Friday, March 5, 2010
Scotus contra Henry's Negotiating Intellect
Here is a follow-up on my previous quote of Henry on movement of the divine intellect as it knows itself and distinguishes the divine attributes. Scotus exploits the feature of Henry's explanation that allowed a "quasi" potency to precede the operation the divine intellect to posit a formal non-identity. The following text is from the section of the question on the formal distinction in which Scotus quotes Henry's arguments and objects against the general position (as opposed to citing arguments and criticizing them directly).
A bit of background: Scotus has two types of cognition, abstractive and intuitive. The commonly accepted way of distinguishing them is that intuitive cognition is of the thing qua existing and present, while abstractive cognition prescinds from the existence or non existence and pertains to the essence of the thing. This latter kind of cognition was the more controversial, for Scotus allowed that there could be abstractive cognition of the divine essence in this life.
Ordinatio I d. 8 pt. 1 q. 4 n.187 (ed. Vat. 257):
"Praeterea, intellectus intuitivus nullam habet distinctionem in obiecto nisi secundum quod exsistens est, quia sicut non cognoscit aliquod obiectum nisi ut exsistens, ita non cognoscit aliqua distincta formaliter in obiecto nisi ut exsistens est. Cum ergo intellectus divinus non cognoscat essentiam suam nisi intellectione intuitiva, quaecumque distinctio ponatur ibi in obiecto -- sive sit distinctorum obiectorum formalium, sive ut rationum causatarum per actum intellectus -- sequitur quod ista distinctio erit in obiecto ut actu exsistens est: et ita si ista est obiectorum formalium distinctorum in obiecto, erunt ista distincta formaliter (et tunc sequitur propositum, quod talis distinctio obiectorum formalium praecedit actum intellectus), si autem sit rationum causatarum peractum intelligendi, ergo intellectus divnus causabit aliquam intellectionem in essentia 'ut relationem rationis', ut est exsistens, quod videtur absurdum."
Furthermore, the intellect understanding intuitively has no distinction in the object except according as it is existing, because just as it does not know some object unless as existing, so it does not know things formally distinct in the object unless as it is existing. Since therefore the divine intellect does not know its own essence save by intuitive cognition, whatever distinction is posited there in the object -- whether it is of distinct formal objects or as notions caused by the act of the intellect -- it follows that that distinction will be in the object as it is existing in act: and so if that is of distinct formal objects in the object, they will be formally distinct (and then follows what is being argued, that such a distinction of formal objects precedes the act of the intellect). If however it is of notions caused by the act of understanding, therefore the divine intellect will cause some intellection in the essence as a relation of reason, as it is existing, which is false."