Sunday, September 30, 2007


Proof of something.

Ordinatio III d. 13 qq. 1-4, n. 92:

"Et ideo tam in via quam in patria ponitur aliqua forma creata, ut voluntas possit uti illa forma in operando, et sit forma in potestate eius, et sic laudabiliter operetur."

"And therefore, some created form is posited both in the wayfaring state and in the fatherland [ie, "heaven"], so that the will might be able to use that form in operating, and the form be in its power, so that it might operate in a praise-worthy manner."

Proof, that is, against certain interpretations of Scotus that would like to maximize his similarity to later Reformation views, by stressing 'forensic justification'; for whatever reason (this isn't directed against, say, Cross, as after reading the intro to his book I think the problem is mainly that he's trying to appeal to as many groups as possible...which is why he also compares Scotus almost exculsively to Thomas, the very difficulty with Gilson's book).The 'created form' he's talking about is, of course, that of grace conceived as a quality inhering in the will, without which human actions cannot be meritorious.

Features of a Catholic Philosopher

In a slight break from my usual fare of Scotism, I'm posting on a more general topic. The following is from a book by Nicholas Rescher, an analytic philosopher who dabbles in scholasticism (judging by his use of almost entirely outdated sources when rarely he mentiones Scotus; with the exception of the cambridge Companion to Scotus, he cites CRS Harris, some 19th c. study, and a 1910 single vol. ed. of the Ordinatio). This is not to say that he is an analytic Thomist, however. He is a catholic philosopher who respects the tradition, which he seems to identify mainly with the Fathers, Thomas, and the Thomist tradition. but he is open to the wider picture. Anyway, here are some quotes from his "Scholastic Meditations", p. 158, on five features that characterize a Catholic philosopher:
"1. Awareness of and respect for the great tradition of Catholic philosophy from the Church Fathers to the present day.
2. Concern for the big issues of philosophy and mindfulness that attention to matters of detail will exist for their sake. A reluctance to be caught up in the fashions of the moment.
3. A humanistic preoccupation with matters of morality, ethics, and philosophical anthropology--that is, with the fundamentals of how life should ideally be lived.
4. Care for the classics: special attention for the philosophers, moralists, and thinkers of Greco-Roman antiquity and their subsequent Latinate continuations.
5. Breadth of sympathies: A positive inclination to look for merit in the work of other philosophers at large. And corrrespondingly, a certain skeptical self-restraint through absence of cocksure certitude in philosophical matters."
"Question 1: What does a Catholic philosopher owe to the Church and its teachings? Answer: Allegiance and acceptance.
Question 2: What does a Catholic philosopher owe to the tradition of Catholic philosophy? Answer: Not allegiance and acceptance, but something else and rather different, namely, respect."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

An Interesting Claim

Michael also brought the following quote to my attention as well, from A. Vos "The Philosophy of Duns Scotus", an energetic book written in 2006.

"Apart from general human understanding and an open philosophical
mind, the only ingredients required for understanding Duns Scotus'
philosophy are knowledge of medieval Christianity, its Latin and its
Bible, and logical canons of consistency."



Friday, September 28, 2007

Guest Post

Here is a quote sent in by Michael, from Monadology.

Longpré, E., "Gonsalve de Balboa et le Bx Duns Scot." Études
Franciscaines XXXVI (1924), 640-645. [Attribution of the Conclusiones
to Gonsalvus, acquaintance with Scotus, etc.] 644: "Ainsi qu'il
résulte du titre de ces Quaestiones, Gonzalve de Balboa aborde, dans
le cadre très souple d'une série de disputes sur la louange divine,
les problèmes essentiels du volontarisme augustinien et franciscain.
Tout contribue à donner à son oeuvre un intérêt puissant . . . Ces
Quaestions en effet ont été disputées à Paris, très probablement entre
1300 et 1302", given parallels with William Ware and Eckart. 645: "The ideas of the Marian Doctor [Scotus] on the will and its role in the psychological life, his arguments against Godfrey of Fontaines in
favor of the liberty and spontaneity of the will, his conception of
theology as a practical science, all this is already presented and
defended with flair [éclat] by Gonsalvus of Balboa." A bit later, "it
will be easy to follow the admirable continuity of Franciscan thought
from 1260 until Duns Scotus. What then will remain of the hateful
judgments brought against the voluntarism of the Marian Doctor, the
successive denunciations of pragmatism, modernism, exaggerated
determinism and autocracy? Nothing, absolutely nothing, save a sad
page in history which it would be an honor never to mention again."

