Wednesday, December 29, 2010
quod sol verus radio sui
luminis vetustas mundi
depulerit genitus tenebras.
Nec nox vacat novi
quod magorum oculos
Nec gregum magistris
quos praestrinxit claritas
Gaude, dei genetrix,
quam circumstant obstetricum vice
This present little day proclaims,
its length increased,
that the true Sun by the ray
of its light has driven off
the ancient darknesses of the world.
Nor does this night lack
the light of the new star,
which terrified the knowing
eyes of the magi:
Nor was light lacking
for the masters of their flocks,
who were stricken by the brightness
of the soldiers of God.
Rejoice, O god-bearer,
who instead of midwives are surrounded
by angels singing in harmony
glory to God.
--Notker of St Gall, "Natus ante saecula"
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
John the Canon was a secular priest (not a Franciscan as is commonly assumed) who taught at Toulouse in the 1330's. He was a Catalan, as can be seen by the various examples of Catalonia he cites. His only extant work is a commentary on the Physics. In this work he quotes a great deal of material from Peter Auriol, Francis of Meyronnes, Francis of Marchia, and Petrus Thomae, and probably others as well. The following is a text in which he defines objective and subjective being, which I post out of my interest in the divine ideas and fourteenth-century debates concerning them. In a later post I will post the text that follows this definition, in which he argues in favor of a series of conclusions based on it.
Ioannes Canonicus, Quaestiones super libros Physicorum II q. 3 (ed. 1520, f. 29rb): “Quantum ad secundum punctum de nobilitate esse subiectivi et obiectivi est primo sciendum quod est esse subiectivum et obiectivum, et unde dicantur ista vocabula non bene inest memorie nostre; ubi sciendum quod secundum Hylarium ‘sermo rei non est rei subiciendus et ideo non est curandum de vocabulis’, tamen secundum Philosophum necessarium est scire quod per nomen significatur ideo dico primo de subiectivo esse quod esse subiectivum venit a subiecto. Subiectum autem dicitur aliquod ut materia vel sicut in quo vel sicut de quo vel circa quod vel ipsum quod. Primo modo dicitur ‘subiectivum’ illud de quo fit aliquod ut de ipsa materia. Secundo modo in quo existit aliquod. Tertio modo circa quod versatur actio. Quarto illud quod in se subsistit vel substat, et tamen advertendum est quod licet istis quatuor modis dicatur subiectum, tamen esse subiectivum, de quo hic queritur, dicitur a subiecto quarto modo sumpto. Ad cuius evidentiam est advertendum quod omne substans vel substat a se et per se, ut ipse deus, vel per se et non a se, et sic est substantia, vel non a se nec per se sed in alio, tamen absolute ut accidens absolutum; aliud est quod non substat neque a se neque per se neque in alio absolute sed in alio ad aliud, ut omnis forma relativa. Secundum hoc potest distingui quadruplex esse subiectivum, scilicet essentie divine, esse subiectivum substantie et accidentis absoluti et accidentis respectivi.
Viso ergo quod est esse subiectivum videndum est quod est esse obiectivum, ubi dico quod esse obiectivum secundum proprietatem vocabuli nihil aliud est quam esse obiectum alicui, unde esse obiectivum potest distingui sic: quoddam enim est quod habet tantum esse in fictione, puta cum secundum communiter loquentes aliqua potentia fingit sibi aliquod quod ex se nullum habet esse nisi esse obiectivum, aliud quod vere habet esse representativum in aliquo ipsum continente modo representativo et ad hunc modum sequitur esse intelligibile et intellectivum. Secundum ergo hoc potest dici quod duplex est esse obiectivum: unum quod est simpliciter fictum et hoc habent figmenta, aliud quod est esse representativum, et hoc habent solum illa que ex natura rei in aliquo representantur non ex aliqua fictione potentie ficitive et ad istud esse sequitur intelligibile et intellectivum.
“As far as the second point, concerning the nobility of subjective and objective being, it should first be known what subjective and objective being are, and why this terminology is used, which is hard to remember. It should be known that according to Hilary, ‘speech about a thing is not subjected to the thing, and therefore we should not worry about terms’ nevertheless, according to the Philosopher it is necessary to know that is signified by a name and therefore first I say about subjective being that it comes from ‘subject’. Something is called a subject, however, as matter, or as ‘in which’ or as ‘from which’ or ‘around which’ or just the thing itself. In the first way something is called ‘subjective’ from which something is made, as from its matter. In the second way, in which something exists. In the third way concerning which an action is directed. Fourth, that which subsits or stands under itself. And it must be noted that although ‘subject’ is said in those four modes, subjective being, about which it is asked here, is said from subject in the fourth way. As evidence of this, it should b entoed that every thing standing under does so either from itself and through itself, as God, or not from itself but through itself, as substance, or not from itself nor through itself but in another, absolutely as an absolute accident, another which does not stand under neither from itself nor through itself neither in another absolutely, but in another and to another, as every relative form. According to this we must distinguish four kinds of subjective being, namely of the divine essence, of substance, and of absolute and relative accidents.
Now that we have seen what subjective being is, we must see what objective being is. I say that objective being according to the meaning of its term is nothing other than to be an object of something, whence objective being can be distinuished thus: for there is a certain kind which has being only as a fiction, for example, according to the common way of expressing it, when a power is able to attain something which of itself has no being other than objective being, another [kind of objective being] which truly has representative being in the manner in which it is contained in a representative way, and this is intelligible and intellective being. According to this it can be said that there are two kinds of objective being: one which is simply a fiction and this is the kind of being that figments have, and another, which is representative being, which only those things have which from their own nature are represented, and not falsely as a result of being a fiction of a power, and this is intelligible and intellective being.”
Saturday, December 18, 2010
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE SCOTUS COMMISSION
Saturday 16 February 2002
To the Most Reverend Father Giacomo Bini
Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor
1. First of all, I am pleased to greet you, Father Giacomo Bini, the members of the Scotus Commission and all who are involved in the General Secretariate for Formation and Studies. I affectionately greet the entire Order of the Friars Minor.
