Friday, August 10, 2007

Plurality of (Substantial) Forms

One of the issues that arose in the discussion in the 1277 post was the compatibility of Scotus's views on the plurality of forms and the intellectual soul's relation to the body. In my continued reading of the (long) question mentioned in the post de materia, I came across some comments that are related to some of the wider issues of the plurality of forms, though it does not directly touch on whether or not the intellective soul is the form of the body. Scotus thinks that it is, but he does not say so clearly here. One thing that is clear is that Scotus, while deciding in favor of a plurality of forms against Aquinas, does partially accept the latter's view that there can only be one esse per being. Partially, in that Scotus thinks there is an ultimate form that interacts "completive" with the previous forms that dispose matter so that it can receive the intellective soul (either the forma corporeitatis or the forma mixti).
Now for some Scotus. Scotus is here responding to an argument identified by the commentator in the wadding-vives to be that of Aquinas: "of one being (ens) there is one act of being (esse). one act of being (esse) is from one form. therfore of one being (entis) there is one form." To this Scotus takes issue with the second proposition, and makes a number of interesting comments that I will be quoting here.

Ord. IV d. 11 q. 3 (whether the bread can be transubstantiated):

"To the first, I grant the first proposition, that of one being there is one act of being; but the second, that one act of being requires only one form, should be denied, by taking 'act of being (esse)' uniformly in the major and the minor. For just as being (ens) and one are divided into the simple and the composite, so also to be (esse) and to be one (or one 'to be': ita esse et unum esse) is distinguished into to be such and such; therefore to be (esse) per se one does not determine itself precisely simple (?? non determinat sibi esse simplex praecise), just as neither something divided determines for itself precisely the other of the dividing ones. In that way there is one act of being (esse) of the entire composite, and nevertheless it includes many partial acts of being, just as the total is one being (ens), and nevertheless has many partial entities. For I know not (nescio quid) that fiction, that esse is something supervening to a non-composed essence, if essence is composite.. In this way the esse of the entire composite includes the being (esse) of all the parts, and includes many partial esse's of many parts or forms, just as a total being (ens) from many forms includes thos partial actualities.

"If, nevertheless, there be made any force in speech, I grant that the formal esse of the total composite is principally through one form, and that form is that by which the total composite is this being, that however is the ultimate advening to all the preceding (forms); and in this way the total composite is divided into two essential parts, in its proper act, namely ultimate form, by which it is that which it is, and proper potency of that act, which includes prime matter with all the preceding forms. And in that manner I grant that that total being (esse) is completed by one form, which gives to the total that which it is. But from this it does not follow, that in that total is included precisely one form, or that in the total are included many forms, not just as specifically constituting that composite, but just as certain things included in the potentiality of that composite."

The wider context of this (if anyone is interested) is that of eucharistic conversion. Aquinas holds (and here Scotus agrees) that transubstantiation entails a conversion of the matter and the form of the bread into the matter and form of Christ. Scotus thinks Thomas's view is problematic because of the latters' thesis of the unicity of the substantial form. The identity of the terminus ad quem is supplied by the words of institution: the body of Christ. On Aquinas's view, the body of Christ is the term of the change and the soul is only present by natural concomitance, that is, what is present naturally in the body of Christ. But it isn't the term of the change. Aquinas tries to get around it with a clipped remark that since the intellective soul virtually contains all the lower functions, one of which is esse corporeum, this lower function can act in place of the soul. Scotus attacks this as insufficient due to the fact that the functions of the soul (on Aquinas's view) amount to only being distinct by reason and instead postulates that the terminus ad quem must instead be the forma corporeitatis of Christ.

One could ramble on all day about this stuff.


Michael Sullivan said...

non determinat sibi esse simplex praecise

Try, "does not exactly determine it to be simple", i.e. per se unity does not require that composition (a certain amount of plurality or multiplicity) be excluded.

It just so happens that this text is quite relevant to a discussion I'm involved in over at Maverick Philosopher; I think I'll mention it there.

Lee Faber said...

The latin text can now be found on p. 255-6 of the vol. 12 of the critical edition. The reference has changed:

Ordinatio IV d. 11 pars 1 a. 2 q. 1