Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Subordination to Metaphysics

Principles can be known in two ways. One is by confused knowledge, as when terms are apprehended through the senses and experience, and this suffices for scientific knowledge of the terms in any special science, as in [knowing] that a line has length, while being ignorant of whether its quiddity is substance, quantity or quality, etc. Another way principles can be known is by distinct knowledge, knowing to what category their quiddity pertains, with definitions of terms known distinctly from the evidence of the terms themselves, and this happens through the science of metaphysics through division and composition. And in this way all sciences can be called subordinate, namely to metaphysics. And therefore, given the science of metaphysics, principles of any science whatsoever are known more perfectly than they are suited by nature to be known in that science through its own proper principles. And as a consequence, another science is known more perfectly if one knows metaphysics.

- Scotus, Reportatio I-A, Prol. Q. 2, trans. Wolter and Bychkov


Brother Charles said...

This is precisely why I find it so frustrating that I can't get my community to take the philosophical education of our men seriously.

Malcolm Chisholm said...

What did Scotus mean by a "principle"? I have been using Collingwood's definition of "a proposition that cannot be further analyzed but can only be accepted as true or false". But I realize that "principle" also meant other things in the past, as in "principle of inertia". This is important to me as I have to teach principles-based approaches in data management, where individuals work in a way that is consistent with principles because it is impossible to formulate detailed sets of rules.

...Thanks, Malcolm