A few random comments from ly Faber: In John Inglis' book on medieval philosophical historiography (in which he identifies the "seraphic" doctor as Duns Scotus) there is a discussion of the two Inglis sees as being responsible for the Thomas-centered historiography of the 19th century which infuenced much of the twentieth, Stockl and Kleutgen. They had an even worse view of Scotus. According to them, Scotus, the founder of the "formalist" movement thought that individuation was through form. Now, since scotus only paid attention to form and not matter/subject, this logically entails that forms inhere in the 'world' as a subject, that is, there is only one subject which means scotus was a pantheist. By positing individuation as being a formal element, then, Scotus really neglected the particular, which is the Scylla to Ockham's Charybdis of claiming only particulars exist and destroying science; that is, the two Hegelian horns that the Thomistic synthesis sailed between. Sadly, it took 50 years after these two were writing for someone to challenge the pantheist claim, Parthenius Minges in the 1920's. Interestingly, Garriogu-Lagrange seems to have known about this defense, as he never accuses Scotus of pantheism (which I have no doubt he would have had he been able).

Friday, September 21, 2007

More of the same

From the ewtn online ed. of Reality. My interest in this quote is the characterization of Alexander and Bonaventure as "pre-thomist." And the last bit about matter is interesting. The reference there is probably to Lecura II d. 12, though there is some stuff in Ord. IV which I have posted on previously (see the 'de materia' post). Scotus does seem to grant a reality to matter apart from form, and I remember the Lectura passage being pretty weird, but I don't quite recall if he says matter can exist without form. But Garrigou wouldn't have known about the Lectura, as it was only discovered by Balic in the '30's or so...the relevant parallel distinction in the Ordinatio was never written by Scotus but filled in with the Additiones Magnae of William of Alnwick; perhaps what Garriogu is referring to. The problem is a lot of Thomists read everything with the real distinction in mind and evaluate Scotus's views based on it so it is hard to tell what Garrigou is referring to (now, I do hold it is legitimate to criticize other philosophies, and indeed I criticize Thomism an awful lot; but I try to do it on Thomas's own terms, and not just ridicule him from within a perspective foreign to his thought). There is a sense in Scotus, referring to Aristotle's Metaphysics VII of matter existing as a substrate through a series of substantial forms and in that sense Scotus says it has its own entity. but not existence (though, perhaps this is implied, as he doesn't think essence and existence are distinct...a far more useful background to scotus than Thomas's real distinction is the esse essentiae, esse actualis existentiae of Henry).

"On the other hand, some pre-Thomistic theologians, notably Alexander of Hales and St. Bonaventure, admitted a plurality of substantial forms in man and also a spiritual matter in the human soul. These theologians were seeking, unsuccessfully, to harmonize the doctrine of St. Augustine with that of Aristotle. The multiplicity of substantial forms did indeed emphasize St. Augustine's view about the soul's independence of the body, but at the same time compromised the natural unity of the human composite.

Steering between these two currents, St. Thomas maintains that the rational soul is indeed purely spiritual, entirely without matter and hence incorruptible, but that it is nevertheless the form of the body, rather, the one and only form of the body, although in its intellectual and voluntary acts it is intrinsically independent of matter. And if in these acts it is independent, then it is independent of the body also in its being, and, once separated from the body which gave it individuation, it still remains individualized, by its inseparable relation to this body rather than to any other.

Turning now to special questions, we shall continue to underline the principles to which St. Thomas continually appeals, and which Thomists have never ceased to defend, particularly against Scotus and Suarez, who still preserve something of the theories held by the older Scholasticism. Thus Scotus admits, first a materia primo prima in every contingent substance, even in spiritual substances, and holds, secondly, that there is in man a form of corporeity distinct from the soul, and that, thirdly, there are in the soul three formally distinct principles, that of the vegetative life, that of the sense life, and that of the intellective life.

He likewise holds, against St. Thomas, that prime matter, speaking absolutely, can exist without any form. This last thesis reappears in Suarez who, since he rejects the real distinction between essence and existence, goes on to admit that prime matter has its own existence. We shall see that the principles of St. Thomas cannot be harmonized with these positions."

Garrigou, round 2

This is from his book "Reality"

"Chapter 23: Angelic Nature And Knowledge

1. Nature Of Angels

St. Thomas [596] teaches clearly that the angels are creatures purely spiritual, subsistent forms without any matter. Scotus says they are composed of form and incorporeal matter, without quantity, because, being creatures, they must have an element of potentiality. The Thomistic reply runs thus: This potential element is first the angelic essence, really distinct, as in all creatures, from existence. Secondly, the real distinction between person and existence, between quod est and existence. Thirdly, real distinction of substance from faculties, and of faculties from acts. All these distinctions are explicitly formulated by St. Thomas himself. [597].

