Friday, February 12, 2016

Cross on Scotus on Faith and Reason

From Richard Cross, "Fides et Ratio: The Harmony of Philosophy and Theology in Duns Scotus," Antonianum 83 (2008), 589-602.

This article was a response to Benedict XVI's Regensburg address. Benedect has said something to the effect of voluntarism and maybe nominalism arose with Scotus and led to bad modern things and was similar to Islamic voluntarism. My interest in posting the following excerpt is in Cross pointing out that Scotus treats arguments.

" I have suggested in a different context, scholastic writers are not doxographers; they offer arguments for the theories they adopt. so here, even if the proposed account of Scotus were accurate, it is not sufficient simply to disagree with the position ascribed to Scotus. Scotus presents arguments - he does not adopt positions just to be perverse - and any intellectually principled engagement with his views would need to consider as well the arguments he proposes in favor of his conclusions."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Happy Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas!

Happy Feast, unless  you prefer to celebrate on March 7. In the meantime, here are some fun quotes from Fides et Ratio:

49. The Church has no philosophy of her own nor does she canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others. The underlying reason for this reluctance is that, even when it engages theology, philosophy must remain faithful to its own principles and methods. Otherwise there would be no guarantee that it would remain oriented to truth and that it was moving towards truth by way of a process governed by reason. A philosophy which did not proceed in the light of reason according to its own principles and methods would serve little purpose. At the deepest level, the autonomy which philosophy enjoys is rooted in the fact that reason is by its nature oriented to truth and is equipped moreover with the means necessary to arrive at truth. A philosophy conscious of this as its “constitutive status” cannot but respect the demands and the data of revealed truth.

51. This discernment, however, should not be seen as primarily negative, as if the Magisterium intended to abolish or limit any possible mediation. On the contrary, the Magisterium's interventions are intended above all to prompt, promote and encourage philosophical enquiry. Besides, philosophers are the first to understand the need for self-criticism, the correction of errors and the extension of the too restricted terms in which their thinking has been framed. In particular, it is necessary to keep in mind the unity of truth, even if its formulations are shaped by history and produced by human reason wounded and weakened by sin. This is why no historical form of philosophy can legitimately claim to embrace the totality of truth, nor to be the complete explanation of the human being, of the world and of the human being's relationship with God.

78. It should be clear in the light of these reflections why the Magisterium has repeatedly acclaimed the merits of Saint Thomas' thought and made him the guide and model for theological studies. This has not been in order to take a position on properly philosophical questions nor to demand adherence to particular theses. The Magisterium's intention has always been to show how Saint Thomas is an authentic model for all who seek the truth. In his thinking, the demands of reason and the power of faith found the most elevated synthesis ever attained by human thought, for he could defend the radical newness introduced by Revelation without ever demeaning the venture proper to reason.

By the way, comments are still open on the "Thomism and the Magisterium" post!

Update: A reader sent in a link to his blog, with some reflections germane to this topic. It treats the encyclical Humani generis and its relation to Thomas Aquinas.

Monday, November 9, 2015

O'Regan: Scotus the Nefarious

The following is a quotation from an article in the Newman-Scotus Reader:

Cyril O'Regan, "Scotus the Nefarious: Uncovering Genealogical Sophistications," p. 637-38.

This Essay has provided a sketch of what amounts to a montage of negative constructions of Scotus which do not evince serious engagement with his thought and in fact discourage it (a) by suggesting that it is fatally flawed from the ground up and (b) implicating it in lines of modern discourse which are either demonstrated or assumed to be pernicious. My aim has not been so much to defend Scotus' actual positions as to protest against the apriorism of each of these individual schemes and their cumulative ideological effect which is to make impossible a hearing of what Scotus has to say.  We are talking here about procedural fairness denied a thinker, but we are also talking about the way in which superficial engagements with a thinker's thought and superficial readings of the history of effects compromises the claims of the discourses being supported and in the process also serve to undermine the very enterprise of genealogy.


