Monday, November 26, 2007

Bridges on Petrus Thomae

Here's a quote, mostly for Michael, about Petrus Thomae. Not terribly flattering, perhaps. But probably worth editing (and besides; all his treatises are short which is good since I want some experience before jumping into, say Richard of Middleton or William of Ware)

Bridges on Petrus Thomae, from Identity and Distinction in Petrus Thomae OFM
p. v-vi:
“Petrus Thomae, as he emerges from oblivion, is seen to be within the shadow of Duns Scotus. The scope of his work, the brilliance of his mind both suffer by comparison. In relation to Scotus Petrus Thomae is a minor figure. Yet he takes on importance from the fact that he is an immediate successor of Scotus, one of the first links after Scotus in the chain of the Franciscan tradition in theology and philosophy. He reflects the doctrine of Scotus and at times contributes to a better understanding of the Subtle Doctor. But as the structure and design of the doctrine of Petrus Thomae is uncovered, it is found that his doctrinal edifice is more than a reproduction by less skilled hands of the architectural masterpiece that Scotus designed and executed. Masterpiece though Scotus’ work was, it nevertheless was not perfect and complete in every detail. No philosophy to date has been, nor, I think, will any philosophy in the course of human life and progress be perfect beyond perfecting. The scope of reality is too vast, the depths to be searched too profound, for any single mind to comprehend and expound completely and perfectly. But there are outstanding men who appear from time to time who open up new insights and push human understanding onward. John Duns Scotus was one such, to remain close to the man we propose to study. He not only reached new understanding and insight himself, but he inspired and directed his followers to new advances. Petrus Thomae was one of the first who launched out into original speculation under the inspiration of Duns Scotus.

There would appear to be two types of mind bent upon philosophy. One might be called the passive mind, which approaches the philosophy developed by another and expends its full capacity in understanding. The majority of a great philosoher’s disciples are endowed with this type of mind. The other type of mind has over and above this understanding the gift of insight, the active ability to advance beyond what it has learned from others. And this is most truly the philosophical mind. Petrus Thomae had some of this gift. He was not as richly endowed as Scotus; but he did have the ability not only to assimilate what Scotus taught him, whether personally or through his works, and not only to assay critically other philosohies and attakcs upon his own or his master’s position, but he had a certain amount of that philosophical insight, that active ability to go on where others had pointed but had not read.

The man this study presents, then, is not only a mirror of Scotistic philosophy; he is a philosopher in the fullest sense. This is not to say, however, that he is an outstanding philosopher. His gift is not of the order of a Scotus; that much is certain. But much more must be uncovered in the history of Franciscan thought before a final estimate of his true stature and importance can be made.

p. 174:
“Ordinarily Scotus is considered to have a style difficult of comprehension. Much of this difficulty comes from a technical terminology and a closeness of reasoning. Once this terminology is mastered it becomes easier to follow the line of reasoning. But even then thought always takes precedence over style. In comparsion to Scotus, it must be said that Peter often shows less clarity. It is true that this is not as readily perceived in the more carefully thought out works. But in the other works, even when paraphrasing the thought of Scotus there is no improvement. Of course one must remember that no critical edition of Peter’s work is available. Until such is available it will be impossible to judge how much of this difficulty is due to Peter and how much to successive scribes. But even after a critical editoin is published I believe that it will be evident that Scotus possessed the clearer, sharper, more penetrating mind; but that Peter, one of the first of his disciples, is far from the least of them.”


Michael Sullivan said...

Very interesting. But . . .

"In comparsion to Scotus, it must be said that Peter often shows less clarity."

That's a little scary.

Lee Faber said...

Tell me about it. And I want to edit it.

If you're interested, I could do a post "de ultimata abstractione et concretione"

He is also the source of at least one barbarism: "quidificat"

Lee Faber said...

oh yes. the abstraction bit is from De distinctione predicamentorum. Though he claims Scotus as a source for his view that it is not impossible for a relation to exist without its foundation, I think Scotus says otherwise in IV sent.