Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Maverick Philosopher, Scholastic

The Maverick Philosopher takes a turn towards the substance abusers: Here.
See for example, Franciscus de Mayronis, Quodlibet q. 9 arg. prin. 1 (ed. Venezia 1520, ff. 244va): Utrum christianus sufficienter in theologia instructus possit defenere articulum creationis contra adversarios veritatis quantumcumque peritos.

And it is argued first that one such is not able: because it was a common concept among the philosophers that from nothing nothing is made; but that article [ie. creation, an article of faith] posits that something was made from nothing by divine power; therefore that article is against a common concept of the soul. That however which is against a common concept cannot be defened since it is against reason. 
But against: because Catholics firmly hold that God can create something from nothing. If however they are not able to defend this, they are not able to hold it firmly, although they can be convinced; and consequently they can be ripped away from that truth.

Now, most of the Scholastics, when they are wearing their philosopher's hats, deny that creation can be demonstrated, and in this part ways with the MP.  But wearing their theologian's hats they would agree with the MP (indeed, he mentions Aquinas). They explain the tension between the claim that 'from nothing, nothing is made' and creation ex nihilo precisely by appealing to accounts of divine cognition, i.e. the divine ideas.  For Scotus, see this post where he outlines his view of divine cognition. First, the divine intellect cognizes the divine essence, then in a series of stages it generates the essences of creatables in intelligible being, knows the essences, and reflects on them.  In other passages we learn that following the production into intelligible being, these creatable quiddities are generated into possible being in a later instant of nature (only essences containing non-repugnant terms make it into this instant) and in yet a later instant of nature the divine will actualizes some of these essences in actual existence.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Divine Simplicity III: Univocity

[NB: this is a first draft; I will make every effort in the future to revise by adding commentary and fixing typos, etc.]

As promised, here is the post on the topic that inspired this series of "fundamenta" posts: how can Scotus reconcile his theory of univocity with divine simplicity?

We all know what Thomas says. The terms that we predicate of God from creatures (being, wise, good, just, etc.) exist in a divided way in creatures, as distinct from their essence. But God is simple, admitting no plurality. Consequently, the terms must be predicated analogically, not univocally.

Scotus' discussion of the issue is found in Ordinatio I d. 8 q. 3, entitled "Whether to say that God, or something formally said of God, is in a genus is consonant with divine simplicity.

He is trying to avoid a model of reality in which Being is a genus and God and creatures are species of being. If this were the case, divine simplicity would be violated. This is because there would be a common reality of the genus by which God and creatures would agree, and a reality that was proper to each.  God would then have composition of genus and specific difference.

For the negative position, Scotus examines the opinion of Henry of Ghent (not Aquinas), citing a number of arguments, offering arguments against the position (these are the arguments for univocity I have already posted) and replying to Henry's arguments. He also cites an opinion for the positive position, though it is probably more of a set-up than an opinion anyone actually held (i.e. that God is in a genus).

Scotus, then, holds a middle position:

Ordinatio I d. 8 p. 1 q. 3 (ed. Vat. IV, 198):

I hold the middle position, that it stands with divine simplicity that some concept is common to God and to a creature, not nevertheless some concept common as of a genus, because neither a concept said in 'quid' of God, //nor by whatever kind of formal predication said of him// is per se in some genus.

The first part was proved by arguing against the first opinion [i.e. Henry]

So Scotus then argues that the concept is not going to be common like a genus is in common. He has two arguments for this, one from the notion of infinity, the other from the notion of necessary being.

1. Infinity (ed. Vat. IV 199-203):

A concept having indifference to some things to which a concept of a genus cannot be indifferent can not be a concept of a genus; but whatever is said commonly of God and creatures is indifferent to finite and infinite, speaking of essential [things], or at least to the finite and not finite, speaking of certain others, because a divine relation is not finite; no genus can be indifferent to infinite and the finite, therefore etc.

The first part of the minor is clear, because whatever essential perfection is in God, is formally infinite, in creatures finite.

I prove the second part of the minor, because a genus is taken from some reality which according to itself is potential to the reality from which the difference is taken; no infinite is potential to something...

