it struck my fancy to see him travelling to the Isle of Jersey through Belgium and France in May of 1940 and wondering if he would have met you there.
Now on to the question of matter. First let me summarize your letter:
Material forms are incomplete in themselves. They must actively structure and mold something non-formal. This non-formal principle is matter which spreads out the form, or immerses it in a new space-time dimensio of quantitative extension of parts outside of parts. The form is thus spread out by matter, and in itself organizes this new dimension.
This very deficiency of the material form calls up this new dimension of being. Forms existing in matter are not simply deficient forms, but different kinds of forms entirely. Matter is a positive remedy for the deficiency of form. Esse below form is an incomplete dimension of reality, a restless pool of formless materially extended energy that needs form in order to exist and act in some determinate way. It is not form, but still within the order of esse at its lowest level. This ultimate level of existence below form is a new limitation of esse itself, but this time not by form, but by something indescribably below it a real dimension of active esse below form. There is, then, a participation in esse above and below form, and matter is a positive participation of esse below form.
I have two basic comments: 1. You distinguish your new position from that of Carlo who you feel has a "purely negative interpretation of matter as the deficiency of form." But your objection really hits the ideas of Luyten and the old way of presenting matter rather than Carlo, himself. It was Carlos fundamental insight to the matter to esse and not to form, so matter becomes a debile esse. It is, as St. Thomas says, a being in potency, a potency to substantial existence. I really wonder if part of your core insight is not the same as what Carlo was saying which, in turn, is the same as St. Thomas fundamental insight. The very deficiency of the material form which you rightly insist calls up a new dimension identical with the deficiency that Thomas called a substantial potency to substantial existence. The trick, of course, is that we are inclined to see that deficiency as something purely negative, but is a deficiency that is intimately connected with the very reality of material beings and their distinctive ways of existing. As you say, matter is now a positive remedy for the deficiency of form. So as far as this first point is concerned, you are saying what I feel Carlo was driving at. 2. But because of your determination to preserve the positive meaning of matter, you seem to feel it necessary to give matter a kind of life of its own matter is "a restless pool of formless, materially extended energy." But I wonder, too, if this part of your insight couldnt be understood in such a way that it would still be compatible with Thomas idea of matter as a potency for substantial existence. I dont like to see matter begin to detach itself from the notion of substantial existence. What exists is the material being, and the principle of that being, the principle by which it exists and acts, is its form. This form has a certain capacity, or potency, to exist. But if the intensity of its being falls below a certain threshold, the form can never exist for itself once and for all in the way that spiritual beings exist. It contains a fundamental deficiency or weakness, a potency to its own substantial existence. This potency makes the form a material form with all that implies. But do we need to conceive matter apart from the form? It is the form as deficient. It is the form not as capturing one or the other of the primal stages that make up essences, as we know them among spiritual creatures, but as still expressing existence, but this time existence below the major formal stages. The material form receives existence in this special way. The material form by its very nature is meant to be spread out in space and time, and to interact with other material beings because it possesses within itself this potency for substantial existence.
Just as the relationship between essence and existence does not demand we give essence some existence of its own outside of its role as a certain capacity for existence, so too, in this case, I dont think we need to give matter a certain existence outside of its relationship with form. It is a richer notion of esse that lies behind Thomas notion of matter as a potency to substantial existence.
Thanks for the very intelligent reply to my hasty elucubrations. I was struck by a few points. I had not really grasped that Carlo was tying matter to esse rather than to form, as you put it on p. 1. In that case Carlo and myself would be closer. However, I am puzzled why after saying that, that matter is not merely negative dificiency of form. You go on, on p. 2 to say: "But do we need to conceive matter apart from form? It is the form as deficient." I thought that was what you had just denied. But it is so hard to speak properly about matter that maybe we are closer than appears. If matter means a real potential subject that is totally potential to existence of itself, but that when actuated by form contributes a unique property of its own, spatial extension or quantitative spread-out-ness, which thus also enables the form itself to subsist, then that is fine. But to call it just deficiency of form seems a bit misleading. How about this: the deficiency of form in its possession of esse calls up or demands a distinct potential subject to complete it, which is extended matter? We may well be pretty close here.
And certainly I dont want to make matter some kind of independent Platonic chaos of raw material energy into which forms dip. I fear my imaginative language did lean too much toward that. This formless energy is always captured and held by some kind of form; it is a dimension of material being, not an entity in itself. But I am just hesitant, uneasy, in view of the scientific picture "transformations of energy" and a fixed supply of it, to say that all the activity comes from the form and the matter is purely passive, inert of itself. Could not the form organize and guide this lowest dimension of the energy of existence, distinct but not separable from form? I really am not sure of this and its metaphysical implications, but form as a totally independent source of energy makes me intellectually uneasy. I would like to stay as close as I can to the scientific picture. Maybe the energy is simultaneously the contribution, or the product of both. To make the matter an intrinsic part of the very form itself is intriguing, but then the form itself becomes potential and it is hard to distinguish the matter from it as a distinct principle.