From their pure spirituality St. Thomas concludes that there cannot be two angels of the same species, because the only principle by which a substantial form can be individualized is matter, matter capable of this quantity rather than any other. Thus, to illustrate, two drops of water, perfectly similar, are by their matter and quantity two distinct individuals. But angels have no matter. [598].

Scotus, on the contrary, since he admits a certain kind of matter in the angels, maintains also that there can be many angels of one and the same species. Suarez, in his eclecticism, admits this conclusion of Scotus, although he sides with St. Thomas in maintaining that the angels are purely spiritual and immaterial beings. Thomists reply: if the angels are purely spiritual, you can find in them no principle of individuation, no principle capable of multiplying within one and the same species.

Form unreceived in matter, they say with St. Thomas, is simply unique. Whiteness, for example, if conceived as unreceived in this or that white thing, would be one and unique. If you deny this, then you simultaneously deny the principle which demonstrates the unicity of God, the principle, namely, which St. Thomas thus formulates: [599] Existence unreceived is necessarily subsistent and unique."

Faber's commentary: Now, this isn't really Garrigou's fault...Probably when he wrote this there was still a great deal of dispute as to whether or not the "De rerum principio" was a genuine work of Scotus. In this work, the author says, "I return to the position of Avicebron" and endorses spiritual matter. But in point of fact, this has been proven to be not by Scotus at all, but by Vital du four, most of which is copied out of other others, such as Godfrey of Fontaines. This leads Garrigou astray as to Scouts holding to spiritual matter. He (Scotus) respects the opinion, and as far as I know never attacks it as it is part of the Franciscan tradition, but neither does he explicitly endorse it (possible exception in the QQ de anima, though he seems there to be contrasting the relative merits of spiritual matter against certain Thomist views). However he is dead wrong on this being the reason for multiple angels per species, as this is permitted by Scotus's theory of individuation being by means of a further determination of the species form to a singularity. There are obviously a number of other issues at play as well, relating to the relation of form and matter. I will say, however, that Scotus does not hold to the real distinction between essence and existence, which has caused no end of scandal to Thomists and their Cambridge offspring, Radical Orthodoxy.

Monday, September 17, 2007


While doing research for a paper I am writing on the historiography of Duns Scotus in the 20th century, I came across the following among the writings of Garrigou-Lagrange. Though I am not seeking to revisit ill-will from the past, I think a lot of these ideas may still be in circulation and so are worth discussinig. Oddly, though Garrigou-Lagrange does not reference any texts on the formal distinction, his portrayal of that doctrine is far more accurate than that of univocity, which he gets completely wrong (and the classic texts of which he does reference in a footnote). He is a bit nasty about the whole thing as well, trying to claim Scotus's positions are a no-no for catholics due to conciliar statements. This is a very rough translation, which I did in about the space of half an hour.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange, De Deo Uno: Commentarius in primam partem S. Thomae

p. 134:

“Scotus, however, holds that the divine essence is distinguished by attributes and by persons, and the divine attributes among themselves by a formal-actual distinction ex natura rei, which is antecedant to the consideration of our mind. According to Scotus, it can only be affirmed that God punishes by justice adn not by mercy; for this is required that these two attributes are formally actually distinct in God, before the consideration of our mind, almost as in our soul the intellect and will are formally-actually distinguished.

The foundation of this theory is the immoderate realism of Scotus, according to which now in creatres formally-actually distinguished in whatever metaphysical grade, namely in Peter humanity, vitality, substantiality, entity. From this it follows that being is univocal in God and in creatures as Scotus maintains explicitly. Nor is it to be marvelled at that being is univocal, if it is formally-actually distinguished before the consideration of our mind from substantiality, from vitality, namely, from the modalities of being.

Criticisms. a. This formal-actual distinction, thought out by Scotus, if truly it is more than virtual, that is, as we have now noted: if truly it exists in re before the consideration of the mind, then (iam) it is a real distinction, howsoever small it is, and then it is opposed to the highest simplicty of God, for, as the Council of Florence (Denziger 703) says, ‘in God all are one, where opposition of relation does not prevent it.” In other words, Scotus so apporaches immoderate realism and to a certain anthropomorphism, inasmuch as he posits in God a distinction which is not except in the human mind. It is the extreme opposite of nominalism and agnosticism. So Scotus did not pull back enough from the immoderate realism of Gilbertus Porretanus, condemed by the Council of Rheims (Denz. 391) as contrary to the highest simplicity of God.

