Monday, December 10, 2018

The Anonymous Scotist of Vat lat 869 on Analogy of Being

Here is some undigested Latin text on the analogy of being from the anonymous Scotist of Vat. lat. 869. This author wrote a collection of texts to be found in this manuscript such as some questions on the De anima, the Quaestiones ordinariae de conceptibus transcendentibus, and some spare questions on various topics. The manuscript has been variously studied by Longpre, Stella, and most recently Dumont.




Utrum materia per quodcumque agens possit separari a forma (Vat. lat. 869, f. 74ra-b):


“Secundum quod praemitto est quod ‘esse’ multipliciter dicitur, et est alterius rationis ut dicitur de forma et de materia. Et principalius et perfectius dicitur de forma quam de [d. f. q. iter.] materia, et hoc [sequitur exp.] habetur a philosopho II De anima secundum antiquam translationem, ubi dicitur sic: cum unum et esse multipliciter dicatur, quod proprie actus est. Sed quia ex isto secundo dicto posset inferri oppositum eius quod teneo, scilicet quod materia non dicat aliquam entitatem formaliter, sic arguendo: quando aliqua analogantur in aliquo et illud primo et formaliter reperitur in uno et in aliis non nisi per quandam attributionem, sicut patet de sanitate, quae realiter et formaliter est in animali, in aliis autem, puta in potione vel urina, non est formaliter. Si ergo esse analogice dicitur de materia et forma, cum proprie et formaliter dicatur de forma, non dicetur de materia nisi in quadam attributione ad formam, et ita, circumscripta forma, materia non habebit aliquod esse.

Ideo sciendum est quod etsi secundum aliquod genus analogiae sic fit quod illud in quo aliqua analogantur non habeat esse realiter et formaliter nisi in uno et in aliis non nisi per quandam attributionem, sicut patet in exemplo adducto, tamen non est hoc verum universaliter, sicut patet, nam non obstante quod ens analogice inveniatur in Deo et in creatura, esse tamen formaliter reperitur in creatura. Simile etiam est de bonitate et sapientia et aliis perfectionibus quae licet analogice dicantur de Deo et creatura formaliter et principaliter reperiantur in Deo, nihilominus tamen formaliter dicuntur de creatura. Idem etiam apparet de substantia et accidente, de quibus etsi analogice dicatur ens et principaliter dicatur de substantia, non tamen substantia est tota entitas formaliter sed etiam accidens formaliter dicitur ens.

Ad cognoscendum autem quando illud in quo plura analogantur sic se habeat quod tantum in uno reperiatur formaliter, sive tantum de uno dicatur formaliter, et puta de illo de quo dicitur principaliter et de aliis non dicatur formaliter sed per quandam attributionem, et quando dicatur de illis pluribus formaliter quae analogantur in eo licet principalius de uno quam de alio, do talem regulam: quandocumque illud in quo plura analogatur est tale quod, non obstante tali analogia eius, tamen conceptus dictus de pluribus dicitur secundum unam rationem de eis, ita quod tali analogiae est compossibilis univocatio universaliter omne tale in quo plura analogantur. Hoc modo etsi principalius dicatur de uno quam de aliis, nihilominus tamen formaliter dicitur de utroque, et hoc modo se habet genus respectu specierum et ens respectu substantiae et accidentis et etiam respectu Dei creaturae, sicut diffuse declaratum est in prima Quaestione ordinaria. Quando autem illud in quo plura analogantur est tale quod eius conceptus non est eiusdem rationis in illis quae analogantur in eo, sic dicitur principaliter de uno quod solum de illo dicitur formaliter, de aliis autem non nisi per quandam attributionem, et ita est in exemplo quod adducebatur; sic non dicitur analogice sanitas de animali et potione quod conceptus sanitatis non est eiusdem rationis, ut dicitur de animali et potione et urina, nam sanitas ut dicitur de animali accipitur pro aequalitate humorum, ut autem dicitur sanitas de urina accipitur pro quadam significativo sanitatis ut dicitur de potione accipitur pro quodam causatio sanitatis constat autem quod isti tres conceptus sunt diversi et non sunt eiusdem rationis et ideo sanitas ut dicit aequalitatem humorum inon reperitur formaliter nisi in animali in aliis autem non nisi per attributionem ad istam sanitatem.”

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Interludium

Something sent to me from the depths of the book of faces.



Friday, December 7, 2018

Petrus Thomae, Quaestiones de ente, q. 3

Another translation, made originally for a class I taught last fall.


[Quaestio 3: Whether the concept of being is maximally first]


To the third we proceed thus:

And it seems that the concept of being is not maximally first, ecause according to Porphyry, the ten categories are the ten first genera of things; therefore the concepts of the ten categories are maximally first; therefore the concept of being is not maximally first.

Furthermore, if the concept of being is maximally first, therefore the most general is not the most general. The consequent is false, therefore also the antecedent. Proof the consquence, because the most general is called that which does not have a supervening or superior genus according to Porphyry; but if the concept of being were maximally first, something would be superior to the most general; therefore, etc.

Furthermore, in I Posterior Analytics chapter on the position[status] of the categories it was proved that the resolution of all quidditative concepts stops at the highest point at the concepts of the ten categories; but resolution does not stop unless at the maximally first; therefore the concepts of the ten categories are maximally first.

