Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Scotus Quodlibet Translation

For a limited time, Allan Wolter's translation is available for free from Project Muse!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

What is reality?

Here are some remarks by Peter Thomae on the notion of reality. one should keep these definitions in mind when reading Scotist thought.

Petrus Thomae, Quaestiones de modis distinctionum q. 2 a. 1 (ed. forthcoming ca. 2030)

De tertio, scilicet quid sit realitas, dico duo:
Primum est quod realitas non dicit proprie rem, sed aliquid aliud ad rem pertinens. Hoc patet ex modo significandi, nam ab hoc quod ‘res’ derivatur ‘reale’, unde illud dicitur ‘reale’ quod est ad rem pertinens; sed ab hoc quod dicitur ‘reale’ derivatur ‘realitas’; realitas ergo proprie non dicit rem sed aliquid ad rem pertinens.
Secundum est descriptio quam pono de realitate, quae talis est: illud voco ‘realitatem’ quod est aliquid positivum in re ex natura rei, non contentum in alio | ut in pure passivo vel activo praecise vel sicut in superiori inferius sed actualiter et formaliter inexistens, ita quod ultimate abstractum nullum illorum a quo formaliter distinguitur includit impossibile est in actuali existentia ab illis separari per aliquam potentiam.


Concerning the third [section], namely, 'what is reality', I say two things"
First is that 'reality' does not mean properly 'thing', but something other pertaining to a thing. This is clear from the mode of understanding, for from this that 'real' is derived from 'thing', it is said that 'real' is that is pertaining ot a thing; but from 'real' is derived 'reality'; therefore, reality properly does not mean thing but something pertaining to a thing.
Second is the description which I posit of reality, which is thus: I call that [a] 'reality' which is something positive in a thing from the nature of a thing, not contained in anthoer as in the purely passive or purely active or as an inferior in a superior, but formally and actually existing-in, so that when it is ultimately abstracted it includes none of those from which it is formally distinguished [and] it is possible that it can be spearated from them in actual existence by some power.

Hmmm. well, it is based on two manuscripts. Good manuscripts, sure, but maybe something is missing. Commentary to come.

A Hegel-Scotus Connection?

Alas, bad scholarship has much in common, no matter the topic.

From an Essay by Walter Kaufmann:

One of the few things on which the analysts, pragmatists, and existentialists agree with the dialectical theologians is that Hegel is to be repudiated: their attitude toward Kant, Aristotle, Plato, and the other great philosophers is not at all unanimous even within each movement; but opposition to Hegel is part of the platform of all four, and of the Marxists, too. Oddly, the man whom all these movements take to be so crucially important is but little known to most of their adherents; very few indeed have read as many as two of the four books that Hegel published.
Hegel is known largely through secondary sources and a few incriminating slogans and generalizations. The resulting myth, however, lacked a comprehensive, documented statement till Karl Popper found a place for it in his widely discussed book, The Open Society and Its Enemies. After it had gone through three impressions in England, a revised one-volume edition was brought out in the United States in 1950, five years after its original appearance.


Furthermore, Popper has relied largely on Scribner’s Hegel Selections, a little anthology for students that contains not a single complete work. Like Gilson in The Unity of Philosophical Experience (p. 246), Popper takes over such a gross mistranslation as “the State is the march of God through the world,” although the original says merely that it is the way of God with the world that there should be the State, and even this sentence is lacking in the text published by Hegel and comes from one of the editor’s additions to the posthumous edition of The Philosophy of Right — and the editor admitted in his Preface that, though these additions were based on lecture notes, “the choice of words” was sometimes his rather than Hegel’s.


No conception is bandied about more unscrupulously in the history of ideas than “Influence.” Popper’s notion of it is so utterly unscientific that one should never guess that he has done important work on logic and on scientific method. At best, it is reducible to post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Thus he speaks of “the Hegelian Bergson” (p. 256 and n. 66) and assumes, without giving any evidence whatever, that Bergson, Smuts, Alexander, and Whitehead were all interested in Hegel, simply because they were “evolutionists” (p. 225 and n. 6).

