Thursday, April 4, 2013


As is well known, the two main doctrines in which the contemporary postmodern theological homogeneous hegemony faults Scotus are analogy and participation. I have responded to these charges in the "fundamental positions" series. Scotus is not interested in Thomistic analogy at all, but rather Henrician. His discussion is on the order of concepts, not reality. The Thomists, nouvelle theologists, Cambridge phantasists, Balthasarians and other hegemonists assume Scotus affirms univocity in the same sense that Aquinas rejects it. As for participation, it just never comes up. Scotus seems to just assume it's true on the "real", that is extramental, level.

Now the above-mentioned crowd (which includes Brad Gregory, who teaches at the premier American Catholic university and who - the rumor has it - has been promoted to a position of even higher prestige) generally takes Ockham as the logical development of Scotus' ideas. Which is a little strange doctrinally, as Ockham argues against Scotus all the time. Now maybe you might say, well, but he just takes things farther than Scotus was willing to go with 'potentia ordinata, absoluta' etc. Perhaps, perhaps, but then Scotus just goes farther than Aquinas is willing to go with the same distinction (this crowd never gives an explanation of how Scotus' use of potentia ordinata/absoluta is bad but Aquinas' use is good). But a far more likely guide to the "inheritance" if you will of Scotus is the (ahem) Scotist school (yes yes, debate over medieval schools is intractable, but there was a self-conscious Scotist school by 1320, the year of Pierre Roget' and Francis of Meyronnes' debate). I've started some preliminary research on F. of M.'s views on analogy and participation, and will report more on him later. (in the meantime, see this earlier post).

But another character springs to mind, the inestimable Petrus Thomae. I have been laboriously editing his QQ. de ente for the past three years (there are hundreds of isolated accidents per ms. per question). This work is probably the first independent treatise on the transcendentals ever written (depending on how one balances the relative chronologies of Peter thomae and Francis of Meyronnes, who also wrote a Tractatus de transcendentibus). Whether or not it was the first, it certainly is the longest. Francis of Meyronnes and John de Prato both weigh in at under 100 pages, while Petrus thomae's work is ca. 600. And what are the contents? Lengthy discussion of early 14th century critics of Scotus, massive quotations and discussion of the entire previous tradition concerning univocity and analogy, from Aristotle, Boethius and their commentators up through arabic philosophy to early 13th century authors such as Grosseteste, and yes, Aquinas.  Significantly for my present musings, Peter is all for the analogy of being (he has ten or twelve grades of analogy) as well as participation.

So perhaps Scotus' legacy consists in more rigorous versions of analogy and participation?


Credo In Unum Deum said...

You know, a 'like' button would just be easier. But I am lazy and have bought into the FB enhancement of my laziness where I don't have to engage a real person, but send him an e-thumbs-up.
So it is with great difficulty that I offer thanks for this post.

Lee Faber said...

If I ran a more technologically up-to-date blog I might be able to oblige your 'like' lust.

Matthew Gaetano said...


Scott Williams said...

Have you seen Richard Cross' article "Duns Scotus and Analogy"? My students really appreciated it as helpful for getting Scotus' position.

Lee Faber said...

No... is it new? Where can I get it?