Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cardinal Burke on Scotus

Cardinal Burke was in Wisconsin blessing a statue of Scotus.  Here is his homily on the occasion, here is the video.


Crude said...

I now and then ask some pretty amateur, naive questions about Scotus and such. You guys have been patient, and I appreciate it.

Let me ask this. I see a lot of hostility between people who seem to prefer Scotus' philosophy, and people who prefer Aquinas'. So let me ask - what is the reason for that? I know the claim is that Scotus paved the way for Ockham and nominalism and atheism and, etc, etc. And I've read enough to know that this involves univocal concepts.

Is there a greater explanation of this? I tried to search the site, but either I did not find one, or I found it and did not recognize it.

Gaetano said...

This book gives an account of *some* of the nineteenth-century foundations of the Thomist narrative of fourteenth-century decline:

To oversimplify quite a bit, the Neo-Scholastics basically accepted the previous narrative (rooted in a Protestant historiographical tradition and culminating in Jakob Brucker's Historia Critica) that dismissed medieval thought. But Thomas Aquinas was (along with a few others) the great exception whose achievement was quickly lost. They accepted the humanist and Protestant attack on a "decadent scholasticism." But the previous narrative was in need of a much more searching critique, which is finally happening...

Thomists and Scotists in the early-modern period certainly argued about analogy and univocity, but (as far as I've seen) there seems to be much more respect from the great sixteenth-century Thomists for Scotism than one finds in the "historical" accounts of the Radical Orthodox, etc., crowd.

Crude said...


Thanks for the reply! That's helpful.

Though I admit, I wonder more about the modern views than anything. At least with Oderberg and Feser, who I mostly have read, I haven't seen this endorsement of an attack on scholasticism (the opposite, in fact). In fact I'm kind of surprised to hear it put as 'the neo-thomists thought scholasticism was all bad except for Aquinas, agreeing with the protestant/modernist critics'.

Gaetano said...

I'm also interested in the contemporary discussion, but it's astonishing how much the attitude towards fourteenth-century scholasticism is shaped by much earlier traditions of scholarship.

Take a look at p. 94. Sound familiar? Inglis suggests here that the nineteenth-century fellow accepted the basic narrative from Brucker but inverted it as far as their *evaluation* of the figures involved.

Does Feser have the sort of grand narrative that Radical Orthodoxy has? I haven't seen that sort of thing from him too often. His criticisms of Scotus tend to be of the more traditional sort - I real debate between (and arguably *within*) the schools. But I may be entirely mistaken in this characterization.

Gaetano said...

See especially p. 145ff. to see how a major historian of scholasticism accepts the notion of a decadent scholasticism in the Renaissance:

Crude said...

Actually, no, I was incorrect - it looks like Feser's narrative does suggest 'and then Scotus started the ball rolling towards disaster.' It's mostly pegged on Ockham, but Scotus' voluntarism is mentioned.