Friday, November 8, 2019

Festum Scoti

Happy feast everyone! I am too busy to post anything, but feel free to post celebratory comments in the combox!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

A Text on Scotus on Essence and Existence

While transcribing some stuff out of the Additiones secundi libri (compiled by William of Alnwick from the Oxford and Paris lectures of Scotus), I came across the following comment about the relation of essence and existence, a doctrine of paramount iportance in Thomism, but less so in Scotism.

Additiones II d. 16 q. 1: "esse est actus intrinsecus essentiae idem sibi realiter non ab ea progrediens"

"'to be' is an act intrinsic to essence, really the same as it, not coming forth from it"

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Aufredo Gonteri, the Book of the Beadle and the Formal Distinction

I had meant to post this ages ago. Aufredo Gonteri, a Scotist who knew Scotus personally (he is on the Adhesion list of 1303), attests to a debate over the formal distinction at Paris in the 1320's. First I list the literature below, then the quote. Apparently, the result of the debate was that all the masters of Paris declared that the Scotist formal distinction is fully catholic and sound. This was written in the "book of the beadle". A beadle was an office pertaining to management in the university, apparently they also kept records of official decisions as well. Anyway, the quote is below, the debate was with a Dominican who claimed the formal distinction was heretical (time travelling Garrigou-Lagrange perhaps). All knowledge of this debate has perished, save for Gonteri's reference, nor does the book of the beadle survive either.

Note that Gonteri's discussion of the univocity of being was recently published in Mediaeval Studies.

William Duba, Russell Friedman, Chris Schabel, “Henry of Harclay and Aufredo Gonteri Brito,” in Mediaeval Commentaries on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, vol. 2, ed. P.W. Rosemann, Brill 2010, pp. 263-368, at 291.

Doucet, “Der unbekannte Skotist des Vaticanus Lat. 1113, Fr. Anfredus Gonteri OFM (1325),” Franziskanische Studien 25 (1938), 201-40, at 206

Aufredo Gonteri Sent. I d. 34 q. 3. “But on account of a controversy of Master Benedict of the Preachers, this truth was determined for me in Paris by all the masters regent and non-regent in the theological faculty, and it was promulgated publicly by the beadle and recorded in the common book of the masters, although the aforesaid Master publicly dogmatized otherwise in the schools that this determined truth is heretical. All the aforesaid masters determined that the contrary is true, Catholic, and sound.”

Hall on Scotus

Alexander Hall has an entry in the internet encyclopedia of philosophy on Scotus' on natural knowledge of God. A good intro  to the topic by a specialist currently working in the field. It had escaped my notice before, so  I call your attention to it now. Here it is.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Scotist analogy

A new essay on the Scotist analogy of being (analogia entis) has appeared. Here is the abstract.

It is widely believed today that John Duns Scotus’s doctrine of the univocity of being ushered in various deleterious philosophical and theological consequences that resulted in the negative features of modernity. Included in this common opinion, but not examined, is the belief that by affirming univocity Scotus thereby also denied the analogy of being (analogia entis). The present essay challenges this belief by recovering Scotus’s true position on analogy, namely that it obtains in the order of the real, and that complex concepts of creatures are analogically related to complex concepts of God. Scotus’s doctrine is then compared to the later Scotist tradition. The common opinion of the Scotist school from the fourteenth century onward followed Scotus’s position on analogy and considerably expanded upon his scattered remarks.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Divine Simplicity again

There is currently an ongoing internet debate over divine simplicity, between the Thomist Feser and the analytic philosopher Mullins. The latest entry is here.  An indefatigable maker of memes on Facebook sent me a meme about this debate that I paste below. I won't comment directly on the debate, the Scotist position is well known, even if not normally brought up in these debates. Given the nature of this particular debate, even Aquinas' own solution of the rationes is also not at play.

As everyone knows, I did my dissertation on the divine attributes. The medieval debate went through a logical development.
1. Aquinas, adapting Bonaventure, argued that divine attributes all had distinct definitions (rationes) but these rationes were all in the human mind, or at least their distinction. They weren't false, because God verifies them all from afar. God is just undifferentiated perfection, no distinct attributes.
2. someone pointed out that this means that God has no knowledge of his own attributes.
3. all the early Thomists then argued, 'aha, no, see, God knows the contents of the human mind, and thus he has knowledge of divine attributes ex consequenti'.
4. Henry came along, and said that this was all bunk, that the divine intellect and divine will, which are distinct, each generate their own attributes. all attributes are reducible to either intellect or will, that produces them in the divine essence.
5. Scotus comes along and says Henry is bunk, all attributes are already there, formally distinct before even the divine intellect thinks about them.
6. Ockham: the word 'attribute' is causing all this problem, lets get rid of it. 

