Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Guilelmus de Alvernia

Today's snippet from the middle ages comes from William of Alvernia, bishop of Paris (d. 1249). The editors of the Vatican edition believe Scotus has him in mind when he refers to some ancient doctors in support of his position on whether or not the Trinitarian persons are consituted by something absolute or relative. But I'm not posting on that topic yet. Rather, this is with respect to comments by certain energetic easterners who like to attack metaphysics and philosophy generally, and the west specifically for somehow holding that one can move beyond the persons to the essence. This is from his tractatus De Trinitate, notionibus et praedicamentis in divinis [cf. vat. ed. 6.12*]:

Cap. 39. Hoc autem non dubitetur, in summa illa Trinitate nihil omnino prioritatis aut posterioritatis posse esse, comparatione ipsius essentiae altissimae, ut videlict prior sit ipsa Trinitas, ipsa communis tribus personis essentia, aut e converso; neque, similiter, inter quamcumque ex personis et ipsam essentiam altissimam possibile est esse ordinem huiusmodi. Impossibile est quippe inter duo, quorum utrumque est spoliatissimum, esse ordinem prioritatis aut posterioritatis: quod enim spoliatissimum atque nudissimum est, nihil potest habere prius se, nisi per modum causae fortasse; personis autem illis tribus nullo modo causa essentia altissima, neque illa ab illis vel ex illis est. Hoc igitur certum habeatur. Quare non per modum causeae praecedere potest eas essentia illa, nec per modum simplicioris aut spoliatioris, quoniam et haec et illae simplices et spoliatissimae sunt in ultimo, et alius modus processionis reperiri non potest.

Here's a rough translation: Let this however not be doubted, that in that highest Trinity there can be entirely nothing of priority or posteriority, in comparision to that most high essence, as namely the Trinity is prior, itself the common essence for three persons, or the other way around. Nor, likewise, can there be an order of any kind between any one of the persons and the most high essence. For it is impossible that between two things, of which each is entirely simple [lit. "most stripped down" or "deprived"], there is an order of priority or posteriority. For what is most simple and most bare can have nothing prior to itself, unless perhaps through the mode of cause. but the most high essence is in no way able to be a cause to those three persons, nor is it by them or from them. This therefore should be held certain. Wherefore not through the mode of cause is the essence able to precede them, nor through the mode of more simple or bare, since both this essence and those persons are both simple in the highest degree, and no other mode of procession can be found.


Michael Sullivan said...


See the current energetic processions thread for a lot of nonsense about philosophy and "dialectic" and a lot of completely ignorant shots at the West. They just continue to prove they're not familiar with any of this stuff first-hand.

If only they'd read your site! But maybe I am the only reader. Without translations, though, what do you expect? How many of these people know Latin well enough to want to bother?

Lee Faber said...

I'll do one tomorrow. Didn't have time today, as I was scanning in Chartularia docs and sorting out levels of redaction in Petrus Thomae

Lee Faber said...

Well, so far I caught one homoeoteleuton, hopefully there aren't more.