Friday, September 21, 2007

More of the same

From the ewtn online ed. of Reality. My interest in this quote is the characterization of Alexander and Bonaventure as "pre-thomist." And the last bit about matter is interesting. The reference there is probably to Lecura II d. 12, though there is some stuff in Ord. IV which I have posted on previously (see the 'de materia' post). Scotus does seem to grant a reality to matter apart from form, and I remember the Lectura passage being pretty weird, but I don't quite recall if he says matter can exist without form. But Garrigou wouldn't have known about the Lectura, as it was only discovered by Balic in the '30's or so...the relevant parallel distinction in the Ordinatio was never written by Scotus but filled in with the Additiones Magnae of William of Alnwick; perhaps what Garriogu is referring to. The problem is a lot of Thomists read everything with the real distinction in mind and evaluate Scotus's views based on it so it is hard to tell what Garrigou is referring to (now, I do hold it is legitimate to criticize other philosophies, and indeed I criticize Thomism an awful lot; but I try to do it on Thomas's own terms, and not just ridicule him from within a perspective foreign to his thought). There is a sense in Scotus, referring to Aristotle's Metaphysics VII of matter existing as a substrate through a series of substantial forms and in that sense Scotus says it has its own entity. but not existence (though, perhaps this is implied, as he doesn't think essence and existence are distinct...a far more useful background to scotus than Thomas's real distinction is the esse essentiae, esse actualis existentiae of Henry).

"On the other hand, some pre-Thomistic theologians, notably Alexander of Hales and St. Bonaventure, admitted a plurality of substantial forms in man and also a spiritual matter in the human soul. These theologians were seeking, unsuccessfully, to harmonize the doctrine of St. Augustine with that of Aristotle. The multiplicity of substantial forms did indeed emphasize St. Augustine's view about the soul's independence of the body, but at the same time compromised the natural unity of the human composite.

Steering between these two currents, St. Thomas maintains that the rational soul is indeed purely spiritual, entirely without matter and hence incorruptible, but that it is nevertheless the form of the body, rather, the one and only form of the body, although in its intellectual and voluntary acts it is intrinsically independent of matter. And if in these acts it is independent, then it is independent of the body also in its being, and, once separated from the body which gave it individuation, it still remains individualized, by its inseparable relation to this body rather than to any other.

Turning now to special questions, we shall continue to underline the principles to which St. Thomas continually appeals, and which Thomists have never ceased to defend, particularly against Scotus and Suarez, who still preserve something of the theories held by the older Scholasticism. Thus Scotus admits, first a materia primo prima in every contingent substance, even in spiritual substances, and holds, secondly, that there is in man a form of corporeity distinct from the soul, and that, thirdly, there are in the soul three formally distinct principles, that of the vegetative life, that of the sense life, and that of the intellective life.

He likewise holds, against St. Thomas, that prime matter, speaking absolutely, can exist without any form. This last thesis reappears in Suarez who, since he rejects the real distinction between essence and existence, goes on to admit that prime matter has its own existence. We shall see that the principles of St. Thomas cannot be harmonized with these positions."

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