Thursday, September 10, 2009

A New Discovery

In a comment to my post from last night, one of our anonymous readers writes the following:

Hurry, before I start solving the problem about how many angels are on a pinhead!

Hopefully the Scotus installment for tonight will sate the hunger of our ravenous audience for a while. But if not, I hereby announce a discovery which will render anonymous' project superfluous: the only known scholastic discussion of this famous question. I found the following disputation in one of the many medieval codices lying around in my library, in a collection of little-known quodlibets by the obscure but brilliant Ioannis de Ultima Thule. Although short and in especially barbarous jargon, nevertheless its unique character makes it a highly significant text. You heard it here first! Enjoy:

Utrum possit determinari quanti angeli in capite acus sunt.

Interrogatus est quanti angeli sunt in capite acus. Et arguitur quod numerus est infinitus. Quia angelus nulli magni magnitudini est. Ergo, etc.

Contra: angelus est pura intelligentia. Sed caput acus est stultus. Intelligentiarum autem cum stultorum non societatum potest esse. Ergo videtur quod numerus angelorum in capite acus est nullum.

Respondeo quod stultus quoque habet curatorem angelum, qui non eum relinqueret quamvis stolidus. Ergo numerus est unus.


Here is my translation:

Whether it can be determined how many angels are on a pinhead.

It was asked how many angels are on a pinhead. And it is argued that the number is infinite. For an angel has no magnitude, therefore, etc.

On the contrary: an angel is a pure intelligence. But a pinhead is stupid, and there can be no association between the intelligent and the stupid. Therefore it seems that the number of angels on a pinhead is none.

I respond that even a stupid person has a guardian angel, who would not desert him no matter how dumb he might be. Therefore the number is one.

7 comments:

Brandon said...

Awesome!

Anonymous said...

"I respond that even a stupid person has a guardian angel, who would not desert him no matter how dumb he might be. Therefore the number is one."

If this is true, then for heaven's sake, what has happened to yours?

Thus, it would appear then that even guardian angels themselves have only so much patience for particularly stupid people.

Dixi.

Michael said...

I have no idea what this comment is supposed to mean. Are you insulting me? Why?

Anonymous said...

Apologies. It would seem that I mistook your recent post as having mistaken my original post in a preceding entry as a derogatory attack on your person.

Must be due to my spending too many excessive hours at study combined with a lack of sleep.

Enjoy the Weekend.

Michael said...

I mistook your recent post as having mistaken my original post in a preceding entry as a derogatory attack on your person.

I took that original post--in which you seemed to say you were reading and enjoying my entries and were looking forward to more--as a compliment! It also suggested the joke I made here.

Chalk it up to the internet obscuring a writer's intended tone once again.

Anonymous said...

"Chalk it up to the internet obscuring a writer's intended tone once again."

Indeed, not even those childish emoticons are able to compensate for that. ;^)


"I took that original post--in which you seemed to say you were reading and enjoying my entries and were looking forward to more--as a compliment!"

Rest assured, that was the spirit in which it was actually intended.

Hope you maintain this past week's display of serial posting in the following weeks to come.

You do us all an invaluable service since Scotus these days is often obscured or, at worst, even unheard of whereas Aquinas is often touted as being the only exemplary Scholastic deserving prominent attention.

Again, you have my gratitude.

Ocham said...

>>stultus quoque habet curator angelus

??