Friday, June 14, 2013

Scotus and the Supertranscendentals

The supertranscendentals are typically discussed in conjunction with early modern or "Baroque" scholasticism. Examples of these would be the intelligible or the imaginable, and are terms that are supposed to be univocally common between real, extra mental being (esse reale) and being of reason (ens rationis, esse intentionale, esse diminutum, etc.). If one were to hold these, one might be able to overcome the mind/world dialectic that is common in modern thought, for the supertranscendentals seem to break down the barriers a bit. Anyway, the Scotists have been known for denying them. The fourteenth century scotist Nicolaus Bonetus held them in a qualified sense, apparently, but he was the only one. Scotus, in the passages I will quote below, denies that anything can be common between real being and being of reason. He was later criticized for this by Auriol, who claimed this was inconsistent with Scotus' arguments for univocity. Scotus was later defended from these charges by Peter Thomae in QQ. de ente q. 15. The basic idea that Scotus defends in the following passages is that univocal community is between various real beings or (presumably) between various rational beings, but not between a real being and a rational being. Such a concept would refer to both something real and unreal at once, which Scotus thinks is impossible.

Scotus, Rep. IA d. 29 a. 2 (ed Wolter-Bychkov II, p. 238-9, translation by WB, modified):

For this reason, if one says that a relation of reason does not belong to the genus of relation, it is possible to say, consequently, that no one concept of first intention is univocally common to a conceptual relation(=relation of reason) and a real relation. Perhaps, the only exception would be a common concept of the most general kind: although even this concept is not common to a conceptual and a real relation, because that which is a certain way in a qualified sense, does not share the same notion with that which is such in an unqualified sense-precisely because that is such in a qualified sense, and not simply. I add this to account for the notion of health, which is predicated both of urine and of the animal: of the former in a qualified sense, and of the latter in an unqualified sense. Certainly, under a totally different aspect it is possible to predicate something of the same sort of these [two things]: this is clear because both are qualities, for although color in urine is health [only] in a qualified sense (because it is only representative [of health]), it is a quality in an unqualified sense, just as health is a quality. However, insofar as color in urine is health in a qualified sense, there is nothing of the same sort [that is] predicated of this [sort of health] and of health in an animal, because the latter is such in an unqualifed sense. Likewise, because a conceptual relation is a relation in a qualified sense (for [it exists] through a relational act of the intellect, which is a diminution of being), it seems that there is no concept that is common to, on the one hand essential principles, and on the other hand personal or notional principles.

ad arg. princ. 2 (WB 243-4):

Indeed, no one concept of the same sort corresponds to a real relation and a conceptual relation, because, although it is possible to abstract one univocal concept from God and the creature, yet it is not [possible to abstract one] from a conceptual thing and a real thing. Indeed, the concept abstracted from God and the creature would [refer to something] real on the part of both [God and the creature] and thus would be of the same sort. However, it is not so regarding [abstracting something] from conceptual being and real being, because on the part of one of the sides [the concept] would [refer to something] real, and on the part of the other side not, but only [to something] conceptual. For the division of being into real being and conceptual being is more general and fundamental than its division into created being and uncreated being, because real being, as one of the members of the former division, is common to both members of the latter division, i.e. to both created and uncreated being, for either [of these] is  real being, and thus there is more convergence between them under the aspect of one concept.

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