Sunday, March 29, 2015

Principal Conclusions of Scotist Theology (1697)

I came across the pamphlet translated below somewhere in the depths of the internet. It is a set of 60 theses proposed for debate in Florence ca. 1700, published with the title of Principal Conclusions... of Scotus. Some seem to be based on Scotus, some not, but perhaps based on later interpretations.

Conclusiones principaliores ex universa theologia subtilissimi doctoris Scoti.

Fr. Antonius Franciscus de Bononia, in conventu Omnium Sanctorum Florentiae s. Theol. Studens Generalis.

Florentiae 1697.

1. Aseity is the formal constitutive [feature] of God; existence is a quidditative predicate.

2. The existence of God can be demonstrated a posteriori, although not a priori.

3. ‘God exists’ [‘Deus est’] is a per se nota proposition.

4. The attributes of God are formally distinguished from each other and from the essence.

5. Creatures according to real being [esse reale] do not coexist with eternity, although they do according to objective being.

6. If God were able to will something new in time, this would not detract from his physical immutability.

7. God is invisible to the corporeal eye.

8. God is not naturally able to be seen by the created intellect, although he can be seen supernaturally.

9. God, by his absolute power, can be seen without the light of glory.

10. The divine essence can be seen without the Persons being seen.

11. It is possible for an impressed species to be representative of the divine essence.

12. There is inequality in the blessed vision, not only by reason of light but also by reason of the created intellect.

13. The divine will necessarily loves the divine essence.

14. Predestination to glory is prior to the prevision of merits.

15. Reprobation or damnation for punishment is posterior to the prevision of demerits.

16. The hidden mystery of the Trinity is evidently demonstrable by no natural reason.

17. There are only two divine processions, and neither more nor fewer are possible.

18. Relations of origin, formally distinct from the essence, do not bespeak perfection or do they involve imperfection.

19. The divine Persons are constituted by relative properties.

20. The absolute subsisting essence is given beyond the three personal subsistences.

21. The divine Father is perfectly blessed before he generates the Son.

22. The divine Word is produced by “speaking” [dictionem] but not through intellection.

23. The divine Word is produced from the cognition of the divine Persons.

24. The divine Word is not produced from the cognition of possible creatures.

25. The procession of the Holy Spirit is not generation, because it is in a free mode.

26. If the Holy Spirit did not procede from the Son, still he would be really distinct from him.

27. The incarnation of the divine Word was possible, although not naturally demonstrable.

28. The humanity assumed by the Word possesses its own existence [propriam existentiam].

29. The substantial assumption of any other creature was in the power of the Word.

30. Several Persons cannot assume the same nature in number, although two natures can be assumed by only one Person.

31. Christ is impeccable, not because of the hypostatic union, but through the beatific vision.

32. The merit of Christ was not unqualifiedly and intrinsecly affected by infinity [infinitate affectum]

33. Christ, whose grace alone was in the highest degree, did not satisfy from the entire rigor of justice.

34. A pure creature, aided by the powers of grace, could satisfy sufficiiently for the sin of Adam.

35. With no one sinning, still the divine Word from the force of the present decree would be incarnate.

36. The law of the holy gospel is prudently believable and to be believed [credibilis et credenda].

37. The assent of faith is not resolved into the authority of the Church, as into the formal object of believing

38. but in these aforementioned matters God is truthfully procaliming and has revealed mysteries.

39. Revelation, nevertheless, is not part of the formal object of faith, but only the necessary condition.

40. Falsity in no way is able to undermine divine faith.

41. Explicit faith in Christ under the concept of the Son of God is necesary by a mediate necessity for the salvation of adults.

42. It is probably that the habit of faith is educed from the potency of the subject.

43. Faith necessarily is discursive, either formally or virtually.

44. Faith is more certain than knowledge/science, utraque certitudine [?]

45. God and neighbor are loved by the same infused charity, and what was in the wayfaring state remains also in the homeland [patria].

46. Many angels can be under the same atomic species.

47. An angel is not in a place through operation, but through substance.

48. The angels are able to obtain species also from material things.

49. There are not as many representative species as there are objects.

50. The angels could sin in the first instant of their creation.

51. The cognition of the secrets of hearts is given to the angels.

52. The determination of the demons in evil does not come about from the inflexibility of their wills

53. but from the rejection of divine concurrence.

54. Original sin in human beings is not sin persisting morally.

55. Original sin consists in the lack of original justice and sanctifying grace.

56. In human acts there is found a true and proper principale of the voluntary.

57. A pure omission can be given without something positive.

58. A perfect voluntary act corresponds with a free one.

59. The sacraments cause grace morally, not physically.

60. The character of three sacraments, is it an absolute or relative form? Problem.

Praise be to God.