This argument, by treating it further, I understand in this way: that in some creaures the genus and difference are taken from another and another reality (just as by positing many forms in man, animal is taken from the sensitive and rational from the intellective), and then that thing, from which the genus is taken, truly is potential and perfectible by that thing from which the difference is taken. Sometimes, when there are not there thing and thing (just as in accidents), at least in one thing there is some proper reality from which the genus is taken and another reality from which the difference is taken; let the first be called a and the second b: a according to itself is potential to b, so that by precisely understanding a and precisely understanding b, a as it is understood in the first instant of nature, in which it is precisely itself, it is perfectible by b (just as if it were another thing), but that it is not perfected really by b, this is because of the identity of a and b to some total [totum] thing, to which really they are primarily the same, which indeed totum first is produced and in that totum both those realities are produced: if nevetheless one of those would be produced without the other, truly it would be potential to it and truly it would be imperfect without it.

That composition of realities - potential and actual - is the smallest which suffices for the notion of genus and difference, and that does not stand with this that whatsoever reality in something is infinite: for reality, if it would be infinite of itself, however precisely taken, would not be in potency to some reality; therefore since in God whatsoever  essential reality is formally infinite, there is nothing from which the notion of a genus can be formally taken.

2. From necessary being (ed. Vat. IV, 204 ff.)

I argue third from the second middle [term], namely from the notion of necessary being, and this is the argument of Avicenna, VIII Met. ch. 4. If necessary being has a genus, therefore the intention of the genus will be of itself necessary being or not. If the first, 'then [the inquiry] will not cease until there is a difference'. I understand this thus: the genus would then include a difference, because without it it is not in ultimate act and the 'necessary in itself' is in ultimate act; if however the genus includes a difference, then it is not a genus. If the second option is followed, it follows that 'necessary being will be constituted from what is not necessary being.

[there follows an addition by Scotus here] but this argument proves that necessary being has nothing in common with another, because that common intention is 'not necessary being'; hence I answer: an understood intention neither includes necessity nor possibility, but is indifferent; that however in reality which corresponds to an intention, in 'this' is necessary being, in 'that' possible (this is disproved if a proper reality corresponds to the intention of a genus, and not if it corresponds to another common intention). [end of addition]

With respect to that which is added in the question 'of whatever formally said of God' [see the opening paragraph], I say that no such is in a genus, because of the same, because nothing is said formally of God  which is limited; whatever is of some genus, whatever genus that might be, is necessarily limited.

But then there is a doubt about what sort are those predicates which are said of God, such as wise, good, etc.

I answer. Being is first divided into infinite and finite than into the ten categories, because one of those, namely the finite, is common to the ten genera; therefore whatever befalls being as indifferent to finite and infinite, or as it is proper to infinite being, befalls it not as determined to a genus but as prior, and consequently as it is a transcendental and is outside every genus. Whatever is common to God and creature, are such which befall being as it is indifferent to finite and infinite: for as they befall God, they are infinite, and as they befall a creature they are finite; therefore first they befall being than being is divided into the ten genera, and consequently whatever is such is transcendent [transcendens].

But then there is another doubt, how wisdom can be called a transcendental since it is not common to all beings.

I answer.  Just as it is of the definition of 'most general' that it does not have under itself many species but not to have another genus above it (just as this category 'where', because it does not have a supervening genus it is most general, although it has few or no species), so a transcendental has no genus under which it is contained. Whence it is of the notion(ratio) of a transcendental that it does not have a predicate that supervenes, except being, but that it is common to many inferiors, this befalls it.

This is clear in another way, because being does not have passions/attributes that are simply convertible, just as one, true, and good, but has some passions where opposites are distinguished against each other, just as necessary being or possible being, act or potency, and suchlike. Just as convertible passions/attributes are transcendent because they follow upon being in so far as it is not determined to some genus, so disjunctive passions/attributes are transcendental, and each member of the disjunct is transcendental because neither determines its determinable to a certain genus: and nevertheless one member of the disjunct formally is special, not befalling unless one being, just as necessary being in that division between necessary being or possible being, and the infinite in that division of finite or infinite, and the same is true of the rest. So also wisdom can be a transcendental, and whatever other, which is common to God and creature, although some such is said of God alone, something however is also said of God and some creature. It is not necessary that a transcendental, qua transcendental, be said of every being unless it is convertible with the first transcendental, namely being.

