Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scotus on the Sabbath

Here's a short quote I came across yesterday, from a discussion about whether the ten commandments are part of the natural law. The answer is yes, albeit in different ways (the fact that God has at certain times dispensed people from the second table makes it probelmatic). Scotus distinguishes two ways in which something can be part of the natural law: as practical principles are known to be necessarily true from knowledge of their terms, and as being highly consonant to these per se nota propositions. The first table is part of natural law in the first way; the first two precepts being have no other Gods and do not take the name of the Lord in vain. The third precept, the sabbath, is problematic, and may actually be of the second table. The second table is part of the natural law in the second way, as it is highly consonant with it, but it does not necessarily follow as it is about contingent things. Somewhere I remember reading that the items of the first table have the divine nature as their object and so are necessary, while those of the second look to contingent matters.

So in the long run, this question of Scotus has nothing to do with Sabbath-Sunday debates (which turn on Church authority and very early church history, anway) currently played out among those who dialogue with groups such as the Seventh-Day Adventists.

In other news, while reading a question on the connection of the moral virtues, Scotus repeated the traditional claim that virtues can only be formed by repeated acts consonant with right reason. His "voluntarism" is of an entirely different nature than the Cambridge phantasists and Fr. Schall deign to report.

Ordinatio III d. 37 q. un. n. 21:

"The third precept of the first table, which is of observing the sabbath, is affirmative as far as to showing some worship to God at a determinate time; but as far as to the determination of this time or that, it is not part of the law of nature strictly speaking. Likewise, neither is it of the law of nature strictly speaking asf ar as to the other part, the negative, which is included there, by which a servile act is prohibited, for a determinate act, prohibiting one from then showing worship to God: for that act is not prohibted unless because it is impeding or holding back from that worship which is commanded.

n. 24: if however this third commandment is not of the law of nature strictly, then it should be judged about it, with respect to this, just as of the commandments of the second table."


Taylor Marshall said...

I'm writing a paper on this (Scotus' numeration of the Decalogue in relationship to the natural law - per se nota commandments).

Lee Faber said...

should be fun; it's an interesting topic. I wish I were writing on that instead of Derrida's Differance.