Sunday, December 11, 2011

Robert Prentice and Illuminationism

Since we have gotten back onto the topic of narratives of late, I offer one from Robert Prentice.  Now in the current common opinion of Thomists, Historians, Theologians, and Philosophers, before Scotus there was a nice, warm, caring, generally happy golden age of participation-analogical metaphysics that the Bible, Fathers, Doctors, and the common man on the street singing his troubadour songs all held in common.  Then the evil univocalist onto-theology was introduced by Duns Scotus, which created the "secular".  Contrast this with:

Robert P. Prentice, An Anonymous Question on the Unity of the Concept of Being (Attributed to Scotus), p. 109 n. 6:

Platonism, Neo-platonism, Gnosticism, all incorporated some form of divine illuminationism within their systems. The theory of reminiscence, e.g. in Plato, is basically an expression of the idea that the divine world is the proximate source of true intelligibility and personal possession of truth. Aristotle's theory that the agent intellect performs the work of illuminating the sense world to render it an intelligible one is actually an extension of Plato's reminiscense theory by explaining the 'mechanics' of how reminiscence could take place, as one can discern by the reading of chapters 4, 5, and 6 of Book III of Aristotle's De anima. Moreover, there is not lacking a sense in which chapter 5 can be interpreted in which the Agent Intellect is a divine agency existing separately from men, which performs the function of "intelligibilizing" the sensible world after the manner of the God of reminiscence. It is then understandable that with St. Augustine, still processing reality in the Neo-platonist mould, a Christianized version of the reminiscence theory and of the agent intellect should surface in Christian illuminationism. It is then psychically comprehensible that the illuminationism of Augustinianism became factually involved with the substance of the faith itself. Hence when the conscious manifestation of the "pagan" psychic roots of the seemingly Christian theory of illuminationism was brought to the attention of the then current scholasticism by means of the "strange" theories of Averroes who posited that there was an Active or Agent Intellect existing apart from man, an understandable conflict between the unconscious cultural formation and the surfacing higher conscious rationality should take place. It is only in this sense that one can find a proportional answer to the violence of the doctrinal controversies turning around the agent intellect during the dozen or so years incorporating the condemnations of 1270 and 1277 of the Latin Averroism of Siger of Brabant. When one examines some of the 13 theses condemined in 1270 and, above all, some of the 219 condemned in 1277 by Stephen Tempier, Bishop of Paris, in the name of the Christian faith, one must look elsewhere than in the faith for the explanation of the particular condemnations. The whole conflict was a result of an emerging conscious secularized vision of reality detached from the illuminationism rooted in Hellenized Platonism pitted against the threatened unconscious attachment to an entrenched cultural vision. In a definite sense, St. Thomas' tract De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas represents a historical step in the process of the desacralization of knowledge.


Anonymous said...

Another weird view. Everyone knows that STA explicitly cribbed his account of cognition of the divine essence argument-for-argument from Averroes' great commentary on the De Anima, comment 36, in a move kinda like South Park's Christian Rock band: change "separate substance" to "divine essence" and you're good to go.

Estase said...

Great blog, Lee. Speaking as novice to master, isn't it actually Avicenna that Aquinas and Duns Scotus used a lot? I also understand that protestant thinkers were more amenable to the ideas of Averroes than Aquinas and Duns Scotus. What do you think?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Estase said...

Hey anonymous, your hateful choice of words hasn't gone unnoticed. If you're such a man, use a handle other than "anonymous."