I am very grateful for the gift of volume VIII of the Opera Omnia of Bl. John Duns Scotus that contains the last part of Book II of the Ordinatio, the last and most important work of the Doctor subtilis.
Bl. John Duns Scotus is a well-known person in Catholic philosophy and theology, whom my Predecessor Pope Paul VI described in his Apostolic Letter Alma Parens, of 14 July 1966, as "the perfector" of St Bonaventure, "the most distinguished representative" of the Franciscan School.
On that occasion, Paul VI asserted that in Duns Scotus' writings "latent certe ferventque Sancti Francisci Asisinatis perfectionis pulcherrima forma et seraphici spiritus ardores" (the beautiful form of the perfection of St Francis of Assisi and the fervour of his seraphic spirit are certainly hidden and yet present); he added that from the theological treasures of his works can be taken precious ideas for "peaceful conversations" between the Catholic Church and the other Christian confessions (cf. AAS 58  609-614).
2. The works of Duns Scotus, reprinted several times in previous centuries, needed a thorough revision to clear them of the many errors of the copyists and of the annotations added by his disciples. It was no longer possible to study Scotus using those editions. A serious critical edition, based on the manuscripts was needed. This was also necessary for the works of St Bonaventure and St Thomas.
The Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor and his Definitorium entrusted the work to a special team of scholars, who were named the Scotus Commission and were established at the Pontifical Athenaeum Antonianum of Rome. To date they have published twelve volumes. With great dedication they have identified and indicated the direct and indirect sources that Scotus used in his writing. The footnotes contain all the useful and necessary information for a better understanding of the thought of this great Teacher of the Franciscan School.
Duns Scotus, with his splendid doctrine on the primacy of Christ, on the Immaculate Conception, on the primary value of the Revelation and of the Magisterium of the Church, on the authority of the Pope, on the capability of human reason to make the great truths of faith accessible, at least in part, and to show their non-contradictory nature, is even today a pillar of Catholic theology, an original Teacher, full of ideas and incentives for an ever more complete knowledge of the truth of the faith.
3. Dear members of the Scotus Commission, I am delighted to encourage your work since, as the Ratio Studiorum Ordinis Fratrum Minorum says: "the research centres of the Order, such as the Scotus Commission, through their scientific and editorial activity, carry out a service of primary importance regarding the conservation and transmission of the Order's historical, philosophical, theological and spiritual patrimony" (124). I am happy to take this opportunity to encourage the young friars to undertake studies so as to continue teaching and research at the Order's research centres.
I express the wish that in 2004, the year of the 150th anniversary of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Scotus Commission may publish the 20th volume which will contain Book III of the Lectura, still unpublished, in which for the first time Duns Scotus defended the Marian privilege and earned himself the title of "Doctor of Mary Immaculate".
I entrust to the Queen of the Franciscan Order the work of the Commission, while to you, Father Minister General, to all who are present with you and to all those who make your activity possible, I impart my heartfelt Blessing.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO OUR VENERABLE BROTHER
CARDINAL JOACHIM MEISNER OF HOLY ROMAN CHURCH
ARCHBISHOP OF COLOGNE AND TO ALL THOSE IN ANY PART OF THE WORLD
WHO ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC CONGRESS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE SEVENTH CENTENARY
OF THE DEATH OF BLESSED JOHN DUNS SCOTUS
Rejoice, City of Cologne, which once welcomed within your walls John Duns Scotus, a most learned and devout man, who passed from this life to the heavenly Homeland on 8 November 1308; and, whose remains you preserve with great admiration and veneration.
Our Venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II, exalted him with lofty praise; we too would like to surround him with the praise he deserves and invoke his protection.
Thus the seventh centenary of his pious passing is now being celebrated, as is only right. And while articles and entire works in honour of Bl. John Duns Scotus are being published in various parts of the world and congresses are being held, including the solemn Congress currently being prepared that will take place in Cologne from 5 to 9 November 2008, we consider it a duty of our service in this circumstance to say a few words about this most illustrious man who so distinguished himself by contributing to the progress of the doctrine of the Church and of human science.
Indeed, combining piety with scientific research, in accordance with his invocation: "May the First Principle of things grant me to believe, to understand and to reveal what may please his majesty and may raise our minds to contemplate him" , with his refined brilliance he penetrated so deeply the secrets of natural and revealed truth, and found in them a doctrine which led him to be called Doctor Ordinis, Doctor Subtilis, and Doctor Marianus, becoming a teacher and guide of the Franciscan School, a light and example to the entire Christian People.
Thus we desire to remind scholars and everyone, believers and non-believers alike, of the path and method that Scotus followed in order to establish harmony between faith and reason, defining in this manner the nature of theology in order constantly to exalt action, influence, practice and love rather than pure speculation; in fulfilling this task he let himself be guided by the Magisterium of the Church and by a sound critical sense regarding growth in knowledge of the truth and was convinced that knowledge is valuable to the extent that it is applied in praxis.
Firmly anchored to the Catholic faith, Duns Scotus strove to understand, explain and defend the truth of the faith in the light of human reason. Thus he strove to do nothing other than show the consonance of all truths, natural and supernatural, that come from one and the same Source.
Alongside Sacred Scripture, divinely inspired, is the authority of the Church. Duns Scotus seems to follow St Augustine's words: "I would not believe the Gospel, except that I [first] believe the Catholic Church" . In fact, our Doctor often gives a special emphasis to the supreme authority of the Successor of Peter. As the Blessed said: "Although the Pope cannot dispense with natural and divine law (given that his power is inferior to both), being the Successor of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, he still has the same authority as had Peter" .
Therefore, the Catholic Church whose invisible Head is Christ himself, who left as his Vicars the person of Blessed Peter and his Successors guided by the Spirit of truth, is the authentic custodian of the revealed deposit and the rule of faith. The Church is the firm and permanent criterion of the canonical dimension of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, she "established which books of the biblical canon were to be held authentic" .
