Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Francis of Marchia's Metaphysics

According to the Quarrachi website, Francis of Marchia's Commentary on the Metaphysics is now available for 90 euros. Marchia is one of the many cogs in the wheel of ontotheology, for he was the first to distinguish between special and general metaphysics, which, as we all know, is eeeeeeeeviiiiiiiil. The editor is N. Mariani, who has come under criticism in the past (for among other things, publishing two questions from Scotus' Reportatio as Francis of Marchia's Quodlibet). I saw an announcement by the team publishing through Leuven a while back and it appears that they are also doing an edition of this, so we may have duelling editions one day.


Matthew said...

Is there a blogpost in which you discuss the (supposed) Thomist aversion to distinguishing metaphysics into the general and particular? Cardinal Mercier, for instance, was not averse to describing ontology as general metaphysics, and thus distinguishing it from Natural Theology; other Thomists, such as van Steenberghen (if I recall) were not opposed to making this distinction as well. So, which Thomists rejected such a distinction?

Lee Faber said...

I'm speaking of the postmodernists, mainly theologians such as the nouvelle theologie types and the self styled radical orthodoxy movement and those moving in their orbit such as brad gregory.

Bubba said...

In all fairness, the Quaracchi site lists it as a translation, and has Mariani as the author.
Father Mariani has seen in Francis of Marchia a kindred spirit, a fellow Franciscan from the Marches of Ancona who stubbornly adhered to his principles in the face of the highest criticism. He has used this insight into Francis' nature as a guiding editorial principle, allowing him to put in print reconstructions of passages that might otherwise require detailed knowledge of scholastic Latin and medieval philosophy, and he does so in the face of criticism even within his order.
My personal favorite marianism is the time he apparently came across Roth's 1933 monograph on Francis of Meyronnes, and looked up Francis of Marchia in the index. In the section on the various names given to Meyronnes in the manuscripts, Roth mentions false attributions. Since Marchia and Meyronnes are both Franciscans, both passed through Paris in some part of 1320, and both are called Franciscus de Mar. (-onis or -chia), there's often confusion. Roth gives the example of one of Meyronnes' sermons, where the colophon to one of the manuscripts gives Franciscus de Marchia as the author.
Mariani, about ten years ago, published in (I think) AFH, the "editio princeps" of Francis of Marchia's sermon, with the argument "Well, if Roth wants to say arbitrarily that it's by Meyronnes and not Marchia, I can say it's by Marchia and not Meyronnes." Of course, he didn't bother to check to see if Roth did arbitrarily assign it to Meyronnes, or if, rather, it was on the basis of the dozen other manuscript witnesses and a couple incunabula editions that Roth discusses in the section on Meyronnes' works.
The Leuven edition may have been announced some time ago, but, as Mariani would argue: will it ever be done? Some editions come out quickly; others take a long time; others are never born. The ones that make it are all buried equally on a library shelf facing east, known to most only as an ISBN. Most reviewers don't have time to deal with Latin, and those who do are so grateful that something, anything, finally gets published that they are loathe to criticize. Why waste time getting it right?

Michael Sullivan said...

The distinction between general and special metaphysics may have been first articulated by Francis of Marchia, but it's implicit in earlier scholasticism; it would be very easy, to instance, to read it into the Proemium of St Thomas' commentary on the metaphysics. This is just what the editors of the Marietti edition do, and in their introduction they divide the work into three main parts, consisting of an introduction to metaphysics which clarifies first principles (books 1-5), ontology (6-9), and theology (10-12).

I do think that one could plausibly argue that the distinction if taken too seriously is contrary to the spirit of Aristotle, for whom I think the question of being and the question of God are inextricably intertwined, and probably rightly so.

Unknown said...

Michael, I'm sure lots of things are implicit... but since contemporary thomists think that the distinction is bad now, no doubt they would deny that it is implicit after all.

Bubba, thanks for the correction. I'm reminded of the still unreviewed Scotus De anima volume, as well as of the recent review of the Wolter-Bychkov 'edition' of the Reportatio, which was glowing and praised to the skies (no mention of the constant mistranscriptions, homoeoteleuta introduced by the editors, adjusting the latin to match the english, etc.).