Furthermore, in VII Metaphysics chapter 1 it is said thus: “something is said to be first in many ways, but substance is first of all with respecto reason [ratio], knowledge and time; therefore the concept of substance is maximally first.

This is confirmed, first by this which is said in the same place “first being and not some being,” that is not through some being, “but being indeed will be unqualifiedly [simpliciter] substance.” Second because in I De generatione chapter 7 it is said that being “unqualifiedly singifies the first according to each category,” that is, substance.

Contra: being is impressed [on the intellect] by a first impression, from [the] first [book] of Avicenna’s Metaphysics chapter 5, therefore the concept of being is unqualifiedly first.

[Response to the Question]

I respond: in that question I will first declare three conclusions, second I will exclude certain objections.

[Article 1]

Concerning the first [article], I show first that the quidditative concept of being is most common, second that only the concept of being is the most common among quidditative concepts, third that only the concept of being is maximally first.

[Conclusion 1: the quidditative concept of being is most common]

I show the first conclusion thus: that concept is most common whose extent [ambitus] nothing positive can escape; but nothing positive can escape the concept of being; therefore the concept of being is most common. And briefly, all philosophers and doctors agree in this conclusion.
{Whence Richard the Englisman [argues thus]: just as the first complex concept is founded in being by comparing it to its contradictory, namely, of every being or non-being, so it is necessary that the first incomplex concept be said of all most commonly, for a concept whic is includited in every concept and none of those [is included] in it is maximally first; but the quidditative concept of being according as it is being is of this kind; therefore etc.

Alexander [de Alessandria] in I sentences proves it to be thus: “that which contains infinite being by its primary division seems to be the widest concept.[1]}

[Conclusion 2: the concept of being alone is the most common quidditative concept]

I deduce the second conclusion thus: there is no special being which is predicated of everything (this is clear); but being is predicated of everything; therefore only the concept of being is the most common.

And this is to argue thus: the highest community cannot befall a concept determined to a certain genus or to a special mode of being; but ever concept other than the concept of being is of this kind; therefore the highest community is able to befall non other concept than the concept of being.

[Conclusion 3: only the concept of being is maximally first]

I deduce the third conclusion thus: a grade of primacy in concepts is attained according to a grade of communit; but only the concept of being has the highest grade of community, from the preceding; therefore among all concepts only the concept of being has the highest grade of primacy, and consequently is maximally first. The major is clear from that common [vulgata] proposition ‘how much more common, so much prior’.

Furthermore, ‘it is impossible for the same at the same time to be and not to be’ is unqualifiedl first in complex [concepts], as all say, therefore the proper concept of being is unqualifiedly first in incomplex [concepts]. The consequence is clear, because the order of complex concepts est according to the order of incomplex concepts, whence just as complex concepts depend on incomplex [concepts] for truth and knowability, so they depend for communit and primacy.

Furthermore, a concept to which only the first negation is opposed is alone unqualifeidly maximally first; but the first negation is opposed in the first place only to the concept fo being; therefore only the concept of being is unqualifiedly maximally first. The major is clear, because the order of negations is according to the order of affirmations. The minor is clear, because the first negation is non-being [non-esse], and that is opposed in the first place only to being [esse].

Furthermore, what “is said through superabundance befalls only one alone” according to the Philosoher in the book of the Topics, therefore in incomplex concepts the highest primacy befalls one alone; but this cannot befall any other concept than the concept of bieng, to which befalls the highest community; therefore the highest primacy befalls only the concept of being.

Furthermore, a concept that is ultimate by the ultimate ultimacy and first by the first primacy is unqualifiedly first; but the concept of being is of this kind; therefore only the concpet of being is unqualifiedly first. The major is clear, for, as it was said in the second question of the prologue of the Sentences,[2] there are grades in primacies and ultimacies, so that the ultimate in resolving and the first in composing est unqualifiedly first. The minor is clear, because the concept of being is most common.

[Article 2]

[Objections]

Concerning the second [article,] it can be objected against the aforesaid. First, thus: that in which something agree is more commmen than them; but the concept of being and the the quidditative special concepts agree in a quidditative concept; therefore a quidditative concept is more common than the concept of being and the other special concepts. The minor is clear, because the concept of being is quidditative and the other special concepts are quidditative.

Furthermore, second thus: just as being is formally distinguished from non-being, so non-being from being; therefore a formality is common to being and to non-being, and consequently it is more common than being.

Futhermore, third thus: when something befalls many, it is necessary that something common is found in them; but to be predicated befalls being and non-being; therefore the concept of a name is more common than the concept of being. The minor is clear because a negation is non-being and a privation is non-being and nothing is non-being. The major is clear from [book] I of the Posterior Analytics.

Furthermore, fourth thus: to be signified by a name is common to being and non-being; but the concept of being is not common to non-being; therefore the concept of a name is more common than the concept of being.

Furthermore, fifth thus: what are of equal extent [ambitus] are of equal community; but the one, the true and the good are of equal extent with being, for they are convertible with it; theerefore they are of equal community, and consequently non solum conceptus entis est communissimus.

[Response to the Objections]

As evidence of the foregoing I say first that community in concepts can be understood in four ways: first in the order of the categories, secund in the order of the concepts of real beings, third in the order of howsoever[qualitercumque] beings, fourth in the order of the transcendentals. In teh first order the concepts of the most general are the most common and unqualifiedly first, in the second the transcendental concepts common to God and creatures, and substance and accident, in teh third the concept of being common to real being and being of reason, or to being in the soul and to being outside the soul, which is the same, and this community is treated in VI Metaphysics, in the fourth [order] the proper concept of being which indeed is common to the one the true and the good and the other proper passions [of being], not by a community of formal predication, but of denominative predication and virtual containment, as has to be explained below. From the forgoing it is clear that simply speaking only the proper concept of being is most common and maximally first.