Elsewhere he states that "the Scriptures were revealed in the same Spirit in which they were written, and in this way one must consider that the Catholic Church has presented them in that same Spirit with which the faith has been passed down, guided that is, by the Spirit of truth" .
After having proven with various arguments taken from theological reason, the very fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin, he was absolutely ready also to reject this conviction should it not be in harmony with the authority of the Church, saying: "We can with probability attribute to Mary all that has the greatest perfection, provided it is not opposed to the authority of the Church or the Scriptures" .
The primacy of the will sheds light on the fact that God is charity before all else. This charity, this love, Duns Scotus kept present when he sought to lead theology back to a single expression, that is to practical theology. According to his thought, since God "is formally love and formally charity" , with the greatest generosity he radiates his goodness and love beyond himself . And in reality, it is for love that God "chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us in love to be his adoptive sons through Jesus Christ" (cf. Eph 1: 4-5).
A faithful disciple of St Francis of Assisi, Bl. John contemplated and preached assiduously the Incarnation and the saving Passion of the Son of God. However, the charity or love of Christ is expressed in a special way not only on Calvary, but also in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, without which "if not for being able to render supreme adoration unto God through the veneration of the same Sacrament every mercy would disappear in the Church" . This Sacrament moreover is a sacrament of unity and love; through it we are led to love one another mutually and to love God as a common good and to be loved at the same time by others.
And as this love, this charity, was the origin of all things, so too our eternal happiness will be in love and charity alone: "Eternal life is simply the desire as well as the will to love, blessed and perfect" .
Since at the beginning of our ministry we first of all preached love, which is God himself, we see with joy that the unique doctrine of this Blessed keeps a special place for this truth, which we consider principally worthy to be researched and taught in our time. Therefore, willingly complying with the request of our Venerable Brother Cardinal Joachim Meisner, of Holy Roman Church, Archbishop of Cologne, we are sending this Apostolic Letter with which we desire to honour Bl. John Duns Scotus and invoke his heavenly intercession upon us. Lastly, to those who are taking part in any capacity in this International Congress and in other initiatives concerning this outstanding son of St Francis, we cordially impart our Apostolic Blessing.
Given in Rome, at St Peter's on 28 October 2008, the fourth year of our Pontificate.BENEDICTVS PP. XV
Saturday, December 4, 2010
The Transcendentals and their Function in the Metaphysics of Duns Scotus, p. 66-69:
In view of the recent trend of thought, developed principally by Maritain and to a lesser extent by Gilson, the question arises, Is this notion of transcendental being to be considered primarily existential or essential? Since this transcendental notion of being of Scotus' is, to all appearances, to be identified with the being of metaphysics, the answer to this question will determine whether metaphysics is to be considered as existential or essential, in the sense coined by Maritain. St. Thomas and Aristotle are cited as exponents of an existential metaphysics; Scotus and Plato as advocating predominantly an essential metaphysics.
In discussing this question, one important thing should be kept in mind. The problem of an essential or existential metaphysics is primarily a problem for Thomists or, more universally, for a system of philosophy which admits a real distinction between essence and existence--"a fiction," says Scotus, "of which I know nothing!" Maritain unfortunately seems to have overlooked this point in describing the "error which may be termed Platonic or Scotist." As a result, he has given us a very ingenious delineation of what Scotus might have held had he been a Thomist.
What Scotus has actually done has been to give us an essential being that has lost none of its existential import. Since the position of Scotus on this matter has been treated already by Barth, there is no need to go into detail here. We believe that Barth is essentially correct when he states that being, according to Scotus, represents primarily a quidditative notion but with a tendency or aptitude to exist. Over and above the reasons listed by Barth for the quidditative nature of being, we call attention to the fact that being pertains to the order of distinct knowledge, namely, that kind of knowledge which is expressed by the definition. Now the definition expresses the essential or quidditative elements of the thing, and being, as Scotus continually asserts, is the basic element in every essence and every definition.
This "primacy of essence," Gilson suggests, "appears in the doctrine of Duns Scotus as a remant of the Platonism anterior to Thomas Aquinas." The real reason why Scotus maintains that the being of metaphysics is a quidditative notion, however, is to be sought not in Platonism, but in the simple Aristotelian axiom that no science of the contingent qua contingent is possible. Since all existence, with the exception of God's existence, is contingent, metaphysics as a science of "existences" is un-intelligible. Existence is as little capable of serving as the "stuff of which the universe is made" as the elan vital of Bergson or the eternal flux of Heraclitus. Maritian recognizes this difficulty when he insists, like Scotus, that we must abstract from actual existence. To have a science, it is necessary to discover a necessary element in the continegent. The notion of actual existence (as we experience it) does not contain any such necessary element, but the notion of possible existence does contain an element of necessity. What actually exists (God alone excepted) is mutable, contingent and temporal; what can be is necessary, immutalbe and eternal. For this reason medieval physics could never be a science of motion, but a science of the ens mobile namely, the immediate subject of motion. Similarly, metaphysics is not a science of "being" in the adverbial sense of existing, but in the nominative sense of "a being" or the immediate subject of existence, that is, "the existible."
It is this idea that Scotus seeks to being out when he "defines" being as "that to which to be is not repugnant". To call this quidditative notion a pure essence, in the sense of Maritain, and to treat it as a sort of "least common denominator" between the real and the logical order, is an inexcusable perversion of the conception Scotus had of being. The term "to be" (esse) is to be understood in the sense of actual existence. Whenever it is to be understood of any other kind of existence, for instance, mental existence, Scotus carefully qualifies the term. He speaks, for instance, of the esse diminutum, esse cognitum, etc. He also recognized that the terms "being," "quidddity," "thing", etc. are used equivocally and can be applied both to real and logical entities. But he carefully distinguishes between the two orders. Only where the note of compatibility with real existence is to be found do we have a notion of real being or real thing. And metaphysics differs from logic precisely in this, that the former is a real science and deals with real being; logic, on the contrary, deals with logical or mental entities.
