Saturday, August 29, 2009

More Formalist Matters

Ever wonder just what the heck Scotus means by the phrase "ex natura rei" or "esse ibi formaliter"? Me too. Wonder no more, for Scotus himself tells us in an illuminating passage in Reportatio IA d.45 q.1-2 nn.18-20 (ed. Wolter-Bychkov 544):

"...respondeo ad quaestionem et expono duo verba posita in quaestione: quid intelligo per ea, scilicet quid per 'esse aliquid in divinis ex natura rei,' et quid per 'esse ibi formaliter'?

Quantum ad primum dico quod illud est in alio ex natura rei quod est in re, non per aliquem actum comparativum cuiuscumque potentiae: nec per actum intellectus negotiantis nec voluntatis comparantis.

Secundo dico quod illud est in alio formaliter, sive est in aliquo formaliter tale, quod non est in altero potentialiter (ut album est in subiecto nigri potentialiter), nec virtualiter (ut effectus in causa et passio in subiecto), nec confuse (ut extrema in medio et miscibilia in mixto) -- sed dico hoc esse 'tale formaliter' et esse 'formaliter' in alio, quod est in eo actualiter, determinate et distincte, et secundum suam rationem quiditativam, circumscripto omni actu cuiuslibet potentiae comparativae, -- et isto modo dico voluntatem Dei esse in sua essentia formaliter et ex natura rei."

And the translation for the differently abled:

"...I respond to the question by explaining two expressions used in this question: what do I understand by the expressions 'for something to be in the divine from the nature of things' and 'to be there formally'?

As far as the first is concerned, I say that for something to be in something else from the nature of things' means for it to be there really, and not as a result of some relational act of some potency: neither through the processing act of the intellect nor [through] the relating [act of the] will.

[Regarding the] second, I say that for something to be in another formally, or to be in something formally 'such', [first of all] means that it should not be in that other potentially (as white is potentially in the substrate of [something] black), nor virtually (as an effect is in a cause or an attribute in a subject), nor confusedly (as extremes are in the mean and components in a mixture). On the contrary, for something to be 'formally such' or [simply] 'formally' in another is for it to be in it actually, determinately and distinctly, as well as according to its quidditative principle, apart from every act of any relating potency--and it is in this way, I say, that the divine will is in his essence formally and from the nature of things."

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