Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Two Arguments for the Formal Distinction in divinis

In the midst of a discussion about whether generation and spiration are distinct or not, Scotus lodges an objection against his position such that the divine intellect and will are not present ex natura rei (remember, this phrase means that something is present prior to and not dependent upon the act of any intellect, even the divine intellect), but instead the divine intellect and will (the productive powers of the Trinitarian persons), divine essence, and Trinitarian persons are indistinct prior to being distinguished by the operation of the divine intellect (Cf. ed. Vat. V, p. 98). I translate Scotus' response to the objection below.

Ordinatio I d. 13 q. un. n. 64-65:

If some things are there distinct by the act of the [divine] intellect, let them be [called] A and B. Then I ask, either they are distinct ex natura rei, and if so, you contradict yourself, if not, but [they are distinguished] by the intellect, therefore the intellect under the aspect [ratio] of the intellect and not under the aspect of nature distinguishes; or therefore before their distinction the intellect is there under the aspect of intellect, and I have what I am trying to prove [habetur propositum], that it is there ex natura rei; or not, but the intellect under the aspect of intellect is there produced by the act of the intellect 'engaging' [negotiantis: a technical term of Henry] and distinguishing, and then one must ask about that intellect, by which act it is produced -- either ex natura rei, or by the intellect as intellect -- and so on into infinity, or wherever you stop, there the intellect will be insofar as it is intellect ex natura rei, or the first distinction which will be posited there will be ex natura rei, the opposite of which you posit.
Furthermore, God ex natura rei is formally blessed and not formally [blessed] in relations of reason; his beatitude, however, formally consists in intellection and volition; therefore the intellect and will, which are the principles of [those acts] are there ex natura rei.

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