Friday, December 3, 2010
"[...] Perhaps more significant still for Radical Orthodoxy is the belief that the seeds of secular decadence are sown by developments within Christian theology itself. The key villain of the piece is Duns Scotus, a medieval Franciscan theologian who died in the early fourteenth century. Scotus is accused of playing a major part in the breakdown of the 'analogical' world-view associated particularly with Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-74). According to Aquinas, analogy was a way of talking about God which offered a middle way between two extremes. One extreme was univocal language, which assumed that words were used in exactly the same way when applied to God as they were when applied to anything else. This meant that God could only ever be different in degree (bigger and better) rather than different in kind from us and from the world. The other extreme was equivocal language, which held that words used of God meant something entirely different to their ordinary meaning. On this view, God was a blank, so utterly other to us that anything we said about God was empty and meaningless - hardly a promising prospect for for religious practice!
Analogy tried to avoid these dead ends by saying that some language (like 'God is love' or 'God is truth') could be properly used of God, as God was the source and perfect end of such qualities. However, there was still a high degree of unknowing in this account, as we could not tell exactly how such words and expressions applied to God.
Ideas of analogy can be involved and sophisticated. But the important thing to hold onto is that they try to keep open a possibility for true speech about God which doesn't either reduce God to being just one more thing (however exalted) among many in the universe, or make God into a black hole eternally irrelevant to us.
Duns Scotus is blamed with distorting this authentically Christian understanding of God and truth, because he said that 'being' is a univocal concept. In other words, there is no difference between the way in which God 'is' and the way in which a person or anything else 'is'. To be is the same thing in each case. God is different from us because of the infinite nature of his power. But this has just the consequences which analogy tried to guard against. It makes God the same kind of being as us, just (infinitely) bigger and better. The irony is that Duns Scotus' univocal view doesn't make God any closer to us, because to preserve God's uniqueness, he has to emphasize God's exalted difference from all creatures. God becomes almost identified with pure power.
A further consequence is that, as God is no longer related to us by a living chain of analogy, God becomes ever more hidden and dark to us. God retreats into the heavens, exercising his will from afar. And God's will becomes the arbitrary exercise of power. It has no inner relationship to human worth and fulfillment. God becomes the Law, imposed upon an essentially Godless world.
This account of Duns Scotus is highly controversial ...."
I don't have much time or energy for a full-blown Cambridge Phantasist rant today, so I'll just point out a few things. None of this new, just a rehash of their ideas. But I like to be up-to-date. Note that implication that Scotus is not authentically christian, since he challenged the "analogical worldview". And don't ask me what a "living chain of analogy" is supposed to be. We find here the usual errors: Scotus' univocal concept is interpreted as if he meant it to be applied to the thomistic act of being, univocity paradoxically both makes God just like us but at the same time he is so otherly other that we can't reach him at all. Note also this curious emphasis on omnipotence, which has no basis in any text of Scotus. All divine attributes have the intrinsic mode of infinity. There is nothing special about omnipotence in this respect to make it somehow prior to goodness, will, intellect, and so on. Omnipotence is kind of a bust in Scotus, as all he really wants to discuss is whether it can be proven to be a divine attribute apart from divine revelation. So where this claim that power is identified with God comes from beats me. But texts were never the strength of the movement.
Walter Kauffman, in his introduction to the Portable Nietzsche, quoted a quip from Maritain (whose Thomistic credentials should be beyond reproof) that is relevant here: "If books were judged by the bad uses man can put them to, what book has been more misused than the Bible?"
Friday, November 26, 2010
Here is some food for thought for that inimitable species of humankind, the internet Thomist, who prowl about the ‘net seeking the ruin of... well, interesting philosophy and freedom of theological opinion.
Pius XI, Studiorum Ducem, trans. James H. Ryan in The Encyclicals of Pius XI, p. 95 : “No one, of course, may exact of professors either more or less than the Church, the mother and teacher of all, demands of them, for on those questions on which different authorities of our Catholic schools express different views and are not in agreement, certainly no teacher can be compelled to accept an opinion which does not appear to him the more logical one”.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
This post is devoted to arguments establishing divine simplicity. In later posts I will outline Scotus’ views on reconciling divine simplicity with univocity and the plurality of divine attributes.
Divine simplicity is a negative doctrine, which holds that God has no parts or constituents. But it has been variously construed throughout the history of philosophy. Indeed, I would say that there is a continuum of views from strong to weak. A strong view, perhaps the strongest, is that of Plotinus, who denied that even the duality of thought and thought-about can be in God; consequently, he put the intellect outside God on a lower plane of being. Christianity in general has a very weak sense of divine simplicity, at least compared to the neo-Platonists (though beware! they live again in France). Christians have historically posited an infinity of objects for the divine mind and even place a Trinity of persons in God. The Church defined divine simplicity as a dogma at Lateran IV in 1215, though obviously this was no novelty. Defined is perhaps too strong a word; it was used in the creed of the council. All that we find is that God is said to be “omnino simplex” which is translated as “completely” or “entirely simple”. Subsequent councils have confirmed this, but as far as I know, have not specified what this means. The scholastics of the 13th and 14th centuries not surprisingly all defend divine simplicity. Yet they have somewhat different conceptions of it. For some, such as Bonaventure and Henry of Ghent, simplicity seems to indicate an activity of the divine essence (don’t tell David Bradshaw). Aquinas denies a series of possible compositions of God (quantitative parts, form and matter, nature and supposit, essence and existence, genus and difference, potency and act), as well as gives arguments: if God were composite he would be posterior to his parts, composites require an existrinsic cause, etc. This reveals, I think, that divine simplicity is a corollary of arguments for the existence of God. Certainly for Aquinas, and probably for all the scholastics, the proofs that establish the existence of God establish a being that is the explanation of all other beings, that than which explanation cannot go. To posit a complex being is only get part way to the end; for there still is a further cause, whether the parts themselves or some other extrinsic cause which joins the parts, which will terminate the explanation.
Scotus’ gives a series a proofs for divine simplicity based on particular and common middle terms. In the particular middle term he argues that God is not composed of essential parts, quantitative parts, or subject and accident. His proof from common middle terms are arguments from necessary being and infinity. I give only one argument from each section, and include the latin.