b. The metaphysical grades are not distinguished in act in re prior to the consideration of our intellect ... because they are reduced to the same concept of humanity, of which animality is the genus, and rationality the specific difference, so they correspond to the same reality which is in them but virtually multiple.

c. Indeed if being formaliter-actualiter would be distinguished from the modalities of being, those modalities would be outside being, and therefore they would be nothing. In this there is danger of pantheism: if being would be univocal, it would be single (unicum), because the univocal is not diversified unless through differences extrinsic to itself, and outside being there is nothing. In fact being is included in its own modalities, and containes them implictly in act. Furthermore, it is not univocal (as a genus, whose differences are extrinsic) but analogous. Being expresses something [ of Thomas’s transcendentals from De Veritate q. 1?] not in an unqualified way, but proportionally the same in Being from itself, in created substantial being, in accidental [being]. Therefore this doctrine of Scotus does not seem to be in conformity with the fourth Lateran Council (Denz. 432) where it can be read: ‘between creature and creator such a similitude cannot be observed, rather between them a greater dissimilude must be known.’ This is just as the definition of analogy, inasmuch as the ratio of analogy is not absolutely [simpliciter] the same in God and in creatures, but proportionally the same, as wisdom which in God is the cause of things and in us is measured by things.

Whence while the nominalists approach the equivocity of being, Scotus holds the univocity of being. The opinions are radically opposed to each other.”

There follows a note: “But when Scotus substitutes his own formal distinction in place of the real distinction of saint Thomas, for example bewtween the faculties of the soul, he opens the way to nominalism.”

p. 322

“Third is posited the difficult question about the identification of divine perfections in God...

The difficulty is chiefly proposed by Scotus, and he defends his distinctionem formalem-actualem ex natura rei between the divine attributes, because he thought their formal identification to be impossible. For Scotus, in order that the divine attributes are formally in God, it is necessary that in Him they should be formally distinct and more than virtually [distinct].”

[omitted: some unintelligble point by Cajetan, about the ratio of justice and the ratio of wisdom not being each other but that being ok because together they do not make up a third ratio.]

G.-L. Quoting Cajetan, “‘in the second place, it can be understood, if we maintain that the ratio of wisdom and the ratio of justice are eminently contained in one formal ratio of a superior order and to be identified formally.’”

Back to Garrigou: “This is the Thomistic sense of this expression, ‘formally, eminently’: ‘formally’ he signifies both ‘substantially’, and not causally, ‘properly’ and not metaphorically, but ‘analogically’. ‘Eminently’ excludes the formal actual distinction of the attributes of God, and expresses their identification or rather identity in the most eminent formal ratio of deity, whose proper mode, hidden in itself, is not known in via except negatively and relativly.”

Back to me. The claim of GL that the formal distinction entails univocity is a strange one. It seems kind of true, in that one cannot fall back so easily on mystery and 'eminent' ways of containment of perfection terms are univocally common, but I tend to think of these as separate issues. No serious scholarship has been done on this as far as I know.

Garrigou is clearly off his rocker on this one, though it is the usual criticism, voiced by Thomists probably from Thomas of Sutton down to Catherine Pickstock. There is a refusal, or inability (if one prefers to locate the source of their error in the intellect than in an intractible will) to understand Scotus's clear statements. He says being is not only analogous, but univocal. That's right, he favors the analogy of being. But he is not interested in that specifically, or at least his interest is in giving it a conceptual foundation so that it is not a nice name for pure equivocity. Instead, one must see Scotus's discussion of univocity as taking place on the conceptual level. By this he avoids the nasty charges against him, as he can fully admit the conciliar statements; they are talking about matters in re, not on a conceptual level. This is not to say that Scotus and Thomas can be harmonized as some have tried to argue at Kalamazoo; Thomas thinks analogy holds on the conceptual level, though he doesn't say much about it. But he clearly talks of differing rationes in the Summa.
The other major error he makes is another usual claim, that univocity entails that being is a genus. Scotus himself is aware of this, and in a passage referenced by Garriogu deals with the objection (Ord. I d.8 q.3). Scotus's own view of the matter is that being cannot be a genus due to the resulting incompatibility with divine simplicity. He thinks that genera are contracted by differences, two entitites which are in a potency-act relationship. His response instead is the notion of intrinsic modes, which represent different degrees of intensity of something, and are not part of the genus-species model. Of course, one can simply not accept Scotus's solution or argue against it, but Garrigou is not even aware of it and rushes to judgement.

