Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dietrich of Freiberg on Univocity

Here are some remarks of Dietrich's I came across, though their actual status (what he himself thinks of them) is unclear to me. The first paragraph appears to be a position he himself rejects.

De visione beatifica, 4.2.1 (Opera omnia I, 109)

positions of "others"

"Quamvis autem uniquicque enti determinato correspondeat aliqua determinata et propria ratio apud intellectum agentem sive ex prioribus rei secundum naturam sive ex posterioribus confecta, in qua unumquodque entium intelligitur, totalitati tamen seu universitati entium non respondet aliqua una communis ratio univoca, quae adaequet totam entium universitatem, sed sola universalitas talis intellectus, quae attenditur in essentia sua, correspondet universitati seu totalitati entium.

Cuius causa est, quoniam propria ratio rei dicens quid est seu ipsae partes formales, ex quibus huiusmodi ratio conficitur, habent rationem principii respectu rei, cuius est propria ratio, principii, inquam, et secundum rationem essendi et secundum rationem innotescendi seu intelligendi. Ratio autem concepta virtute intellectus agentis de entibus separatis, si qua sunt puri intellectus, non habet ratinem principii respectu eorum. Esset enim intellectus agens talibus entibus separatis et principium intelligendi et principium essendi in genere intelligibilium, quod est impossibile."

Dietrich responds with some statements based on the De anima that the agent intellect does make all things to be in the soul.

Translation [a painful one]:

"Although there corresponds some determinate and proper ratio in the agent intellect to any determinate being, or from something prior of the thing acccording to nature or gathered from posteriors, in which any being is understood, nevertheless some one common univocal notion does not correspond to the totality or university of beings, a notion which is adequate to the total universe of beings, but only the universality of such an intellect, which is noted in its own essence, does there correspond to the totality or universality of beings.

The cause of which is, since the proper notion of a thing means the what it is or its formal parts, from which a notion of this kind is constructed, it has the notion of a principle with respect to the thing, of which it is the proper notion; principle, I say, and according to the notion of being and according to the notion of coming to know or understanding. But a notion conceived by the power of the agent intellect of separate beings, if they are of the intellect alone, does not have the notion of principle with respect to them. For the agent intellect would be a principle of understanding and of being for such separate beings in the genus of intelligibiles, which is impossible.


CrimsonCatholic said...

Are these explanations intened to address how the intellect can be in potential all things, by a ratio of the intellect to all determinate beings, yet intellect itself is not the principle of being, either in what is known or in the knower?

Not knowing the context or the background very well, I could use some education on the subject.

Lee Faber said...

Man, I could use some education on Dietrich as well. He's my own personal nightmare this semester (I've read three of his lengthier treatises).

BAsically, he seems to endorse a broadly aristotelian account of cogniton (mediated through the arabs), with some neoplatonism thrwn in for good measure. He thinks the four greatest philosophers are Plato, Aristotle, Proculus and (the Proclean) Liber de Causis. So, while he will talk about the agent intellect, the possible intellect, and intelligible species, I'm not at all sure that he holds that intelligible species are "abstracted" out of the phantasm. This seems redundant (in my view) for him, because he already has the agent intellect acting as the efficient cause of the soul, the highest spiritual peak of man, equates it with the abditum mentis of Augustine, says it is directly returning into itself and cognizing God, and that in virute of cognizing God it contains the universitas entium within itself. So it may be a form of idealism. But in one treatise he kind of hedges and says that we don't have any access or awreness of it in this life (because otherwise it looks like we would be beatified in this life). So I would say intellect is the principle of being and beings.

If you want to try your hand at this first hand, one of the marquette philosophical translations volumes is devoted to Dietrich's on the intellect and the intelligible, and if you're latin is up to it, Felix Meiner verlag publishes the opera omnia (it runs at about $160 a volume). I would have to read it several times to figure it out, and probably read Proclus first.

This particular remark is buried in an objection to something else; I only posted it becvause he mentions a view similar to Scotus's, though he doesn't have much to say on it.

Lee Faber said...

oh yeah. plus, my translation is just plain ghastly. I find him fairly difficult to understand.