Tuesday, August 19, 2008

King Bonaventure

I came across the following quote from Stephen Brulifer, comparing Bonaventure and Scotus: "Unde merito comparatur hic doctor, S. Bon. leoni tanquam rex inter doctores, Scotus autem aquilae quae est rex avium"

12 comments:

Michael said...

Dulce et decens.

Actually I wonder why. I might be inclined to put Scotus as the lion, due to the strength and vigor of his thought, and Bonaventure as the eagle, due to his mystical synthesizing. I dunno . . .

Lee Faber said...

Well, the context was how Bonaventure was great and how he sort of developed the formal distinction, but Scotus was super great because he did awesome stuff with it.

Lee Faber said...

You know, I think our blog is more interesting than most other ones...I guess that's the point of blogs in the first place.

Brandon said...

Ah, then Aquinas must be the ox. But who's the man?

Michael said...

Ockham.

Anonymous said...

Apologies folks if my inquiry here appears to be off-topic and, even further, out-of-place; however, I didn't know to what extent you give attention to past topics previously introduced on the blog.

I have been engaged in a self-study and came across this little bit here from an earliert post from you gentlemen:

"While working through Peter Thomae's first question in his Quaestiones de esse intelligibli, I came across a rather interesting section, in which he gave eight arguments ex experientia, something I have not seen a Latin scholastic do before."

I was of the impression based on a book I have been immersed in (admittedly, superficially at the moment due to current constraints) that such arguments ex experentia were, amongst others, led to the downfall of the Scholastics in the first place due to their neglect of such matters of induction.

From the current literature I have been going over, it is purported that it wasn't until the likes of one Francis Bacon in his Novus Organum when finally the purpose of Logic was finally applied as a means to towards making discoveries regarding the laws and phenomena of nature finally came into actual practice.

While I submit to the certain opinion of Woods that the Scientific Method itself may have found the order of its Logic in the Scholastics; however, as to the matter of actual arguments made ex experentia, wasn't this the fruit of those who came thereafter?

Just wondering your thoughts on this, if at all possible, since I believe given your expertise in all things Scholastic, you might have the better opinion.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Corrigendum:

From the current literature I have been going over, it is purported that it wasn't until the likes of one Francis Bacon in his Novus Organum when finally the purpose of Logic (in contrast to how it was typically applied in the glory days of the Scholastics) was finally formally viewed (and utilized) as such towards making discoveries regarding the laws and phenomena of nature as opposed to the metaphysical as well as epistemological endeavors of which this was its original purpose.


(Apologies, please make what you will with whatever coherence you might find in my rather hasty articulation of the thoughts concerning arguments made ad ex experentia in the above comments.)

Brandon said...

'Ockham' should never be used to answer the question, "Who's the man?"

Lee Faber said...

anonymous,
so, the scholastics use arguments from experience, but the neglect of such arguments led to their downfall?

Seriously, however, I would say that the books you are reading are uninformed. I would suggest (if you read german) that you read Anneliese Maier who wrote numerous articles on medieval science/natural philosophy, especially the 14th century material. If you don't read german, a volume of her essays has been translated under the title "on the threshold of exact science" Also see fr. Wallace, "the modelling of nature." Hmm...I'm starting to sound like someone...

in the latter work Fr. wallace shows how Dietrich of freiberg (died ca. 1320, and a scholastic), came up with the correct optical/mathetical explanation of the rainbow by using a version of quia and propter quid demonstrations.

Maier thinks that while the scholastics came pretty close to developing modern science they in fact did not (contra the Duhem thesis, apparently), and were prevented by doing so for two reasons: they couldn't shake off the aristotelian principle that everything that is moved is moved by another [though both Scotus and HEnryu of Ghent in fact do, so i'm not too sure about this], as well as the theory that "qualitites as such are independent autonomous factors in natural processes, which as 'intensive magnitudes,' figure alonside spatial and temporal magnitudes, and like them, can be regarded as directly measurable and mathematically comprehensdible quantities", to quote p. 148.

as for the dissolution of scholasticism, that is another matter about which i have many theories and speculations, but at the moment i don't think enough information is really available to determine it.
hope this helps

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Lee,

so, the scholastics use arguments from experience, but the neglect of such arguments led to their downfall?

Not that they did not use such arguments, but rather, as even one of you attested, it was atypical of them; that is, I was more so referring to its striking lack of use in this regard.

To put it more precisely (within the context of the book I am reading dealing with Scholasticism), the perceived lack of use of such arguments (indeed, the very view espoused by Bacon -- assuming, that is, this was a matter of fact rather than mere bias and/or conjecture -- which is why I was deferring to you gentlemen due to your expertise in Scholasticism) for the very purpose of discovery toward laws and phenomena of nature.

I grant you, as I mentioned previously, that the type of systematic thought typical of the Scholastics may have, in fact, given rise to the Scientific Method itself (which I believe even Thomas Woods is also of the same opinion); however, current popular opinion is such that it was due to the Scholastics' obsession with things only of such trivial nature as that of "the number of angels on the head of a pin" kind that had led to its very downfall as opposed to devoting itself to more 'noble' pursuits as the one purportedly advocated by Bacon.

At any rate, as always, I am ever thankful to you gentlemen -- not only for putting up with me but also for replying to my queries! -- and look forward to further assistance/feedback, if at all possible.

Thanks again & God bless you both!

Michael said...

" it was due to the Scholastics' obsession with things only of such trivial nature . . ."

I think this is a key point, in addition to those mentioned by my esteemed colleague. The scholastics were perfectly capable of the "scientific method" and in fact were directly responsible for its possibility; the reason they did not pursue "modern science" is that they were preoccupied with things of such trivial nature as the nature of God and the human soul and the way to salvation. What changed with Bacon et al. is not their knowledge or conceptual framework by which to think about the world so much as a desire for power rather than for salvation, a desire for results rather than for the Good, a desire for effective cogitation rather than for ennobling contemplation. They wanted not to transcend Nature but to subjugate her.

"Subjugate"--this is one of those words one uses without thinking about it. It just occurs to me that it means "to make pass under the yoke," as the Romans did to their conquered foes. This is exactly what modern science's whole aim consists in. One cannot imagine the medievals treating in such a way the "Dame Natura" of Boethius, and this is what sets them apart from their "enlightened" Renaissance heirs.

All right, that's enough tendentiousness from me for one night.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Michael:

The scholastics were perfectly capable of the "scientific method" and in fact were directly responsible for its possibility...

I have no doubts about this.

I (like Woods, I think) believe that it was the Scholastics themselves that was responsible for the systematic logical framework which the Scientific Method itself was based.

No doubt, they would have been very capable of coming to the same fruitful discoveries that came as a result of it; let alone, applying it.


...they were preoccupied with things of such trivial nature as the nature of God and the human soul and the way to salvation.

What changed with Bacon et al. is not their knowledge or conceptual framework by which to think about the world so much as a desire for power rather than for salvation, a desire for results rather than for the Good, a desire for effective cogitation rather than for ennobling contemplation. They wanted not to transcend Nature but to subjugate her.



Thanks for this! This was actually a rather profound thought given the context of why things were back then and to why things evolved to where we are today, both spiritually and as a civilization.

The shifting from this particular philosophy to that of science almost seems like a microcosm of the Fall wherein the objective of the latter became that of our becoming like gods, after the same manner of the Story of the Fall in Genesis.

Of course, I'm also in need of sleep as well, in which case what I just said may be purely nonsensical, although it seems to make some sense to me at this time.

G'Nite!