[to the first principal argument, (ed. Vat. IV 221ff):

To the first principal argument I concede that that concept said of God and a creature in 'quid' [i.e. essentially] is contracted by some contracting concepts saying 'quale' , but neither is that concept said in 'quid' a concept of a genus, nor those concepts said in 'quale' are concepts of differences, because that 'quidditative' concept is common to finite and infinite, which community cannot be in the concept of a genus -- those concepts contracting mean the intrinsic mode of the contracted, and not some reality perfecting it: differences however do not mean the intrinsic mode of the reality of some genus, because in whatever grade animality is understood, not on account of this is rationality or irrationality understood to be the intrinsic mode of animality, but still animality is understood in such a grade as perfectible by rationality or irrationality.

But here there is a doubt: how can a concept common to God and creature be understood as 'real', unless by some reality of the same genus, and then it seems that it is potential to that reality from which the distinguishing concept is taken, just as was argued before about the concept of a genus and a difference, and then the argument made for the first position still stands, that if there would be some reality distinguishing in re, and another distinct, it seems that a thing is composed, because it has something by which it agrees and something by which it differs.

I answer that when some reality with its intrinsic mode is understood, that concept is not so irreducibly simple (simpliciter simplex) that that reality cannot be conceived without that mode, but then it is an imperfect concept of that thing; it is able also to be conceived under that mode, and then it is a perfect concept of that thing. Example: if there would be whiteness in the tenth grade of intensity, howsoever simple it might be in the thing, it can still be conceived under the aspect of such whiteness, and then perfectly it will be conceived by an adequate concept of that thing, or it can be conceived precisely under the aspect of whiteness, and then it would be conceived by an imperfect concept which falls from the perfection of the thing; an imperfect concept however can be common to this and that whiteness, and a perfect concept would be proper.

Therefore a distinction is required between that from which a common concept is taken and between that from which a proper concept is taken not as distinction of reality and reality but as distinction of reality and proper and intrinsic mode of the same, which distinction suffices for having a perfect concept or imperfect of the same, of which the imperfect is common and the perfect is proper. But the concept of genus and difference requires the distinction of realities, not only of the same reality perfectly and imperfectly conceived.

To summarize:

Scotus takes two doctrines as given, because they were proven elsewhere.

1. Divine simplicity
2. univocal predication of creaturely properties of God, with qualification.

In this question, Scotus expands this picture

3. the properties predicated of God are not in a genus, because this would require a distinction of realities: the reality of the genus is other than the reality of the difference [keep in mind, the model Scotus is trying to avoid is that Being is a genus, and creatures and God are two species of being. There would be one reality, being, by which God and creatures agree, and one reality by which they are distinct]

4. The properties are transcendentals, arranged in four grades: being, attributes of being (one, true, good, maybe thing), disjunctive attributes of being (necessary being vs. possible being, etc.), pure perfections (wisdom, justice, etc.).

5. univocal predication gives us a common concept, say of wisdom; it is common to God and creatures. As such, the common concept is imperfect. The univocal notion can be contracted to God and creatures by means of intrinsic modes. The concept of God or a creature taken with its respective intrinsic mode is imperfect, but this is not a distinction between two realities, but of one reality. Hence the problem mentioned in 3 is avoided.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scotus on the Scandal of Philosophy

We've all read statements by early modern philosophers complaining about the diversity of opinions held by philosophers and how this is a bad thing.  

