Saturday, June 21, 2008

Additio auctoris incerti

The following 'addition of uncertain authorship' on the essential unity of spiritual and corporeal matter is appended to Distinction III in some manuscripts of St Bonaventure's Sentences commentary and is printed there in the Quaracchi edition. The editors are not sure whether it is an addition of Bonaventure's own long after the composition of the original work or whether it was added by a later reader. I incline to the latter view, in light of the author's uncertainty about fully embracing Bonaventure's doctrine, and in light of the reference to Avicebron, whose name never appears in Bonaventure's works. Here is the passage, followed by a pretty literal translation:

Haec autem dicta sunt de unitate materiae spiritualium et corporalium secundum essentiam ipsius nudam et absolutam; quoniam secundum esse diversificari habet in diversis non tantum secundum esse accidentale, sed etiam secundum esse substantiale. Unde in diversis secundum substantiam diversificatur substantialiter, sicut patebit in sequenti articulo quaestionis. Licet autem non contingat in natura reperire essentiam materiae ab omnibus formis et dispositionibus denidatam, contingit tamen vere intelligere et aliquid ei vere attribuere, sicut Augustinus, in XII Confessionum docet satis aperte, et in libro De vera Religione, dicit quod est quasi medium inter aliquod et nihil, et Philosophus, in I libro De generatione, dicit quod est ita simplex sicut punctus. Quemadmodum igitur rerum corporearum compositarum et extensarum contingit vere intelligere materiam esse per essentiam simplicem, et hoc per privationem omnis compositionis et extensionis, quamvis secundum esse naturae impossibile sit rerum corporearum materiam ab extensione separari, ut in pluribus locis dicit Augustinus, maxime in libro De immortalitate animae, et Super Genesim ad litteram: sic rerum diversarum et distinctarum et numeratarum vere contingit intelligere materiam per suam essentiam indistinctam et non numeratam, et ita quodammodo numero unam per privationem omnis numerationis et distinctionis, ut praedictum est. Et hoc expresse dicit Commentor, Super I Metaphysicae, in illo capitulo: ‘Quoniam autem in fundamento’, ubi assignat differentiam inter unitatem generis et materiae; id ipsum expressissime dicit, Super XII, ubi etiam dat modum, qualiter hoc possit intelligi, quod diversorum sit materia numero una, ostendens quod hoc potius privitave dicitur quam positive. Hoc ipsum dicit auctor Fons vitae in prima parte sui libri et expresse probat in [X]IV, quod corporalium et spiritualium est materia per essentiam una. Et hoc probat per hoc, quod omnis diversitas est a forma, et per hoc, quod, si spiritualia et corporalia non haberent materiam per essentiam unam, impossibile esset quod aliquid esset eis univocum, quia diversitas radicum prohibet convenientiam in ramis. Aliorum autem auctoritates causa brevitatis omitto. –Et propter haec et his similia dictum fuit a principio, hunc modum dicendi esse philosophicum, quamvis nihil prohibeat, ipsum esse catholicum et theologicum, dum tamen recte intelligatur. In nullo enim modus iste dicendi repugnat dignitati substantiae spiritualis, nec distantiae inter ipsam et corporalem, nec creationi spirituum. Non enim propter hoc oportet ponere, spiritus fieri de materia praeiacente, quia materia, induta forma corporali, non potest illa exspoliari; nec Deus facit contra ea quae stabilivit a principio, et ideo cum creatur substantia spiritualis, necesse est cum ea suam materiam concreari. Et quemadmodum creatio spirituum non tollit eis convenientiam essentialem in unitate formae specificae, sic etiam non tollit unitatem materiae per essentiam nudam et absolutam, quoniam, sicut dictum fuit, maioris amplitudinis est haec unitas quam unitas generis vel speciei; et praeterea nunquam creatur nec creata fuit materia sine aliqua forma, sub qua habet diversificari, sicut dictum est supra. Si quis igitur essentiam materiae nudae potest intelligere, videbit quod satis probabiliter potest dici una numero privative. Et haec sufficit de ista positione.
Est autem et alius hic dicendi modus, quod spiritualium et corporalium non est materia per essentiam una, quantumcumque intelligatur denudari a formis et dispositionibus superadditis, immo adhuc essentialiter distinguuntur se ipsis. Sicut enim prima rerum genera se ipsis distinguuntur, et essentia formae se ipsa distinguitur ab essentia materiae, et essentia materiae a Deo propter simplicitatem; sic essentia materiae se ipsa distinguitur ab essentia materiae. Et secundum hanc positionem, si Deus per infinitatem suae potentiae de corpore faceret spiritum, nihil maneret commune, sed totum transiret in totum. –Et si obiciatur contra hanc positionem, quod omnis diversitas est a forma, et quod solus actus dividit, et consimilia; breviter secundum hanc positionem respondetur quod illum verum est de distinctione et diversitate completa. Sicut enim essentia materiae, omni forma abstracta, est incompleta respectu distinctionis. Et per hoc possunt quasi omnes rationes ad oppositum determinari, sicut patet pertractanti. Et ideo non oportet in hoc diutius immorari. –Utraque igitur harum positionum in hoc concordar, quod spiritualium et corporalium est materia una unitate analogiae. Sed utrum istud sufficiat dicere ad sustinendam unitatem generis—cum substantiarum et accidentium sint principia eadem per analogiam, sicut vult Philosophus, nec tamen habeant unum genus commune—utrum etiam oporteat ad indistinctionem; diu consideranti et bene intelligenti difficile est videre. Et ideo sanius est uni istarum positionum cum formidine partis alterius adhaerere, quam in alteram omnino praecipitare sententiam; maxime cum magistri et probati clerici utrumque dicant.


