Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eustacius a Sancto Paulo on Intelligible Being

More from Ariew's Descartes and the Last Scholastics, p. 44. Perhaps there might one day be interest in Petrus Thomae after all. This is from Ariew's chapter on Descartes and Scotism, in which he takes Gilson to task for glossing over differences in 17th century scholasticism (ie assuming they were all Thomists). But the following is some pretty clear Scotism, albeit of the Petrus Thomae and Alnwick kind, as I am not sure Scotus used this distinction much himself, if at all.

"To understand what is meant by objective being in the intellect, one must note the distinction between objective and subjective being in the intellect. To be objectively in the intellect is nothing else than to be actually present as an object to the knowing intellect, whether what is present as an object of knowledge has true being within our outside the intellect, or not. To be subjectively in the intellect is to be in it as in a subject, as dispositions and intellectual acts are understood to be in it. But since those things which are in the intellect subjectively can be known by the intellect, it can happen that the same thing can at the same time be both objectively and subjectively in the intellect. Other things which really exist outside the intellect, though they are not subjectively in the intellect can be in it objectively, as we have noted. But since all these things are real, they have some real being in themselves apart from the objective being in the intellect. There are certain items which have no other being apart from objective being, or being known by the intellect: these are called entities of reason."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ockham contra Auriol

Here's a bit I've been meaning to post for a while, Ockham's comments prior to criticizing Auriol's theory of apparent being (also, as I am sure you recall, criticized by Petrus Thomae).

William of Ockham, Ordinatio I d. 27 q.3 (trans. Pasnau p. 226):

"This view seems to me false as regards the conclusion for which the above arguments are advanced. But because I have seen little of what this Doctor says - for if all the time I have had to look at what he says were put together, it would not take up the space of a single natural day - I do not intend to argue much against the one who holds this view. For from ignorance of what he says, I might facilely argue against his words rather than against his meaning. But since his conclusion appears to me false, based on what he says, I will argue against it, regardless of whether the arguments run contrary to his meaning. The arguments that I made in distinction 36 of this book, against one view of cognized being, could also be advanced against this conclusion. I composed that material, and almost everything else in book one, before I had seen the view recited here. Whoever wants to should look for those arguments there and apply them." [arguments follow]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bonaventure contra Feeney

Each of these excerpts should be of interest to Protestants and those who encounter Protestant ideas. It's always nice to see an old author affirm something that people accuse of being a modern innovation. Each excerpt is from In Sent. IV. Dist. XVII. Pars I. Art. I. Q.IV, on whether confession is necessary for justification, and I translate without providing the Latin:

Again, it seems so from reason, for everyone having grace and justice enters into the kingdom of heaven, nor can anyone close the gate, justice and grace being preserved; but no one can enter into the kingdom of heaven except through the doorward [ostiarium] Peter, since the keys are given to him, from which no one is exempt: therefore no one can obtain grace nor have remission of guilt, unless he has it through the authority of the supreme Pontiff and those who are in communion with him. But no one is absolved by a priest without confession first, ergo etc . . . it should be replied that to enter without the power of the keys can be understood in two ways: either without the power, understood contrarily, as though despising the key of Peter; or without the power, understood privatively, and this [can be understood] in two ways: either simply privatively, so that one does not have the effect of absolution, neither in work nor in devotion nor in desire; or so that one has it in devotion and intention [proposito], and so has it in a certain way. In the first and second way one does not enter, nor is justified, but in the third way one may enter, and this in some way through the key, although not just as he who is actually absolved.

And the second:

God is more prone to being merciful than to condemning . . . God does not restrict his power to the sacraments. Therefore whenever man does what is in himself, God does what is in himself: therefore, if someone is sorry for his guilt in his heart, [even] if there is not a confessor or external confession, God does what is in himself: therefore he justifies.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Item quaritur de hoc quod dicit: 'Confessio ibi commendatur: Iustus in principio est accusator sui'. Videtur enim male dicere, quia aut accusat se iustus in quantum iustus aut in quantum peccator. Se in quantum iustus, sed omnis qui accusat iustum in quantum huiusmodi, accusat iustitiam; et omnis qui accusat iustitiam est iniustus: ergo, si accusat se in quantum iustus, est iniustus. Si accusata se secundum quod peccator, sed omnis qui accusat peccatorem secundum quod peccator, accusat peccatum; et omnis talis iuste accusat et est iustus: ergo, si accusat secundum quod peccator, accusator est iustus, et ita secundum quod peccator est iustus.

--St Bonaventure, Sententiarum Lib.IV Dist. XVI. Pars I. Dubium IV


Going through my private manuscript hoard again, and I've discovered another snippet from the writings of Ioannis de Ultima Thule, this time taken from his Commentarium in librum rubrum occidensmerci, long thought to be utterly lost. Only the beginning of a single question is preserved in the codex I've examined, and it begins Quartum, quaeritur utrum unus anulus habeat aliquantulus esse? Et videtur quod non . . . I translate the fragment below:

Whether the One Ring has any kind of being? And it seems not:

For the One Ring neither exists now, nor did it exist at any time in the past, for it is legendary [fabulosus]. But whatever exists at no time has no being, ergo etc.

On the contrary: whatever is the object of knowledge exists, for of nothing nothing is known. But of the One Ring many things are known, for instance, the names of its possessors: Sauron, Isildur, Smeagol, Bilbo, Frodo. Ergo, etc.

Again, we may indicate the Ring's exemplary cause, namely elvish lore [doctrina Eldaliae seu Larum antiquorum]; its efficient cause, namely the Dark Lord [Dominus ater seu anularius magnus]; its formal cause, namely roundness [figura orbis]; its material cause, namely gold [aurum]; and its final cause, as its own inscription said:

Unus anulus omnes regere, unus anulus eos comperire,
Unus anulus omnes redigere et in caligini eos devincire

But where the cause is posited insofar as it is a cause, the effect is also posited. Ergo, etc.

*The verse, of course, famously concludes in terra Mordor [indcl. n.] ubi tenebrae latunt.

It remains to be seen whether any more fragments, or even the whole work, might surface at some future date when the world's libraries are better catalogued.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Roger Bacon, Alchemist.

How else to explain the following, from Blackwell's A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages, page 2: "Among the first scholastics of note were Roger Bacon (b.1214/20; d. ca. 1492) . . ."? The book's proper entry on Roger Bacon states, on page 616, that Bacon died about 1292. However the entry's first sentence is "The basic facts of Bacon's chronology are still in dispute."

Current hypothesis: Bacon found the philosopher's stone, faked his own death in 1292, lived another 200 years or so being awesome, then was lost at sea in the search for a western route to India and Cathay. Probably still living in Atlantis.

Or else the first date was a typo. Right? Right?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Auriol on Scotus on Intuitive Cognition and the Beatific Vision

Here is an interesting summary of some of Scotus' views by Peter Auriol, that seems to me to be fairly accurate. This is from a discussion of the nature of theology, specifically of Scotus and Godfrey's criticisms of Henry of Ghent's special mode of illumination restricted to theologians, the lumen medium.

Petrus Aurioli, Scriptum super primum Sententiarum, Prooemium sect. 2 (ed. Buytaert vol. 1 p. 191):

"Primo quidem, quid est notitia abstractiva et intuitiva. Est enim intuitiva, quae concernit rei praesentialitatem et existentiam, et terminatur ad rem ut in se existentem. Abstractiva vero dicitur quae abstrahit ab esse et non esse, existere et non existere, et a praesentialitate; quemadmodum rosam intueor dum eam praesentem conspicio, abstractive vero cognosco dum eius quidditatem et naturam considero. hae autem duae sunt possibiles in intellectu; certum est enim quod angelus intuetur rosam dum est; cuius tamen essentiam abstractive considerat, etiam dum non existit.