To the first [objection]: against this should be said that perhaps [the term] ‘concept’, as some say, is not a name of first intention. It is not, however, unsuitable for many second intentions to agree in something of this kind, just as noting of first intention is common to the categories according to some and nevertheless they [i.e. the categories] agree in this intention which is ‘category’, and the ten most general [categories] in the intention which is ‘most general’ and the same, it seems, can be said about [the term] ‘quidditative’.

To the second [objection]: it is clear through the same, for ‘formality’ as some say, seems to be a second intention.

Against this: a second intention is founded in a first [intention] and consequently presupposes it; but non-being is not a first intention; therefore a second intention cannot be founded in non-being, and consequently neither ‘formality’.

It is confirmed, because what is founded in nothing is nothing; but the formality of non-being, if it is posted, is founded in nothing; therefore the formality of non-being is nothing. The major is evident. The minor is clear, because either something positive is subject to it or nothing. If nothing, I have what is proposed. If something positive, therefore it is not non-being which is posited non-being.
Therefore I say otherwise that just as no intelligibility per se befalls non-being or nothing, so no formality befalls it per se.

To the form [of the objection]: I deny the consequence, because it fails by a fallacy of the consequent. For ‘this is distinguished form that’ can be understood in two ways: in one way that ‘this’ means one formality and ‘that’ another formality, of which neither is the other; in another way because ‘this’ means a formality and the other means a mere negation of a formality. Therefore to infer determinately commits the fallacy of the consequent. To the antecedent I concede that being is formally distinguished from non-being and non-being from being, but not in a similar way, because being is distinguished from non-being through its own formal character[rationem], but non-being is not formally distinguished from from being through its formal character[rationem], because it does not have one, but because it is a formal negation of the character [ratio] of being.

To the third [objection]: I say that that to which is nothing, neither in reality nor in the intellect, it does not befall to be predicated, and therefore I deny the minor, if non-being is taken thus. To the proof I say that just as the intellect grasps within itself the predication ‘nothing is nothing’, so it grasps each extreme, and so each extreme is something in the fiction of the intellect.
To the contrary: with every act of the intellect circumscribed, this predication ‘nothing is nothing’ is true, therefore from its own terms it has truth and not from the intellect.

I respond: predication is an act of reason [ratio], therefore with every act of reason circumscribed there is no predication, and so that predication, with the act of the intellect circumscribed, is neither true nor false, because under such a hypothesis it can in no way be made.

You might say, therefore whence does it have truth?

I respond: from this that the intellectus conceives those negations in the mode of positives and imposes names to them, from which [names] it composes an enunciation.

To the contrary: a negation cannot be a cause of truth, for “from this that a thing is or is not, speech is called true or false,” from the book of the Categories.

I respond: a negation is not per se the cause of some truth unless negatively. Therefore propositions of this kind have truth from the terms being conceived, but nevertheless this ‘conceived’ or ‘understood’ being is granted them only through the act of the intellect.

To the fourth [objection] I concede that the concept of a name is more common than the concept of being as it is taken in the second of the aforenamed orders, nevertheless it is below the community of being as it is taken in the tird order. Through this mode the aforegoing objections can be solved.

To the fifth [objection] I say that her he speaks about quidditative concepts, not about qualitative [concepts]. But the concepts of unity and truth and goodness are qualitative concepts, as will be shown later.[3] And therefore only the concept of being is the most common and maximmaly first among quidditative concepts. To the form [of the objection] therefore it should be said that concepts of this kind are of equal extent as far as their supposits are concerned, not nevertheless are they of the same formal character [ratio], because that one is quidditative, those are qualitative.[4]

[To the principal arguments]

To the first principal [argument] I concede that the concepts of the most general are first only in the first order, and therefore the consequence does not proceed.

To the second: I deny the consequence. To the proof it should be said that although the do not have a supervening genus, as that one says, nevertheless they have some superior concept, as has been proven.

To the third I say that he does not speak unless about quidditative categorical predicates, and in their order there is a state [status], as he proves for the ten highest [categories].
To the fourth it should be said that he speaks about substance in comparison to accidents, not in comparison to whatever concept, whence only the proper concept of being is unqualifiedly first, al least by primacy of adequation.

To each confirmation it is clear through the same [argument].


[1] The text in curly brackets is present in only two manuscripts and seems to have been added in the margin of the De ente by Petrus Thomae after manuscripts of the work had begun to circulate.
[2] That is, in the second question of the prologue of Petrus Thomae’s Quaestiones super libros Sententiarum. I have not identified the passage.
[3] In Quaestiones de ente q. 12.
[4] That is, the concept of being is quidditative, the concepts of the coextensive attributes [passiones] of being are qualitative.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Yeats: The Scholars

A poem by W. B. Yeats I don't believe I have posted before. From The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats.

The Scholars

Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love's despair
To flatter beauty's ignorant ear.

