Monday, January 12, 2015

The Destroyers of Philosophy

Are those who deny the univocity of being. So says the Doctor.

Lectura I d. 3 p. 1 q. 1-2 (Vat XVI) ...

n. 105:

But to the contrary it seems that to posit the univocity of being to all destroys philosophy, although it is not predicated essentially of all, as of differences.

n. 110:

I say that I do not destroy philosophy, but the ones positing the contrary necessarily destroy philosophy, because if there is not a common concept of being, then it would be impossible that we would have a concept of substance, because substance does not have its own species in the possible intellect, but only the concept of being abstracted from the species of accidents. If therefore being did not have one concept, we would have no concept of substance, neither in common nor in particular.

n. 112:

Whence I say that our intellect first has a cognition of accidents, from which it abstracts the intention of being, which predicates the essence of substance just as accidents; and we only intuitively know substance, and not in any other way. This, as I said, each one experiences for himself, that he does not know more of the nature of substance save that it is being. The total other which we know about substance are properties and accidents proper to substance, through which we intuit those aspects which are essential to substance.

n. 113:

Again, unless being had one univocal intention, theology would be completely destroyed. For theologians prove that the Word in the divine proceeds and is generated by the intellect, and the Holy Spirit proceeds through the mode of the will. But if 'intellect' and 'will' would be only equivocally found in us and in God, there would be no evidence that just because the word is generated in us, so also it is in God, and likewise concerning love in us, because then 'intellect and 'will' would be of another kind here and there. Now it does not follow 'just as it is in our intellect and will, therefore it also is in an intellect of another kind and a will of another kind'. Therefore there would not be any evidence.

So. If you deny the univocity of being, you have no way to know substance. Now, this has some consequences. For much of the pre-modern tradition, metaphysics consisted in reasoning into the knowledge of God and the separated substances. For Scotus, then, in order keep doing metaphysics as traditionally conceived we need univocal concepts. So to conclude:

If no univocity of being,

1. No metaphysics

2. No theology


Edward Ockham said...

I was just reading this today. I couldn't find any parallel to it in the Ordinatio.

lee faber said...

Pini starts an article with this and gives a parallel, but it's probably just to another argument about the knowability or not of substance, not to the 'destruction' etc.

Johannes said...

It would be very helpful in these translations to state between parentheses the Latin word translated as "being", so as to know whether it was "ens" or "esse".

Also, is the following a correct summary of the positions?

Scotus: ens & esse are univocal.

St. Thomas & the Thomists: ens is analogical, esse is univocal.

(My own position, FWIW: ens is analogical and esse might also be so.)

Lee Faber said...

Johannes, if by 'ens' and 'esse' you mean real beings out in the world, then no, they are not univocal. What Scotus says is that one can form concepts that apply univocally to God and creatures without a corresponding non-conceptual reality. One abstracts the intrinsic mode from a creature to get the univocal concept that applies to both God and creatures, then apply the intrinsic mode of infinity to get a concept of God. But outside the intellect there is a great warm bubbly stew of analogy an particpation to warm the belly of any thomist.