Saturday, June 18, 2011

Does Existence have a Quiddity?

Below are some thoughts from Alexander of Alexandria's Quodlibet. For those of you who don't know, Alex was a Franciscan theologian who lectured on the Sentences just after Scotus, in 1306-1307. The question excerpted below is about intuitive cognition, which Alexander extends to a discussion of divine foreknowledge.

Alexander de Alexandria, Quodlibet, q. 9 a. 2 (London, British Library, Ms. Add. 14077, ff. 158? I can't remember).

... quod Deus cognoscat hoc fore in tali instanti difficle est videre

Quidam enim dicunt quod hec est quia Deus est suum esse et ideo cognoscendo suum esse cognoscit existere cuiuscumque [rei].

Hoc dictum primo videtur dubium, nulla enim consequentia videtur esse 'Deus est suum esse, ergo cognoscit existentiam cuiuscumque rei' nisi aliter probaretur.

Secundo videtur dubium quia supponunt unum quod non est concessum ab omnibus, scilicet quod in omni creatura differt esse et essentia, in solo autem Deo est indifferens unum ab alio.

Tertio quia et si Deus videndo suum esse videat existentiam cuiuslibet rei, inquantum existentia est quedam quidditas et hec esse quidditativa; possumus enim dicere quod existere est quedam quidditas, quia potest dari aliquis conceptus de eo, tamen quod cognoscendo suum esse cognoscat hoc fore in tali instanti est dubium, cum hec dependeat a voluntate divina. Ideo enim hoc erit quia Deus vult hec esse.

Alii dicunt quod Deus cognoscendo essentiam suum vel ydeam alicuius rei cognoscit hoc fore.

Sed hoc est ita dubium sicut primum, quia ydea ut ydea, ut videtur, aspicit proprie esse quidditativum et quid est hec et non aspicit fore vel non fore; erit ideo completa contingentia per eam non cognoscuntur, licet enim per ydeam hominis cognoscitur homo et per ydeam certus? cognoscatur cursus, tamen per istam ydeam non cosnoscetur istud hoc curret nisi aliud concurreret. Posset ergo dici sicut alias dixi quod Deus hoc cognoscit cognoscendo determinationem sue voluntatis, quod autem scientia talium aliquo modo dependeat a voluntate patet: certum est enim secundum omnes quod Deus non necessario vult ea que sunt ad finem, non enim necessario vult a fore. Si autem non necessario vult, sequitur quod potest velle et nolle. Si autem potest velle et nolle, potest scire et non scire et totum sine mutatione sui, sicut habet declarari in tractatu de prescientia de sedero tantum? de sedeo?


... it is difficult to see that God knows this to be in such an instant.

Some [idiots] say that this is because God is his own being [or, 'act of being' or 'existence'] and therefore by knowing his own being he knows the existence of everything else.

This statement seems doubtful, first, for 'God is his own being, therefore he knows the existence of every other thing' does not seem to be a valid consequence unless it be proved in some other way.

Second, it seems doubtful because they presuppose something which is not granted by all, namely, that esse and essence differ in every creature, and in God alone is one indifferent with respect to the other.

Third, because even if God by seeing his own esse would see the existence of every other thing, insofar as existence is a certain quiddity and quidditative esse, for we can say that existence is a certain quiddity because a concept of it can be granted, nevertheless that by knowing his own esse he knows this to be in such an instant is doubtful, since this depends on the divine will. Therefore, this will be because God wills this to be.

Other [idiots] say that God knows this to be by knowing his own essence or the idea of something.

But this is doubtful just as was the first, because idea as idea, as it seems, is directed toward quidditative esse properly and what something is and does not consider something to be or not to be; therefore the complete contingency[?] is not known through it, for although man is known through the idea of man, and through the idea of running a runner is known, nevertheless that this one runs is not known through the idea unless the other concur.  Therefore it can be said, as I have said elsewhere, that God knows this to be by knowing the determination of his will; that however the knowledge of such things depends on the will in some way is clear: for it is certain according to all that God does not will necessarily those things which are for the end, for he does not will necessarily that a will be. If however he does not will necessarily, it follows that he is able to will and not-will. If however he can will and not-will, he can know and not know the total [creature?] without any change in himself, as I have to declare in my treatise on foreknowledge...

No comments: