Monday, March 30, 2009

Two Miniatures

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There's always laughter and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

* * *

Heretics all, whoever you may be,
In Tarbes or Nimes, or over the sea,
You never shall have good words from me.
Caritas non conturbat me.

But Catholic men that live upon wine
Are deep in the water, and frank, and fine;
Wherever I travel I find it so,
Benedicamus Domino.

On childing women that are forelorn,
And men that sweat in nothing but scorn:
That is on all that ever were born,
Miserere Domine.

To my poor self on my deathbed,
And all my dear companions dead,
Because of the love that I bore them,
Dona Eis Requiem.

--Hilaire Belloc

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Notre Dame Invokes the Secular Arm

Is what I wish the headline of the (at least local) papers would read. My apologies for this interruption from our regular program of arcana that have nothing to do with FutureChurch or the world of Today, but there was a most heinous event on the campus of Notre Dame a week ago Saturday, that has gone unremarked on campus. The following is a story I heard from an eyewitness. And yes, this concerns the Obama affair.

The setting is the Basilica on the campus of Notre Dame. It's saturday, the saturday vigil mass. This was day I at least learned of the invitation of President Obama to be the commencement speaker. At mass, after the "prayers of the faithful" and the cantors closing metrum, the lector, described as an old man, added a prayer to the effect of "may Notre Dame rescind its invitation to Mr. Obama, who is a steadfast supporter of Abortion". The cantor was confused, didnt know what to do, but mass went on. After mass, however, while worshippers were still milling about, four members of the Notre Dame police force entered the basilica, and roughly took the man out. I was told they were rough, and did not respect his age. He fell/was pushed over a chair, hurting himself in the process. He was visibly upset, yelling. There was no CSC priest on hand to interact with the old man or the cops. He was roughly manhandled out the door. Now, I understand that the man had no right to criticize Notre Dame in Notre Dame's own church (despite the CSC's blather about being prophetic and a voice of change), and this may well have been the televised mass (or at least may be broadcast on sunday). But to call the cops, to both embarass the poor man and cause him physical harm is a shameful way to respond, completely dispropotionate to the offense. The only message I get out of this is:

Notre Dame quells public dissent with private police force

Saturday, March 28, 2009


. . . Balthasar's understanding of how truth is aesthetically established in the desire for goodness--the desire to give--blends very well with the Thomistic telescope that newly stresses how truth as realized eidos is also truth as anticipation, truth as made, truth as continued event, truth as interpreting signs, truth as receptivity of new aspects. Together these perspectives suggest that truth is that which opens us to contemplation of the infinite just insofar as it is also that which prepares us for a more harmonious human and cosmic future. Beyond contradiction and non-contradiction, truth begins to disclose to us an infinite integral identity only insofar as it also begins to realize in our finitude the measured exchanges of hope and love which ceaselessly and incomprehensibly blend the same with the different. Truth as disclosure is also troth, the bond of being.

--John Milbank, "The Thomistic Telescope: Truth and Identity," American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 80 (2006), 226.

Speer on Ratzinger on Bonaventurain Historiography

From Andreas Speer, "Bonaventure and the Question of a Medieval Philosophy," in Medieval Philosophy and Theology 6 (1997), 28:

"My answer to these questions [how Bonaventure's works fit into the 13th century intellectual milieu] begins with the first collation of the Hexaemeron. The choice of this text may be surprising. In 1959, Joseph Ratzinger gave this text an interpretation that has stuck with it ever since: the Collationes in Hexaemeron are a kind of manifesto--the manifesto of an anti-Aristotelian, anti-philosophical, anti-scholasticim. Now, Ratzinger's interpretation reads like the reflex reaction of a certain kind of Catholicism, and the mislabeling of this text may be the single greatest cause for the overemphasis on Bonaventure's "anti-philosophism." This is a great shame, for in no other work does he give such a systematic and concise presentation of his general approach to philsoiphy, as one can see immidately in the first Collatio."

Cross on Scotus on Trinitarian Processions

The following remarks may be of interest to those who followed the last round of exchanges with the E.P. folks:

According to Scotus, Father and Son are one spirator of the Holy Spirit (as I have just noted, 'spirator' functions as if it were a substance-sortal here) . . . Because there is only one substance here, Father and Son are just one spirator. Thus, the general rule is that, when we count substances, we do just that: we do not count supposita as such. (Of course, created natures always coincide with supposita, although the way in which we would define what it is to be a nature will be different from the way in which we would define what it is to be a suppositum, such that the difference is spelled out in terms of a distinction between indivisibility/individuality and incommunicability.) Contrariwise, the Father and Son are indeed two spirantes (spirating persons, persons who spirate) . . . According to Scotus, there are two divine persons spirating the Holy Spirit, and we can thus talk about two spirantes. However, according to Scotus, for example, 'two Gods' would refer to numerically two divine substances, and 'two human beings' to numerically two human substances. Factually, there are (at least) two human beings; so 'two human beings' has a genuine reference. Yet there is necessarily only one divine substance; so 'two Gods' can never refer to anything other than objects in a counterpossible state of affairs--it can never refer to anything in any actual or possible world. 'Person', of course (or at any rate, 'suppositum'), does not, in an Aristotelian universe, pick out a natural kind.

