Friday, March 19, 2010

Duns Scotus on the Universal

The following snippets are from Scotus' QQ. super libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis, Bk. VII q. 18 (opera philosophica IV, p. 348-49, 351). They are of interest to me at the moment because they have an obvious bearing on the issues related to intelligible being; indeed, Petrus Thomae paraphrases the first quotation in his QQ. de esse intelligibli q.1.

"...universale restat videre primo an sit in intellectu. Et distinguo quod dupliciter potest aliquid esse in intellectu obiective, sicut modo loquimur de 'esse in'. Uno modo habitualiter, et alio modo actualiter; sive in actu primo et secundo. Primo modo est ibi quando est ibi ut immediate motivum ad intellectionem, secundo modo quando actualiter intelligitur. Ista esse secundum positionem Avicennae, simul sunt tempore, licet primum prius natura.


Ergo cum experiamur quod est aliquis intellectus in nobis quo est universale fieri, hoc est, cui insit aliquid per quod obiectum est praesens ut universale, necesse est aliquid esse activum illius. Et non extra, ut argutum est, ergo intra. Intellectus igitur agens, concurrens cum natura aliquo modo indeterminata ex se, est causa integra factiva obiecti in intellectu possibili secundum esse primum, et hoc secundum completam indeterminationem universalis. Nec est alia causa quare intellectus agens cum natura facit obiectum sic esse nisi quia est talis potentia, sicut nec quare calidum calefacit. Est ergo natura in potentia remota ad determinationem singularitatis et ad indeterminationem universalis; et sicut a producente coniungitur singularitati, ita a re agente et simul ab intellectu agente coniungitur universalitati."

Translation: remains to see whether the univesal is first in the intellect. And I distinguish that something can be in the intellect objectively [ie., is an object of thought] in two ways, just as we speak now of 'being in'. In one way habitually, and in the other actually, whether in first act or second. The first way is there when it is there as immediately moving to intellection, the second way when it is actually understood. Those kinds of being, according to Avicenna, are simultaneous in time, although the first is prior in nature.


Therefore when we experience that there is some intellect in us by which the universal is made, that is, something present inside through which the object is present and universal, it is necessary that there be something that activates it. And not from outside, as has been argued, therefore from within. Therefore the agent intellect, concurring with a nature in some way indeterminate of itself, is the complete, "making" cause of the object in the possible intellect according to first being, and this according to the complete indetermination of the universal. Nor is there another cause whereby the agent intellect with a nature makes an object to be so unless because there is such a power/potency, as neither is there a reason why heat heats. The nature is therefore in remote potency to the determination of singularity and to the indetermination of the universal; and as by the producer it is joined to singularity, so from the agency of the thing and with the agent intellect it is joined to universality.


AT said...

I thought Scotus rejected the agent intellect. I'll be disappointed if he didn't.

Lee Faber said...

Nope. All the scholastics think there is an agent intellect, including Henry who rejects intelligibile species.