Friday, December 7, 2018

Petrus Thomae, Quaestiones de ente, q. 3

Another translation, made originally for a class I taught last fall.


[Quaestio 3: Whether the concept of being is maximally first]


To the third we proceed thus:

And it seems that the concept of being is not maximally first, ecause according to Porphyry, the ten categories are the ten first genera of things; therefore the concepts of the ten categories are maximally first; therefore the concept of being is not maximally first.

Furthermore, if the concept of being is maximally first, therefore the most general is not the most general. The consequent is false, therefore also the antecedent. Proof the consquence, because the most general is called that which does not have a supervening or superior genus according to Porphyry; but if the concept of being were maximally first, something would be superior to the most general; therefore, etc.

Furthermore, in I Posterior Analytics chapter on the position[status] of the categories it was proved that the resolution of all quidditative concepts stops at the highest point at the concepts of the ten categories; but resolution does not stop unless at the maximally first; therefore the concepts of the ten categories are maximally first.

Furthermore, in VII Metaphysics chapter 1 it is said thus: “something is said to be first in many ways, but substance is first of all with respecto reason [ratio], knowledge and time; therefore the concept of substance is maximally first.

This is confirmed, first by this which is said in the same place “first being and not some being,” that is not through some being, “but being indeed will be unqualifiedly [simpliciter] substance.” Second because in I De generatione chapter 7 it is said that being “unqualifiedly singifies the first according to each category,” that is, substance.

Contra: being is impressed [on the intellect] by a first impression, from [the] first [book] of Avicenna’s Metaphysics chapter 5, therefore the concept of being is unqualifiedly first.

[Response to the Question]

I respond: in that question I will first declare three conclusions, second I will exclude certain objections.

[Article 1]

Concerning the first [article], I show first that the quidditative concept of being is most common, second that only the concept of being is the most common among quidditative concepts, third that only the concept of being is maximally first.

[Conclusion 1: the quidditative concept of being is most common]

I show the first conclusion thus: that concept is most common whose extent [ambitus] nothing positive can escape; but nothing positive can escape the concept of being; therefore the concept of being is most common. And briefly, all philosophers and doctors agree in this conclusion.
{Whence Richard the Englisman [argues thus]: just as the first complex concept is founded in being by comparing it to its contradictory, namely, of every being or non-being, so it is necessary that the first incomplex concept be said of all most commonly, for a concept whic is includited in every concept and none of those [is included] in it is maximally first; but the quidditative concept of being according as it is being is of this kind; therefore etc.

Alexander [de Alessandria] in I sentences proves it to be thus: “that which contains infinite being by its primary division seems to be the widest concept.[1]}

[Conclusion 2: the concept of being alone is the most common quidditative concept]

I deduce the second conclusion thus: there is no special being which is predicated of everything (this is clear); but being is predicated of everything; therefore only the concept of being is the most common.

And this is to argue thus: the highest community cannot befall a concept determined to a certain genus or to a special mode of being; but ever concept other than the concept of being is of this kind; therefore the highest community is able to befall non other concept than the concept of being.

[Conclusion 3: only the concept of being is maximally first]

I deduce the third conclusion thus: a grade of primacy in concepts is attained according to a grade of communit; but only the concept of being has the highest grade of community, from the preceding; therefore among all concepts only the concept of being has the highest grade of primacy, and consequently is maximally first. The major is clear from that common [vulgata] proposition ‘how much more common, so much prior’.

Furthermore, ‘it is impossible for the same at the same time to be and not to be’ is unqualifiedl first in complex [concepts], as all say, therefore the proper concept of being is unqualifiedly first in incomplex [concepts]. The consequence is clear, because the order of complex concepts est according to the order of incomplex concepts, whence just as complex concepts depend on incomplex [concepts] for truth and knowability, so they depend for communit and primacy.

Furthermore, a concept to which only the first negation is opposed is alone unqualifeidly maximally first; but the first negation is opposed in the first place only to the concept fo being; therefore only the concept of being is unqualifiedly maximally first. The major is clear, because the order of negations is according to the order of affirmations. The minor is clear, because the first negation is non-being [non-esse], and that is opposed in the first place only to being [esse].

Furthermore, what “is said through superabundance befalls only one alone” according to the Philosoher in the book of the Topics, therefore in incomplex concepts the highest primacy befalls one alone; but this cannot befall any other concept than the concept of bieng, to which befalls the highest community; therefore the highest primacy befalls only the concept of being.

Furthermore, a concept that is ultimate by the ultimate ultimacy and first by the first primacy is unqualifiedly first; but the concept of being is of this kind; therefore only the concpet of being is unqualifiedly first. The major is clear, for, as it was said in the second question of the prologue of the Sentences,[2] there are grades in primacies and ultimacies, so that the ultimate in resolving and the first in composing est unqualifiedly first. The minor is clear, because the concept of being is most common.

[Article 2]

[Objections]

Concerning the second [article,] it can be objected against the aforesaid. First, thus: that in which something agree is more commmen than them; but the concept of being and the the quidditative special concepts agree in a quidditative concept; therefore a quidditative concept is more common than the concept of being and the other special concepts. The minor is clear, because the concept of being is quidditative and the other special concepts are quidditative.

Furthermore, second thus: just as being is formally distinguished from non-being, so non-being from being; therefore a formality is common to being and to non-being, and consequently it is more common than being.

Futhermore, third thus: when something befalls many, it is necessary that something common is found in them; but to be predicated befalls being and non-being; therefore the concept of a name is more common than the concept of being. The minor is clear because a negation is non-being and a privation is non-being and nothing is non-being. The major is clear from [book] I of the Posterior Analytics.

Furthermore, fourth thus: to be signified by a name is common to being and non-being; but the concept of being is not common to non-being; therefore the concept of a name is more common than the concept of being.