Ordinatio I d. 8 pt. 1 q. 1 (ed. Vat. IV, 153-64)
A. Probatio simplicitatis Dei per media particularia.
1. God is not composed of essential parts
1. The causality of matter and form is not absolutely first, but necessarily presupposes a prior efficient causality.
2. Therefore, if the first being were composed of matter and form, it would presuppose the causality of an efficent cause.
3. This could not be the causality of the First being, because it does not effect itself by joining matter and form.
4. Therefore it must be the causality of another, prior, efficient cause, the opposite of which was proven in d.2 q.1 [the proof for the existence of God].
Proof of 1: the causality of matter and form includes imperfection, because it includes the notion (ratio) of part; causality of the efficient and end includes no imperfection, but only perfection; every imperfect is reduced to the perfect just as to something essentially prior to itself, ergo etc.
[Primum sic: causalitas materiae et formae non est simpliciter prima, sed necessario praesupponit causalitatem efficientem priorem, - ergo si Primum esseet compositum ex materia et forma, praesupponeret causalitatem efficentis; non autem huius, quia istud non efficit se, coniugendo materiam suam cum forma, - ergo alterius efficientis, prioris; ergo Deus non esset primum efficiens, cuius oppositum probatum est distinctione 2 quaestione 1. – Probatio primae propositionis: causalitas materiae et formae includit imperfectionem, quia rationem partis, causalitas autem efficientis et finis nullam imperfectionem includit, sed perfectionem; omne imperfectum reducitur ad perfectum sicut ad prius se essentialiter; ergo etc.]
2. God is not composed of quantitative parts
[omitted, mainly a discussion of Aristotle’s arguments in Metaphysics 12 and Physics 8]
3. God is not composed of subject and accident
1. Because God is not material nor quantified (quantus), therefore he is not compatible with a material accident, of the kind which befalls material things such as a quality of a material thing.
2. Therefore he is compatible with spiritual accidents, for example, intellection and volition, and their corresponding habits.
3. But such cannot be accidents of that [divine] nature, just as was proved in distinction 2, because his understanding and willing are his substance, and habit and power, etc.
[Tertia probatur conclusio specialiter ex istis: quia enim Deus non est materialis nec quantus, ideo non est capax accidentis alicuius materialis, conventientis rei materiali sicut qualitas rei materialis; ergo tantum est capax illorum quae conveniunt spiritibus – puta intellectionis et volitionis, et habituum correspondentium – sed talia non possunt esse accidentia illi naturae, sicut probatum est distinctione 2 quia intelligere eius et velle eius sunt substantia eius, et habitus et potentia, etc.]
B. Probatio simplicitatis Dei ex mediis communibus
1. From necessary being
if the First being is composed, let the components be called A and B. Let’s take A; is A of itself formally necessary being, or not, but is possible being. if it is of itself possible being, therefore the necessary being (the First) will be composed from the possible being, and so it will not be necessary being. If A is of itself necessary being, then it is of itself in the highest degree of actuality (ultima actualitate), and so it will not make a per se being with any other being. Likewise, if of itself it is a composed necessary being, it will be a necessary being through A, and for the same reason it will be a necessary being through B, and so it will be twice necessary being; necessary being will also be composed through something, which when it is removed, it will still be necessary being, which is impossible.
[Primo ex ratione necesse-esse, quia si Primum sit compositum, sint componentia a et b; quaero de a, si sit ex se formaliter necesse-esse, aut non, sed possibile-esse (alterum istorum oportet dare in quacumque re, sive in omni natura ex qua aliquid componitur). Si est ex se possibile-esse, ergo necesse-esse ex se componitur ex possibili, et ita non erit necesse-esse; si a est ex se necesse-esse, ergo est ex se ultima actualitate, et ita cum nullo facit per se unum. Similiter, si ex se est necesse-esse compositum, erit necesse-esse per a, et pari ratione erit necesse-esse per b, et ita erit bis necesse-esse; erit etiam compositum necesse-esse per aliquid, quo sublato nihil minus erit necesse-esse, quod est impossibile.]
2. From infinity
1. every component can be part of some total composite which is from it and another component.
2. Every part can be exceeded
3. it is against the notion of the infinite that it is able to be exceeded
4. ergo, etc.
[...et primo quod Deus non sit componibilis: per hoc, quod omne componibile potest esse pars alicuius totius compositi quod est ex ipso et alio componibili; omnis autem pars potest excedi; contra rationem vero infiniti est posse excedi, ergo etc.]
Confirmation of the argument:
1. every component lacks the perfection of that with which it is composed, so that that component does not have in itself every kind of identity with that [other component], because then it would not be able to enter into composition with it.
2. No infinite lacks that with which it can be in some way the same, indeed it has every such in itself according to perfect identity, because otherwise it could be understood to be more perfect, (for example, it would have that in itself as ‘composed’ and would not have the ‘infinite’).
3. It is against the notion of the infinite that it can be understood to be more perfect or that there is something more perfect than it.
[Et confirmatur ratio, et quasi idem est, - quia omne componibile caret perfectione illius cum quo componitur, ita quod illud componibile non habet in se omnem et omnimodam identitatem cum illo, quia tunc non posset cum illo componi; nullum infinitum caret eo cum quo potest esse aliquo modo idem, immo omne tale habet in se secundum perfectam identitatem, quia alias posset intelligi perfectius, puta si haberet illud in se sicut ‘compositum’ habet et illud ‘infinitum’ non habet; contra rationem autem infiniti simipliciter est quod ipsum posset intelligi perfectius vel aliquid perfectius eo.]
Furthermore: because if [the First being] is composed, therefore either from finite or infinite [parts]. If from infinite, no such being is composable, from the previous arguments from infinity. If from finite, it will not be infinite, because finite parts cannot render something infinite in perfection.
[ex hoc sequitur ulterius quod sit omnino incompositus, - quia si sit compositus, aut ergo ex finitis, aut ex infinitis: si ex infinitis, nullum tale est componibile, ex probatis; si ex finitis, ipsum non erit infinitum, quia finita non reddunt aliquid infinitum in perfectione sicut modo loquimur.]
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Further, we should not only listen to one person but to many people, because as the Apostle says: there are a variety of graces. One man is not accomplished in all things. Blessed Gregory knew morals the best, blessed Augustine solved questions [the best], and blessed Ambrose allegorized the best. What you do not learn from one, you learn from another; thus in Ecclesiasticus: Stand in the midst of the wise elders, and join yourself from your heart to their wisdom, that you may listen to the discourse of God. What one does not tell you, another does. I am not saying that I believe that it is useful for those who are beginning to first listen to any sort of knowledge for the sake of listening to different people, but they ought to listen to one person until they become well versed, and when they have become well versed, then they should listen to different people so that they might be able to pick flowers from different opinions, in other words, those things which are helpful.
--Sermon, "Puer Iesus", 3.6
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
--Christopher Cullen, Bonaventure (Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 50
Monday, November 8, 2010
Domine Deus, fons omnis sapientiae, qui Beatum Ioannempresbyterum, Immaculatae Virginis assertorem,nobis magistrum vitae et scientiae dedisti, concede, quaesumus,ut, eius exemplo illuminati, et doctrinis nutria,Christo fideliter adhaereamus. Qui tecum vivit.
And a poem, De morte Duns Scoti [From Ioannis Duns Scoti Opera Omni I, 50*]
Scotia plange, quia periit tua gloria rara,
Funde precem, confunde necem, tibi cum sit amara.
Quam fera, quam nequam sit mors, tribuens tibi legem
Cum reliquis aequam, rapiens ex ordine retgem.
Caelum, terra, mare nequeunt similem reparare.
Si quaeras, quare, - probat haec editio clare.
Troia luit florem de viribus Hectora fisum,
Sic luo Doctorem iuvenili flore recisum.
Ergo, legens, plora, quia non uic subfuit hora,
Sed ruit absque mora: pro quo, lector, precor, ora.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
This is partly in response to the discussion found here.
Albert the Great
In IV Sententiae, d. 44, A, art. 4: Whether two glorified bodies can be in the same place [at the same time]
It seems that they can from the words of the Masters, for:
- The ancients say that the glorified body has its quantity at the command of the will: therefore, if it wills, it can fill a place through itself: and if it does not will, it does not fill. Therefore, it is able to be in the same place with another if it wills. And that it has quantity at its command is proved this way: the glorified are beatified [and the beatified have all things through charity, which is located in the will], therefore it has all at will, therefore even quantity.
- Further, it has its visibility at will, therefore quantity, for they are seen when they will and not seen when they will. [Perhaps this refers to saints appearing to people on earth.]
On the contrary: to this it is objected: it is impossible for quantity to remain quantity unless it becomes lesser in its contraction, or greater in its extension [and to be in two places implies greater extension]: therefore it is impossible to have quantity at will that is greater and lesser [in some respect], and with another body in the same place, and per se in place [for this would imply greater extension without an increase in quantity].
Responsio: To this, I think it must be said [N.B. the “puto” is unusual for him in a response] that the glorified body does not have its quantity at will such that its quantity may be varied at will: but it does have quantity and quality at will, for concerning these nothing may be contrary to their will.
Regarding the proof, where it is said that the beatified have all things at will, it must be said that these things are understood regarding those things which are of the substance of beatitude: and to have other things, for concerning these nothing may be contrary to their will. [Perhaps he is referring to the gifts of the glorified body, such as clarity, agility, etc. Such are had at will and cannot be taken away from them]
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
This is the first installment of my attempt to lay out the basic positions of Scotus’ thought. At first this will be a bare summary, with little comment, but eventually I hope to expand it.
Duns Scotus’ complex of ideas surrounding the natural knowledge of God involve many of his most characteristic positions, such as univocity, intrinsic modes, quidditative knowledge of God and infinite being. In what follows I will attempt an explanation based on the Ordinatio and try to lay out the context; this goes for both the structure of the question(s) in which it appears as well as the intellectual context of the views Scotus opposed in developing it. In the Ordinatio the problem of whether there is natural knowledge of God is found in book I d. 3 pt. 1 q. 1-2.
Before stating his own views, Scotus gives a lengthy account of Henry of Ghent’s views. This is significant: the target of criticism here is not Aquinas, whose views are not mentioned; indeed, the only passage where Scotus analyzes any arguments of Aquinas is in Collatio 23. In this question Scotus criticizes the five arguments from the Summa contra gentiles (this is later picked up by Henry of Harclay who repeats them, only to be counter-attacked by Thomas of Sutton). We can only conclude that Aquinas’ views on analogy were not seen to be as important (or normative) circa 1300 as they were in the 1870’s to the present day.
According to Henry, there are three grades of the knowledge of God: most generally (generalissime), more generally (generalius) and generally (generaliter).
“Most generally” has three grades: (1) conceiving a being as “this being”; (2) removing “this” and conceiving being—this being is analogous to God and creature; (3) conceiving the being which is properly that of God, which Henry calls being “negatively undetermined.”
“More generally”: conceiving any divine attribute not as the primary divine attribute but as pre-eminently present in God.
“Generally”: conceiving any divine attribute as as being the same as the primary attribute, being, on account of divine simplicity.
Scotus contradicts the position of Henry on five points.
1. A quidditative concept can be had of God.
not only a concept of a general attribute can be had naturally, but also a quidditative and per se concept. The argument here is that (based on Henry’s views) when we conceive of divine wisdom, we also conceive of the subject of divine wisdom in which wisdom inheres; the concept of the subject, known as not reducible, ends the inquiry and is quidditative.
2. The univocal concept of God and creature
Scotus begins this section by noting that God can be conceived not only (note this) by an analogous concept, but by an univocal one. He does not deny analogy here, although his definition of analogy is that of Henry’s.