--Richard Cross, "Duns Scotus on Divine Substance and the Trinity," Medieval Philosophy and Theology 11 (2003), 194-195.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Philosophy Recipe

Here is a recipe for producing medieval philosophy: Combine classical pagan philosophy, mainly Greek but also in its Roman versions, with the new Christian religion. Season with a variety of flavorings from the Jewish and Islamic intellectual heritages. Stir and simmer for 1300 years or more, until done.

--P.V. Spade, in the Stanford Internet Encyclopedia of philosophy

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Were the Scotistae Jerks?

Some amusing quotes I have come across in the articles of Pius Sagues Azcona and Ludger Meier.

Petrus de Navarra (14th cen.): "quantum ad tertium dico quod, quantum mihi videtur, primi et secundi non discordant in re; loquor de principalibus doctoribus qui praedictas opiniones posuerunt; si aliqui alii declaraverunt aliter, non curo."

"Per istam distinctionem non intelligo ponere plures formalitates vel plures modos reales, ut quidam dicunt, nec hoc posuit Scotus, iudicio meo, quamvis hoc sibi multi male imponant".

"Quantum ad secundum, licet ista positio sit pulchra et bene declarata tam in Quodlibet suo quam in Scripto super Primum, non capio. Et movet me potissime illa ratio..."

Petrus Thomae (14th cen.): "Ad argumenta alterius opinionis, solvas quomodo volueris, quia doctor non solvit ea nec eorum solutiones ponit."

"cum non scotizes, nam Scotus ponit...Non legi quod expresse ponat quod ens praedicetur in 'quid' de mediis differentiis, tamen vulgus imposuit sibi..."

"Ipse non habuit intellectum doctoris sui"

"Iste sic opinans non habet intellectum Scoti"

"Nec intelligo hic proprietates... esse ultimas differentias, sicut aliqui dicunt volentes exponere Scotum; falsum est, nec intelligunt ipsum."

"Forte diceres: tu dicis contra doctorem tuum. Dico quod non dico contra doctorem meum; immo tu, qui non capis ipsum, arguis ex ignorantia"

"circa secundam partem quaestionis, quae est de rerum inquisitione, sic est procedendum: nam in principio quaestionis disputabitur acriter contra adversarios, secundo dulciter ad amicos."

Ioannes Bremer (15th cen.): "Alia est opinio Scoti et suorum sequacium sc. Franciscus de Maronis, Cathon, licet Petrus de Navarra in hac opinione apostataverit a schola Scoti"

Matthias Doering (15th cen.): [on John of Ripa] " [rationes] hae sonant ac si non habuissent mentem Scoti vel forte noluit eum intelligere".

[on Francis of Meyronnes]: "Sed salva reverentia istius doctoris, qui in multis extollit Scotum, in hoc passu minus bene eum respexit"

"Aliter respondent subtiles, credentes se scotizare, sc. Petrus Thomas et Petrus de Ravenna"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pini on Kilwardby on Categories

[T]here can be a causal science of categories, inasmuch as there can be a causal science of things belonging to the categories. Kilwardby remarks, however, that the real philosopher, and not the logician, studies categories as composed of matter and form, for it is the real philosopher who deals with the principles of material things. Studying the principles of sensible substances, the real philosopher can first ascend from material to immaterial substances, then he can further ascend from the multiplicity of immaterial substances to the highest immaterial substance, i.e. God.

--Geogio Pini, Categories and Logic in Duns Scotus, Chapter One.

Pini's excellent book nevertheless contains a mistake here. The Kilwardby passage from which the above remarks are taken is as follows:

Et hec cognicio est propria primo philosopho; considerat enim in principiis substancie sensibilis, et consequenter in principiis substancie insensibilis, reducens omnes substancias sensibiles ad insensibiles, et insensibiles omnes ad unam . . ."

Note that Pini begins talking about sensible substances and then speaks of ascending to immaterial substances, up to the highest immaterial substance. Kilwardby, in contrast, speaks of sensible and insensible substances throughout. Pini shares here the extremely common prejudice that insensible substances are obviously also immaterial, and thinks nothing of conflating the two terms. This is dangerous, however, when Kilwardby is speaking of matter and form as the foundation for understanding things belonging to categories, for if insensible substances are themselves composed of matter and form, they can be included under (at least some of) the same categories as sensible substances. Now Kilwardby, although a Dominican, does in fact accept spiritual matter, as Pini might have learned from Kleineidam. The point doesn't seem to have occurred to him, though.

