Saturday, July 23, 2011

William of Alnwick on Virtual Containment

Here are some lines from Scotus' secretary Guillelmus de Alnwick on virtual containment, a development of Scotus' theory of unitive containment, which in turn is rooted in the pseudo-Denys.  In Scotus' writings, the notion appears during his Parisian period, that is, from 1302.  In this passage, William also lays out most of the causal theory assumed by the scholastics.  Note that we are not talking about how the divine attributes are in God, but how creatures and the perfections of creatures are contained in God.

Guillelmus de Alnwick, Quodlibet q. 8 (ed. Ledoux, BFS 10, 445-6):

The third question concerning the containment of the perfections of creatures in God is that, namely, whether the perfections of creatures, inasmuch as they are contained in God, are virtually distinguished from God and among themselves formally or intentionally from the nature of the thing.

Concerning the solution of that question I proceed thus: first I will declare what it is to contain another and to be contained by another virtually, second I will show that creatures, inasmuch as they are contained in God virtually, according to their contained perfection, are distinguished from God formally and really, third, I will show that the perfections of creatures, inasmuch as they are virtually contained in God, according to the perfection of the containing [being], are not distinguished from God formally or really, fourth, the arguments of the contrary opinion will be refuted.

[art. 1]

As far as the first is concerned, it should be known that to contain something virtually is to have the perfection and the nature of the contained in its own power or effective causality. For power is ordered to operation and action, and therefore what contains another and not in effective causality does not contain it virtually, although it may contain it eminently, just as a final cause, or in the fashion of an exemplar, just as an exemplar form, or potentially, just as a material cause. Therefore only the effective cause of some effect contains properly virtually that effect, through whose power such an effect is produceable and conservable.  An effective cause is twofold, namely univocal and equivocal. An effective univocal cause contains its effect virtually in the power adequate to the effect. Whence a univocal cause contains its effect adequately, because the perfection of a univocal cause does not exceed its effect in perfection. An effective equivocal cause contains its effect virtually in excessive power, because it contains the effect in its power with an excess of perfection.  God however with respect to the caused is an equivocal cause and does not properly contain all creatures virtually, because he contains their perfections in his effective power with an infinite excess.

So, nevertheless, to contain some effect virtually, whether by univocal power or equivocal, comes about doubly: in one mode rootedly [radicaliter], just as a remote cause, in another mode sufficiently, just as a proximate, complete and ultimated [ultimata] cause. In the first mode the divine essence contains the perfections of creatures virtually, because rootedly and quasi remotely. For the divine essence is the root of all perfections in God and of the divine power, whether ad intra or ad extra, just as an infinite sea of perfection, because the divine essence, inasmuch as it is distinguished against other perfections in God, does not immediately produce a creature; for if so it would produce a creature in the mode of nature.  Therefore the divine essence is not a quasi proximate power for producing an effect, nor consequently does it contain the effect virtually in proximate power. On account of the same, the divine knowledge and the divine intellect contain a creature virtually not in proximate power and executive power, but in dispositive power, and so in a certain way it contains a creature in its power remotely and not proximately [de proximo]. But creatures are contained virtually in the divine will in proximate and executive power, because, according to Augustine III De trinitate cap. 6, "the divine will is the highest cause of all", for its efficacious willing is to produce a creature. Whence the divine will virtually contains the perfection of whatsoever creature in proximate and immediate power, and therefore the divine will properly is said to contain all creatures virtually.

According to this it is clear what it means to be contained in something virtually, because it is to be contained in its causative power according to its total causal being [??] and because the first cause is the effective cause of all others than itself, therefore all others are contained in the effective power of the first cause, for every effect is either immediately caused by the first cause or by a second cause, one or many. If the first way, since whatever perfection there is in the effect necessarily is in the total cause, otherwise there would be something of perfection in a creature which would not be caused, it follows that every effect  immediately from the first cause according to its total causal being is contained in its [the first cause's] causative power. If however it is caused immediately by a second cause, one or many, since the causative power of the second cause is contained in the power of the first cause, otherwise the second cause would not be the second, but the first, it follows that every effect caused by the second cause, univocal or equivocal, one or many, is contained in the effective power of the first cause, and consequently that all other beings than the first cause are contained virtually in the first cause.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

William of Ware Joke

Here.  I don't know what is more shocking: that someone did a post on William of Ware or that they were able to joke about his name.