(ed. Vat. 18): “Secundo dico quod non tantum in conceptu analogo conceptui creaturae conciptiur Deus, scilicet qui omnino sit alius ab illo qui de creatura dicitur, sed in conceptu aliquo univoco sibi et creaturae.”
To avoid controversy on the matter (unsuccessfully, as it turns out given the long history of controversy on this topic), Scotus defines what he means by the term “univocal”. It has two features:
(1) it is one such that its unity suffices to cause a contradiction when it is affirmed and denied with respect to the same.
(2) it suffices for the middle term of a syllogism without causing a fallacy of equivocation.
“Et ne fiat contentio de nomine univocationis, univocum conceptum dico, qui ita est unus quod eius unitas sufficit ad contradictionem, affirmando et negando ipsum de eodem; sufficit etiam pro medio syllogistico, ut extrema unita in medio sic uno sine fallacia aequivocationis concludantur inter se uniri.”
Scotus gives five arguments for univocity.
The first is the most famous:
(1) every intellect, certain of one concept and doubtful of another, has a different concept for that which it is doubtful of and that which it is certain of.
(2) the intellect in the wayfaring state can be certain that God is a being, but doubtful whether he is a finite or infinite being or created or uncreated
(3) Therefore: the concept of the being of God is other than the concept of whether he is finite or infinite, or created or uncreated, and so neither of it self is included in the other.
(4) Therefore the concept is univocal.
Proof of the major premise: no concept is both certain and doubtful, therefore one or the other, which is what Scotus is trying to prove, or neither, and then there will be no certitude of any concept.
Proof of the minor premise: the ancient philosophers were certain that the first principle was a being (some thought it fire, others water), but they were not certain whether it was created or uncreated, first or not first. They were not certain that it was first, for then they would have been certain of something false and the false is not knowable. Nor were that certain that it was not the first being, because then they would not have posited the opposite of this.
“...omnis intellectus, certus de uno conceptu et dubius de diversis, habet conceptum de quo est certus alium a conceptibus de quibus est dubius; subiectum includit praedicatum. Sed intellectus viatoris potest esse certus de Deo quod sit ens, dubitando de ente finito vel infinito, creato vel increato; ergo conceptus entis de Deo est alius a conceptu isto et illo, et ita netur ex se et in utroque illorum includitur; igitur univocus. Probatio maioris, quia nullus idem conceptus est certus de dubius; ergo vel alius, quod est propositum, vel nullus – et tunc non erit certitudo de aliquo conceptu. Probatio minoris: quilibet philosophus fuit certus illud quod posuit primum principium, esse ens, - puta de ligne et alius de aqua, certus erat quod erat ens; non autem fuit certus quod esset ens creatum vel increatum, primum vel non primum. Non enim erat certus quod erat primum, quia tunc fuisset certus de falso, et falsum non est scibile; nec quod erat ens non primum, quia tunc non posuissent oppositum.”
(1) No real concept is caused naturally in the intellect of the wayfarer except those which are naturally able to move our intellect
(2) but these are a phantasm, or the object present in the phantasm, or the agent intellect.
(3) Therefore no simple concept is made naturally in our intellect now except which can be made in virtue of them.
(4) But a concept which would not be univocal to an object present in the phantasm, but entirely other, and prior, to that which has an analogical one, cannot be made by the power of the agent intellect and phantasm.
(5) Therefore such an other concept, analogous, will naturally never be in the intellect of the wayfarer, which is false.
Proof of the assumed: any object—whether present in the phantasm or in the intelligible species, with the agent and possible intellects cooperating—makes according to the extent of its power an effect adequate to itself, its own concept and a concept of everything essentially or virtually included in it. But an analogous concept is not essentially nor virtually included in it, nor is it the concept itself, therefore an analogous concept will not be made by such an object moving the intellect.
The idea here is that the analogy-tradition cannot get to God; since all holding analogy also think that all natural knowledge of God is based on concepts derived from the created realm, Scotus is trying to show that if you deny that these concepts are univocal and instead hold (as does Henry) that there are actually two concepts, one of God and one of a creature that are related by analogy, since God is not included in the created analogical concept you will not be able to move from the created concept to the uncreated naturally (which is contrary to what the holders of analogy maintain).
(ed. Vat. III 22-23): “nullus conceptus realis causatur in intellectu viatoris naturaliter nisi ab his quae sunt naturaliter motiva intellectus nostri; sed illa sunt phantasma, vel obiectum relucens in phantasmate, et intellectus agens; ergo nullus conceptus simplex naturaliter fit in intellectu nostro modo nisi qui potest fieri virtute istorum. Sed conceptus qui non esset univocus obiecto relucenti in phantasmate sed omnino alius, prior, ad quem ille habeat analogiam, non potest fieri virtute intellectus agentis et phantasmatis; ergo talis conceptus alius, analogus quiponitur, naturaliter in intellectu viatoris numquam erit, -- et ita non poterit haberi naturaliter aliquis conceptus de Deo, quod est falsum.
Probati assumpti: obiectum quodcumque, sive relucens in phantasmate sive in specie intelligibili, cum intellectu agente vel possibili cooperante, secundum ultimum suae virtutis facit sicut effectum sibi adequatum, conceptum suum proprium et conceptum omnium essentialiter vel virtualiter inclusorum in eo; sed ille alius conceptus qui ponitur analogus, non est essentialiter nec virtualiter inclusus in isto, nec etiam est iste; ergo iste non fiet ab aliquo tali movente.”
(1) a proper concept of some subject is a sufficient means of concluding all conceivable things about that subject which necessarily inhere in it.
(2) we have no concept of God through which we are able sufficiently to know all things conceived by us which necessarily inhere to God, as is clear regarding the Trinity and other necessary beliefs.
(3) Therefore, etc.
Proof of the Major premise: we have immediate knowledge of whatever we know the meaning of its terms; therefore the major is true of every conceivable which immediately inheres to the concept of the subject. If it should be said that it is mediate, the same argument will be made about the medium compared to the same subject, and where ever this ends the proposed will be had of the immediate, and further through them the mediates are known [?]
