Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Filioque

Much electronic ink has been spilled of late on various blogs on this issue, so I thought I might give Scotus's opinion of the matter. Which actually turns out to be rather unsurprising. What I found to be more interesting is the views on authority and scripture that he discusses in the replies to the objections at the end. Here is a very rough translation of the relevant question from the Ordinatio [Vat. ed. 5 pp. 1-8].

Concerning the eleventh distinction I ask whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
That he does not:
Damascene ch. 7: “we say that the Holy Spirit is proceeding from the father and resting in the Son.”
Again, ch. 8: “we say that the Holy Spirit is from the Father, we do not say from the Son.”
Again, in the letter De Trisagio to archimandrite Iordanus, in the end, “The Father and the Word and the Holy Spirit;” and he adds, “from the Father indeed, but of the Son, and not from the Son, but the Spirit of the mouth of God.”
Again, through the argument of the Greeks: nothing should be held as an atricle of faith unless what is contained in the Gospel (which contains things of faith in a confused manner), or at least in the writings of the New Testament; but it is not seen expressed in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, therefore etc.
Again, love in us does not proceed from the word, because knowledge does not have causality with respect to volition; therefore likewise neither in the prototype.
[Addition in the hand of Duns Scotus]: Again, the will is posited as the third part of the image, at the end of book XV of De Trinitate; therefore it is not a principle of producing, but is a product. Response: love is called ‘will’; but will called ‘power’ pertains to the parent, although it does not constitute a parent, but advenes just as a second fecundity in the Father.
Again, passive spiration is proper to one person in the godhead, therefore also active. Proof of the consequence: for both seem equally perfect and equally incommunicable.
In the Nicene Creed: “He proceeds from the Father and the Son;” and Athanasius, in the Creed: “the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son.”

[I. to the Question]

In this question the Greeks are said to disagree with the Latins, as is seen in the authorities of the Damascene. But about that discord Robert Grosseteste says (in a certan little note on the end of the letter De Trisagio) that “the opinion of the Greeks is that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son, but not proceeding from the Son but only from the Father, nevertheless through the Son. And this opinion seems contrary to ours, in which we say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. But perhaps, if two wise ones – one Greek and the other Latin – each a true lover of truth and not of his own manner of speaking [propriae dictionis], insofar as it is his own, should investigate about this seeming contradiction, it would appear to each at last that that contradiction is not truely real, just as it is in speech; otherwise either those Greeks or we Latins truly are heretics. But will anyone dare to claim that these authors, namely, blessed Basil, Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril, and all other Greek fathers are heretics? Likewise, who indeed would dare to call Jerome, Augustine, Hilary, and the other Latin doctors heretics? In a similar manner the opinion of contrary saints its not subject to words with contrary meanings [non subest dictis verbis contrariis contrariorum sanctorum sententia]: for it is said in many ways (just as this “of this one”, so also this “from this” or “by this”, or “from this” [sicut hic ‘huius’, ita hic ‘ex hoc’ vel ‘illo’, vel ‘ab illo’], by which multiplicity perhaps more subtilely understood and distinct, the opinion of contrary meanings would not appear to disagree.”
Whatever may be about those those things, from which the Catholic Church declared this to be held just as being of the substance of the faith (as appears Extra ‘De summa Trinitate et fide catholica’: “Firmiter credimus”), it must be firmly held that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from both.”
For this the argument is such: something having a perfect productive principle prior than it is understood to have a product, is able to produce by that principle, namely when the principle is so perfect that it does not depend on anything passive, nor is able to be impeded by something; the Son has will, which is a productive principle of adequate love, and he has it as it is understood prior [praeintelligitur] to a ‘product of an act of will;’ therefore he is able to produce by it, therefore also he does produce by it.
I prove the minor: generation and spiration have some order, so that in some way generation is prior to spiration; in that prior all divine perfection is communicated to the generated which is not repugnant to him, and so will; therefore then he has will as prior to a ‘product of an act of will’, because still some production is not understood to be made through the mode or by an act of will.
The assumption also about the order of those productions although it seems to be clear from the order of powers, nevertheless is proved by this; that when the act of the first [powers, principles?] have order in something-if each is perfectly active-they will have also a similar order in elicited their own acts. I added, however, “perfectly active” in order to exclude substantial form and quality, in corruptibles, where although substantial form may be active, and quality likewise, and substantial form may be prior to quality, nvertheless quality has its own act first: but this is from the imperfection of the activity of substantial form. In the Father, however, intellect and will are perfectly active principles, and they have a certain order, because fecundity of intellect constitutes the Father, but not fecundity of will. Therefore that fecundity of intellect in some way first will have its own act than fecundity of will its act.
Others prove that order of production to production through this that just as understanding is to willing, so speaking to spirating.
But that proof seems to fail: for willing presupposes understanding, because by that ‘to understand’ an object around which there ought to be love, is sufficiently present, and without that intellection it would not be sufficiently present to the will in order that it might will; but through an act of speaking the object is not present to the will precisely, of which love is being spirated, because even if the Father spirates by means of the will as in it, not nevertheless does it have the object present formally through generated knowledge (because generated knowledge knows nothing , as Augustine says VII De Trinitate), but he has an object present to himself by ungenerated intellection, and that is knowledge which is presupposed to the act of spirating; therefore it is not a similar necessity that generation is presupposed to spiration just as that intellection is presupposed to volition.
I grant that that counterargument proves well that the necessity is not entirely similar, but between intellection and volition there is an order on account of two things: one is on account of the aforesaid presence, the other is on account of the order of those powers in operating, because those powers are such that one is naturally ordered to be posterior to the operation of the other [una est naturaliter ordinate posterius operari quam alia]. The first argument is not the argument/meaning [ratio] of priority of generation to spiration, but the second: for just as insofar as they are operative powers there is some order between their operations, so insofar as they are productive powers there is some order of their productions, although there is not an order of necessity on account of having such presence of the object..
An example of this is: if in fire heat and dryness are active causes, naturally ordered to elicit their acts so that dryness is not able to dry unless first heat heats, that necessity of order is not because through heating a dryable object is made present to the dry, that it might be dried, but on account of the nature of those active powers; et if in that prior in which heat will heat by means of heat, it might communicate to the heated or produce in the heated not only heat but also dryness which it had, it will dry the heated by the same dryness with the heating, because in that instant of nature in which there is dessication, there is one dryness in the heating agent and in the heated.
So it should be understood here, that in that moment [signo] of origin in which the Father produces by an act of will, the productive principle is the same in the Father and the Son, and therefore the Son produces the Holy Spirit by the same production with the Father.