All shuffle there; all cough in ink;
All wear the carpet with their shoes;
all think what other people think;
All know the man their neighbour knows.
Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Transcendental Mnemonics

My office mate pointed me to a text by one Pelbartus Ladislaus de Themeswar (ca. 1430-1504). He wrote a work called Aureum sacrae theologiae rosarium iuxta quattuor Senteniarum libros quadripartitum ex doctrina doctoris Subtilis, divi Thomae, divi Bonaventurae, aliorumque sacrorum doctorum.

There is an interesting discussion in vol 1, on the topic of "De ente" starting on f. 51rb. Here we get the mnemonic "Reubau" for the transcendentals. It stands for res, ens, unum, bonum, aliquid, verum. According to Jan Aertsen, the same mnemonic occurs in Dominic Soto (1494-1560). A fun little text by Pelbartus, quoted below:

Ens primo, scilicet in communi, secundum Scotorel. di. 3 primi, habet conceptum latissimum ad omnes conceptus positivos: sicut suum oppositum, scilicet, Nihil, habet conceptum latissimum ad omnes conceptus negativos. Unde Commentator .4. propositione de causis dicit Nil est latius ente. Nam et secundum Aristotelem .4. Metaphysicae ens est transcendens, ergo etc.

Pro quo nota quo ut ibidem habetur scilicet .4. metaphysicae, sex sunt transcendentia, quae sunt communia omnibus generibus entium, scilicet Res, Ens, vunum, bonum, aliquid, uerum: quae significantur per literas huius dictionis Reubau. Unde ver. transcendunt omnes quae signat dictio Reubau.

Utrum ens in communi univoce dicatur de Deo et creatura...

"Scotorel." appears to be Peter of Aquila, for Pelbartus adopts the former's theory of univocity as a mode of conception, an attempt to reconcile Scotistic univocity with thomistic analogy.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Petrus Thomae's De ente: Prologue

Here is a translation of the prologue from the Quaestiones de ente, the critical edition of which was recently published here.



[Quaestiones de ente]

[Prologue]

Just as the Philosopher says in I Physics chapter 7, “first according to nature we say common things and thence speculate about proper things.” For with common things unknown, so also are proper things unknown, according to him elsewhere, and therefore “it is necessary to proceed from universals into singulars,” from I Physics chapter 1. Since therefore the transcendentals are the most common, it is opportune to treat something of them for the acquisition of scientific knowledge; among the transcendentals being itself holds the first and chief place, as will be seen below. And therefore, in order to acquire knowledge of the transcendentals, we will procede in this order: first we will inquire about the concept of being, second about what follows [consequentibus] it, third about the first parts of being.

Concerning the first [part] we proceed thus:

First we ask whether the concept of being is known per se or is knowable from others

Second whether the concept of being is quidditative

Third whether the concept of being is maximally first

Fourth whether being has a proper concept distinct from the concept of every special being

Fifth whether the argument from a certain and doubtful concept concludes necessarily

Sixth whether among quidditative concepts only the concept of being is irreducibly simple

Seventh whether true analogy and true univocity are compatible in the same concept

Eighth whether the concept of being is one only by a unity of equivocation

Ninth whether the concept of being is one only by a unity of confusion

Tenth wehther the concept of being is one by a unity of univocity

Eleventh whether the univocity of the concept of being is real

Twelfth whether being is predicated ‘in quid’ of its proper attributes

Thirteenth whether being is predicated ‘in quid’ of ultimate differences

Fourteenth whether the concept of being is immediately contractible by some differences


Fifteenth whether there can be something univocal to real being and being of reason.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

My MicroNarrative

The common Thomist narrative of the rise of theology and philosophy to its zenith in the thought of Thomas Aquinas, the common doctor of all and the angelic doctor, a rise which soon turned into a flaming nosedive needs no introduction here. It is so widespread that Milbank can refer to it as "scarcely then controversial". The text-base defense of Scotus seem to have all failed, at least rhetorically. The "semantic" defense of Scotus has been effectively undermined by Milbank (in the linked piece) on the grounds of a-historicity (think about that for a minute, then try not to spill your beer). The narrative normally focuses on the "twin scissors" (to use Hans Boersma's turn of phrase) of univocity and voluntarism that snipped the "sacramental tapestry" that Scotus had inherited from Christ and the Apostles via Thomas Aquinas.

Here I want to propose a counter-narrative, though it is more fact-based than interpretative, so it probably does not count as a narrative. And it does not explain the present, but is the sequence of what went on in the 12th-14th centuries. The narrative is ultimately more driven by the waves of Aristotelian translations than anything else.

Step 1: In the twelfth century, the common opinion among the theologians was that perfections or attributes are said univocally of God and creatures. The basic sense of univocity was that of Aristotle's Categories.

Step 2: Aristotle's Metaphysics and Posterior analytics were translated. Aristotle's view in the former is that being is said in many ways. This sense is what became the "analogy of being". Following the Arab commentators one could posit it as "midway" between equivocity and univocity, or following Boethius, one could take the division of the Categories as immediate; there is no medium between univocity and equivocity, analogy becomes  equivocity, in particular, 'equivocal by design', as opposed to pure equivocity. Aquinas himself seems a bit ambiguous here. He often says analogy is a middle way between the extremes, but he clearly knew the Boethian definition, for in Summa contra gentiles when he rejects equivocity he rejects "pure" equivocity. But he does not identify analogy as an equivocal by design. At this step, there is no attempt to unite the metaphysics with the notion of a science in the Posterior analytics

Step 3: The posterior analytics' criteria for science are applied to the science of being, requiring univocity. An early defense of univocity was launched in the 1280's, though I have not found who it was. Their attempt posited a real agreement between God and creatures. Scotus himself attacks this person, as did William of Ware and Peter Sutton. Scotus also posits univocity, at some stage, the univocal concept of being may well be common to God of creatures, the object of the intellect, and the subject of metaphysics. Scotus retains the analogy of being.