Anyway, good luck! You are a real metaphysician.
My best to Tyra.
Nov. 1, 1995
Dear Fr. Clarke,
I am very happy that I was able to entice you into this discussion about matter. Where else would I be able to find someone to talk to about it?
I really don't think we are that far apart. Let me try a little experiment to try to clarify matters.
What are the most fundamental things that can be said about the relationship of essence to existence? Essence cannot be a principle separate from existence. In this sense it does not exist of itself, or put in another way, it is nothing positive in terms of existence. Essence is a certain capacity or potency for existence. It contracts existence, as it were, so that this or that thing can exist. In this sense it can be said to have a positive reality inasmuch as it is the principle by which existence is contracted in this or that particular way, and without which there could not be this or that existent.
Now what would happen if we took this model of the relationship between essence and existence and followed it in talking about the relationship between matter and form? Then we could say matter is not a principle separate from form. In this sense it does not exist of itself, but receives its existence through form. There is nothing positive in matter in terms of form. Matter is a certain capacity or potency for the substantial existence due a form in view of its perfectibility as a substance. It is this or that substantial potency for existence which is an intrinsic aspect of an existing form, a form that can be further perfected in the line of its substantial existence. In this sense we can say that matter is the weakness or the capacity for existence of the already existing substance. It is this substantial potency for substantial existence of the existing substance that allows and demands that this substance express itself in multiplicity, quantitative dimensions, space, time and efficient causality. It is not matter as a separate principle that allows and demands this, but matter as an intrinsic aspect of the existing substance. Or put in another way, an existing substance which has in the heart of itself a potency to substantial existence must act in this way. In this sense matter is a very positive principle, just like essence is in the preceding model, but only as a potency or capacity to substantial form.
But isn't it possible to enlarge the dimensions of our discussion if we ask why is matter like it is? Why multiplicity, quantitative dimensions, and all the rest? Why does a material being act in this fashion? It is because only by expressing itself in this fashion that it can receive existence, be what it is meant to be, overcome its limitations as far as existence is concerned. The mystery of matter is at once a mystery of weakness and a magnificent overcoming of that weakness by the means of stunning strategies.
The first great strategy is what I have taken to calling literal information, the actual fact that a material substance has a form and different material substances interact with each other by means of efficient causality, and alter each other's existence. Another aspect of this literal information is the whole issue of virtual presence by which lower forms are present in a higher one.
But there is another major strategy, as well, the strategy of intentional information, or the communion of form with form by intentional presence or knowledge. I am hoping that these two views of information that explicitate the notion of formal causality will allow a glimpse of what could be the philosophical foundations under such scientific hypotheses as nonlocality, morphic resonance and synchronicity.
June 2, 1999
Dear Fr. Clarke,
In the enclosed article I tried to sum up the whole business about Carlo and matter,(The Ultimate Reducibility of Essence and Matter to Existence) but it would go against the fates if you were not somehow involved in it. The whole story cannot seem to go forward without you. Remember the 1957 ACPA meeting with Gerald Phelin, Carlos 1964 article in the IPQ, your preface to his book, and the long letters you wrote me in Sept. and Oct., 1995. You wrote in one of those letters, "I guess I should now right an article on a fresh look, a new "creative retrieval" of the notion of matter in Thomas." So we must not tempt the fates. Perhaps now is the time for that creative retrieval, and it would be fun if we could publish the two papers together somewhere.
June 23, 1999
Greetings! Thanks very much for the recent communications especially the fascinating article of Wolfgang Smith on Quantum Physics and Thomistic Ontology. Very helpful. But not yet adequate. It is not enough to say that one side of the quantum world, the wave for example as opposed to the particle is the realm of Thomisic potentiality. More mysterious than that, because the wave produces real wave-like patterns on a screen, and the merely potential cannot produce real effects; must be actual to do so. As particle it is actualized, fine. But it is not the particle that produces the wave patterns but the supposedly only potential wave! More to be done! His distinction between the corporeal and the physical is definitely helpful and the priority of the corporeal, with its organizing principles of form, substance, etc. Still physical cant be just equated with the potential.
Now as for your attempt to tempt me to further writing on matter, to settle the question. Absolutely no sale! We are in a state of remarkable flux scientifically right now, and we--I certainly--are in no firm position now to settle philosophically on the being of matter. One key difficulty I have in simply equating matter Thomistically with pure potency is this. That is true as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough--not the whole story. Pure potentiality by itself could just mean that this being could turn into anything else. But matter in our world means more. It is a dimension of the real that has one essential property in addition to its potentiality: it provides spatial--or if you wish, spatio-temporal extension, or spatio-temporal receptive "stuff," parts outside of parts, or if you wish a spatio-temporally extended field of potentiality which can receive different forms in different parts of itself, or--the capital point--can receive the same specific form multiplied over and over in different locations or parts of this field. You speak of potentiality "blossoming out into space-time extension." But this is a distinctly new property, a quantitative, non-qualitative (non-formal) property indeed, but still not deducible from the mere notion of potentiality. It does not seem that we can generate the notion of extended matter just from the notions of limits of form or negations of esse, or potentiality alone. Potentiality is always both in and for something. There is something more going on here.