Formal Distinction:
Oddly, it gets this mostly right, though he omitts key aspects. I am not sure why he calls it a disticntion "formaliter-actualiter." The actualiter is not from Scotus and I am not sure what it even means. Perhaps he is stressing the fact that the formal distinction is on the real side of things as distinctions go, but this is unnecessary as he has already put in the qualifications of it holding prior to any operation of the intellect and being "ex parte rei." So that's wrong. He also does not choose to admit that Scotus says that one ought to refer to this as formal non-identity instead of a formal distinction, lest people be confused. A small point, which does not change Scotus's actual arguments. He also does not admit the way the subtle doctor preserves simplicity, instead preferring to rush to a council and make the charge of implicit heresy. Scotus thinks, formal distinction notwithstnding, that God is one in re, for due to the fact that all the divine attributes, essence, etc., are all one by infinity (their intrinsic mode), and are one infinity not many infinities. So ultimately I don't think the Thomists and Scotists diagree on all that much here. Just look at the last paragraph or two when Garrigou invokes mystery in via, and especially that second quote from Cajetan. One just has to shake one's head. Cajetan is somewhat of an ambigous figure among Thomists, who alternatively love and hate him, but reading his criticisms of Scotus and his own solutions to the same questions, he either sounds like a moron (such aswhen he responds to Scotus's argument for univocity "from doubtful concepts", his "Achilles" argument, with "but they're one by unity of analogy" with an implied "ha ha ha"). But, he is a saint so he probably knows better now.
That's all for now, back to grad school.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Ord. III d.1 pars 2 q. unica n. 210:

“...nihil, quod non est expresse articulus fidei, tenendum est tamquam simpliciter credendum, nisi sequatur ex aliquo simpliciter credendo.”

"...nothing, which is not expressly an article of faith, should be held as to be believed absolutely, unless it follows from something that must be believed absolutely."

I rather like that one. The editors refer to several other passages where he says something similar. The context is the question in book III (obviously) where he is asking what it is that terminates the relation of dependence of the assumed it the divine essence, the word, etc. It is rather an interesting question as Scotus takes it as an opportunity to revisit the question from book I about whether the persons are consituted by something absolute. He ultimately opts for the authority of tradition, even though he thinks the arguments are not very good; they do not 'conclude'. So he still thinks his theory is better, and can be held as the constitution of divine persons is not an article of faith nor follows directly from one.
It is somewhat surprising to read something like this, as we tend to think of the medievals as being rather unsophisiticated in most areas. Scotus in general, however, as I have tried to show in other posts, has a very developed sense of the uses of theology, quite apart from the whole faith-reason thing for which he is often maligned (by Thomists, and their bastard children Radical Orthodoxy). The statement seems true to me, however. It is one of those unexpressed and unknown truths in the background of my conversion to the Church, I suspect. The doctrinal chaos of much of protestantism has nothing to compare. Some things really are fundamental and settled, leaving whole new vistas of theology open for investigation and private opinion (bracketing, of course, the whole problem of making past dogma relevant in the me medieval theology is probably more present and alive than is that of Rahner, von Balthasar, or the latest pomo trend). It is also a justification for my denial of most Thomist doctrines (mainly philosophical...the theological ones I object to are the explanations, not the articuli fidei themselves) as well as the arguments of those Thomists of the Strict Observance who claim on the basis of papal opinions and encyclicals dating from the days of the Neo-thomistic revival (1879-1965 are contentious dates I would assign for the institutional side of things) that the faithful are obligated to give religious assent to things like the 25 Thomistic theses. I've read some pretty crazy stuff on that topic (such as, Pelzer or Pelster's article from the early days of Franciscan Studies responding to Spanish Dominicans claiming that one is obligated to hold with religious assent everything Thomas said except in an area where the commentary tradition itself is in doubt as to the mentem Thomae. But I could go on all day about such things, and would probably get less charitable as I went due to the fact that I am in a fell mood today (sept. 14 has come and gone, and the promised tlm chapel was cold and dark).
To return to the 14th s., here is a bit on relations and will, from the same question as above.

ord. III d. 1 pars 2 q. unica n.241
“I say that every real relation is between extremes really distinct, but sometimes by a distinction preceding the relations, sometimes not, but only formally caused by those relations; and this not only among the divine persons but among creatures and also in accidental relations. For the will moves itself and is moved by itself, and not only is there a real relation of the will to volition, but also the will as active to itself as passive.... And nevertheless the will, which is the foundation of those opposed relations ‘of moving and moved’, and is denominated (denominatur) by each of them, itself is not distinguished by a distinction of those relations, but only by the distinction made by them.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


