Thursday, September 10, 2009

Theoremata Scoti, Pars III B 1

In Theoremata Part III, section B, Scotus starts in the same place as in section A, with the definition of the concept. Here, however, the treatment is fuller and soon veers off down an alternative path. This sort of thing is not unprecedented elsewhere in Scotus' works. It appears that more than once he will begin a treatment of a topic, change his mind about how he wants to approach it, and start over. But because of the unfinished state in which he left so many of his works, both versions end up in posthumous editions of the book as though they were distinct parts. For another example, see the QQ. In Metaphysical VII, questions 14 and 15.

All right, beginning again with the definition of a concept:

I call a concept an object understood in act, namely as it is in the intellect, not as the form [exists in itself], but as it is in the act of thought [in esse cognitum].

"Here 'to be in' is nothing except having an actual relation to the intellect, or the intellect [having an actual relation] to it, or either to either."

It's clear that Scotus is trying to be more clear here than in the parallel definition in section A. The follow-up explanation in part A was about terminology, but here instead Scotus goes on to define subsets of concepts, perhaps a more useful task. He divides concepts into several varieties and explains their differences:

"Every concept [which is] per se one is either altogether simple--that is, of which either nothing is conceived, or else the whole is--or it is not altogether simple, but rather incomplex." *{Interpolated note: That is, it is not composed of potency and act, as [for instance in the concept] of an infinite being.} "Infinite being" is not simple, because I can conceive "Infinite" and "Being" separately, but it's not a complex concept either, since "Infinite" is not exactly a determining characteristic of "Being"--since the latter, after all, is neither a genus nor in a genus.

"A concept is called analyzable, when it essentially includes several concepts, of which one can be conceived without the whole." For instance, "Triangle" can be analyzed into "Three" and "Plane Figure", etc., which can be conceived apart from "Triangle".

"Of concepts which are not per se one, [there are some] which are called aggregate, such as 'white man'; and about a fourth kind, called complex, and a fifth, called discursive, see below."

Now Scotus adds some remarks about how these varieties of concepts are related to one another.

"Every concept [can be] compared to any [which is] not altogether the same as itself: either it is primarily diverse from itk, if it agrees with it in no concept; or different, if it agrees in something and differs in something; or ordered, for instance if one whole [concept] includes another, but not conversely, the one is called including and the other included. Only an analyzable concept can be different [in the just-defined sense] and can include primarily diverse [concepts]; and an included one can itself be either simple or analyzable."

See? That's much more thorough! But the second definition is identical to its counterpart in section A:

Definition 2: That is said to be conceived first which is adequated to the intellect.

The third definition is going in the same direction as its counterpart, but is less clear and making a slightly different point:

Definition 3: Whatever is included in the primary [object] understood is per se not primary.

The fourth definition is similar to its counterpart but formulated differently:

Definition 4: [Something is] perfectly known on the part of the object when nothing pertaining to the object lies concealed.

And two corollaries:

Corollary: Therefore a simple [object], if it is conceived, is conceived perfectly. [Second corollary:] An analyzable [concept] may happen to be conceived imperfectly.

At this point Scotus starts doing something different than in section A. There are no new versions of definitions 5 and 6, but rather than moving directly to his conclusions, there's some additional business. After explicitly making the assumption that there are in fact some analyzable concepts, he looks in some more detail at how the different varieties of concepts are related to each other.

"Some concepts are not included [in others], such as the concepts of all singulars and lone [objects]. All others are included in these and are abstracted by analyzing from these." There follows an interpolated note, to the effect that things are conceived by us confusedly before being conceived distinctly. The main text goes on to say that something is conceived distinctly when conceived according to the way it is distinguished from other things; but is conceived confusedly when indistinctly. Therefore not everything which is not a first or primary object is conceived confusedly, because (for instance) a genus is conceived as distinctly in the concept of a definition as it is per se, yet then it is not conceived primarily, but the definition is primary.

Here Scotus reminds of the principle that "everything per se one and not simple is [contituted] from act and potency or from matter and form." He indicates that this is Aristotelian boilerplate, before going on to draw the following conclusion:

There is some unique and simple act of any composite.

"From that [act] is the unity of the composite in itself and [its] distinction from something else. For the act distinguishes, therefore it is proper. But it is unique, because anything belonging to the composite is potential with respect to it and so is not the act of this composite, although with respect to anything else in the composite it can be called an act. For the some [reason it is] simple; otherwise something belonging to it would be a further act."

Now Scotus seems to be wandering away from conceptual analysis and just doing straightforward metaphysics; for this reason the editors don't number this conclusion with the ones he draws from the definitions. But since this seems like enough for one post already, I will save the conclusions proper for the next sequel.

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