Step 4: Criticism of Scotus. Scotus is the locus of the discussion. Early critics reject his position and return to equivocity of being, linked to some 12th c. discussions as well as Porphyry and Boethius. Ockham jettisons analogy.

With the emerge of Ockham, the basic positions of the scholastic discussion are set until the dissolution of scholasaticism itself: equivocity of being, univocity of being with analogy, univocity alone, analogy of being alone. There was much discussion of the issue during the 14th century. I have found little discussion in Franciscans of the fifteenth century on the topic. Perhaps I haven't looked hard enough. Most mention it, but say nothing interesting and don't devote questions to it. Thus there is some justice in Mastri's comment that there was little discussion of analogy before Cajetan. Cajetan revived the debate (note I deny the existence of a distinction between first or second scholasticism and the fanciful claims made today about Cajetan restarting scholasticism). By Mastri's day (17th c.) there were extensive debates among the schools about analogy and univocity, long after the RO narrative has jumped to Luther and Kant. In truth, analogy was never abandoned by anyone save Ockham and the nominalists, certainly not by Scotus and the Scotists.

Get to work in the comments and tear this apart!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Feast of Scotus 2018

Happy Feast, everyone! Generally busy these days, so nothing original today.

Here are some remarks on Scotus by the Franciscan Minister General.

And here I give you the famous poem by Hopkins for your delectation. Source.

Duns Scotus's Oxford

Towery city and branchy between towers; 
Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark charmèd, rook racked, river-rounded; 
The dapple-eared lily below thee; that country and town did 
Once encounter in, here coped & poisèd powers; 

Thou hast a base and brickish skirt there, sours 
That neighbour-nature thy grey beauty is grounded 
Best in; graceless growth, thou hast confounded 
Rural, rural keeping — folk, flocks, and flowers.

Yet ah! this air I gather and I release 
He lived on; these weeds and waters, these walls are what 
He haunted who of all men most sways my spirits to peace; 

Of realty the rarest-veinèd unraveller; a not 
Rivalled insight, be rival Italy or Greece; 
Who fired France for Mary without spot. 





Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Conference on Peter Thomae's De ente

For those in Europe, there is an upcoming conference dedicated to the recently published Quaestiones de ente by Petrus Thomae:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A New Front Opens in the War over Being

Civilization seems to be crumbling around us these days. Governments are corrupt and ineffectual, political rhetoric has become increasingly unhinged, the universities, flush with cash, spend it on hiring legions of non-teaching middle managers. The controversies within the Church grow ever darker and run deeper...

If all this is getting you down, why not spend the remaining years of your life coming to grips with a new 830 page book from Leuven University Press?

For a cool 200 euros, you can own the new critical edition and study of Petrus Thomae's Quaestiones de ente. Available here. This work details various properties of being, such as univocity and analogy, defending the Scotist conception, though reworking the position a fair bit and abstracting from the applications in which Scotus discussed it (i.e. natural knowledge of God, divine simplicity). Thus one could almost say that it is "systematic". It should be noted, that while many theologians and philosophers think that the analogist and univocalist positions are incompatible, Scotists have always held the opposite, that in fact univocity and analogy are complementary. Peter Thomae is no exception, and of all the Scotists, he probably discusses analogy the most. Hence the title of the post: A New Front, in that it is a (today) unknown take on being.

Anyway, here is the publishers blurb:

Editio princeps of Peter Thomae’s De ente
It is generally acknowledged by historians of philosophy that medieval philosophers made key contributions to the discussion of the problem of being and the fundamental issues of metaphysics. The Quaestiones de ente of Peter Thomae, composed at Barcelona ca. 1325, is the longest medieval work devoted to the problem of being as well as the most systematic. The work is divided into three parts: the concept of being, the attributes of being, and the descent of being. Many of the philosophical tools that Peter pioneered in this work, such as the distinction between objective being and subjective being, and various modes of quiddities and abstraction, were adopted by later thinkers and discussed up to the eighteenth century. Apart from defending and further extending Scotistic doctrine, one of Peter’s achievements in the De ente is to fully reconcile Scotistic univocity with the traditional doctrine of the analogy of being.

In addition to the critical edition, the present volume also contains a detailed introduction and study of the philosophy and the manuscripts of the De ente, with an appendix containing the question on univocity by Francis Marbres (John the Canon), who copied extensively from the De ente.


From the Thomist perspective, it must look something like this:



Friday, August 17, 2018

Interesting Thoughts around the 'NET

There have been a number of interesting posts today, or at least I first noticed them today.

First is Robert Pasnau, with some reflections on how to form a canon of medieval philosophy. He points out that there isn't a narrative for the period 500-1500 like there is for other periods in the history of philosophy. He does not mention the narrative that arose simultaneously with the modern study of medieval philosophy, that is the Thomist one.

Pasnau links to Martin Lenz, who points out that such narratives have ideological origins and uses, and change when the dominating ideologies change.