This is not a jab at Pini. I'm 1/3 through the book and it is otherwise very good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scotus and the Church

Berard Vogt, "Duns Scotus and St. Thomas", in Franciscan Studies 3 (1925), 36-37:

"The thought might suggest itself: 'What about neo-Scotistic tendencies in the face of the recent strong official recommendations of St. Thomas?' Well, if we wish to convince ourselves of how utterly unfounded the accusations of non-Catholic writers are that during the Middle ages there existed no true liberty of thought, the Church dogmatizing even in matters of pure philosophy and prescribing one orthodox form for all, if we desire to realize the sacred esteem in which the Church held human liberty in all matters of pure speculation, and the vast liberty of opinion she actually sanctioned, knowing well that, owing to the limitations of individual human intuition, genuine rivalry is a healthy sign of mental life and the means of advancing the cause of truth, then we can do so in no better way than by a look into the works of Scotus. 


Has the mind of the Church changed in this matter? In Scotus' own ccase we have a positive instance of her solicitude for this liberty of thought, when she forbade some of his opponents who were evidently more zealous than enlightened, to censure any point of his doctrines as heretical 

[footnote: Cf. Decree of S. cong. of Inquisition 1620, by express order of Pope Paul V: "Quidquid Scoti esse constaret, intactum, inviolatumque perseveret." At the same time ecclesiastical censors were forbidden to prohibit the printing of anything "quod certo constaret ex Scoto depromptum esse".]. 

We may here also mention the official approbations of Scotus by Popes Alexander VI, Clement VII, St. Pius V, Clement VIII, Paul V, Urban VIII, Alexander VII, Innocent X, Innocent XI, Innocent XII, Benedict XIV, Pius VII, and Leo XIII. Upon antecedent grounds alone, then, we should be able to form our judgment concerning the thoroughly ecclesiastical spirit of these Scotistic tendencies, even if we had not the express declaration of Pope Pius X in his letter of April 2nd, 1904, to the Minister General of the Friars Minor, highly praising and recommending the ardor displayed within the Order in the study of the illustrious masters of the Franciscan School. We mention these facts only because of false impressions abroad in some circles, as if the doctrines of Scotus were today merely tolerated by the Church, and as though they represented a less correct form of ecclesiastical spirit and teaching." 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Aquinas and Intuitive Cognition

The other day I criticized Taylor Marshall's post on Aquinas and the Beatific Vision. It turns out I may well be wrong, as Aquinas does use the term "intuitus" as is clear from the quote below. Aquinas is here glossing Augustine, but the point still stands. Aquinas, at least in this early work, does have a notion of intuition that is cognition of a present intelligible. This is not so different than the Scotistic view, although of course Thomas never formulates a theory of intuitive cognition as distinguished from abstractive cognition (the locus of the debate in the 14th century that led to the decree "Benedictus Deus" on the Beatific Vision). "Simplicem intuitum" may and probably does mean here the first act of the intellect also known as "simplex intelligentia" or simple apprehension which of course is very different from the Scotistic view. But my (incorrect) point to Taylor Marshall was that Aquinas never uses the term at all.

[380] Super Sent., lib. 1 d. 3 q. 4 a. 5 co.

Respondeo dicendum, quod, secundum Augustinum differunt cogitare, discernere et intelligere. Discernere est cognoscere rem per differentiam sui ab aliis. Cogitare autem est considerare rem secundum partes et proprietates suas: unde cogitare dicitur quasi coagitare. Intelligere autem dicit nihil aliud quam simplicem intuitum intellectus in id quod sibi est praesens intelligibile. Dico ergo, quod anima non semper cogitat et discernit de Deo, nec de se, quia sic quilibet sciret naturaliter totam naturam animae suae, ad quod vix magno studio pervenitur: ad talem enim cognitionem non sufficit praesentia rei quolibet modo; sed oportet ut sit ibi in ratione objecti, et exigitur intentio cognoscentis. Sed secundum quod intelligere nihil aliud dicit quam intuitum, qui nihil aliud est quam praesentia intelligibilis ad intellectum quocumque modo, sic anima semper intelligit se et Deum indeterminate, et consequitur quidam amor indeterminatus. Alio tamen modo, secundum philosophos, intelligitur quod anima semper se intelligit, eo quod omne quod intelligitur, non intelligitur nisi illustratum lumine intellectus agentis, et receptum in intellectu possibili. Unde sicut in omni colore videtur lumen corporale, ita in omni intelligibili videtur lumen intellectus agentis; non tamen in ratione objecti sed in ratione medii cognoscendi.