But Scotus disagrees.  The following text is from the 1517 John Major printing of the Reportatio (free for download at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek). Eventually, this will be labeled Rep. IB, prol. q. 2 (ed. Major 2va):

Dicitur primo pro quaestione prima, quia utilis est diversitas opinionum propter nostri intellectus imbecillitatem, et scientie profunditatem, et propter studentium profectum, et propter veritatis elucidationem. 
It is said to the first question that a diversity of opinions is useful on account of the weakness of our intellect, and the profundity of knowledge, and because of the progress of the ones studying, and on account of the elucidation of truth.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review of Brad Gregory's New Book

Here.  The beginning of it is like a bad game of telephone.  The reviewer seems to misunderstand Gregory's explanation of univocity, and Gregory himself misunderstood Scotus.

Some snippets:

The book's first chapter, "Excluding God," begins with what I regard as an accurate portrayal of the modern intellectual's arbitrary and illogical refusal to countenance any explanation of the world's origins, no matter how cogent that explanation may be, if it happens to include God. The roots of this mindset reach back centuries, Mr. Gregory says, to the late-medieval theologian John Duns Scotus, who argued that God and man both exist in the same essence of things and that therefore man may speak of God with "univocal" as opposed to "analogical" language. In Scotus's thinking, the word "wise," for example, might apply to God in the same sense in which it applies to man. This had the effect, says Mr. Gregory, of defining God as if He were bound by the material world rather than transcendent over it. And when this view combined with William of Occam's "razor"—the principle that the best argument is the one with the fewest unnecessary parts—philosophers eventually felt emboldened to exclude God from any explanation of natural phenomena: and, in time, from any argument at all.

Very interesting, one might think—except that the book presents no evidence that any Protestant reformer actually espoused "univocal metaphysics," in the author's phrase. Nothing from Luther or Calvin on the subject, nothing from William Farel or Martin Bucer. Mr. Gregory does mention the Swiss Reformation leader Ulrich Zwingli and his disavowal of Christ's real presence in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper, but that position is hardly the "logical corollary" to univocal metaphysics that the author claims. Transubstantiation is a far more "univocal" reading of the words "This is my body" than Zwingli's interpretation. But never mind. When Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Nietzsche and, more recently, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris formulated their skeptical views of religion, Mr. Gregory says, they thought of God in reductive, univocal terms, and this was somehow a long-term consequence of the Protestant Reformation.


Leaving aside Mr. Gregory's preposterously overwrought characterization of modern Western societies, especially America—he sees little beyond depredation, exploitation, consumerism and global warming—his complaint that modern Western morality elevates acquisitiveness to the status of a virtue is justified. But blaming this state of affairs on events that occurred and people who lived five centuries ago is a sort of rearview-mirror utopianism: If only the right social order had been left in place—if only the Protestant reformers hadn't shattered medieval Catholicism's "institutionalized worldview"—life today would be so much better.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Henry edition

Henry of Ghent's Quodlibet IV is now available, for a cool 89 euros.

From the website:

Henry of Ghent, the most influential philosopher/theologian of the last quarter of the 13th century at Paris, delivered his fourth Quodlibet during 1279. This Quodlibet was written at the beginning of what could be called the height of his career.
In total there are 37 questions, which cover a wide range of topics, including theories in theology, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical anthropology, ethics, and canon law. In these questions Henry presents his mature thought concerning the number of human substantial forms in which he counters the claims of the defenders of Thomas Aquinas, particularly those in Giles of Lessines’s De unitate formae, but also those found in Giles of Rome’s Contra Gradus. He is critical of Thomas Aquinas’s theories concerning human knowledge, the ‘more’ and the ‘less,’ and virtue. He also is critical of Bonaventure’s analysis of Augustine’s notion of rationes seminales.
There are 33 known manuscripts which contain the text of Quodlibet IV, and the critical text is reconstructed based upon manuscripts known to have been in Henry’s school, as well as manuscripts copied from two successive university exemplars in Paris.