'Intentionality' is a term bandied about a lot today, so in a small concession to contemporary interest I am posting something perhaps more relevant than the usual arcana. Note that when Scotus refers to the 'third' opinion ord. II d.25 he is referring to his own position, although d. 25 is not actually found in the ordinatio. It is among the 15 or 20 distinctions that he never got around to finishing. But a parallel passage can be found in the Lectura, which once again shows that one must be clear on what one means when labelling Scotus as a 'voluntarist'. For in d.25, he develops the position that the intellect and will are related as two essentially ordered causes. It is not, WILL WILL and WILL alone with Scotus (maybe Henry...) but the joint operation of intellect and will is required for a volitional act. That's all for now. Soon I'll have to stop reading for fun and buckle down for school, and then the blogging will go by the wayside unless I blog on some of the Derrida or historiography stuff I'm swamped by.

Ordinatio II d.38 Q.unica:

Primo videndum est quid dicitur per hoc nomen ‘intentio’.

“‘Intendere’ enim dicit ‘in aliud tendere’. Hoc potest accipi generaliter, sive ab alio habeat quod tendat in illud, sive a se ‘movente se in illud.’ – Potest etiam aliquid tendere in aliquid ut in obiectum praesens, vel ut in terminum distantem vel absentem.

Primo modo convenit omni potentiae respectu sui obiecti.

Secundo modo magis proprie sumitur pro illo quod scilicet tendit in aliud et non ducitur in illud, sed ducit se in illud; et hoc modo non potest esse alicuius potentiae naturalis, sed tantum liberae, quia - secundum Damascenum cap. 33 – ‘appetitus non-liber ducitur et non ducit,’ et ita est do omni potentia naturali.

Hoc ergo modo proprie accipiendo ‘intendere,’ prout scilicet dicit ‘in aliud tendere ex se,’ erit principaliter potentiae liberae; sed cum ‘libere velle’ sit totius liberi arbitrii, quod includit intellectum et voluntatem (secundam illam tertianopinionem distinctione 25 huius), totius erit ‘intendere’ (et hoc si propriissime sumatur), et non erit alicuius respectu obiecti sui sed respectu finis. Et cum in omni volitione – secundum Anselmum – sit accipere ‘quid’ et ‘cur’, ‘intendere’ non respicit ‘quid’ sed ‘cur’, prout scilicet dicit tendentiam in aliquid ut distans, per aliquid tamquam per aliquid medium.

Erit ergo ‘intentio’ actus liberi arbitrii ratione voluntatis, et erit actus eius respectu eius quod vult. Quod si voliti et eius propter quod est volitum, sit idem actus volendi, idem actus erit usus et intentio; si autem alius, intentio dicet formaliter actum illum quo tendit in finem, et materialiter actum utendi quo refert aliud in illum finem.


Ad ultimum dico quod conferre per modum iudicii est solus intellectus, sicut et intelligere, - sed referre utendo sive ordinando unum amabile ad aliud, est voluntatis; sicut enim voluntas est relexiva, quia immaterialis, ita et collativa vel potens referre suo modo.”

I respond. First it must be seen what is meant by this term ‘intention’. For ‘to intend’ means ‘to stretch into another’. This can be understood generally, either it has from another that which it stretches into that, or from itself ‘moving itself into that.’ – Something is also able to stretch into something as into a present object, or as into a distant or absent terminus. The first way is suited to every power with respect to its object. The second way is understood more properly for that which strains into another and is not led into it, but leads itself into it; and in this way it cannot be of any natural power, but only of a free power, because – according to the Damascene chapter 33 – ‘a non-free appetite is led and does not lead’, and so it is of every natural power. Therefore in this way properly understanding “intention”, inasmuch as it means ‘to strain into another from itself’, it will bwe principally of a free power; but since ‘to will freely’ is of the entire free choice, which includes the intellect and will (according to that third opinion in distinction 25 of Book II), it will be of the totality ‘to intend’ (and this if it is understood most properly), and it will not be of something with respect to its object but with respect to the end. And since in every volition – according to Anselm- it is necessary to understand ‘what’ and ‘why’, ‘to intend’ does not fall under ‘what’ but ‘why’, inasmuch as means a straining into something as distant, through something just as through some medium. Therefore ‘intention’ is an act of free choice under the aegis [ratio: maybe aspect, meaning, definition] of the will, and it will be the act of it with respect of that which it wills. But if of the willed and of that on account of which it is willed, is the same act of willing, the same act will be use and intention. But if another, intention will formally mean that act by which it stretches into the end, and materially the act of using by which it refers another into that end.