And that is about it.

here's the meme. It is not really right, since Mullins is denying divine simplicity full stop, and Scotists do defend it with the formal distinction and instants of nature. So they cannot really sit back and watch Feser go it alone. But this time we will. For Scotus' theory of formal distinction, see here

Mayronis was the first Scotist to come into direct conflict with Thomism, in a series of debates at the university of Paris in the 1320's. The debate was over the formal distinction and instants of nature.

Scotus makes the following comment in Lectura I d. 8 p. 1 q. 4 (ed. Vat. XVII p. 48) about the various debates over the distinction of reason "...dicunt aliqui concordando in conclusione principali, sed discordant in modo ponendi, in quo se impugnant; et eorum impugnatio est pax nostra." Basically, they agree that divine attributes are distinct only by the intellect, but disagree how it comes about. 

Mayronis also talks about the peace, but his peace is between the schola minorum and the thomists; he has some interesting rhetoric about the thomist pierre roger disturbing the peace of the schools, and he reformulates it a few times. Anyway, on this see the "Disputatio" volume, just about the only text of Mayronis that has been critically edited.

Update: Feser adds to the debate with an entry on Scotus, here. His point is that divine simplicity has been interpreted in different ways, that attacking Aquinas, even if the attack succeeded, does not suffice for defeating divine simplicity. My co-blogger clashed with Feser on the formal distinction around the time Feser's book on Scholastic Metaphysics was published. In the post linked above he is fairly general about it. I would probably only quibble by saying that the formal distinction, in keeping with the Parisian account, is a diminished real distinction, not a midway distinction between real and rational distinctions. But given the internal Scotist debate over such matters, I don't fault Feser for this. Blander, in his dissertation, attacked the connection between separability and the real distinction, which Feser holds, but this is quite recent research, even for Scotists (see the link to his paper in the combox). I am sympathetic to this, though I wonder how separability fits in, since the separability criterion shows up in the Quodlibet, perhaps Scotus' final work (assuming the final work was not the Quaestio de formalitatibus). 

One could also point out, regarding Feser's post, that the Scotist position on univocity and analogy is that they are compatible in the same concept. This has ever been the opinion of the Scotist school, with the sole exceptions of Mayronis and Bonetus. I have a piece appearing eventually on this topic. But Feser can't be expected to know this, since even Scotus-scholars have forgotten it. The modern study of Scotus, rightly focused on his manuscripts and actual doctrines he held, has unfortunately neglected the study of the ancient school. Thus certain things that should not have been forgotten, were lost.

Anyway, the debate continues.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Eric Perl on Neoplatonism

Eric Perl is a prominent neoplatonist author. He has some Plotinus translations with commentary out there that look interesting. But he doesn't like Scotus.  I give some quotes below that might be of interest to or foster discussion by our readers.

Quote 1:
From Thinking Being: Introduction to Metaphysics in the Classical Tradition, p. 6:

In this perspective, we must concur with those who hold that the principal break in the continuity of western philosophy comes not between ancient and medieval, nor between pagan and Christian, nor even in early modernity with figures such as Galileo and Descartes, but rather between the Platonic and Aristotelian tradition up to and including Aquinas, on the one hand, and the modes of thought represented by Duns Scotus and William of Ockham on the other. It is here, not in the sixteenth or seventeenth but in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, that modernity in a philosophical rather than a merely chronological sense truly begins. With Scotistic univocity, the first principle becomes a being, subject to a conceptual grasp and included within the whole of reality as a member of it, as is not the case for the One of Plotinus or the God of Aquinas. Between Scotus' God who is an infinite being (ens infinitum) and Aquinas' God who is infinite existence (esse infinitum), the difference is of world-shattering proportions. it is precisely here that 'metaphysics' in the pejorative, postmodern sense begins, with the reduction of the first principle to a conceptually representabile being and the fading from view of the very question 'Why are there beings, rather than nothing?' And the Ockhamist denial that things really have 'whatnesses' in virtue of which they are what they are, a repudiation of the very foundation of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy, already carries with it the divorce of thought from being, the loss of intelligibility, the move toward consciousness as 'subject' and being as 'object' and the failing of the vision of all things as the presence and manifestation of the divine.

