Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Scotus vs. Henry

Again. This time Scotus objects to Henry of Ghent's characterization of necessity in the Trinitarian processions. From Ordinatio I. Dist. 10.29:

Praeterea, quae necessitas distinguendi inter voluntatem quam ponit principium eliciendi actum, et naturam quam ponit coassistere voluntati elicienti, si tantum est inter ista distinctio rationis, sicut videtur alibi sentire de distinctione attributorum in divinis?


"Furthermore, how is it necessary to distinguish between the will which he posits as the principle of eliciting the act, and the nature which he posits as co-assisting the eliciting will, if there is only a distinction of reason between the two, as it seems elsewhere to think is the case with the divine attributes in God?"

So Henry makes a distinction between two principles in one place, and in another place says or implies that the distinction is only a distinction of reason and not something in reality, negating the explanatory force the distinction had in the first place.

I bring this up because I've seen Henry pull this exact same move in another context. In his Quodlibet IV.16, on spiritual composition, he says that there are various distinct principles in the angels which can account for its real non-simplicity. In order to make sense of the relevant distinctions he sends the reader to his Summa, where he makes a number of relevant distinctions, ranks them in a hierarchy of more and less compositive, and then ruins the whole thing by making it clear that they are all merely intentional distinctions. So where's the real composition?

I haven't read enough Henry to see if he does this sort of thing all the time, but it's pretty fishy.

3 comments:

Lee Faber said...

I think you're misinterpreting Henry/Scotus here. Scotus is asking how the distinction between will and nature can be necessary (as he here interprets Henry's position) if there is only a distinction of reason beween them. I don't quite see how you can claim that this negates the explanatory force of the distinction (in Henry).

Also, I suspect that the intentional distinction is a kind of real distinction. Henry definitely thinks that relative positive attributes are not distinct intentiones, only rationes, because real distinction is a distinction between intentiones and res, as he says in Summa a.32 q.4

Michael said...

Scotus is asking how the distinction between will and nature can be necessary

Isn't that what I said?

I don't quite see how you can claim that this negates the explanatory force of the distinction

If something is being assisted by something else which is not really distinct from it, then how it is really assistance?

As for the intention distinction, I didn't think it was real, but I'm no Henry expert.

Lee Faber said...

The way you worded it makes it sound as if henry is pulling a bait and switch or something, which i don't think is the case. It's just that all attributes are relative to the intellect and will, which themselves are distinct rationes. maybe we're not disagreeing then.


According to Henry, rationes + divine essence = no real composition, while intentiones + divine essence = real composition. at least that's what he says in the summa in the passage i mentioned.