To the last I say that to compare through the mode of judgment is of the intellect alone, just as is understanding – but to refer by using or ordering one lovable thing to another, is of the will; for just as the will is reflexive, because it is immaterial, so also it is collative or able to refer in its own way.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Scotistic Infelicities

I came across a rather odd passage, that seems to contradict his very explicit comments elsewhere (in d.8). He seems to be saying that a common univocal term, in this case 'voluntas', is related to the particular term or to the term conceived with its intrinsic mode in the way in which genus and species are related, that is, by a contraction by means of a specific difference. In d. 8 he argues precisely against this, as it entails composition in God. Obviously, here it is only serving as an example and may not meant to be taken as a directly analogous case. But the terminology is the same in both passages: Specific difference, pure or irreducible perfections (perfectio simpliciter). Here it is, I've only translated the last bit.

Ord. II d. 34-37 q. 1-5, n. `17-28.
...quo modo differentia dicitur accidere generi. Hoc enim modo illud quo voluntas nostra specifice est ‘haec voluntas,’ accidit ‘voluntati in communi’, quia ‘voluntas in communi’ est perfectio simpliciter (propter quod ponitur formaliter in Deo), et voluntas sub ista ratione non est proxima causa etiam contingens respectu peccati, quia tunc quodlibet inferius sub ea haberet talem rationem causalitatis, et ita voluntas divina. Sed voluntas, contracta per differentiam aliquam ad voluntatem creatam (quam circum loquimur per hoc quod est ‘limitatum’), est proxima causa defectiva et per accidens respectu peccati...

Ita in proposito. Illam differentiam specificam qua ‘voluntas in communi’ contrahitur ad voluntatem creatam (quae contractio vel differentia nos modo latet), circum loquimur per hoc quod est ‘esse limitatum’ vel ‘defectible’ vel ‘ex nihilo’....

"So is in the question at hand. We speak about that specific difference by which the will in common is contracted to the created will (the contraction or difference is not known to us now)..."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


In reading Kedar's Crusade and Mission for class I came across the following quote concerning Scotus; the context is the later medieval discussion on the relation between crusade, mission, and forcible conversion. The quote is from p. 187:

"Similarly, the prominent Franciscan theologian Johannes Duns Scotus (d. 1308), tacitly rejecting Thomas's view, argues that a Christian ruler not only may but ought to take Jewish and infidel children from their parents by force and have them baptized; he advises the ruler to do this with proper caution, lest the parents be forewarned and kill the children to prevent their baptism. And the doctor subtilis goes on to say, 'Moreover, I believe that it would be a pious deed to coerce the parents themselves with threats and terror to receive baptism and to cling to it thereafter. For even though they would not be true believers in their hearts, it would be still less harmful for them to be unable to keep safely their illicit religion than to be able to keep it freely. Their descendants, if properly brought up, would become true believers by the third or fourth generation.'"

Sunday, September 2, 2007

William Turner's narrative

From the Catholic encyclopedia, at New Advent in an article on Scholasticism:

"With Duns Scotus, a genius of the first order, but not of the constructive type, begins the critical phase, of Scholasticism. Even before his time, the Franciscan and the Dominican currents had set out in divergent directions. It was his keen and unrelenting search for the weak points in Thomistic philosophy that irritated and wounded susceptibilities among the followers of St. Thomas, and brought about the spirit of partisanship which did so much to dissipate the energy of Scholasticism in the fourteenth century. The recrudescence of Averroism in the schools, the excessive cultivation of formalism and subtlety, the growth of artificial and even barbarous terminology, and the neglect of the study of nature and of history contributed to the same result. Ockham's Nominalism and Durandus's attempt to "simplify" Scholastic philosophy did not have the effect which their authors intended. "The glory and power of scholasticism faded into the warmth and brightness of mysticism," and Gerson, Thomas à Kempis, and Eckhart are more representative of what the Christian Church was actually thinking in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries than are the Thomists, Scotists, and Ockhamists of that period, who frittered away much valuable time in the discussion of highly technical questions which arose within the schools and possess little interest except for adepts in Scholastic subtlety. After the rise of Humanism, when the Renaissance, which ushered in the modern era, was in full progress, the great Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese commentators inaugurated an age of more healthy Scholasticism, and the great Jesuit teachers, Toletus, Vasquez, and Francisco Suárez, seemed to recall the best days of thirteenth century speculation. The triumph of scientific discovery, with which, as a rule, the representatives of Scholasticism in the seats of academic authority had, unfortunately, too little sympathy, led to new ways of philosophizing, and when, finally, Descartes in practice, if not in theory, effected a complete separation of philosophy from theology, the modern era had begun and the age known as that of Scholasticism had come to an end."