He gives a single reference to Scotus, shockingly a quote, though he doesn't cite an edition or translator:

Duns Scotus, Opus oxoniense, I, 3, 1: "I say, then, first, that not only can a concept naturally be had in which God is conceived as it were accidentally, for instance, with regard to some attribute, but also a certain concept in which God is conceived by himself and quidditatively".

Comment: as is usual with modern philosophers who are non specialists, it is univocity that ruined good traditional philosophy. For these people, it is more important that philosophy be a tradition than that it be an activity in any way related to arguments. Scotus' arguments are not quoted nor shown to be false, it is just taken to be obvious since the author disagrees with the conclusions of Scotus' arguments. The quote also has some ambiguities. "reality" is not defined. If by "reality" you mean creation, then Scotus would deny that God is part of reality or within the horizon of reality if you prefer to talk in that fashion. But if by "reality" you mean the totality of existing things, then Scotus would agree, even if he would qualify it and say that God and creatures agree in no reality. 

Perl does not provide exegesis of the quote. It is clear that he interprets it as implying that since we can grasp God by a concept that we totally and completely grasp God in a concept, and that there can thus be no divine transcendence. But Scotus would deny this as well, saying instead that even if we grasp God quidditatively we do not have full comprehension of the divine essence, which, since it is infinite, always exceeds our finite minds. Also, the concept that we form of God, infinite being, only imperfectly represents the divine reality, since 'infinite being' is a complex concept and God is simple. This too does not warrant a mention.

Perl's central thesis is that thought and being are parallel, and Scotus, or at least Ockham are a threat to this. Univocity might seem a threat to this, since, in Richard Cross' words, the concept of being is a "vicious abstraction", ie. it does not correspond to any extra mental reality. But the concept of being is the result of an operation (abstraction) performed on the complex concept of a creature, which itself is based on an extramental thing. So Scotus also believes in the parallel of thought and being, but this doesn't mean that we can't perform mental operations the products of which might not themselves be directly parallel. At least, perl would need another argument to show this. Maybe he has one and I will find it as I read his book. We will see.

I am always somewhat bemused by the intense hatred of Scotus by modern neoplatonists, especially in theology. naturally, it is univocity they focus on, which is opposed to the de facto hero of theology, Thomas aquinas. But for centuries Scotus has himself been seen as part of the neoplatonist movement, given the extreme platonism of his doctrine of the Ideas. Renaissance platonists, such as Ficino, numbered him among their own school. But all such niceties have been forgotten these days.

Here's a quote from a different book that caught my eye, and though it is implicitly directed against Scotus, it seems to implicitly embrace univocity of being.

Quote 2 (copied from the David Bentley Hart discussion group on Facebook)
The disjunctive presupposition that 𝘦π˜ͺ𝘡𝘩𝘦𝘳 God chooses between possible alternatives 𝘰𝘳 he is necessitated to create situates God within a total framework of possibilities, as though the logical conditions of possibility and impossibility were prior to and more universal than God, conditions to which even he is subject. This presupposition envisions God either as confronted with a multiplicity of logical possibilities among which he can choose, or as subject to a logical law such that there is only one possibility open to him.
This is precisely the "ontic" conception of God that Plotinus, and Dionysius, are concerned to avoid by declaring him, "beyond being." God is not a being, subject, as are all beings, to the conditions of logical possibility such as the principle of non-contradiction. This is not to say that God can violate that principle; on the contrary, it would be more accurate to say that for the Neoplatonists, God or the One π˜ͺ𝘴 the principle of non-contradiction. For what is that principle but the very condition of intelligibility and therefore of being?
"To be is to be intelligible" means that to be is to conform to the laws of thought, which necessarily apprehends its object as determined by certain attributes and (therefore) as excluding the contradictory ones. The unity, the identity, and therefore the being of any thing consists in its uniformity to this law. That law, therefore, is an expression of God as the unity, the identity, the being of beings.
God is not a being, contained within a framework of possibilities determined by an abstract logic independent of himself. Rather, he is that framework within which all beings are contained, and hence he cannot be considered 𝘦π˜ͺ𝘡𝘩𝘦𝘳 as a being who chooses among a multiplicity of logical possibilities, 𝘰𝘳 as a being confined by principles more universal than himself to a single possibility.