Finally, Derrick Peterson posted a paper on his blog about "deleting theology", the narratives surrounding secularism. He provides a fascinating quote from Ian Hunter the gist of which is that the various accounts from religious thinkers or anti-religious ones are not themselves historical accounts or based on empirical histories, but are rather ideologies. Now while I may be sympathetic to this, I can't help but wonder if something like "empirical history" is itself free of "cultural-political agendas", as if there is some historical viewpoint that is free from theological or philosophical conditioning.

In any case, there are many interesting thoughts to be had today.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A New Argument for the Univocity of Being

Here follows a new argument for the univocity of being. It is from Peter Thomae's De ente, of course, soon to hit bookstores near you. Peter himself does not, however, present the argument as an argument, but rather as a corollary of an argument.

Petrus Thomae, Quaestiones de ente, q. 14 a. 1 (ed. forthcoming):

If being is not univocal, it is not contractible.

The broader context, from the same passage:

Regarding the first article, I set forth seven propositions. 

The first: 'contraction' connotes first what it is contracted through which it is contracted and to what it is contracted or the term of contraction, for contraction necessarily presupposes the contractible, co-requires the contractive, and pertains to some term.
The second: contraction presupposes one notion or concept in the contractible, for contraction seems to be nothing other unless the application of something to many through indifference and neutrality.
Corrolary: therefore if being is not univocal, it is not contractible.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Ratio Algazaelitica

Scotus' argument from certain and doubtful concepts (see this post for explanation) was been given a variety of descriptions during the Middle Ages. Francis de Mayronis calls the major premise at least "Scotus' rule", Peter Thomae describes the whole thing as the "ratio famosa," and one can also find marginalia indicating that it is Scotus' "Achilles argument" in Peter of Aquila's Sentences Commentary. By Achilles, presumably, is meant that it is the strongest weapon in Scotus' arsenal, not that it is his fatal weakness. 

In the fifteenth century, the French Franciscan and (eclectic?) Scotist William of Varouillon made some interesting remarks on the argument, which have been noted a few times in modern literature, though I don't think they have been quoted. After quoting the argument, William lodges the following objection against it:

Sent. I d. 3 q. 1 a. 2 (Venezia 1502, f. 10vb): Huic fortissime rationi aliqui dicunt quod est regula Scoti et quod transeat cum regula sua.

Quibus ego respondeo quod si non curant de Scoto, vadant ad Metaphysicam Algazaelis, qui maximus reputatus est metaphysicus, et istam regulam quasi iisdem verbis reperient. Unde regula ista, si ab inventore nominetur, dicitur non Scotica sed Algazaelitica nuncupatur. 

Translation:

Some say to this strongest argument that it is the rule of Scotus and that he passed away with his rule.

To which I say that if they don't care about Scotus, let them go to the Metaphysics of al-Ghazali, who is deemed the greatest metaphysician, and they will find that rule almost with the same words. Whence that rule, if it should be named by its discoverer, should be called not Scotic but Algazalitic.


The object is that Scotus came up with the rule, and since he is dead, it is no longer valid. The rule here probably being the major premise, though the whole thing is loosely in al-Ghazali. William's reply locates a deeper lineage to the argument than simply Scotus. In some of the modern literature the algazalian origin is discounted in favor of Avicennian, but in truth it is in both.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

John Jenkins on Scotus

Given the near-universal opprobrium in which Duns Scotus is held, I find it necessary to call attention to positive mentions of Scotus among contemporary intellectuals. An example came to me today from John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame. There isn't much content regarding Scotus, but he is described as a great medieval master. 

Here is Jenkins' talk, delivered at Oxford. 

[...]

I learned much in my study at Oxford, yet simply walking in this city and contemplating its history itself had an intellectual impact on me. To pass the places where Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke studied and worked; to stroll by the building where Robert Boyle, the father of modern chemistry, lived and worked; to be in the city where John Wycliffe taught and John Henry Newman wrote his tracts; to visit the pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and the Inklings met on Tuesdays—simply to walk in the city instilled a sense of reverence for the learning, scholarship and inquiry to which Oxford has been the host. Since its founding, it has been to the site of scholars, discussions and education that have truly shaped the course of human history.
[...]

The Summa theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, with its series of questions, objections, “respondeo” and replies to objections reflects this form of inquiry. Although it is not a record of actual public disputations, it is clearly derived from the practice of public disputations and reflects this form of inquiry. The same is true of the works of Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and other great medieval masters. The point I wish to emphasize here is that, even when these great thinkers wrote their own works, the form of writing expressed the communal nature of inquiry that characterized the medieval university. The communal exercise was undertaken primarily to broaden knowledge and deepen understanding, but it served at the same time to train students in conducting such inquiry themselves.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Homeric Hermeneutics

This post is not about Scotus.

One of the benefits of no longer being in institutional academia (condolences to my esteemed co-blogger) is that I can study whatever I want without regard to my curriculum vitae or departmental or disciplinary expectations. What I've been studying most lately is Greek. At long last I'm getting close to finishing my first complete read-through of both the Iliad and the Odyssey in Greek. This wonderful experience has confirmed my long-held sense that Homer is the king of all poets: as someone or other said, Homer is the proof that there is no progress in the arts. There may be a very few who could claim to be as great, but there are none greater, none more beautiful, none more insightful, none more intricate. As I reach the end I'm struck more and more by the realization that there is nothing more subtle and psychologically penetrating in all of literature than the final quarter of the Odyssey.

