Monday, June 18, 2018

The Ratio Algazaelitica

Scotus' argument from certain and doubtful concepts (see this post for explanation) was been given a variety of descriptions during the Middle Ages. Francis de Mayronis calls the major premise at least "Scotus' rule", Peter Thomae describes the whole thing as the "ratio famosa," and one can also find marginalia indicating that it is Scotus' "Achilles argument" in Peter of Aquila's Sentences Commentary. By Achilles, presumably, is meant that it is the strongest weapon in Scotus' arsenal, not that it is his fatal weakness. 

In the fifteenth century, the French Franciscan and (eclectic?) Scotist William of Varouillon made some interesting remarks on the argument, which have been noted a few times in modern literature, though I don't think they have been quoted. After quoting the argument, William lodges the following objection against it:

Sent. I d. 3 q. 1 a. 2 (Venezia 1502, f. 10vb): Huic fortissime rationi aliqui dicunt quod est regula Scoti et quod transeat cum regula sua.

Quibus ego respondeo quod si non curant de Scoto, vadant ad Metaphysicam Algazaelis, qui maximus reputatus est metaphysicus, et istam regulam quasi iisdem verbis reperient. Unde regula ista, si ab inventore nominetur, dicitur non Scotica sed Algazaelitica nuncupatur. 

Translation:

Some say to this strongest argument that it is the rule of Scotus and that he passed away with his rule.

To which I say that if they don't care about Scotus, let them go to the Metaphysics of al-Ghazali, who is deemed the greatest metaphysician, and they will find that rule almost with the same words. Whence that rule, if it should be named by its discoverer, should be called not Scotic but Algazalitic.


The object is that Scotus came up with the rule, and since he is dead, it is no longer valid. The rule here probably being the major premise, though the whole thing is loosely in al-Ghazali. William's reply locates a deeper lineage to the argument than simply Scotus. In some of the modern literature the algazalian origin is discounted in favor of Avicennian, but in truth it is in both.

2 comments:

Jim Given said...

Concerning the post referred to in thefirst line of this post:

I found it to be a very useful summary. I had two questions:

Are there any other chapters or parts to this summary?

Also, Bonnie Kent's book seems not to be available in any form whatever. Is this true?

Thanks again for the care you show in writing your blog

Lee Faber said...

Well, I did do more "fundamentals' posts. That might be what the "first" is referring to.

As for Kent's book, I haven't looked for it. Probably a library is your best bet, if you are near an academic one.