Thursday, January 14, 2010

Petrus Thomae Disagrees With Everyone

The following is from Petri Thomae Quodlibet, Q.3, page 43-44. Petrus has been discussing the transcendentals, and in the present section he is examining various definitions of truth. After a lot of discussion he breaks out in this rash of contradiction:

Ex praedictis concludo corollarie, primo quod veritas formaliter est in re, nam veritas et entitas convertuntur: cum ergo entitas sit in re formaliter, ergo et veritas. Secundo, quod veritas non est formaliter secunda intentio. Tertio, quod veritas non est formaliter et completive id quod est per intellectum, ut ponit Thomas, Parte I, quaestione 16. Quarto, quod veritas non est essentialiter in intellectu tantum, ut dicit Godefridus. Quinto, quod non habet tantummodo esse obiective in intellectu, ut dicunt Hervaeus et Durandus. Sexto, quod veritas non est sola indivisio esse et eius quod est, ut dicit Alexander Minor in Scripto super Primum Sententiarum. Septimo, quod veritas non est formaliter conformitas producti ad producens, ut Scotus dicit Super VIII Metaphysicae: tunc enim non converteretur cum ente, cum non omne ens sit productum, ut patet de Patre in divinis et de ipsa divina essentia. Octavo, quod veritas non est formaliter conformitas rei ad intellectum vel e converso, vel adaequatio rei et intellectus, ut dicunt plures. Nono, quod veritas non est formaliter manifestativitas vel declarativitas, ut dicut alii: haec enim formaliter respectum importare videntur. Decimo, quod veritas non est formaliter assecutio debiti. Undecimo, quod non est formaliter segregatio ab extraneo. Duodecimo, quod non est formaliter ipsa rei quiditas. Tertiodecimo et ultimo, quod vanum est quaerere quid sit veritas, nam quaestio quid est de aliquo, ad quam non potest proprie responderi nisi in praedicamento, videtur vana; sed ad istam quaestionem qua quaeritur quid est veritas, non potest proprie responderi nisi quod veritas est ipsa veritas; ergo vanum videtur de ipsa quaerere quid est.


Translation:

From the aforesaid I conclude as corollaries: 1) That truth is formally in the thing, for truth and entity are convertible: therefore since entity is in the thing formally, therefore so is truth. 2) That truth is not formally a second intention. 3) That truth is not formally and completively that which is through the intellect, as Thomas says in Prima Pars Q.16. 4) That truth is not essentially in the intellect alone, as Godfrey says. 5) That it does not have only objective being in the intellect, as Hervaeus and Durandus say. 6) That truth is not just the indivision of being and its essence, as Alexander Minor says in I Sent. 7) That truth is not formally the conformity of the produced to its producer, as Scotus says in QQ In Met. VIII: for then it would not be convertible with being, since not every being is produced, as is clear of God the Father and of the divine essence itself. 8) That truth is not formally conformity of the intellect to the thing and conversely, or the adaequation of thing and intellect, as many say. 9) That truth is not formally manifestivity or declarativity, as others say: for these [definitions] seem to formally bring in a relation. 10) That truth is not formally the comprehension of what should [be comprehended]. 11) That it is not formally the segregation [of the essence] from what is extraneous to it. 12) That it is not formally the quiddity of the thing itself. [N.B. 10-12 are aimed at Aureol, who is not named here because Petrus has discussed his opinions by name earlier in the question.] 13) Lastly, that it is vain to ask what truth is, for the question "what is it?" about anything, to which there can be no proper response except in a category, seems vain: but to this question, by which it is asked what truth is, there can be no proper response [because truth is not a categorical formality, but a transcendental], except that truth is truth itself: therefore it seems vain to ask about it what it is.


On the one hand, Petrus seems to have some good points. If truth is in fact considered to be a transcendental, such that it is convertible with being and goodness, then it does seem difficult to see how it can exist in the intellect alone, or as a relation. On the other hand, it's singularly unsatisfying to be told "truth is truth, and that's all there is to it". Earlier he has stated that the term truth is a "simply simple" concept, that that it cannot be reduced to anything more primitive and so is incapable of definition. This is all well and good, but some explanation would be nice.

To be fair to Petrus, after dealing with goodness in similar terms--"goodness is goodness and there's no definition of it"--he does go on to examine and try to explain how truth and goodness as transcendental properties existing in every being are related to their apprehension by the intellect and the will. But the way he goes about here is funny and a little shocking at first.

10 comments:

Lee Faber said...

I see you've been busy. The explanation should lie in Scotus, Ord. I d.3 q.3 where there is a discussion of simpliciter simplex concepts.

Michael said...

Welcome back, Faber! (If you're back.)

Think I've been busy here? Check this out:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/01/an_offer_you_must_refuse.html

My part doesn't really start until about halfway down, but then I'm arguing simultaneously with a Thomist defending sweet sweet Scotism and with an atheist defending Reason.

AT said...

Not understanding all the ways mentioned that are not the truth I think I can agree in a way with Petrus Thomae - it is not any of them because it is all of them. I have in fact over the last 20 or 30 years come to this position: we don't know what anything is but only what they are not. This is the way Aquinas says we know (not know) God. But, we can still make positive statements about things though they are all analogical. I think Aquinas would agree because he states in several places we cannot know the essence of things.

Michael said...

AT,

I'm afraid I can't agree with you. If we can only know what things are not, then we have no precise quidditative knowledge of anything, and I just don't think this is true. Furthermore we do have accurate definitions of things which are not established by negations. We define a triangle as "a rectilinear figure with three sides and three angles", not as "not a square, not a pentagon, not a hexagon, not a heptagon, not an octogon, not a cheese, not an epic poem, not a quasar . . ."