Furthermore, fifth thus: what are of equal extent [ambitus] are of equal community; but the one, the true and the good are of equal extent with being, for they are convertible with it; theerefore they are of equal community, and consequently non solum conceptus entis est communissimus.

[Response to the Objections]

As evidence of the foregoing I say first that community in concepts can be understood in four ways: first in the order of the categories, secund in the order of the concepts of real beings, third in the order of howsoever[qualitercumque] beings, fourth in the order of the transcendentals. In teh first order the concepts of the most general are the most common and unqualifiedly first, in the second the transcendental concepts common to God and creatures, and substance and accident, in teh third the concept of being common to real being and being of reason, or to being in the soul and to being outside the soul, which is the same, and this community is treated in VI Metaphysics, in the fourth [order] the proper concept of being which indeed is common to the one the true and the good and the other proper passions [of being], not by a community of formal predication, but of denominative predication and virtual containment, as has to be explained below. From the forgoing it is clear that simply speaking only the proper concept of being is most common and maximally first.

To the first [objection]: against this should be said that perhaps [the term] ‘concept’, as some say, is not a name of first intention. It is not, however, unsuitable for many second intentions to agree in something of this kind, just as noting of first intention is common to the categories according to some and nevertheless they [i.e. the categories] agree in this intention which is ‘category’, and the ten most general [categories] in the intention which is ‘most general’ and the same, it seems, can be said about [the term] ‘quidditative’.

To the second [objection]: it is clear through the same, for ‘formality’ as some say, seems to be a second intention.

Against this: a second intention is founded in a first [intention] and consequently presupposes it; but non-being is not a first intention; therefore a second intention cannot be founded in non-being, and consequently neither ‘formality’.

It is confirmed, because what is founded in nothing is nothing; but the formality of non-being, if it is posted, is founded in nothing; therefore the formality of non-being is nothing. The major is evident. The minor is clear, because either something positive is subject to it or nothing. If nothing, I have what is proposed. If something positive, therefore it is not non-being which is posited non-being.
Therefore I say otherwise that just as no intelligibility per se befalls non-being or nothing, so no formality befalls it per se.

To the form [of the objection]: I deny the consequence, because it fails by a fallacy of the consequent. For ‘this is distinguished form that’ can be understood in two ways: in one way that ‘this’ means one formality and ‘that’ another formality, of which neither is the other; in another way because ‘this’ means a formality and the other means a mere negation of a formality. Therefore to infer determinately commits the fallacy of the consequent. To the antecedent I concede that being is formally distinguished from non-being and non-being from being, but not in a similar way, because being is distinguished from non-being through its own formal character[rationem], but non-being is not formally distinguished from from being through its formal character[rationem], because it does not have one, but because it is a formal negation of the character [ratio] of being.

To the third [objection]: I say that that to which is nothing, neither in reality nor in the intellect, it does not befall to be predicated, and therefore I deny the minor, if non-being is taken thus. To the proof I say that just as the intellect grasps within itself the predication ‘nothing is nothing’, so it grasps each extreme, and so each extreme is something in the fiction of the intellect.
To the contrary: with every act of the intellect circumscribed, this predication ‘nothing is nothing’ is true, therefore from its own terms it has truth and not from the intellect.

I respond: predication is an act of reason [ratio], therefore with every act of reason circumscribed there is no predication, and so that predication, with the act of the intellect circumscribed, is neither true nor false, because under such a hypothesis it can in no way be made.

You might say, therefore whence does it have truth?

I respond: from this that the intellectus conceives those negations in the mode of positives and imposes names to them, from which [names] it composes an enunciation.

To the contrary: a negation cannot be a cause of truth, for “from this that a thing is or is not, speech is called true or false,” from the book of the Categories.

I respond: a negation is not per se the cause of some truth unless negatively. Therefore propositions of this kind have truth from the terms being conceived, but nevertheless this ‘conceived’ or ‘understood’ being is granted them only through the act of the intellect.

To the fourth [objection] I concede that the concept of a name is more common than the concept of being as it is taken in the second of the aforenamed orders, nevertheless it is below the community of being as it is taken in the tird order. Through this mode the aforegoing objections can be solved.

To the fifth [objection] I say that her he speaks about quidditative concepts, not about qualitative [concepts]. But the concepts of unity and truth and goodness are qualitative concepts, as will be shown later.[3] And therefore only the concept of being is the most common and maximmaly first among quidditative concepts. To the form [of the objection] therefore it should be said that concepts of this kind are of equal extent as far as their supposits are concerned, not nevertheless are they of the same formal character [ratio], because that one is quidditative, those are qualitative.[4]

[To the principal arguments]

To the first principal [argument] I concede that the concepts of the most general are first only in the first order, and therefore the consequence does not proceed.

To the second: I deny the consequence. To the proof it should be said that although the do not have a supervening genus, as that one says, nevertheless they have some superior concept, as has been proven.

To the third I say that he does not speak unless about quidditative categorical predicates, and in their order there is a state [status], as he proves for the ten highest [categories].
To the fourth it should be said that he speaks about substance in comparison to accidents, not in comparison to whatever concept, whence only the proper concept of being is unqualifiedly first, al least by primacy of adequation.

To each confirmation it is clear through the same [argument].


[1] The text in curly brackets is present in only two manuscripts and seems to have been added in the margin of the De ente by Petrus Thomae after manuscripts of the work had begun to circulate.
[2] That is, in the second question of the prologue of Petrus Thomae’s Quaestiones super libros Sententiarum. I have not identified the passage.
[3] In Quaestiones de ente q. 12.
[4] That is, the concept of being is quidditative, the concepts of the coextensive attributes [passiones] of being are qualitative.

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