—Eric D. Perl, π˜›π˜©π˜¦π˜°π˜±π˜©π˜’π˜―π˜Ί: π˜›π˜©π˜¦ π˜•π˜¦π˜°π˜±π˜­π˜’π˜΅π˜°π˜―π˜ͺ𝘀 π˜—π˜©π˜ͺ𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘺 𝘰𝘧 π˜‹π˜ͺ𝘰𝘯𝘺𝘴π˜ͺ𝘢𝘴 𝘡𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘳𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘒𝘨π˜ͺ𝘡𝘦, Ch. 3, "Goodness, Beauty, and Love"

On this quote, see the various posts from the past few months (Foxal, Mayronis, Petrus Thomae) on the principle of non-contradiction. To make God the principle itself, or make it somehow apply to God, is to concede the field to univocity. The reason is that the PNC is the first complex principle; it can be broken down into the first incomplex principle, the notion of being. To posit the PNC as applying to God and creatures is to posit being as common to God and creatures. Unless you want to destroy the PNC by making it apply in a different,unknowable way in God, it must be univocal.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Hoenen on Scotism

From an interesting essay by Hoenen on characteristics of Scotism. in the book John Duns Scotus: Renewal of Philosophy... p. 198:

Scotism claims a special place among medieval schools of philosophy, in that it was not a school in the normal sense of the word. Thomism, for example, originated from the desire to strengthen the coherence of the Dominican order, while Albertism in its later develoment was able to establish itself by virtue of its connection to education at the so-called bursae. Scotism, by contrast, emerged and established itself more or less spontaneously, having its origins in the efforts of individuals rather than in the promptings of ecclesiastical or educational institutions.  

Monday, August 5, 2019

John Foxal on the First Complex Principle

In light of this previous post on the univocity of the principle of non-contradiction, here are some remarks on the same topic from John Foxal, the fifteenth-century English Scotus who spent his career in Italy teaching at Rome and Bologna. Foxal was also part of the circle of Bessarion and became bishop of Armagh but died before taking up his see.

A possibly necessary piece of background terminology: Scotists typically refer to the principle of non contradiction as the first complex principle. The principle of non contradiction contains being as its subject, and so being is called the first incomplex principle.

The following text is from a commentary Foxal wrote at Bologna on the first question of Scotus' Ordinatio, dated to 1465.

"Contra: certum est” etc. pro hoc argumento nota quod prima quaestio prologi Conflatus Francisci de Maronis maxime valet ad confutandum hanc opinionem Henrici, quia in illa multipliciter probatur et demonstratur primum principium tenere in theologia, et ita bene formari in Deo sicut in creaturis et ita applicari ad spiritualia et insensibilia sicut ad corporalia et sensibilia vel materialia. Non adduco autem aliqua de quaestione illa, quia ubique habetur et eandem viam tenet Scotus hic, arguendo contra Henricum. Etiam pro hoc est Aristoteles in pluribus locis qui vult primum principium ita bene applicari ad conclusiones non sensibiles sicut sensibiles, nam in libris Metaphysicae agit principaliter de substantiis non sensibilbus, ut patet in pluribus locis et maxime in 2. xi. et 12, et in 4 libro agit per totum de primo principio complexo ubi ponit illas proprietates qua ponit Franciscus ubi supra in principio quaestionis. Et utique mirum esset quod in illis praedictis libris dixisset tot et tanta de primo principio complexo si voluisset quod illud excludetur a rebus insensibilibus et separatis a materia de quibus agit ibi, et principalius de ipsis tractat librosque Metaphysicae omnes propter illas principaliter ordinavit.
Et ad litteram Doctoris revertendo et probando antecedens ipsius patet quod ita bene potest sciri ab intellectu nostro quod impossibile est quod unus angelus simul sit et non sit, vel descendendo ad specialiores terminos quod idem angelus sit materialis et non materialis aut sensibilis et non sensibilis, sicut quod idem lapis simul sit et non sit, aut simul sit durus et non durus, et sic de aliis, et ita bene poterit primum principium applicari ad insensibilia sicut ad sensibilia, ergo vana est responsio illa.