Table of contents
Critical Study
The Editions and Manuscripts
The Editions
The Manuscripts
Quodlibet IV: Authorship and Date
§1. The Authorship of Quodlibet IV§2. The Date of Quodlibet IV
The Text Examined Exteriorly: Historical and Codicological Elements Used for the Establishment of the Text
§1. Quodlibet IV: Distributed by Means of Two Successive Exemplars by the University in Paris
A. The First University Exemplar
B. A Second Parisian University Exemplar
The Text Examined Interiorly: The Relationships among the Manuscripts, Established by a General Test Collation
§1. The Common Accidents
A. The Groups of Manuscripts Characterized by the Number of Common Accidents
B. The Groups of Manuscripts Characterized Individually
1. Manuscript A
2. The Group of Manuscripts Dependent upon the First Parisian University Exemplar
a. The sub-group of mss. 8 and 27
b. The sub-group of mss. 4 and 5
c. The sub-group of mss. 22 and 33
d. A Possible English Family of Manuscripts
3. The Group of Manuscripts Dependent upon the Second Parisian University Exemplar
§2. The Isolated Accidents
An Earlier Redaction of QQ. 7 & 8
Manuscript 25 (Paris, BNF, Lat. 15848) and the University Examplars
§1. Manuscript 25 and the First Parisian University Exemplar
§2. Manuscript 25 and the Second Parisian University Exemplar
The First Parisian Exemplar
The Second Parisian University Exemplar
The Reconstruction of the Critical Text
The References and Sources in Quodlibet IV
The Edition of Badius
The Genesis of the Exemplars, Represented by a Diagram
Technique of the Edition
1. In the Text Itself
2. In the Critical Apparatus
1. In the Critical Apparatus
2. In the Apparatus of Citations
Sigla of the Manuscripts
Quodlibet IV
1. Utrum relatio prius sit in divina essentia quam in persona
2. Utrum imago conveniat Spiritui Sancto sicut et Filio
3. Utrum in Christo sint duae reales filiationes, una ad Patrem, alia ad matrem
4. Utrum sint idem re natura et suppositum
5. Utrum unum principium numeri quantitatis discretae sit alterius naturae quam unitas rerum substantialis
6. Utrum forma numeri denarii sit aliquid extra intellectum
7. Utrum intellectus creatus se ipsum et ea quae per essentiam eorum sunt in ipso intelligat per se absque omni specie rei intellectae vel per aliquam speciem eius qua informatur
8. Utrum beatus videns seu intelligens Deum nude per essentiam suam formet in se verbum de Deo
9. Utrum aliquis intellectus creatus ex puris naturalibus possit videre seu intelligere nude divinam essentiam
10. Utrum caritas re differat a gratia
11. Utrum Deus a creatura intellectuali dilectione pura naturali possit diligi super omnia alia
12. Utrum post resurrectionem erunt aliqua individua composita in isto mundo inferiori
13. Utrum in quidditate rerum sensibilium materialium cadunt plures formae substantiales re differentes
14. Utrum in materia sit ratio seminalis, quae est formae inchoatio
15. Utrum forma substantialis recipiat magis et minus
16. Utrum in angelis sit materia, ut debeat dici compositus ex materia et forma
17. Utrum angelus moveatur de loco ad locum
18. Utrum beatus Paulus potuit occidi ante suam conversionem
19. Utrum in isto singulari praedestinato, demonstrato quocumque, sit ratio sive causa suae praedestinationis
20. Utrum bonum sit omnia esse communia in civitate
21. Utrum intellectus coniunctus possit aliquid intelligere
22. Utrum morales virtutes sint in voluntate
23. Utrum iidem habitus sint virtutes, dona, beatitudines et fructus
24. Utrum bona mortificata reviviscant recuperata
25. Utrum caritas aliqua viatoris possit adaequari caritati contemplatoris
26. Utrum liceat mendicantibus petere ultra necessitatem
27. Utrum pro servitio in filio usurarii instruendo liceat sumere pecuniam quam serviens novit acquisitam per usuram
28. Utrum bona communia sint de iure evangelii
29. Utrum alicui liceat repetere debitum cum scandalo
30. Utrum adeptus beneficium per simulationem debeat illud resignare
31. Utrum homo possit esse non risibilis
32. Utrum, in aequali facilitate exsequendi utrumque, homo semper tenetur ad melius faciendum
33. Utrum doctoribus contrariantibus circa aliquod agibilium et agere secundum unam opinionem est sine omni periculo peccati, agere vero secundum aliam est in dubio peccati mortalis, mortaliter peccet ille qui agit illud de quo est dubium an sit peccatum mortale, puta in emendo redditus ad vitam vel accipiendo ultra sortem
34. Utrum peccator paenitens statim tenetur confiteri
35. Utrum religiosus per abbatem suum episcopo praesentatus ad curam et ab episcopo institutus plus debet oboedire abbati revocanti ipsum a cura ad claustrum, an episcopo praecipienti quod in cura sua persistat
36. Utrum species sacramenti Eucharistae nutriant
37. Utrum in sacramentis Novae Legis sit virtus creativa gratiae
I. Works cited by Henry (and by the editors in the apparatus)
II. Onomastic table
III. Manuscripts cited
IV. Quoted publications
V. Table of contents