(ed. Vat. III 24): “conceptus proprius alicuius subiecti est sufficiens ratio concludendi de illo subiecto omnia conceptibilia quae sibinecessario insunt; nullum autem conceptum habemus de Deo per quem sufficienter possimus cognoscere omnia concepta a nobis quae necessairo sibi insunt –patet de Trinitate et aliis creditis necessariis; ergo etc.
Maior probatur, quia immediatam quamlibet cognoscimus in quantum terminos cognoscimus; igitur patet maior de omni illo conceptibili quod immediate inest conceptui subiecti. Quod si insit mediate, fiet idem argumentum de medio compaarato ad idem subiectum, et ubicumque stabitur habetur propositum de immediatis, et ultra per illas scientur mediatae.”
Either some pure perfection (perfectio simpliciter) has a notion (ratio) common to God and creature and so is univocal, or not. If not, then the notion is only that of a creature, and then the notion (ratio) does not formally befall God, which is unsuitable (inconveniens). Or has a notion proper to God, and then it follows that nothing is attributed to God, because it is a pure perfection, fo rthis is nothing other than to say that its notion as it befalls God means pure perfection, therefore it is posited in God; and so perishes the doctrine of Anselm in the Monologion... According to him, first something is known to be such and then it is attributed to God; therefore it is not precise such as it is in God.
(ed. Vat. III 25): “Item, quarto, potest sic argui: aut aliqua ‘perfectio simipliciter’ habet rationem communem Deo et creaturae, et habetur propositum, aut non sed tantum propriam creaturae, et tunc ratio eus non conveniet formaliter Deo, quod est inconveniens; aut habet rationem omnino propriam Deo, et tunc sequitur quod nihil attribuendum est Deo, quia est ‘perfectio simpliciter’, nam hoc nihil est aliud dicere nisi quod quia ratio eius ut convenit Deo dicit ‘perfectionem simpliciter’, ideo ipsum ponitur in Deo; et ita peribit doctrina Anselmi Monologion, ubi vult quod ‘praetermissis relationibus, in omnibus aliis quidquid est simpliciter melius ipsum quam non ipsum attributendum est Deo, sicut quodcumque non tale est amovendum ab ipso.’ Primo ergo, secundum ipsum, aliquid cognoscitur esse tale, et secundo attribuitur Deo; ergo non est tale praecise ut in Deo.”
A confirmation: every metaphysical inquiry about God proceeds by considering the formal notion/definition (ratio) of something and removing from that formal ratio the imperfection which it has as found in creatures, and reserving that formal ratio and attributing it only to the hightest perfection, and so attributing it to God. For example, take the formal ratio of wisdom or intellect or will: let it be considered in itself and according to itself; and from this that that ratio does not formally conclude some imperfection or limitation, are removed all the imperfections which accompany the ratio when found in creatures, and with that ratio reserved, most perfectly are the rationes of wiesdom and will attributed to God. Therefore all inquisition about God supposes the intellect to have the same concept, univocal, which it receives from creatures.
(ed. Vat. III 26-27): “...omnis inquisitio metaphysica de Deo sic procedit, considerando formalem rationem alicuius et auferendo ab illa ratione formali imperfectionem quam habet in creaturis, et reservando illam rationem formalem et attribuendo sibi omnino summam perfectionem, et sic attribuendo illud Deo. Exemplum de formali ratione sapientiae vel intellectus vel voluntatis: consideratur enim in se et secundum se; et ex hoc quod ista ratio non concludit formaliter imperfectionem aliquam nec limitationem, removentur ab ipsa imperfectiones quae concomitantur eam in creaturis, et reservata eadem ratione sapientiae et voluntatis attribuuntur ista Deo perfectissime. Ergo omnis inqisitio de Deo supponit intellectum habere conceptum eundem, univocum, quem accepit ex creaturis.”
I don’t see how the fifth actually proves univocity, so here I give only the latin:
(ed. Vat II 27-28): “...perfectior creatura potest movere ad perfectiorem conceptum de Deo. Ergo cum aliqua visio Dei, puta infima, non tantum differat ab aliqua intellectione abstractiva data ipsius quantum suprema creatura distat ab infima, videtur sequi quod si infima potest movere ad aliquam abstractivam, quod suprema, vel aliqua citra eam, poterit movere ad intuitivam, quod est impossible.”
3. God is not known under his proper aspect (ratio)
God is not known naturally and properly under the aspect of his essence as this essence by a creature in the wayfaring state. Scotus rejects Henry’s argument to this effect, and argues that under such an aspect only the divine intellect knows the divine essence as this essence, and it is only knowable to us in the wayfaring state if God wills it, which would make it a voluntary and not a natural object. No essence naturally knowable by us can lead to this knowledge, whether through the likeness of imitation or univocity. Univocity is only in general notions (generalibus rationibus; these work out to be the divine attributes, the Anselmian pure perfections taken as univocally common), and imitation fails because creatures imitate God imperfectly.
4. The concept of infinite being
We can attain to many proper concepts of God, that is, concepts that pertain only to God. These concepts are those of all pure perfections as they are found in the highest degree. The most perfect concept, in wi is by conceiving all perfections in an unqualified and highest degree. Teh most perfect and simple concept is that of infinite being. This concept is simpler than the concepts of the good and the true, because infinite is not a quasi attribute or passion of being or of that of which being is said. Infinity means an intrinsic mode, so that when I say ‘infinite being’ I do not have a concept quasi per accidens, made from subject and attribute, but a per se concept of a subject in a certain grade of perfection, namely of infinity. The example Scotus gives of intrinsic modes is whiteness. An intense whiteness does not mean a per accidens concept such as ‘visible whiteness’, rather ‘intense’ means an intrinsic grade of whiteness in itself.
5. God is known through a species of a creature
Creatures are able to impress intelligible species of varying universality in the human intellect. The same object can cause multiple species. A creature can impress species of itself, as well as of the transcendentals in the human intellect, and then the intellect by its own power can use multiple species to concieve that of which they are the species, such as the species of the good, the species of the highest, or of act, and compose a concept of the highest and most actual good.