Friday, December 28, 2007

William of Alnwick on intelligible being

Now that my beautifully rebound copy of De esse intelligibili has arrived, I have begun reading the first question. When time permits, I will attempt to blog on all the questions in the work (there are six questions). The first question is "utrum esse repraesentatum obiecti repraesentati sit idem realiter cum forma repraesentante, et est idem, utrum esse cognitum obiecti cogniti sit idem realiter cum actu cognoscendi." The Parisian players he is opposing, according to Ledoux, are James of Ascoli and Henry of Harclay. Henry of Ghent is probably just off-stage. William himself answers the twofold question yes and yes; the form (=intelligibile species) representing the object outside the mind is the same as the intelligibile being the object has in the mind. He does mention esse deminutum, which can be found in Scotus as well (Owens has an article on the topic)but I think it's being used in a different sense; Idon't recall Scotus positing it as a sort of being midway between real being and being of reason, which is the position William is attacking. Ledoux refers us to Ord. I d. 36 (I don't have my books handy so I can't follow up). The language does sound a bit like that of the formal distinction, as his opponents apparently think there is some distinction between the form representing and the representative being (albeit an intentional one) that holds prior to the operation of the intellect, human or divine.

I'll post a quote here on the different sorts of being that he attributes to his opponents, and his own opinion later.

"Esse reale est illud quod convenit rei ut existit formaliter et in natura propria et tale esse non convenit nisi singulari vel ei quod habet esse in singulari, quia solum singulare existit in natura propria per se et primo; universalia autem non existunt nisi ut habent esse in singularibus de quo esse intelligitur illud Philosophi in Praedicamentis, 'destructis primis impossible est aliquod aliorum remanere.

Esse vero intentionale est illud quod convenit rei ut habet esse repraesentative sive esse repraesentatum in aliquo alio ente reali, et quia repraesentari in aliquo alio obiective indifferenter convenit tam universali quam singulari, ideo esse intentionale convenit tam universali quam singulari, ideo esse intelligibile non magis appropriat sibi esse universale quam singulare nec e converso, et tale esse intentionale est debilius esse reali et ideo semper fundatur in ipso licet obiective.

Esse vero rationis convenit rei ut habet esse conceptus in sola consideratione intellectus operantis et tale cum sit esse diminutum, semper praesupponit alterum duorum praecedentium.

Dicunt igitur quod esse intentionale non est esse reale, quia potest convenire rei non existenti in natura propria, nec etiam esset esse rationis quia enti rationis repugnat existere in re; ei autem quod habet esse repraesentatum in aliquo et esse obiectivum in anima non repugnat existere in re, ideo istud esse intentionale est medium, ut dicunt, inter esse reale et esse rationis. Consimiliter distinguunt de distinctione, quia sicut triplex est esse, ita triplex est distinctio consequens, scilicet realis, intentionalis et rationis."

Bad translation:

"Real being is that which befalls a thing as it exists formally and in its proper nature, and such being does not befall anything except a singular or that which has being in the singular, because only the singular exists in its proper nature per se and primarily. Universals, however, do not exist unless they have being in singulars, about which we should understand that statement of Aristotle that 'with the first things destroyed it is impossible for something of the others to remain.

Intentional being is that which befalls a thing as it has being representatively or to be represented in some other real being, and because to be represented in some other objectively is suited to both the universal and the singular indifferently, therefore intelligible being does not draw closer to universal being or singular being, and such intentional being is weaker than real being and therefore is always founded in it, although objectively.

Being of reason befalls a thing as it is a concept only in the consideration of an operating intellect and such being, since it is diminished, always presupposed one of the two preceding.

They say therefore, that intentional being is not real being, because it can befall a thing not existing in its proper nature, nor also is it a being of reason because it is repugnant to beings of reason to exist in reality; to that however which has representative being in something and objective being in the soul it is not repugnant to exist in reality, therefore that intentional being is medium, they say, between real being and being of reason. Likewise they distinguish about distinction, because just as there is a threefold being, so there is a threefold distinction consequent to it, namely, real, intentional, and rational.


Ocham said...

I was intrigued by

'destructis primis impossible est aliquod aliorum remanere'

I can find no such passage in Boethius translation of the Categories. But it resembles this:

'Si ergo primae substantiae non sunt, impossibile est aliquid esse caeterorum. '

And I suspect what William is quoting is a later translation, which I do not have a copy of. In any case, 'destructis primis' is clearly referring to 'first substances' i.e. individuals

William sounds interesting, tho' I know practically nothing about him.

Lee Faber said...

Interesting. I don't know much about him either as I just started reading him. A few of his texts have been edited, and a few more are on the way.

Does this quote of Alnwick's show up in the florilegia? such as Hamesse Auctoritates Aristotelis