Although indirectly, the essay is a form of plea for the unaligned for opening up the plurality of the tradition This was the instinct of Gilson when he wrote his book on Scotus over sixty years ago. The fact that the instinct gets compromised in the performance is hardly unimportant, but it is not constitutive. What is needed is another Gilson in the very new situation, a new century with more derogatory discourses, a new century in which scholarship has considerably changed the textual landscape what belongs to the historical Scotus and what does not, a new century in which while there is much highly technical work done on Scotus, there is no book that takes a comprehensive look at the work of Scotus and shows its comprehensiveness, its seriousness, and its beauty.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Happy Feast of Scotus!

Enjoy the day. Here's a link to some interesting reflections, including a paper on Scotus and reductive physicalism.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

New Scotus Edition

A new edition of a work by Scotus has just been published: the Logica Scoti, also known from one of its colophons as the Quaestio de formalitatibus. It is Scotus' final discussion of the formal distinction.

The Logica Scoti is being published in the Bulletin de philosophie medievale 56 (2014), available here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

New Simpson Translations

Some more news: Peter Simpson (webpage here) has recently completed a translation of Franciscus de Mayronis' Tractatus de univocatione entis, probably an excerpt from the Conflatus. He has also started translating a commentary on the Sentences attributed to Antonius Andreas. Simpson notes in the preface to the latter translation that:

The Subtle Doctor’s theology, just as such and without the scholars' qualifications and updatings, deserves to much more widely known and so needs to be made available in easier forms. Not everyone has to be a scholar or familiar with the scholars' findings to attain a basic and salutary grasp of Scotism.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Fall of Thomism

Two recent essays by D.Q. McInerny on the fall of Thomism, here and here.

Here's one from a while back, on attacks on Thomism. Happy reading.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sullivan Review of Feser Published

My co-blogger Michael has published a review of Feser's Scholastic Metaphysics in the newest issue of Studia NeoAristotelica. Enjoy!

from the publisher:

The first 2015 issue of Studia Neoaristotelica offers two papers and two reviews. Vlastimil Vohánka (Olomouc, Czech Rep.) in "Necessary Laws? Seifert vs. Oderberg" addresses the thesis that no laws of nature are (metaphysically) necessary: i.e. true in every possible world. In particular Vohanka focuses on arguments for this thesis by Josef Seifert, a realist phenomenologian, and David Oderberg, an analytical neo-Aristotelian and argues that, as they stand, they are not convincing. He admits, however, that given God and his ability to do miracles, the idea of "meaningful" but non-necessary connection between essences is a better essentialist explanation of persistent regularities. This explanation implies that no law is necessary, be it weakly or strongly. Miroslav Hanke (Praha) in "Analysis of Self-Reference in Martin Le Maistre's Tractatus Consequentiarum" presents a formal reconstruction of an analysis of self-reference of Le Maistre, a a fifteenth century master. His approach is based upon the principle that sentential meaning is closed under entailment, which leads to a semantics compatible with the principle of bivalence and classical rules of inference. The issue is concluded with a review by Michael Sullivan of Edward Feser's Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (Heusenstamm bei Frankfurt, 2014) and by Peter Forrest of James Franklin's An Aristotelian Realist Philosophy of Mathematics Mathematics as the Science of Quantity and Structure (New York, 2014)

Friday, July 3, 2015

New Petrus Thomae Edition

An edition of Petrus Thomae's Quaestiones de esse intelligibili has just been published, judging from the publisher's website (Leuven University Press, distributed in the USA by Cornell). It is a Scotist work on various issues associated with human and divine knowledge, causality, the ontological status of essences, and various interpretive problems in Scotus. It can be yours for only 75 euros!

It is volume I of a new series for the works of Petrus Thomae, the Scotist who taught at Barcelona in the 1320's.

Here is the publisher's information:


First critical edition of Petrus Thomae’s theory of non-causal dependence 
This work of Scotist metaphysics is an investigation into the ultimate constitution of things. In the course of this treatise, Petrus Thomae examines whether the essences of things ultimately depend on being thought of by God for their very intelligibility or whether they have it of themselves. Defending in detail the second option, Peter argues that creatures exist independently of the divine intellect in the divine essence. They enjoy real, eternal being in the divine essence and objective being in the divine mind. Aware that these views conflicted with his belief in the Christian doctrine of creation, Peter laboured to alleviate the conflict with a theory of non-causal dependence, according to which even if God did not cause creatures to be in the divine essence, nevertheless they are necessary correlatives of the divine essence.