Even as far as God is concerned, Scotus points out that to carry an intelligibility every negation has to be established by a prior affirmation, or else one is not saying anything. Scotus therefore rejects the thesis that our knowledge is purely apophatic, even for God, because we can say positively and affirmatively that God is an infinite being, that he is knowing and willing, etc., even if we have to qualify some of our affirmations by "but not in the finite creaturely mode" or something like that.

As for analogy, it seems to me that not all positive statements can be analogical, if there is to be a distinction between pure univocity and analogy at all. When I say "A dog is an animal," I am not speaking analogically.

I think Aquinas would agree because he states in several places we cannot know the essence of things.

If we cannot know the essence of a natural creature exhaustively--and no doubt this is true--that does not imply that we can have no true quidditative knowledge of it.

Michael said...

By the way, Faber, I didn't mean explanation for the meaning of "simply simple", since I have in fact read that part of Ord.--I meant explanation for the status of "veritas" as such a concept and how so many "mistaken definitions" arise about a self-evidently simplex.

Lee Faber said...

Michael,

I don't think 'simpliciter simplex' means self-evidently simple. But rather irreducibly simple, the point being being it is not a concept composed from other concepts (recall the argument about ultimate differences, which is not terribly self-evident).

Michael said...

Faber,

I didn't mean that simpliciter simplex meant self-evidently simple, but that Petrus acts as though the "simpliciter simplicitas" of truth is self-evident.

AT said...

By analogy and metaphor I mean nothing but like and unlike though metaphor is like and unlike in a different way than analogy is. I think all ideas and truths are analogies and metaphors. Analogy has a taxonomy of sorts but I don't think all people agree on just what it is.

I'm afraid I can't agree with you. If we can only know what things are not, then we have no precise quidditative knowledge of anything, and I just don't think this is true. Furthermore we do have accurate definitions of things which are not established by negations. We define a triangle as "a rectilinear figure with three sides and three angles", not as "not a square, not a pentagon, not a hexagon, not a heptagon, not an octogon, not a cheese, not an epic poem, not a quasar . . ."

Mathematics is a peculiar case because it is not clear whether mathematical ideas are discovered or invented. People have been debating this for a long time and probably will be until the end of time. Triangle and other mathematical ideas do have something of the artefact about them and certainly they are unlike triangles on the chalkboard, etc. But anyway, we define triangles in a certain way but I do think we know them as not a square, etc. Eventually we specify what it is that makes it uniquely what we mean by triangle.

Even as far as God is concerned, Scotus points out that to carry an intelligibility every negation has to be established by a prior affirmation, or else one is not saying anything. Scotus therefore rejects the thesis that our knowledge is purely apophatic, even for God, because we can say positively and affirmatively that God is an infinite being, that he is knowing and willing, etc., even if we have to qualify some of our affirmations by "but not in the finite creaturely mode" or something like that.

If we have some positive knowledge where does it come from if not from what we know of other things? Certainly we cannot know God directly (at least I can't; it may have been otherwise for Scotus and Aquinas - blessed and saint, respectively). Whatever is positive comes from what we know of the other things and applied to God after removing the limitations.

As for analogy, it seems to me that not all positive statements can be analogical, if there is to be a distinction between pure univocity and analogy at all. When I say "A dog is an animal," I am not speaking analogically.

Dog is analogical as is animal. Also, I think the more universal can be said to be analogical to the less universal so animal could be said to be analogical to dog, though both terms are universals.

I think Aquinas would agree because he states in several places we cannot know the essence of things.

If we cannot know the essence of a natural creature exhaustively--and no doubt this is true--that does not imply that we can have no true quidditative knowledge of it.


This reminds me of the copy theory of knowledge: how could we know if it's a copy if we don't know what its a copy of: how can we know it's knowledge of the essence if we don't know what the essence is? What we know is what distinguishes a thing from all other things (not that we have all other things in mind). Now, because A is analogous to B doesn't mean it isn't also analogous to B and C and D. That's how knowledge of something becomes 'positive' since it is enriched in its meaning over the years by the thought or discoveries of many or of some genius.

Michael said...

AT,

unless you explain what you mean by analogy more precisely I'm afraid I can't follow that part of your comment. It seems clear that you aren't using analogy in a scholastic sense, but beyond that I'm not sure what you have in mind.

f we have some positive knowledge where does it come from if not from what we know of other things? Certainly we cannot know God directly

Certainly, and our knowledge of God is based on knowledge of creatures. But that doesn't mean that it's entirely negative, i.e. we know only that God is not like a creature in a list of ways. We can know that God has the perfections that creatures have but in an infinite and supereminent mode, and this is not merely negative.

This reminds me of the copy theory of knowledge:

I'm not familiar with the copy theory of knowledge by name, but I recall that Socrates raises just this problem in Plato. The answer, it seems to me, is that a thing is known first very indistinctly, and then gradually more distinctly. We know things first as beings, then as substances, then as animals etc., in a series of positive quidditative concepts which become increasingly precise and approximate to the individual nature.

AT said...

We can know that God has the perfections that creatures have but in an infinite and supereminent mode, and this is not merely negative.

I agree we know these things but how do we come to know then?

All being is analogical
Being is convertible with truth
All truth is analogical

I also think that all knowing is analogical because it is a 'conforming' to these analogical truths.

Don't think you have to respond to my comments. I post one or two a week on various blogs and they are almost always ignored so if you do the same I won't be disappointed. Aquinas says somewhere that the greatest thing you can do for someone is to bring them to the knowledge of the truth. So if you can tell me where I am wrong you are doing a good thing.