Thursday, December 6, 2007
Gilson on William of Alnwick
Here's a quote from Gilsons History of Christian Philosophy on William of Alnwick, Duns Scotus's secretary and socius. Gilson labels him an "independent Scotist" due to his diagreements with Scotus (He sides with Henry of Ghent on individuation, among other things). His De esse intelligibili is my next reading project, my leisure reading during exams (such as there can be any). Once I get it back from the bindery, that is.
"Among the original minds standing out in that group [I.e. early Scotists], was the Franciscan William of Alnwick (d. 1332), whose remarkable Questions on Intelligible Being have been published. It would be difficult to quote a more perfect specimen of dialectical discussion. At the end of the work, the question is literally exhausted. It is true that the reader is also. But at least he knows what to adhere to, and if he remians insensible to the technical perfection of such an intellectual style, one can only feel sorry for him. The problem discussed by Alnwick is that of the degree of reality one should attribute to the being of the object known, precisely insofar as it is only an object known in the mind. His conclusion is that, although Duns Scotus attributed a sort of relative being to the object of cognition (esse cognitum), no precise meaning can be found for that thesis. The fact of 'being known' does not imply, in the being that is known, any reality more distinct from it than the fact of representing Caesar implies in the stature of Caesar. On the side of the intellect, the being of a stone, considered as known by it, is none other than the being of the intellect that knows it. Applied ot the problem of divine Ideas, this conclusion leads William of Alnwick to deny that they have, in the divine understanding, a relative intelligibile being (esse secundum quid) which would be, if not created, at least produced."