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ockham and Scotus and Natural Theology

Throughout his criticism of Scotus' doctrine of the existence and oneness of God, Ockham remains faithful to his basic philosophical notions, which are radically different from those of the Subtle Doctor. The two theologians do not differ in what they believe about the Christian God, but they diverge on what human reason left to its own resources can prove about him. Ockham finds only "adequate reasons" for affirming his existence - reasons that fall short of strict demonstration. Philosophy assures us of an ultimate ground of the universe: a primary conserving cause or causes, but these might be the heavenly bodies whose causality we experience in our world. Scotus can go further in his rational pursuit of the Christian God because he makes use of a different philosophy, according to which there is real community among beings along with individuality. Ockham fragments the universe into myriad individuals, from which all real community has been eliminated. This leads him to an empirical notion of causality, according to which a cause shares nothing with its effect (except perhaps some of its matter), their bond being simply the recognized presence of effect to cause. As Léon Baudry perceptively remarks, Scotism and Ockhamism are not just two doctrines but two different styles of thinking.

- Maurer, The Philosophy of William of Ockham in the Light of its Principles, 182-183.

I still plan on posting some longer excerpts, but I've been busy over the Christmas season with travels and getting ready for the new semester.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Unitive Containment

I came across the following quote in the Reportatio the other day while trying to tease out the intricacies of Scotus' theory of divine ydeas.  It is quoted in QQ. in Met. IV q. 2 (OPh IV 355-6) by the editors (though they make transcription and emendation errors).

The title of the question is Utrum imago Trinitatis in anima rationali subsistat in tribus potentiis realiter distinctis is Rep. II d. 16 q. un. (Oxford, Merton College Library, Ms. 61, not foliated/ff. 179v-180r according to the Scotus editors. The following transcription is mine):

De continentia unitiva loquitur Dionysius V De divinis nominibus quia continentia unitiva non est omnino eiusdem ita quod idem omnino contineat se unitive nec esse omnino manentium distincte; requirit ergo unitatem et distinctionem. Est ergo continentia unitiva duplex: uno modo sicut inferius continet superiora essentialia et ibi contenta sunt de essentia continentis sicut eadem est realitas a qua accipitur differentia in albedine et a qua genus proximum ut color et qualitas sensibilis et qualitas et quamquam essent res alie, unitive continentur in albedine. Alia est continentia unitiva quando subiectum unitive continet alia que sunt quasi passiones sicut passiones entis non sunt res alia ab ente quia quecumque detur ipsa, res est ens, vera et bona; ergo ut oportet dicere quod non sunt res alie ab ente vel quod ens non habet passiones reales, quod est contra Aristotelem IV Metaphysice expresse, nec tamen magis sunt tales passiones de essentia nec idem quidditatem quam si essent res alia, ideo non sunt potentie idem formaliter vel quidditative nec inter se nec esse[etiam?] essentie anime nec tamen sunt res alie, sed idem identice. Ideo talia habent talem distinctionem secundum rationes formales qualem haberent realem distinctionem si essent res alie realiter distincte. Principium ergo volendi et intelligendi immediatum est in secundo instanti nature et ista principia sunt unitive in essentia anime que est in primo instanti nature quasi pasiones unitive contente.