Table of contents:



I. Life 

II. Works

III. Themes of the Quaestiones de esse intelligibili 

IV. The Edition
A. Description of Manuscripts
B. Prior Editions
C. Isolated Accidents
D. Common Accidents 
E. The alia littera of MS S
F. Stemma codicum 
G. Editorial Principles 
H. Authenticity and Title 
I. Dating 
J. Sources 
K. Influence 


Q. 1 Utrum intellectus creatus producat rem intellectam in esse intelligibili
Q. 2 Utrum intellectus divinus producat quidditates creabilium in esse intelligibili 
Q. 3 Utrum illud esse intelligibile quod habuit quidditas creabilis ab aeterno sit esse causatum 
Q. 4 Utrum esse intelligibile creabilium sit prius aliquo modo esse subsistentiae productae in divinis 
Q. 5 Utrum quidditas creaturae in esse intelligibili posita sit formaliter idea
Q. 6 Utrum esse quidditatis in esse intelligibili positae sit totaliter respectivum 
Q. 7 Utrum teneat ista consequentia: ‘aliquid non habet esse subiective, ergo non habet esse’ 
Q. 8 Utrum creatura ab aeterno habuit aliquod verum esse reale distinctum aliquo modo ab esse divino 
Q. 9 Utrum ponens creaturam habuisse aliquod verum esse reale ab aeterno possit salvare creationem 


IOANNI S CANONICI Quaestiones super libros Physicorum II q. 3 a. 2 

Lectura I d. 35 
Lectura I d. 46 

Primary Sources 
Secundary Sources 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The End is Nigh!

According to, there are no forthcoming books on Scotus. Not quite the end, I suppose; I was at a conference a week ago and saw a sample copy of the massive Newman-Scotus reader, so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Principal Conclusions of Scotist Theology (1697)

I came across the pamphlet translated below somewhere in the depths of the internet. It is a set of 60 theses proposed for debate in Florence ca. 1700, published with the title of Principal Conclusions... of Scotus. Some seem to be based on Scotus, some not, but perhaps based on later interpretations.

Conclusiones principaliores ex universa theologia subtilissimi doctoris Scoti.

Fr. Antonius Franciscus de Bononia, in conventu Omnium Sanctorum Florentiae s. Theol. Studens Generalis.

Florentiae 1697.

1. Aseity is the formal constitutive [feature] of God; existence is a quidditative predicate.

2. The existence of God can be demonstrated a posteriori, although not a priori.

3. ‘God exists’ [‘Deus est’] is a per se nota proposition.

4. The attributes of God are formally distinguished from each other and from the essence.

5. Creatures according to real being [esse reale] do not coexist with eternity, although they do according to objective being.