[These theses] will be publically exposed for contest at Florence in the church of All Saints, with the same one mentioned above responding. With the assistance of R. P. Seraphin of San Casciani, lector general of the same place and Custos of the Tuscan province. 1697. Month. Day. Hour.


Anonymous said...


I was wondering if you could devote a post to the scotist tradition and touch on the important philosophers that worked within it.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful set of propositions. Those days must have been truly the good times of universalizing formalist essentialisms. There were no existential problems about being-in-the-world then, but only intelligible expositions and constant self-transcending through metaphysics. Men did not hinge there obscure hopes on the latest techno-experiments or sub-atomic particle field discoveries, but only on raw scholasticism. These were true schoolmen.

Anonymous said...

And yet those days were almost at an end. Already a few Franciscans had embraced Descartes or another of the moderns. The first decades of the 1700s would see the decline of the Scotist School, as the Enlightenment began to take hold.

lee faber said...

Anonymous 10:58,

You can start here:

I'll try to write something up eventually.

lee faber said...

Anonymous 8:22,

I'm not sure there was a decline then. Mastrius was still going through multiple printings, and numerous cursus by other authors continued to be published.

Anonymous said...

The school wasn't gone, of course, but it was producing fewer original works and had fewer notable theologians (or philosophers). The Franciscan studia still taught Scotism, and so they reprinted classic manuals, but the school was losing its vigor.

- Anonymous 8:22

Daniel D. D. said...

Ok, hello!

I'm Daniel, and I'm a follower of Dr. Ed Feser's blog, where I found out about yours.

I have two questions to ask you:

First, why do you call yourselves "The Smithy?" :-)

Second, in a recent post on Dr. Feser's site, we were talking about, in the combox, the senses and the intellect. On it, one poster asked, if the senses (and I mean both outer and inner sense here) and the intellect both work with the form of objects, how can the senses be dependent on matter, while the intellect be immaterial? If form is immaterial, then it follows that both the senses and intellect must be immaterial in order to deal with forms. So I, with only an introductory understanding of Thomistic Psychology, tried to reason an answer for him.

I basically claimed that a precept is a composite of form and matter, with the precept having different matter than the object, but both sharing the same form. Our outer senses see a plant, and create a precept: the plant and the precept have the same form, but their matter is different, with the plant being made of water, sugar, etc., and the precept being made of electro-chemical synapses. The forms must be the same, or else we don't actually see the plant. Because a precept is a composite, it therefore depends on matter, specifically synapses, which is why brain damages ruins memory, imagination, and all the inner senses, as the material of precepts (the synapses) is lost.

The intellect, on the other hand, abstracts the form from a precept. Now here is where my idea might be interesting to you: I made a distinction between an individual form, and a universal form. The senses, I claimed, only know individual forms, while the intellect can "break apart" the individual form to contemplate the universal forms which are a part of it. Individual forms do not exist normally without matter, but universal forms do not exist except within an individual form or within an intellect. Individual form can be thought of as a whole of interrelated universal forms. So, in this thinking, it is both the matter and the individual form that make a thing individual. The intellect can take the individual forms of precepts and separate them from the matter of the precepts, to exist without matter altogether. When the individual form exists without matter in the intellect, the intellect can break apart the individual form into its various universal forms, and contemplate the universal forms as they are in themselves.

So, a plant has its own form and sugars, water, etc. as matter, the precept of the plant has that same form as the plant and electro-chemical signals as matter, and the "concept" of the plant has that same form apart from matter altogether, which is why the intellect can then abstract different universal forms, such as "plant" and "green," from the individual plant's form. An individual form can't be abstracted from without an intellect, as the intellect is the only thing that can hold pure forms such as universal forms.

Someone on the blog thought that my distinction between individual and universal form sounded a lot like Blessed John Duns Scotus' concept of haecceity. What do you think?

You can find the conversation here (my user name is Daniel D. D.):

I made this view in order to keep individuality, but also to keep universals. If all forms are universal forms, then all cats share the same form, the same soul, which really ruins individuality. If we then go on to men, we would also have to say that all men share the same soul, which is what Averroes thought.

On the other hand, to say that all forms are individual forms, then nominalism results, which means that we can't have much knowledge, and that nothing makes any sense: nothing connects. We are individuals, but we have qualities in common that are real.

Christi pax.

Aloysius said...

Daniel D. D.:

You asked why the blog is called The Smithy. One of the contributors has the last name (IRL) of Smith (hence his hilariously punny blogging name "Lee Faber"). Incidentally, you'll see that the URL is "lyfaber", and "Lee" is a pun on the Latin indefinite article "ly").