Sunday, May 4, 2008

Scotus on Knowing Principles and Subalternation

I'm still busy at my other, realtime, life and haven't had time to post much lately, but here's a first stab at fulfilling "e"'s request of some time ago that I post on Scotus' criticism of Thomas' views on the nature of theology and subalternation. This quote comes from the end of this section where he attacks Thomas. One should bear in mind that Scotus in the prologue to the Reportatio maintains a notion of theology which he labels "theologia in se", which denies traditional distinctions between divine science, the knowledge of the blessed, and our theology. On Scotus' view ther is only one theology, which is the quidditative knowledge of the divine essence. Other things, such as the divine attributes, ideas, notions, etc. are virtually contained in the knowledge of the essence, and are "quasi-derivative" from it. Scotus comes up with the idea that one can consider things that are distinct in reason as if they were really distinct, an idea which he gets from an "ancient" argument about the Anselmian pure perfections, that for something in which something is distinct in reason there corresponds something really distinct in something else. This is a bit scattered, but you get the idea. If you really care, I could email you my Kalamazoo paper on the subject after I get done writing it. The following quote is about they way we know principles, and ends with the nifty claim that by knowing metaphysics we are better prepared for knowing other sciences.

Reportatio IA, prologus, q. 2 n. 157: "To the authority of the Philosopher I say that principles can be known in two ways. In one way by a confused knowledge, as if the terms are apprehended confusedly by sense and experience, and this suffices for scientific knowledge of terms in any special science, as that a line is length while being ignorant of whether the quiddity of it is substance, quantity or quality, etc. In another mode distinct knowledge can be known, by knowing to which genus their quiddity pertains, when the definitions of terms are known distinctly from the evidence of the terms, and this happens in metaphysical science by dividing and composing. And so all sciences can be said to be subalternated to it, namely metaphysics. And therefore with the science of metaphysics possessed, the principles of any other science are known in it by their own proper principles. Consequently, another science is known more perfectly if metaphysics is known.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool! Thanks!

Looking forward to more (i.e., if time permits, etc.)!

Really appreciate it,