Wednesday, July 30, 2008

John de Bassolis contra Henry of Ghent

Here's a quote from Ioannes de Bassolis, one of the students of Scotus at Paris. No manuscripts of his writings survive, though his Sentence commentary was printed in the 15th or so century. It is believed to have been redacted around 1320. In the quote he will be arguing against Henry of Ghent's view in Quodlibet V q.1 in which he claims that the divine attributes are known by the divine intellect purely by knowing the divine essence, not by knowing creatures, as Godfrey of Fontaines and Thomas of Sutton claim in attacking Henry. Henry's view is that the divine attributes are in quasi potency, "in radice" in the divine essence, and the divine intellect, by "negotiando", somehow moving around the divine essence moves the perfections from potency to act. Henry also seems to posit the three acts of the intellect into the divine intellect, all the while protesting his adherence to divine simplicity and unity.

I. de Bassolis In I Sent. d.22 q.3 (f.138)

"Contra secundam opinionem arguo primo sic: quod attributa saltem omnia non distinguantur per intellectum, quia intellectus est quoddam attributum. Sed intellectus non distinguitur primo per opus intellectus, quia opus distinctum necessario praesupponit intellectum distinctum, aliquando actus distinguendi; ita bene est per essentiam et per bonitatem sicut per intellectum, quod est falsum. Similiter etiam est contra eos, quia si est per essentiam est ex natura rei talis distinctio, oportet ergo ibi ponere intellectum formaliter et distinctum ex natura rei. Non enim distincta potentia est originaliter per distinctum actum sed per distinctam potentiam et a distincta potentia est distinctus actus, quaere etc.

Translation: "Against the second opinion, I argue first so: that all the attributes at least are not distinguished by the intellect because the intellect is a certain attribute. But the intellect is not distinguished primarily by an operation of the intellect, because a distinct operation necessarioly presupposes a distinct intellect [and] some act of distinguishing; so it is as well as distinguished b goodness as by the intellect, which is false. Likewise against them, because if there is distinction through essence, the distinction is such from the nature of the thing, therefore it is necessary to posit there formally the intellect and it as distinct from the nature of the thing. For a distinct power is not orginally by a distinct act, but a distinct act is by a distinct power and from a distinct power, wherefore etc."

6 comments:

Michael said...

John's rebuttal seems pretty clearly on point. More generally, Henry's position sounds just insane. What is this negotiando, and how does it not imply movement or discursive action, and how is that not ridiculous?

Lee Faber said...

I am not really sure; no one else that I have read uses this term to describe cognition. It sort of does imply discursive action, there's no way out. Plus it renders bits of the divine essence from potency to act. Of course, for there to be something in potency or in radice as he says, one would think it would have to be there ex natura rei, which he would deny if it were put like that to him. Auriol has a similar argument to de Bassolis, which is actually more coherent and damaging to Henry which Ill post if i have time.

Midi said...

Smithy, great site and fantastic posts. I have a question that, although off topic, will be of interest to those who read the site. Any suggestions for a one-stop website (or multiple websites) for new titles out in medieval philosophy? Does Amazon have something like this?

Lee Faber said...

I haven't seen anything...I've tried to list the main publishers of reputable scholarship on the sidebar, though the best method is just to be on the inside and know the scholars and what they're currently working on.

Brunellus said...

There's a pretty good list in the Bibliographie section of the Centre Pierre Abélard.

Scott Williams said...

The 'in radice' just means that there really is some object to be known. Henry does explicitly deny any kind of discursive reasoning by any divine person. So, you just have to take 'negotiando' as 'cognizing' or something bland like that. Like most everyone else, Henry asserts that a divine person knows everything to be known about the divine essence by one intuitive (immediate) cognition. To figure out how what Henry means by supposing that the divine intellect is rationally distinct from the divine essence you should look at what he says about the powers of the human soul (I think it is Quod. 3.11 or 3.14?). I have recently come to consider that one source for Henry's doctrine here might be Hilary of Poitiers's De Trinitate. In any case, Henry does NOT posit discursive reasoning in God, he explicitly denies it.