"Contra: it is certain" [this is a lemma from Scotus' Ord.] for this argument note that the first question of the prologue of the Conflatus of Francis of Meyronnes is maximally valid for refuting this opinion of Henry, because in that it is proved in many ways and demonstrated that the first principle holds in theology, and so also it can be formed in God just as in creatures and so applied to spiritual and insensible just as to corporeal and sensible or material [matters]. I do not adduce anything from that question [of Francis], because it is found everywhere and Scotus holds the same way here, arguing against Henry. Also for this is Aristotle in many places, who intended that the first principle be applied to substances and non sensibiles just as to sensibiles, for in the books of the Metaphysics he treats principally of substances and non sensibles, as is clear in many places, most of all in [books] II, XI, and XII, and in the fourth book he treats throughout about the first complex principle where he posits those properties which Francis posits above in the beginning of the question [i.e. Conflatus prol. q. 1]. And indeed it would be marvellous that in those aforesaid books he would have said to much about the first complex principle if he had intened that that be excluded from insensible things and separated from matter about which he treats there, and principally about them he treated and ordered the books of the Metaphysics principally on account of them.

And returning to the letter of the Doctor and proving his antecedent, it is clear that well indeed it can be known by our intellect that it is impossible that one angle at once is and is not, or by descending to more special terms that the same angel is material and not material or sensible and non sensible, just as the same stone at once is and is not, or at once is rough and not rough, and thus for others, and so can the first principle be applied to insensibles just as to sensibles, therefore that response [of Henry's] is vain.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Introduction to Scotus

Here is a handy introduction to Scotus for the philosophical layperson. Written by Jack Allen.

Here are his thoughts on why Scotus is not read much today.

Given all these major doctrines, one might wonder why Scotus doesn’t get much air time these days. To my mind there are three reasons. Firstly, since the Enlightenment, Medieval philosophy has been seen as backward, superstitious, or just a bit weird. This attitude is encapsulated by David Hume’s famous Enlightenment claim that “If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion” (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748). Scholasticism, then, has been given a fairly hard time, often by influential philosophers who have not engaged with it in any deep manner.
Secondly, there is St Thomas Aquinas. Since Pope Leo XIII wrote Aeterni Patris in 1879, great philosophical importance has been given to Aquinas in Catholic and Anglo-Catholic thinking. The 1917 Code of Canon Law claimed that Aquinas’ methods should be used in teaching philosophy and theology. The popularity of Aquinas (which is certainly not entirely unjustified), combined with the negative view of Scotus put about by the Radical Orthodoxy movement, has led to a marginalisation of Scotus’ work.
Thirdly, Scotus’ writings are famous for being difficult to read. It is easy to disparage Scotus for the same reason it is easy to disparage any postmodernist: their writing is dense and subtle, and it can be difficult to see what they are saying, if anything. And not only is Scotus’ Latin tight and elliptical – earning him the title of ‘the Subtle Doctor’ – but little of his work is available in English, although more is becoming available year on year.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Analogia Entis as Nigromantical Principle

For various reasons I was poking about in contemporary theological writing on analogy of being and Duns Scotus. The usual wasteland of wild claims, textual misinterpretation, and historical inaccuracy abounds now as ever (the belief that Scotus taught in Cambridge is impervious to all argument), but I did come across an interesting discussion of analogy in John Betz's article (which does not mention Scotus) "The Analogia entis as a Standard of Catholic Engagement..." in Modern Theology 2018. The following paragraph caught my eye:

Nevertheless, Barth was right that Przywara did not invent the analogia entis and that it has long been part of the Catholic tradition. Not only is it found in Augustine, specifically in Book XV of De Trinitate, which appears to have been the basis for the decision of the IV Lateran Council. It is also the implicit (but obvious) teaching of Aquinas, whom Przywara calls the teacher of the analogia entis, especially on account of Thomas’s teaching on secondary causes (since this teaching underscores, more so than NeoPlatonic models of exemplarism, including Augustine’s, the difference between God and creation). It is also, for that matter, the implicit teaching of Gregory of Nyssa, as is evident from Gregory’s reading of Exodus 3:14 and his corresponding understanding of the relation between Being and non-being. But it remained for centuries more of an implicit than an explicit teaching and thus stood in need of theological explication (precisely in keeping with Newman’s understanding of the development of doctrine, but here in terms of the Church’s understanding of creation). In fact, it does not appear as a terminus technicus until Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, and only thereafter, by way of SuΓ‘rez’s Disputationes Metaphysicae, made its way into the Jesuit manuals in which Przywara first encountered it

Two thoughts arise from considering this passage:

First.  As I and probably many other specialists writing on Scotus have pointed out, there are multiple senses of the "analogy being". There is a 'thick' sense, much like what is described in the passage quoted here, which involves dissimilarity-similarity, participation, causality, basically a whole cluster of metphysical notions. There is also a 'thin' sense, which is about the relations between terms and concepts. The thick sense includes the thin sense of analogy. Modern critics of Scotus generally don't distinguish these senses, and, without distinguishing where Henry's theory of analogy falls that Scotus rejects (and to be fair to modern theologians, many now seem to be aware that Scotus attacked Henry's theory of analogy and not Thomas'), assume Scotus rejects the analogia entis, simpliciter et totaliter, that is, that he throws out the thick sense of analogy.

Second. The claim here, backed by an article from 1970 (though, interestingly enough, the article is not by an author who is a medievalist, but apparently by another Przywara scholar) is that the usage of Analogia entis as a technical term is first found in Cajetan. Interestingly enough, the 17th c. Scotist theologian and philosopher Mastri made a similar claim, asserting that "the ancient scholastics wrote little about analogy" and that the debate over analogy began with Cajetan's book on the topic. One sees here the so-called tyranny of print: there was much discussion of analogy by authors such as Petrus Thomae who were never printed in the early days of the press, and so works such as the Quaestiones de ente (which dwarfs Cajetan's De nominum analogia) were lost to later ages. But John Betz and Mastri are both wrong. The usage of 'analogia entis' in both the thick and thin senses is found in the aforementioned Quaestiones de ente of Petrus Thomae, first printed in its entirety last year but written at Barcelona in 1325. This work also contains the first known mention of the Scotist school (Schola scotica). So the first professedly Scotist author is also the coiner of the Analogia entis? Given the widespread belief that Scotus himself and thus all his "progeny" rejected analogy, this is quite the historical irony. Moreover, given that Peter Thomae died in prison under charges of necromancy, perhaps the Analogy of Being is tainted, some attempted spell cast by Peter Thomae from across the ages; in the end perhaps it is, to paraphrase the (Latin) trial documents, a Nigromantical Principle.

For statements on analogy in PT, see Petrus Thomae, Quaestiones de ente q. 10 (thick analogy; see here). See also the same question for thin analogy, ed. me, p. 272: "Ad secundum et tertium et alias similes auctoritates dico quod explicant analogiam entis respectu substantiae et aliorum, sed haec analogia non repugnat verae univocationi."  The edition records no variants here, but one wonders whether "aliorum" shouldn't be "accidentium".

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Have you Tried Scotus?

A great discussion of Scotus in a mainline catholic journal, written by that indefatigable translator of the Ordinatio, Peter Simpson.

A taste:

Indeed if, as seems true, there was something deficient about pre–Vatican II theological training, even in Rome, the deficiency will not be made up by a return to an exclusivist Thomism, much less to the old Thomistic manuals. A return to Thomas read and studied in the original texts would doubtless help. But such a return would not have helped the young Kenny with his question. For the theologian who had a good answer, Duns Scotus, is barely studied, if studied at all. His very name raises hackles or eyebrows or both. The man is accused by some of causing the theological decline of the West. It is said that he precipitated the destruction of a magnificent and glorious edifice with his falsely subtle distinctions, his flattening metaphysics of univocity, his skeptical undermining of rational proofs for the faith, his tortuous Latin.