Monday, November 9, 2015

O'Regan: Scotus the Nefarious

The following is a quotation from an article in the Newman-Scotus Reader:

Cyril O'Regan, "Scotus the Nefarious: Uncovering Genealogical Sophistications," p. 637-38.

This Essay has provided a sketch of what amounts to a montage of negative constructions of Scotus which do not evince serious engagement with his thought and in fact discourage it (a) by suggesting that it is fatally flawed from the ground up and (b) implicating it in lines of modern discourse which are either demonstrated or assumed to be pernicious. My aim has not been so much to defend Scotus' actual positions as to protest against the apriorism of each of these individual schemes and their cumulative ideological effect which is to make impossible a hearing of what Scotus has to say.  We are talking here about procedural fairness denied a thinker, but we are also talking about the way in which superficial engagements with a thinker's thought and superficial readings of the history of effects compromises the claims of the discourses being supported and in the process also serve to undermine the very enterprise of genealogy.

[...]

Although indirectly, the essay is a form of plea for the unaligned for opening up the plurality of the tradition This was the instinct of Gilson when he wrote his book on Scotus over sixty years ago. The fact that the instinct gets compromised in the performance is hardly unimportant, but it is not constitutive. What is needed is another Gilson in the very new situation, a new century with more derogatory discourses, a new century in which scholarship has considerably changed the textual landscape what belongs to the historical Scotus and what does not, a new century in which while there is much highly technical work done on Scotus, there is no book that takes a comprehensive look at the work of Scotus and shows its comprehensiveness, its seriousness, and its beauty.

14 comments:

Nathanael said...

So this is happening:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0823270734/ref=mp_s_a_1_11?qid=1447936314&sr=1-11&pi=AC_SX110_SY165&keywords=John+Duns+Scotus

Matthew G. said...

That's awesome. Added to the list. It's a shame, though, that it isn't already available within the Peter Simpson translation - that section of the Ordinatio, that is...Oh well. More money.

And Cross - who gives it a positive review...His "The Metaphysics of the Incarnation" was problematic from the start, insofar as he imported contemporary ways of speaking of substance and accidents into his discussion of the medievals, and tried to understand the medievals through that language/conceptualization of things - which, I would maintain, is bad form. However, he may be right on Scotus on the Hypostatic Union, given the little I've read - that the Word's human nature's relation to the Word in His divinity is a doubly negative one of dependence, and such that the human nature is a quasi-accident of the Word, with its own proper haecceitas. if Cross is right, I simply do not see (or do not yet see) how Scotus is not an accidental Nestorian, as I do not see how he could maintain coherently in the face of this understanding the Word's really being human or really subsisting in a human nature. (Yes, Lee, hint hint indeed.)

Would it be repugnant to Scotus thought to hold that, in the Incarnation, the haeceitas of the Word's human nature is that of the Godhead? My understanding is that he holds that each nature has, in a way - or must have - its own proper haecceitas; even so, given the very little I know adopting what I said above seems to me prima facie to be such that it saves Scotus's Christology from Nestorianism. But anyway, I leave this to those who know better than I to say yea or nay and why.(And hey, if that could be maintained in light of Scotus' metaphysics, I wonder if it may be a point at which a bridge could be built between Thomas and Scotus.)

lee faber said...

Nathanial: Thanks!

Matthew: It's a common Thomist charge. If I get a job, I may address it one day.

Matthew G. said...

Yeah, I'm aware - given the little I know if the relevant literature. If you don't address it, then I may just go ahead and write a few articles on it - if I get into a PhD program this time around...In any event, the whole controversy seems to have its roots in now age-old apparent opposition of tendencies in the Church regarding the Person of Christ: the one emphasizes the distinction of natures in the Person of Christ; the other, His unity. But of course you know all this. Anyway, seems to me finding some way to help Thomas and Scotus talk coherently to each other on this point would help - maybe - bridge the apparent divide. Probably a pipe dream, but hey.

Lee Faber said...

It's better than simply dismissing Scotus as simply leading to whatever bad thing you happen to fancy, as is the common response now.

Matthew G. said...

Yeah...

Jim Given said...

Thank you for discovering this beautiful book for me! But I am judging simply from its description (and available pages) on Amazon. Is this book valuable? If I can find $40, should I buy it? Your discussion here suggest it offers valuable hints about Thomist-Scotist dialog and this is precious to me-

Jim Given

Lee Faber said...

Jim: I have only skimmed it briefly. But if you want an evaluation, write to my co-blogger who owns the volume and has read most of it.

Jim Given said...

Lee,
Apologies, but I don't know how to contact him. Can you forward my inquiry?

Dear Michael
Thank you for discovering this beautiful book for me! But I am judging simply from its description (and available pages) on Amazon. Is this book valuable? If I can find $40, should I buy it? Your discussion here suggest it offers valuable hints about Thomist-Scotist dialog and this is precious to me-

Jim Given

Jim Given said...


Along the lines of the last paragraph cited here, I note that there seems to be a growing movement toward seeking compatibility between Scotist and Molinist explanations in natural theology. I note in particular the books, "Contingency, Time and Posssibility", by Pascal Massie; and "The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents from Aristotle to Suarez" by William Lane Craig. There is also an essay, "Molina and John Duns Scotus" by Jean-Pascal Anfray.

Is anyone else interested in this strand of thought?

Jim Given

Lee Faber said...

Jim, I am quite interested in all this; thanks for the list. I'm reading Anfray now.

Nathanael said...

Didn't Mastri and Punch have an argument in the 17th century about whether Scotism and Molinism were compatible? I seem to recall reading that Punch thought middle knowledge was compatible with Scotism and Mastri argued it was not. Unfortunately my Latin is not good enough to confirm this but the printed editions of both men are available on prdl.org for those with the curiosity and skills to look.

Jim Given said...


Lee,

I finally decided to read carefully Eef Dekker's book on "Middle Knowledge."
Dekker contributed two essays to E.P. Bos' collection, titled "John Duns Scotus (1265-1308; Renewal of Philosophy". The essays are, "Does Duns Scotus Need Molina. On Divine Knowledge and Co-Causality"; and "Scotus' Freedom of the Will Revisited". All of these have been very important to me in my struggle to reconcile divine foreknowledge and human freedom. I am convinced that neither Molina nor the "possible worlds" theory are essential here - but they are important means to the end of resolving this. I am daring to believe I have an understanding of this. Molina had the germ of an answer, but did not understand Duns Scotus.

Jim Given

lee faber said...

There's also this on academia.edu:

Tentatives de conciliation doctrinale: le recours à Saint Augustin chez les scotistes espagnols engagés dans la controverse de auxiliis divinae gratiae (1598-1607)

https://www.academia.edu/14179661/Tentatives_de_conciliation_doctrinale_le_recours_%C3%A0_Saint_Augustin_chez_les_scotistes_espagnols_engag%C3%A9s_dans_la_controverse_de_auxiliis_divinae_gratiae_1598-1607_