Sorry, I simply cannot settle for a simple process of further negation to get this mysterious dimension of extended matter. Matter is not needed just as pure potential subject to explain substantial change, but also to allow multiplication of the same form over and in over in this extended field. No extended field, no multiplication in species, hence not our world, where everything we know directly is just one of many instances of the same kind of form (hydrogen atoms, photons, plants, animals,) etc. This extended field is indeed one of pure potentiality, with no form of its own, hence can exist only as held temporarily by some form. But it is still not deducible--by me at least--from a mere negation of form of existence. There is creative novelty here, luckily for us. Otherwise there could be no democratic societies of equals. I suspect that is one of the main reasons God created a material, i.e., extended, world, so that there could be democracies of persons, a dim image of the Trinity, which cannot be among the angels, since without matter each one exhausts its own species and can allow no equals of its own nature.
So sorry, no writing by me on matter at this time = premature!
Cordially and gratefully as ever!
P.S. My metaphysics text, which has gone around the world in zerox form for 25 years, I have finally revised throughly and given to Notre Dame Press for publication. They are pleased with it, project publication for Fall 2000 = metaphysics for the millenium! = The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics!
July 2, 1999
Your letter of June 2 on matter was very interesting, the work of a real metaphysicician--as ever.
But it won't do, I am afraid. Just potentiality to turn into something else is not enough to do justice to matter and material beings. From the very start a material form is radically different from a spiritual one in its very mode of being: its being is entirely to unify, organize, manage in action something else than itself--a realm of formless extended stuff, energy, what you will. It's not just that these forms are unstable and are potential toward becoming something else. The something else is not just another form of themselves, as though these were accidental changes; it is another something entirely; the old one has just gone.
They are unstable precisely because they are informing, working in, something other, another partner entirely which by its elasticity and innate fluidity is very difficult to master and hold onto long. It is because it is a molder of matter that it is potential to substantial change. From the start the substance/essence of the material being is two, not one like the spiritual form. The latter is not a form of---something at all. The material form of its very nature as a mode of being in the hierarchy is by its nature a form of--another. It is a lesser mode of being not primarily because it is unstable in itself with a potential for change, but because it is working with and in another, which is intrinsically unstable and restless, so to speak: matter/energy. There is something original and unique in the new level of being that is material, that does not seem to me to be caught in your analysis. You start too late; the ontological die is cast already once form has to work in, organize matter. This other is what needs to be explained--if it ever can. Physicists are speaking darkly now of a whole new conception of space and time that is needed; but no one knows what it will be like yet!
So there we are, still left in mystery--not a bad place to be!
Enjoyed the wonderful account of mystical prayer in the lay person in the Christian Prayer Forum. Stunning! I better get going!
Cordially yours (and Tyra's),
August 16, 1999
Dear Fr. Clarke,
It is always an honor to be the recipient of one of your metaphysical missives even when you don't agree with me.
I sympathize with your mysterious and romantic view of matter in which it is something else, something other, another partner, a spatio-temporally extended field, etc., and I think that we agree about the distinctiveness of matter. But where we differ is the ontological location we place it in. You put it outside so it is some primordial stuff floating around out there, while I put it within the existing substance. But in placing it outside, I think you run into an insuperable metaphysical problem when you try to relate it to the act of existing. It is precisely because matter is an aspect of the substance that it is real and has all the wonderful distinctive qualities you ennumerate.
In regard to Wolfgang Smith's work, there is a difficulty in the way he uses the idea of potentiality, but I think it is mainly a terminological one. His Quantum Enigma is the work to read if you have not yet done so. What I think he is saying is that the physical world of the physicist is in potency to the corporeal world that underlies it, so to speak, and thus, it is possible to create a wave theory and a particle theory, each of which grasps a certain aspect of the corporeal world, but which, in themselves, are part of the physical world. The problem arises when these two aspects or realizations of the corporeal world are projected back on the corporeal level, and then imagine to be in conflict with each other. "One spuriously projects," he writes, "the results of distinct and interferring measurements upon the electron itself, which consequently seem to combine logically incompatible attributes." (Quantum Enigma, p. 48-49). Your point about the quantum wave being imagined as being a potential wave by the physicist is a good one, but not the issue I think Smith is addressing. Further, even from the perspective of physics, there appears to be no need to conceive it as a potential wave. It can be looked at as a real wave moving a real particle, as Bohm does.
I look forward to seeing your metaphysics book. It must be a pleasure to contemplate it finally being published after all these years. We are finally emerging back to the land of the living and summertime out here after having been immersed in a sea of details trying to get off to the printer the latest book: From St. John of the Cross to Us: The Story of a 400 Year Long Misunderstanding and What it Means for the Future of Christian Mysticism. I hope you are having a good summer.