Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Auriol on Scotus on Intuitive Cognition and the Beatific Vision

Here is an interesting summary of some of Scotus' views by Peter Auriol, that seems to me to be fairly accurate. This is from a discussion of the nature of theology, specifically of Scotus and Godfrey's criticisms of Henry of Ghent's special mode of illumination restricted to theologians, the lumen medium.

Petrus Aurioli, Scriptum super primum Sententiarum, Prooemium sect. 2 (ed. Buytaert vol. 1 p. 191):

"Primo quidem, quid est notitia abstractiva et intuitiva. Est enim intuitiva, quae concernit rei praesentialitatem et existentiam, et terminatur ad rem ut in se existentem. Abstractiva vero dicitur quae abstrahit ab esse et non esse, existere et non existere, et a praesentialitate; quemadmodum rosam intueor dum eam praesentem conspicio, abstractive vero cognosco dum eius quidditatem et naturam considero. hae autem duae sunt possibiles in intellectu; certum est enim quod angelus intuetur rosam dum est; cuius tamen essentiam abstractive considerat, etiam dum non existit.

Secundo vero probant quod divina essentia possit cognosci abstractive, sicut et quelibet quiddiativa natura; Deus enim potest facere sola voluntate, quidquid facere potest mediante sua essentia; sed mediante sessentia movet intellectum beati ad suam notitiam claram et nudam, quae quidem est intuitiva, pro eo quod terminatur ad eam, ut praesentem realiter et existentem, quoniam ut sic movet. Ergo sola voluntate poterit movere intellectum ad notitiam suae essentiae nudae et clarae. Certum est autem quod talis notitia sub illa ratione terminatur ad divinam esentiam, sub qua ratione intellectus movetur ad eam; non movetur autem per praesentialitatem et existentiam essentiae divinae, sed per imperium omnipotentis voluntatis. Ergo nec terminabitur talis notita ad essentiam ut existentem et praesentem, sed ad essentiam mere abstrahendo ab existentia et praesentialitate et per conseuqens non erit intuitiva, sed potius abstractiva."


First indeed, what is abstractive and intuitive knowledge. Intuitive knowledge is that which concerns the presence and existence of a thing, and is terminated to the thing as it is existing in itself. Abstractive cognition, however, is that which abstracts from being and non being, existence and non existence, and from presence[or presenciality]. Just as when I cognize a rose, I consider it as present, but when I know it abstractivly I consider its quiddity and nature. These are two possible [modes of cognition?] in the intellect; for it is certain that an angel knows a rose while it is, nevertheless it considers its essence abstractivly, even while it does not exist.

Second they prove that the divine essence can be known abstractivly, just as any other quidditative nature; for God can do by means of his will alone, whatever he can do by means of his essence; but by means of his essence he can move the intellect of the blessed to clear and naked knowledge of himself, which indeed is intuitive, on account of the fact that the intellect of the blessed terminates at the divine essence as really present and existing, since as such it moves. therefore by the will alone he can move the intellect to clear and naked knowledge of his essence. It is certain that such knowledge under that aspect is terminated to the divine essence, under which aspect the intellect is moved to it; it is not moved, however, by the presence and existence of the divine essence, but through the command of the omnipotent will. therefore such knowledge will not be terminated by the essence as existing and present, but to the essence merely by abstracting from the existence and presence and consequently it will not be intuitive but rather abstractive.


Michael said...

Does Scotus really think that whether we know God intuitively or abstractly is based only on whether our intellect is moved by God's will alone or also by his existence and presence? How could we tell the difference? If God moves our intellect by his will, isn't his existence and presence presupposed therein? I find this a little confusing. Auriol seems to be saying a) we can have intuitive knowledge of God; and b) God can cause us to have intuitive knowledge of himself which, due only to a formal wrinkle in its causation, is also (only?) abstractive. But is the knowledge itself any different in b)?

This also leads me to some reflections on the whole "existing and present" dimension of intuitive knowledge. How do we know a thing is existing and present, in the ordinary course of things, except from the senses? But this seems to imply that intuitive cognition of other things is generally founded on the intuitive cognition of our own acts. Does this sound right?

Lee Faber said...

Well, as you say yourself, the damned don't have intuitive knowledge of God, so it would make sense to say God moves the intellect to awareness of his presence. But i don't recall Scotus ever being this explicit on the divine will's role in beatific cognition. The general summary seems to me to be based on the prologue to the Reportatio, and there is nothing like this in that text; maybe he is blending it with some stuff from book IV. Anyway, don't forget the basic distinction between abstrative (=quidditative, no presence) and intuitive (presence, no quidditative).

Remember that one of the arguments he gives for intuitive cognition is a minori based on the fact that the senses have this knowledge; in the ordinary course of things he seems to be pretty explicit we don't have intuitive knowledge of things outside the soul.

Michael said...

No offense, O Titanius Anglesmith, Fancyman of Cornwood, but I'm not sure how your comment addresses mine. Is the "clear and naked knowledge of his essence" which would be caused by the divine will actually different in character from that caused by the divine presence and existence? In what respect? Wouldn't the divine presence and existence accompany the divine will in this knowledge-making act?

And when did I say something about the damned? Is your point that God gives the damned an abstractive "clear and naked knowledge of his essence" different from the Beatific Vision? Why would we think that? Maybe I'm confused.

As for intuitive cognition of extra-mental things in this life, I thought the jury was still out. E.g. I interpreted the discussion in QQ in Metaphysicorum VII.15 as implying that, when there is sensible vision of an object, the intellect receives a non-quidditative apprehension of the singular as an existing and present undifferentiated "simul totum" by reflecting on the phantasm, which is present to the intellect prior to the act of abstraction which produces understanding proper. Possibly I have this all wrong, though.

Lee Faber said...

AD par. 1: Mayhap I don't get what you're getting at. I would think any knowledge, abstractive or intuitive would require some act of the divine will, prior to the actual knowledge on the part of the soul...are you suggesting we have intutive knowledge of that divine act as well? I suppose if being is the object of the intellect, it's hard to even say that the divine will is necessary. [Scotus does think, similar to Henry of Ghent's lumen medium, that we can have abstractive knowledge of God in this life...but he is not forthcoming on where we get the species]

AD 2: I was referencing private conversations on the necessity of the lumen gloriae. If being is the object of the intellect, it seems hard to deny the damned the vision of God. but if the damned don't have the vision of God, then the elect were probably elevated somehow. Perhaps not directly relevant.

AD 3: Well, maybe. He was pretty explicit in QQ. in Met. Book I that there is no intuitive cognition in this life, and the only kind he admits in the Ordinatio is of our own acts of intellect and will (and something else which I forget...but it was immaterial, maybe knowing the truth of a principle by knowing the terms...you;'ll run across this soon enough if you keep reading the Ordinatio. its d. 3 q.4)