Secundo vero probant quod divina essentia possit cognosci abstractive, sicut et quelibet quiddiativa natura; Deus enim potest facere sola voluntate, quidquid facere potest mediante sua essentia; sed mediante sessentia movet intellectum beati ad suam notitiam claram et nudam, quae quidem est intuitiva, pro eo quod terminatur ad eam, ut praesentem realiter et existentem, quoniam ut sic movet. Ergo sola voluntate poterit movere intellectum ad notitiam suae essentiae nudae et clarae. Certum est autem quod talis notitia sub illa ratione terminatur ad divinam esentiam, sub qua ratione intellectus movetur ad eam; non movetur autem per praesentialitatem et existentiam essentiae divinae, sed per imperium omnipotentis voluntatis. Ergo nec terminabitur talis notita ad essentiam ut existentem et praesentem, sed ad essentiam mere abstrahendo ab existentia et praesentialitate et per conseuqens non erit intuitiva, sed potius abstractiva."


First indeed, what is abstractive and intuitive knowledge. Intuitive knowledge is that which concerns the presence and existence of a thing, and is terminated to the thing as it is existing in itself. Abstractive cognition, however, is that which abstracts from being and non being, existence and non existence, and from presence[or presenciality]. Just as when I cognize a rose, I consider it as present, but when I know it abstractivly I consider its quiddity and nature. These are two possible [modes of cognition?] in the intellect; for it is certain that an angel knows a rose while it is, nevertheless it considers its essence abstractivly, even while it does not exist.

Second they prove that the divine essence can be known abstractivly, just as any other quidditative nature; for God can do by means of his will alone, whatever he can do by means of his essence; but by means of his essence he can move the intellect of the blessed to clear and naked knowledge of himself, which indeed is intuitive, on account of the fact that the intellect of the blessed terminates at the divine essence as really present and existing, since as such it moves. therefore by the will alone he can move the intellect to clear and naked knowledge of his essence. It is certain that such knowledge under that aspect is terminated to the divine essence, under which aspect the intellect is moved to it; it is not moved, however, by the presence and existence of the divine essence, but through the command of the omnipotent will. therefore such knowledge will not be terminated by the essence as existing and present, but to the essence merely by abstracting from the existence and presence and consequently it will not be intuitive but rather abstractive.

Monday, October 5, 2009


What wild desires, what restless torments seize
The hapless man, who feels the book-disease,
If niggard Fortune cramp his gen'rous mind,
And Prudence quench the Spark by heaven assign'd!
With wistful glance his aching eyes behold
The Princeps-copy, clad in blue and gold,
Where the tall Book-case, with partition thin,
Displays, yet guards the tempting charms within . . .
For you the Monk illum'd his pictur'd page,
For you the press defies the Spoils of age;
Faustus for you infernal tortures bore,
For you Erasmus starv'd on Adria's shore. . . .
Ev'n I, debarr'd of ease, and studious hours,
Confess, mid anxious toil, its lurking powers.
How pure the joy, when first my hands unfold
The small, rare volume, black with tarnish'd gold!
The Eyes skims restless, like the roving bee,
O'er flowers of wit, or song, or repartee,
While sweet as Springs, new-bubbling from the stone,
Glides through the breast some pleasing theme unknown.

--From Dr John Ferriar's Bibliomania

Sunday, October 4, 2009

On the Internal Combustion Engine

This curious device, in its motor-car form, affords some pleasures, either minor and inferior, or druglike and obsessive. It may have some practical uses, though one suspects that these consist rather in alleviating problems whose radical cure lies elsewhere; and certainly from the supposed profits a multitude of new problems and disadvantages have to be deducted. But the motor-car is, essentially a mechanical toy that has run off the nursery-room floor into the street, where it is used as irresponsibly as before and much more dangerously. It is a dubious piece of ‘escape mechanism’. For of course it would not be made in ‘mass’ (which means that it would hardly be made at all), nor would millions be made out of its purchases, but for its invention at a time when we have made our towns horrible to live in—a process which it has itself accelerated. The motor-car attracts, because it enables people to live far away from their noisome and inhuman ‘works’, or to fly from their depressing dormitories to the ‘country’. But it cheats: for the motor-factories, and their subsidiaries (garages, repair-shops, and pumps), and the cars themselves, and their black and blasted roads, devour the ‘country’ like dragons. This is the splendid gift of a magician: he offers to a caged bird that has defiled its cage and perch—what? a little length of chain so that it can flap to a near-by twig and foul that. Magnificent! This is freedom! And the made the chain hundreds of the magician’s prisoners sweat like morlocks. This is Real Life . . .

--J.R.R. Tolkien