My most beloved writers from antiquity other than Homer, Plato and Vergil, were also surely antiquity's most careful readers of and thinkers about Homer; and he has helped me understand them better. Thanks to the Odyssey I think I've solved two of classical literature's greatest mysteries: the meaning of the end of Aeneid book VI, and the identity of the Athenian Stranger in Plato's Laws.

I.

Penelope tells Odysseus in Od. 19.562-567: "For two are the gates of shadowy dreams, and one is fashioned of horns, the other of ivory. Those that pass through the gate of carved ivory deceive, bringing things unfulfilled; but those that come through the gate of polished horn bring true things to fulfillment, when anyone among mortals sees them." Now Penelope, not openly acknowledging that she recognizes her returned husband, is scheming with him in riddles so that the servants don't understand and betray him to the suitors. She's just described an invented allegorical "dream" in which Odysseus returns and kills the suitors, and she's just about to propose the trial of the bow. So this statement about the nature of dreams, coming between those two moments, is Penelope's way of telling Odysseus how to accomplish his task of winning back his household without getting himself and his family killed.

Ivory is the material of scabbards. Odysseus is given a sword with an ivory scabbard earlier in the poem, and such scabbards were known in the classical world. Horn, on the other hand, is the material of bows. Penelope is telling Odysseus that yes, he must kill the suitors, but not by passing through the gate of ivory, not by drawing the sword, because that way is false, it won't be successful. He must pass through the gate of horn, that is, win the trial of the bow, her own device for getting a weapon only he can use into the hands of Odysseus, when no one else is armed, a device she is about to explain. The false way, the gate of ivory, is the straightforward way of Achilles, the path of sheer immediate brute force; the true way, the gate of horn, is the polytropic, twisty, curved, clever, tricky way of Odysseus, the path of contest-winning (Odysseus won the contest for the arms of Achilles against Ajax, and wins his contests against the Phaeacians), biding one's time, and deception (he, of course, deceives practically everyone he meets in the poem at one point or another).

At the end of Aeneas' journey through the underworld Vergil says (Aeneid 6.893-896) "The gates of sleep are twins; one of which is said to be of horn, whereby an easy outlet is given to true shades (shadows, umbris); the other finished and gleaming with shining ivory, but [through it] the shades (spirits, Manes) send false things to heaven." Aeneas leaves Hades and goes back to the mortal world through the gate of ivory. Why?

The first half of the Aeneid is Odyssean: Aeneas wanders, is troubled by a vengeful god, tells his story, has a love affair with a beautiful woman who offers a tempting alternative to his destiny, and descends to the underworld where he sees the spirit of a deceased, beloved parent and is told about the future. The second half of the poem is Iliadic, or rather Achilleic: Aeneas battles over a woman and a truce-breaking and kills a lot of people. On the basic level, then, Aeneas' passing through the gate of ivory shows his transition from the Odyssean to the Achilleic stage: he ceases to wander over the ocean's curve, unsheathing his straight sword.

On a deeper level I think his taking the ivory gate indicates the fundamentally un-Odyssean character both of the man and the poem. "Arma virumque cano", Vergil begins, "arms and the man I sing", but though a story of arms reflects the Iliad and a story of a man and his wanderings suggests the Odyssey, Aeneas himself is nothing like Odysseus at all. Odysseus is a hated figure in the Aeneid and in the Roman worldview in general; dishonest, dishonorable, undignified and untrustworthy, quite the opposite of pius Aeneas, the archetypal Roman. His journey mirrors Odysseus' in only the most superficial way. Taking the ivory gate informs us that the way of Achilles, the way of the drawn sword, is compatible with the Roman character in a way that the way of Odysseus, the way of the bow and the lyre, is not.

But the Roman, Achilleic way is not the true way. We know this because Homer tells us so. In Hell Odysseus says to Achilles, how wonderful it must be to be the greatest and most honored of all the shades of Elysium! But Achilles replies that he would rather be the slave of the poorest farmer, alive, than king of all the dead. And yet in life Achilles could not abide the disrespect even of a king, while Odysseus stooped to being abused even by slaves in order to get his home and family back.

An easy outlet, Vergil says, is given to true shadows through the gate of horn, while the shades send false things to heaven through that of ivory. A shade, that of Anchises, sends Aeneas back to the living world through this gate; Aeneas is later deified as the founder of Rome; Aeneas is a false thing sent to heaven.

Pious Aeneas' un-Odyssean character is highlighted by his relationship to the goddesses. The three goddesses most important to the Matter of Troy are Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, or to the Romans Pallas Minerva, Juno, and Venus. These were the goddesses involved in the Judgement of Paris, the cause of the Trojan War. Now it's a curious fact that even though the Odyssey is permeated by the interplay of the themes of love and the family - Odysseus has love affairs with two goddesses, the realm of Aphrodite, but is ultimately determined to get back to hearth and home, the realm of Hera - only Athena takes any interest in the matter. She has a prominent role, while Aphrodite and Hera never appear on the stage at all. Odysseus' story is dominated by the forces of Aphrodite and Hera, but his character is all identified with Athena. This is precisely reversed in the Aeneid: Athena has no part to play, and the two most prominent Olympian actors are Venus and Juno. Like Odysseus, in order to achieve his fate Aeneas must overcome Venus in the form of his love for Dido, and embrace Hera, in the form of Lavinia, the wife he marries to establish a home. But Odysseus' struggle to return to Penelope is what he wants, because he loves her more than than the goddesses Circe and Calypso or the mortal princess Nausicaa (their characters are more alike than any two others in all of Homer); while Aeneas marries Lavinia out of duty and cares nothing about her personally or erotically. But Aeneas is the son of Venus - embracing Hera out of piety is precisely rejecting his own nature, being false to himself. He doesn't seem to recognize this. It's not clear that he knows his own nature, whereas Odysseus does, thanks to Hermes' gift of the moly plant on Circe's island. And so while capitulating to Juno is the price of Juno relenting in her anger against the Trojans, it comes at the cost of the total assimilation of the Trojans into the Latin people, the disappearance without a trace of their language and culture. Trojans "founded" Rome but lost their nature. Aphrodite won the judgment of Paris but lost the war for posterity.