In divinis enim quamquam in supposito sint essentia et relatio et essentia continet relationem, non tamen e contra in proposito; nec intellectus continet voluntatem nec e contra, ideo ista sunt idem idemptice, quia in contente solum, non quia ipsa inter se sunt idem sicut sunt attributa divina non solum idem idemptice sed inter se. Similiter quia quelibet persona in divinis est intrinsece infinita ideo perfecte continet intrinsece quamlibet perfectionem simpliciter que est in alia non sic continet intelligentia memoriam, sed solum concomitantur.


Dionysius, V On Divine Names, speaks about unitive containment, that unitive containment is not entirely of the same [thing] so that entirely the same [thing] contains itself unitively, nor is it of things remaining entirely distinct; it requires, therefore, but unity and distinction.

Unitive containment is twofold. In one way, as the inferior contains its essential superiors and there the containment is of the essence of the containing just as it is the same reality from which the difference in whiteness is taken and from which the proximate genus, as color and sensible quality and quality, and although there might be other things unitively contained in whiteness.  The other unitive containment is when when a subject unitively contains other things which are quasi attributions/passions just as the attributes of being are not other things than being because whichever one is granted, the thing is being, true and good; therefore either it is necessary to say that they are not other things than being or that being does not have real attributes which is expressly contrary to Aristotle, IV Metaphysics; nevertheless such attributes are not more of the essence nor the same quiddity than if they would be other things. Therefore [the intellect and will] are not formally the same powers or quidditatively, nor between each other nor are they of the essence of the soul nor are they other things [than the soul]; but [they are] the same identically.  Therefore such have such a distinction according to their formal definitions of the sort that would have a real distinction if they would be other things really distinct.


In the divine, although the essence and the relation are in the supposit and the essence contains the relation, nevertheless it is not to be taken contrariwise in the matter at hand; neeither does the intellect contain the will nor contrariwise, therefore they are identically the same, because they are in the containing along, not becuse between them they are the same just as are the divine attributes, not only identically but among each other.  Likewise, because whichever of the divine persons is intrinsically infinite therefore perfectly contains every absolute perfection found in another [person]; not so does the intelligence contain the memory, but only accompanies it.


Unitive containment is a tool at times employed by Scotus derived directly from pseudo-Dionysius.  It is not of the same thing containing itself, nor is it of distinct things remaining completely distinct.  Consequently, it requires recourse to both unity and distinction. There are two kinds of unitive containment: one in which an inferior (in the categorical/predicamental line) contains its superior.  On this kind, there is a similarity of essence.  The second is when the things contained have different essences, and these essences remain formally distinct from each other and from whatever does the containing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Definition of Scholasticism

From L. M. de Rijk.  Scholasticism is an

“approach, which is characterized by the use, in both study and teaching, of a constantly recurring system of concepts, distinctions, proposition analyses, argumentative techniques and disputational methods.”[i]

[i] L.M. de Rijk, Middeleeuwse wijsbegeerte: Traditie en vernieuwing, 2nd edn. (Assen/Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, 1988), 25.

Quoted here.

Hauerwas on Univocity

A fascinating quote from Tracy Rowland's article in the Oxford Handbook of the Trinity, p. 590.

Modernity, drawing on the metaphysics of a transcendent god, was the attempt to be historical without Christ. Postmodernity, facing the agony of living in history with no end, is the denial of history. In the wake of such a denial, the only remaining comfort is the shopping mall, which gives us the illusion of creating histories through choice, thus hiding from us the reality that none of us can avoid having our lives determined by money. Money, in modernity, is the institutionalization of the univocity of being that Scotus thought necessary to ensure the unmediated knowledge of God.

This from a god of this age.  I suppose such comments aren't worth responding to, as this just more of the same drivel we've seen many times from the pomo crowd. So just one brief comment: Scotus did not argue for univocity in order to guarantee the unmediated knowledge of God.  "Unmediated" knowledge would be the direct vision of the divine essence had by the blessed in the next life.  Univocity is a property of terms or concepts used in syllogistic discourse.  What Scotus was actually trying to do was to avoid fallacies of equivocation when making theological arguments in this life.