I've seen articles by this Turner fellow floating around on abebooks for ages, but this is the first I have read. Not terribly surprising for its time (1912). it is influenced by the historiography of the day, which essentially taught that the 14th century was one of decline. Even now, nearly one hundred years later, the scholarship has advanced little. We have here myths that are still with us: Scotus is a destructive not a constructive thinker; Scotus set out explicitly to attack Thomas Aquinas; scholastic discourse was obssessed with trivialities. The contrast between "mysticism" and scholastic thought and the claim that the former is representative of its time is new to me, but not surprising. Soon after this article Anneliese Meier was to begen to write, devoting her life to 14th century scholastic natural philosophy; one of her interesting claims is that the 14th century developed its own natural philsophy, neither making the moves necessary for modern science nor being excessively devoted to Aristotle. It is different than both. She does say, however, that the principle of omne quod movetur ab alio movetur was the major notion that kept the scholastics from developing a more modern natural philosophy (I might add, it was the voluntarists Henry of Ghent and Duns Scotus who rejected this, unlike the intellectualist St. Thomas).

Gerson: a nominalist like his master D'ailly, bitterly opposed to Scotisim. Durandus: I've never heard of this simplification; he seems as or more complex than Scotus. Barbarous terminology: the usual complaint of the humanists against the scholastics in general.

De peccato actuali

I'm deep in fall semester now, but am trying to finish up vol. 8. At the moment I am wending my way through the discussion of actual sin, one of the most complicated questions, textually speaking, that I have encountered in the subtle doctor's writings; five interlaced questions. There is a lot of Anselm, Augustine, with ocassional references to arguements of Aquinas and Bonaventure, though it may not be direct "contra Thomam" argumentation, but borrowing arguments for a position from their writings. The editors give quotes from Aquinas, and point out a dual influence from Anselm and Augustine; Scotus discusses Augustine, but is much closer to Anselm's position, and even adopts it explicitly in the matter of original sin. It is a very different account of sin than what I have heard before, and I think I made some errors in my post on penance. Not that I think it falls afoul of Trent or anything. Even Ott points out a few places where Trent specifically left the scholastic dispute unresolved. Anyway, I will put up a few quotes.

Ord. II d. 34-37 qq.1-5, n. 46-47:
"Concedo ergo ... quod peccatum est corruptio rectitudinis in actu secundo... non autem naturalis, nec cuiuscumque habitualis, sed moralis actualis. Sed non intelligo de corruptione quae est mutatio ab esse ad non-esse (potest enim peccatum manere post talem mutationem iustitae ab esse ad non-esse, potest etiam inesse absque tali mutatione ab esse ad non-esse), sed intelligo corruptionem formaliter, sicut privatio dicitur formaliter corruptio sui habitus; hoc enim modo ratio peccati est formaliter corruptio rectitudinis in actu secundo, quia opponitur illi rectitudini ut privatio habitui: non quidem rectitudini quae inest (quia tunc duo opposita simul inessent), nec quae prius infuit isti actui (quia actus non manet ut alteretur ab opposito in oppositum), sed quae deberet inesse."
I grant, therefore, that sin is corruption of rectitude in second act [think of Aristotle's first and second acts here]; not however of a natural act, nor of any habitual one, but of a moral act. But I do not mean by 'corruption' a change from being to non-being (for sin can remain after such a change of justice from being to non-being, it is able also to inhere without such a change from being to non-being), but I use 'corruption' formally, just as a privation is called formally a corruption of its habit; for in this way the definition of sin is formally the corruption of rectitude in second act, because it is opposed to that rectitude as privation is opposed to its habit: not indeed to the rectitude which inheres (because then two opposites would inhere simultaneously), nor what first was present to that act (because act does not reman so that it might be changed from opposite into opposite), but what ought to inhere.

"Voluntas enim libera debitrix est ut omnem actum suum eliciat conformiter regulae superiori, videlicet secundum praeceptum divinum; et ideo quando agit difformiter ab ista regula, caret iustitia actuali debita (hoc est, iustitia quae deberet inesse actui et non inest): haec carentia, in quantum est actus voluntatis deficientis (sicut dicetur in aliqua solutione), est formaliter peccatum actuale."

Free will is a debtor, so that it elicits its every act in conformity to superior rules, namely, according to the divine commands. And therefore when it acts in a manner opposed to those rules, it lacks the actual requried justice (that is, the justice which ought to inhere or be present to the act and does not inhere). This lack, insofar as it as an act of the will turning aside is formally actual sin."
Bad, I know, but "debita" and "deficio" are always a nightmare to translate, almost as bad as "natum."