6. If God were able to will something new in time, this would not detract from his physical immutability.

7. God is invisible to the corporeal eye.

8. God is not naturally able to be seen by the created intellect, although he can be seen supernaturally.

9. God, by his absolute power, can be seen without the light of glory.

10. The divine essence can be seen without the Persons being seen.

11. It is possible for an impressed species to be representative of the divine essence.

12. There is inequality in the blessed vision, not only by reason of light but also by reason of the created intellect.

13. The divine will necessarily loves the divine essence.

14. Predestination to glory is prior to the prevision of merits.

15. Reprobation or damnation for punishment is posterior to the prevision of demerits.

16. The hidden mystery of the Trinity is evidently demonstrable by no natural reason.

17. There are only two divine processions, and neither more nor fewer are possible.

18. Relations of origin, formally distinct from the essence, do not bespeak perfection or do they involve imperfection.

19. The divine Persons are constituted by relative properties.

20. The absolute subsisting essence is given beyond the three personal subsistences.

21. The divine Father is perfectly blessed before he generates the Son.

22. The divine Word is produced by “speaking” [dictionem] but not through intellection.

23. The divine Word is produced from the cognition of the divine Persons.

24. The divine Word is not produced from the cognition of possible creatures.

25. The procession of the Holy Spirit is not generation, because it is in a free mode.

26. If the Holy Spirit did not procede from the Son, still he would be really distinct from him.

27. The incarnation of the divine Word was possible, although not naturally demonstrable.

28. The humanity assumed by the Word possesses its own existence [propriam existentiam].

29. The substantial assumption of any other creature was in the power of the Word.

30. Several Persons cannot assume the same nature in number, although two natures can be assumed by only one Person.

31. Christ is impeccable, not because of the hypostatic union, but through the beatific vision.

32. The merit of Christ was not unqualifiedly and intrinsecly affected by infinity [infinitate affectum]

33. Christ, whose grace alone was in the highest degree, did not satisfy from the entire rigor of justice.

34. A pure creature, aided by the powers of grace, could satisfy sufficiiently for the sin of Adam.

35. With no one sinning, still the divine Word from the force of the present decree would be incarnate.

36. The law of the holy gospel is prudently believable and to be believed [credibilis et credenda].

37. The assent of faith is not resolved into the authority of the Church, as into the formal object of believing

38. but in these aforementioned matters God is truthfully procaliming and has revealed mysteries.

39. Revelation, nevertheless, is not part of the formal object of faith, but only the necessary condition.

40. Falsity in no way is able to undermine divine faith.

41. Explicit faith in Christ under the concept of the Son of God is necesary by a mediate necessity for the salvation of adults.

42. It is probably that the habit of faith is educed from the potency of the subject.

43. Faith necessarily is discursive, either formally or virtually.

44. Faith is more certain than knowledge/science, utraque certitudine [?]

45. God and neighbor are loved by the same infused charity, and what was in the wayfaring state remains also in the homeland [patria].

46. Many angels can be under the same atomic species.

47. An angel is not in a place through operation, but through substance.

48. The angels are able to obtain species also from material things.

49. There are not as many representative species as there are objects.

50. The angels could sin in the first instant of their creation.

51. The cognition of the secrets of hearts is given to the angels.

52. The determination of the demons in evil does not come about from the inflexibility of their wills

53. but from the rejection of divine concurrence.

54. Original sin in human beings is not sin persisting morally.

55. Original sin consists in the lack of original justice and sanctifying grace.

56. In human acts there is found a true and proper principale of the voluntary.

57. A pure omission can be given without something positive.

58. A perfect voluntary act corresponds with a free one.

59. The sacraments cause grace morally, not physically.

60. The character of three sacraments, is it an absolute or relative form? Problem.

Praise be to God.

[These theses] will be publically exposed for contest at Florence in the church of All Saints, with the same one mentioned above responding. With the assistance of R. P. Seraphin of San Casciani, lector general of the same place and Custos of the Tuscan province. 1697. Month. Day. Hour.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Blessed Newman Discovers the Formal Distinction

And here, let it be observed, that we have a sort of figure or intimation of the sacred Mystery of the Trinity in Unity even in what has been now said concerning the Divine Attributes. For as the Attributes of God are many in one mode of speaking, yet all One in God; so, too, there are Three Divine Persons, yet these Three are One. Let it not be for an instant supposed that I am paralleling the two cases, which is the Sabellian heresy; but I use the one in illustration of the other; and, in way of illustration, I observe as follows: When we speak of God as Wisdom, or as Love, we mean to say that He is Wisdom, and that He is Love; that He is each separately and wholly, yet not that Wisdom is the same as Love, though He is both at once. Wisdom and Love stand for ideas quite distinct from each other, and not to be confused, though they are united in Him. In all He is and all He does, He is Wisdom and He is Love; yet it is both true that He is but One, and without qualities, and withal true again that Love is not Wisdom. Again, as God is Wisdom or Love, so is Wisdom or Love in and with God, and whatever God is. Is God eternal? so is His wisdom. Is He unchangeable? so is His wisdom. Is He uncreate, infinite, almighty, all-holy? His wisdom has these characteristics also. Since God has no parts or passions, whatever is really of or from God, is all that He is. If there is confusion of language here, and an apparent play upon words, this arises from our incapacity in comprehension and expression. We see that all these separate statements must be true, and if they result in an apparent contrariety with each other, this we cannot avoid; nor need we be perplexed about them, nor shrink from declaring any one of them.

- Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons VI.24, "The Mystery of the Holy Trinity"