Sunday, March 30, 2008

Duns Scotus on the Existence of God

Here is an interesting bit on the proposition "God exists" (Deus est); as we all know, Scotus, like all the other scholastics, argues from effects to a cause in his proof for the existence of God. While the following quote will surprise no one, it is interesting as it sheds some light on what he thinks can be known about this proposition. From Reportatio IA d.2 pars 1 q.3 n.10:

As far as the first question is concerned (Whether some being is simply first), I say that, as was said before, according to no concept possible to us in the wayfaring state per se known [Wolter translates per se nota as "self-evident"] about his existence by a demonstration propter quid, because the middle term for demonstrating existence of him is unknown to us, namely the essence of God as this or deity under the aspect of deity. And therefore this proposition "God exists" is not known per se by us nor known propter quid, nor should we despair of knowing him [I suppose...haec propositio Deus est non est per se nota nec nobis nota propter quid, nec est desperatum a nobis cognosci]. Therefore by a demonstration "quia" alone can he be known by us now, as the middle term is taken from an effect. Relational properties are more immediately known by us in a cause than are absolute properties, because according to relative properties we say that he relates [respicere] to every effect according to the properties of causality and productability; and therefore from properties of this sort we must first establish our thesis [I've paraphrased wolter a bit here...sometimes there just aren't enough verbs!]

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