Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pini's Edition of Scotus' Metaphysics

Giorgio Pini has published a critical edition from two manuscripts of a lost commentary on the Metaphysics by John Duns Scotus. I have not seen the text, so it has hard to tell from the publisher's blurb what it is like. But it sounds like a series of notes. It seems to correspond to cross references in Scotus' Quaestiones super Metaphysicam to a literal commentary. Anyway, here is the link to the publisher, and I have pasted the info below:

Corpus Christianorum
Ioannes Duns Scotus
Notabilia super Metaphysicam 

G. Pini (ed.)

LXXII+256 p., 155 x 245 mm, 2017
ISBN: 978-2-503-57785-2
Languages: Latin, English
The publication is available.The publication is available.
Retail price: EUR 190,00 excl. tax    

John Duns Scotus’s Notabilia super Metaphysicam comprises a series of remarks on Bks. II–X and XII of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. The extant evidence points to their originally being either marginal notes on Duns Scotus’s own copy of the Metaphysics or scrapbook entries linked to the relevant portions of Aristotle’s text by caption letters. It appears that Duns Scotus kept adding to those notes in the course of his career.

The Notabilia offers a unique perspective on Duns Scotus’s interpretation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. It also contains several original insights on key philosophical issues.

This work disappeared from circulation at Duns Scotus’s death and was consequently thought to have been lost. Several cross-references to and from other writings by Duns Scotus demonstrate both that the Notabilia here edited for the first time is a genuine work by Duns Scotus and that it is his allegedly lost commentary on the Metaphysics.
The current edition is based on the two extant witnesses, manuscript (Milano, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, C 62 Sup., f. 51ra-98rb), which contains the text in its entirety, and manuscript V (Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 2182, f. 58vb-60ra), which contains Bks. II–IV in what is probably an older stage of the text.

Giorgio Pini (PhD, 1997) is professor of Philosophy at Fordham University, NY. He studied at the Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa, Italy) and was a visiting fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (Toronto), Katholieke Universities Leuven, and All Souls College (Oxford). He has published extensively on later medieval metaphysics and theory of cognition, with a particular focus on the thought of John Duns Scotus.


José Apolinar said...

Thanks for this amazing scholarly website. Both of you, Dr. Faber and Dr. Sullivan, have sparked a desire in me to learn more about the Subtle Doctor specifically and in general other scholastic theologians. I unfortunately do not know latin (yet!), so for now I am reading books about Bl. Duns Scotus or some of his translated works, in English and/or Spanish. I was wondering if the following two books would be beneficial to read:

"The Univocity Of The Concept Of Being In The Philosophy Of John Duns Scotus: A Dissertation" by Cyril L. Shircel which can be found here

"John Duns Scotus: Introduction to his fundamental Positions" by Etienne Gilson which can be found here

Lee Faber said...

Glad we were able to be of service.

Probably the best intro is that by Allan Wolter, "The Transcendentals and their function in the metaphysics of Duns Scotus". Some parts are dated, but all in all, a solid study.

The two volumes you mention are worth reading as well, though Gilson is ahistorical and all but repudiates his own book in the preface, as he wrote it prior to the critical edition. Shircel's interpretations have been criticized, though the main problem is rather that it has become outdated thanks to textual scholarship.

Johannes said...

I take advantage of this thread to suggest a topic for a potential future post: Scotus' metaphysics of the Incarnation.

After reading the coverage of the issue in Richard Cross' book "The Metaphysics of the Incarnation: Thomas Aquinas to Duns Scotus" [1], and since, quoting Cross, "Scotus - unlike any other of our theologians - makes it quite clear that the hypostatic union involves no more than a relation in the assumed human nature." (p. 133) and "According to Scotus, it is possible for the Word to lay aside his human nature. If the Word did this, there would according to Scotus be no change in the abandoned nature other than a merely relational one. Thus, no non-relational feature of the nature would be changed." (p. 134), I wonder what exactly the relation of hypostatic dependence actually entails, given that for Scotus there is no real distinction between essence and act of being.

In Thomism, this problem is avoided by postulating a real distinction between a contingent essence and its associated contingent act of being. Thus, the assumption of a human nature by a divine Person means that such human nature exists by the Subsistent Act of Being which that divine Person eternally Is, and not by a created, contingent act of being.

To note, I hold the real distinction between contingent essence and contingent esse precisely because it is the only conceptual framework that I know of that allows an explanation of the Incarnation/Hypostatic Union at the metaphysical level, and not because I am a Thomist. In fact, even within Thomism the real distinction is always a postulate, an axiom. Twetten [2], in the best treatment of the real distinction that I am aware of, concludes that "All nine of Aquinas' arguments for the Real Distinction that we have reviewed seem vulnerable to the Question-Begging Objection. Aquinas seems never to have been aware of the objection." (p. 80).

[1] Richard Cross, The Metaphysics of the Incarnation: Thomas Aquinas to Duns Scotus. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

[2] David B. Twetten, Really distinguishing essence from esse. Proceedings of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics, Volume 6, 2006. Pp 57-94.

Johannes said...

To be clear, after reading Cross' book, it sounds as if, for Scotus, the Word assuming a human nature amounts to His declaration: "From now on, this human nature is Mine.", whereas the Word "giving up" or "laying aside" an assumed human nature would amount to His declaration: "From now on, this human nature is no longer Mine."

Lee Faber said...

Thanks for your comments, Johannes. This issue has come up in the comments on this blog several times in the past, often in conjunction with Cross' interpretation. I also receive private emails on the topic from time to time. I have considered writing on this topic, but I don't think I could do it in anything short of a lengthy article, and I have little time to devote to it at the moment. All I can say is I will keep it in mind, and possibly write on it in about ten years once we start editing Scotus' Reportatio III. In the meantime, all I can say is that one must always read Scotus for oneself, and that later scotist discussion is often illuminating. There are commentaries in the Wadding edition from the 17th c., and printed editions available online of Peter of Aquila's III Sent., John Bassols III Sent., as well as the anonymous but probably Antonius Andreae III Sent. (all 14th c. authors who might have known scotus personally).

Jim Given said...

Dear Lee Faber,
Can you tell us why Gilson's book on Duns Scotus is worthwhile, granting your disclaimers? That is, what is important about Gilson on Duns Scotus? Does he get Duns Scotus right before getting him wrong, i.e., in Being and Some Philosophers? Is there a good critical review of this book, which emphasizes what is enduring in it? I tend to blame Gilson for the "essentialist" label, which is a caricature as usually developed.

Garrett said...

Well, it is interesting to see his ahistorical comparison of the thought of Aquinas and Scotus. Probably no one else has put them in dialogue to such a degree, and in that book Gilson is trying to be fair to Scotus. Being and Some philosophers is a different story, and I do not recommend it to anyone interested in what Scotus actually held. The same is true of the Unity of the philosophical experience, which isnt about Scotus at all, but the basic idea of the medieval section is that medieval philosophy failed and became corrupt because it did not bow down and accept evertything Thomas had said, i.e. they did not reject philosopyh and become thomist dogmatists. Gilson even describes the mere fact that in 1320 there was a thomist school and a scotistist school and various augustinian schools as an ethical failure on the part of medieval philosophers. Thus, there is something morally blameworthy in disagreeing with Thomas. Gilson ultimately then seems to see theology and philosophy as coming to an end with the coming of Thomas. So no, I only recommend the Duns Scotus monograph, with certain qualifications. The best study so far is that of Pomplun that I mentioned some posts below. He gives all the background on Gilson in previous historiography and considers Gilson's changing attitudes to Scotus.