Sunday, May 13, 2012

Petrus Thomae on Modes of Containment

This is a follow-up post to the one on Scotus' views of unitive containment.  Peter Thomae gives a more systematic discussion of the various modes of containment in a question in his Quodlibet, entitled 'whether it is the same for something to be contained in another virtually, really, eminently, and unitively'.  It is a lengthy question and here I give only the basic description of the different ways something can be contained.  One can find similar accounts in Alnwick's Quodlibet.

Petrus Thomae, Quodlibet, pt. 1 q. 5 a. 1 (ed. Buytaert-Hooper, 67-69):

The second statement (dictum) is that 'containment' is sufficiently divided by quidditative, concomitive, viritual, and eminent containment.
The third statement is that quidditative containment is that which is of quidditative rationes or of those perfecting in primary being [recall Aristotelian distinction between primary and secondary being]. In this mode every inferior contains the rationes of all its superiors.
The fourth statement is that concomitive containment is that which is of those perfections or rationes perfecting in secondary being, in the way in which being contains truth, goodness, and unity, just as also whatever subject contains its proper passions. In that mode as well the divine essence contains attributes.  This containment is called 'concomitive' because it necessarily is subsequent to quidditative containment, for the perfections perfecting in primary being follow upon the perfections perfecting in secondary being.
The fifth statement is that to virtually contain is to have the power or force of the contained, both in being and in operation, and this with excess.  For evidence of this it should be known that just as force or power is diversified, so also the mode of containment.  Force is diversified in several ways, and so also virtual containment.  Whence the thing containing sometimes exceeds the contained in effective power.  Whence the containing sometings exceeds the contained in effective power, sometimes in formal or perfective power, sometimes in final or conservative power.  An example of the first is of the first being, God, who in that mode contains virtually the being of every creature.  In that mode also every equivocal agent contains its effect, for it contains it as far as being and as far as operation is concerned, and this with excess.  It contains as far as being is concerned, because it is able to produce it in being; it contains as far as operation is concerned, because everything which the secondary cause can do, the first cause can do...
The sixth statement is that eminential containment is that by which a more perfect being is said to contain the less perfect, or a superior species contains inferiors.

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