Pallas Athena plays no special role in the Aenead, but someone else named Pallas does, Aeneas' young ally. Pallas is killed by Turnus, and this is the reason Aenead kills Turnus at the shocking, abrupt, brutal conclusion of the poem: "'Pallas strikes you with this blow, Pallas sacrifices you and takes atonement from guilty blood!' Saying this, burning, he buried the iron in his chest. But from that one [Turnus] the limbs were loosed with cold, and his grudging life with a groan fled under the shadows." The echo of the name suggests that in the absence of the wisdom of Pallas (recall from book I of the Iliad and elsewhere that Athena is a special friend of Achilles as well as of Odysseus) Aeneas does not learn the lesson of Achilles, that of compassion for a defeated enemy, and so his poem ends not in melancholic sympathy and understanding, as the Iliad does, but in ugly horror. Aeneas sends Turnus to the shadows, the umbras, which escape easily through the gate of horn, but he himself is sent by the shadows, the manes of the dead, to embrace the lie that Rome's glory can be bought only with violence. But it is a lie: the glory of Rome bought by violence faded into the shadows. The eternal Roman empire was founded only on the reversal of Roma back into Amor, when Rome was planted with the seed of charity, its soil watered with the blood of the martyrs, and the State transformed into the Church.

This is why the medievals thought that Vergil was a magician and a prophet.

II

Who is the Athenian Stranger of Plato's Laws? The Laws is the only one of Plato's dialogues in which Socrates is not named as a participant. Aristotle says that the Stranger is Socrates even if not named. But Socrates famously never left the environs of Athens except to defend her in war. Cicero says that the Stranger is Plato himself. Leo Strauss suggests that the Laws is a kind of thought-experiment: in the Laws we see what might happen if after the Crito Socrates avoided execution after all, escaped anonymously to Crete, and there had this discussion. Who is right?

1. Throughout most of the second half of the Odyssey Odysseus pretends to be from Crete, either to be a Cretan or at least to have had adventures and come from there to Ithaca ferried by Cretans. In all his stories he mentions how he met Odysseus, knew Odysseus, has all the news about Odysseus and his imminent return. It's a lie, but it's a lie that mirrors the truth: he had adventures on islands, most recently Phaeacia, and was ferried to Ithaca by Phaeacians, and of course he knows all the news about himself. The stories he tells didn't happen, but they say something true, and the Cretan Stranger is himself Odysseus.

2. Plato's Critias tells the story of a war against Atlantis in which the Athenians won a spectacular victory, greater than the victories of the Persian Wars. It's a lie, but a lie that's a mirror-image of the truth: the Athenians did fight a war with a great island, a war greater than the Persian Wars (if Thucydides is to be believed), namely Sicily, but they suffered a terrible and ignominious defeat. The story of Atlantis in the Critias is too good to be true because it comes in the wake of the story of the Republic (whose sequel it is) about a city too good to be true, a city ruled by philosophers, while the bitter truth about Sicily reflects the truth about the real city of Athens.

3. There is one other important Stranger in Plato's dialogues, the Eleatic Stranger of the Sophist and the Statesman. In the Parmenides the original Eleatic philosopher discourses with the young Socrates, teaching him how to think about and overcome the flaws in the simplistic Socratic hypothesis of the independent Forms. At the end of Socrates' life there is a mirror image of this discussion. The Eleatic stranger is not the long-dead Parmenides, but he speaks like him, not to now-old Socrates, but to a mirrored pair of interlocutors, Thucydides who shares Socrates' looks, and another young man who shares his name. The Elder Socrates stands silently by while the Eleatic Stranger teaches the two young Socrateses to correct the inadequacies in both his ontological and his political speculations.

4. In the Laws an Athenian who could not be Socrates, but who thinks and talks like Socrates, comes to the island of Crete and talks with a Spartan and a Cretan politician about founding a city on philosophical principles, a city that would avoid the inadequacies of Socrates' unrealistic Republic. In real life Plato, an Athenian student of Socrates, went to the island of Sicily to persuade a tyrant to run a state on philosophical principles. In real life, the Athenian military expedition against Sicily was a disastrous failure; in real life, Plato's philosophical expedition to Sicily was a disastrous failure too. In the dialogues, Athens won a long-ago, never-never-land but spectacular victory against an ancient island empire; in the dialogues, the Athenian stranger, speaking with the representatives of the deepest Hellenic antiquity, the elderly heirs of the Homeric Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, makes a spectacular philosophical and political conversion. Cicero is right: the Athenian Stranger is Plato.