[II. To the Principal Arguments]

To the authorities of Damascene it can be answered by that little note of the master of Lincoln, about which it was said. Nevertheless, the first authority can be expounded, if he speaks about the will and not about the Holy Spirit: because then it could be said that the will, which is the principle of spiration, itself is ‘from the Father in the Son; because the Father communicates it to the Son; and it “rests in the Son”, this is , it is not communicated further under the aspect of fecund principal, although the same will is communicated to the Ho0ly Spirit, in itself. But the letter of Damascene again seems to speak about the person of the Holy Spirit, and not about the will by which He is spirated.
To the argument from the Gospel, I say that “Christ descended into hell” is not taught in the gospel, and nevertheless must be held as an article of faith, because it is posited in the Apostle’s Creed. So many other things about the sacraments of the Church are not expressed in the Gospels and nevetheless the Church holds them to be handed down by the apostles certainly, it would be dangerous to err around that which not only comes down from the apostles by writings but also which is to be held by the custom of the universal Church. Nor did Christ in the Gospel teach all things pertaining to the dispensation of the sacraments; for he said to his disciples (in John): “I still have many things to say to you, but you are not able now to bear them; when however the Spirit of truth will have come, he will teach you all truth.” Therefore the Holy Spirit taught them many things, which are not written in the Gospel; and they handed down those many things, some through scriptures, some through the custom of the Church.
Likewise, diverse Creeds are published at diverse times against new and diverse heresies arising, because when new heresies arise it is necessary to declare the truth against that heresy: which truth even if first it was of the faith, nevertheless it was not first only declared then, against the error of those who denied it.
To the other, about our word [verbo], I say that that is of imperfection in the created image, because to the word is not communicated the same nature with the mind, and therefore neither liberty formally and unqualifiably. The nature of the Father and the same will with the Father is communicated to the divine Word, and therefore he has it as fecund with respect to the production of the Holy Spirit, because he is understood in the order of origin to have that before the Holy Spirit is spirated.
To the last I say that it does not follow, because the divine nature cannot have many productions in one person, just as will appear in the following question, because each production would have the nature and neither would have it; nevertheless one person can communicate the nature by many productions, and many persons can produce a person by one production: and therefore if passive [sc. Production] is only in one, it does not follow that active also is only in one.

1 comment:

Michael said...


So (at least some of) the Latins have been saying this for seven hundred years. I know some "Greeks" that have come to the same conclusion, that neither side is heretical on this point. Unfortunately most of them don't seem to have received the message. Neither do most of them seem to have actually read Scotus much.

On a side note, I've been reading Meyendorff and he points out how popular St Thomas was among certain 14th and 15th century Byzantines. Contra Gentiles was used as an anti-Islam manual. But he doesn't mention them reading Bonaventure or Scotus or anyone else. Dangerous! In fact it seems that first-hand familiarity with Latin theology was only just starting to emerge by the time of the fall of Constantinople, at which point the Eastern Church calcified almost completely and no further progress was made.