"But these things are said of the unity of spiritual and corporeal matter according to its naked and absolute essence; for according to its being it has to be diversified in diverse things, not only according to accidental being, but also according to substantial being. Whence things which are diverse according to substance are diversified substantially, as will be clear in the following article of the question. But although it may not happen that one finds in nature the essence of matter denuded of all forms and dispositions, nevertheless one can truly understand it and truly attribute something to it, as Augusine teaches clearly enough in XII Confessionum, and in his book De vera religione he says that [matter] is as it were a medium between something and nothing, and the Philosopher, the first book of De generatione, says that it is as simple as a point. Just as, therefore, one can truly understand matter through its simple essence to be [present] in composite and extended corporeal things, although according to the being of nature it is impossible for the matter of coporeal things to be separated from extension, as Augustine says in many places, especially in his book De immortalitate animae, and Super Genesim ad litteram: so one can also understand matter through its indistinct and unnumbered essence [to be present] in diverse and and distinct and numbered things, and so [one may understand it to be], by a certain kind of number, one through the privation of all enumeration and distinction, as was said before. And the Commentor expressly says this, in Super I Metaphysicae, in the chapter ‘Quoniam autem in fundamento’, where he assigns the difference between the unity of genus and [the unity of] matter; he expressly says the same thing in Super XII, where he gives the way how it can be understood that there can be numerically one matter for diverse things, showing that this is said privatively rather than positively. The author of the Fons vitae says the same thing in the first part of his book and expressly proves in [X]IV that the matter of spiritual and of corporeal things is essentially one. And he proves it this way: every diversity is from form; and this way: if spiritual and corporeal things did not have matter which was essentially one, it would be impossible for them to have anything univocal, for diversity in the roots prevents in the branches. I omit the authorities of others for the sake of brevity. –And on account of these and similar considerations it was said from the beginning that this way of speaking is philosophical, although nothing prohibits it from also being catholic and theological, so long as it is rightly understood. For this way of speaking in no way detracts from the dignity of a spiritual substance, nor from the distance between it and a corporeal [substance], nor from the creation of spirits. For one need not because of this [doctrine] posit that a spirit is made from previously-existing matter, because matter, clothed in corporeal form, cannot be robbed of it; nor does God act against what he has established from the beginning, and therefore when a spiritual substance is created, it is necessary for its matter to be cocreated with it. And just as the creation of spirits does not take from them [their] essential agreement in the unity of [their] specific form, neither also does the unity of matter through its naked and absolute essence take [it from them], because, as was said, this unity is of a greater extent than the unity of genus or species; and furthermore matter is not created nor was ever created without some form under which it is diversified, as was said above. If therefore anyone is able to understand the essence of naked matter, he will see that it can with sufficient probability be called privatively numerically one. And these [words] suffice about this position.
But there is another way of speaking here, [by saying namely that] the matter of spiritual and of corporeal things is not essentially one, howsoever it may be understood to be stripped of form and superadded dispositions, but rather [that the two matters are] still essentially distinguished from one another. For as the primary genera of things are distinguished from one another, and [as] the essence of form is by itself distinguished from the essence of matter, and the essence of matter from God on account of simplicity; so the essence of matter by itself is distinguished from the essence of [the other kind of] matter. And according to this position, if God through the infinity of his power were to make a spirit out of a body, nothing common would remain [between them], but the whole would pass into the whole. –And if it were objected against this position, that all diversity is from form, and that act alone divides, and similar [things were said]; briefly according to this position one would respond that this is true of complete distinction and diversity. For as the essence of matter, abstracted from all form, is incomplete with respect to distinction . . . [lacuna?] And in this way all the arguments for the opposite [side] can be determined, as is clear to anyone who works through it. And therefore one need not be delayed by this matter any longer. –But both of these positions can be harmonized in this one, that the matter of spiritual and of corporeal things is one with the unity of analogy. But whether this is sufficient to preserve the unity of genus—since the principles of substances and of accidents are the same by analogy, as the Philosopher has it, nor nevertheless do they have one common genus—and also whether [this position would seem] sufficient for indistinction, is difficult to see [even] for one who considers and understands [the matter] well. And therefore it is saner to stick to one of these positions together with due respect for the other side, rather than to throw oneself headlong altogether into one opinion; especially since masters and esteemed clerics say each."

6 comments:

Lee Faber said...

interesting. I like the bit about diversity in the roots results in lack of agreement in the branches. It does seem to be in the style of Bonaventure, at least in laying out the opinions of the magnorum, then opting for the least dangerous one.

Michael said...

I neglected in a most unscholarly fashion to clarify that this passage follows distinction 3 of Book II of the commentary. I'm so used to reading this locus in various authors by now that I forgot that others might need specification.

Not that anyone besides Faber is reading this anyway--who am I kidding?

Lee Faber said...

only yourself, mon frere

Michael said...

Odio te, frater meus.

Lee Faber said...

no you don't-you don't have that much will power

Michael said...

Nescio quod dicis.