Monday, July 7, 2014

Francis of Meyronnes on whether there is a transcendental notion more common than being

Now that the Philosophers have finished their work, it is time for things to go back to normal here at The Smithy. We (that is, I) shall return to the dusty stacks of the library, leaving behind the world of Things that Matter, matters of contemporary philosophical relevance, for some classic Smity latinophilic blogging: an obscure text by an obscure writer on a topic that is currently being discussed privately by my co-blogger and I (co-blogger: see esp. concl. 4).

Here are four conclusions from Franciscus de Mayronis, Conflatus prologus q. 13 (ed. Venezia 1520, ff. 18rb sqq.).

Utrum sit aliqua ratio transcendens communior ente


Pono igitur quattuor conclusiones:
Prima est quod licet nulla ratio intentionis primae sit communior, tamen ratio aliqua secundae intentionis est communior ente.


Secunda conclusio quod in respectibus transcendentibus aliquid est communius ente, quia quaecumque sunt distincta, distinctio est eis communis et communior quolibet illorum. Quaecumque etiam sunt ordinata, ordinatio etiam est eis communior; huiusmodi sunt ista ens, verum, bonum; omnia enim sunt distincta et ordinata; ergo etc.

Tertia conclusio quod in aptitudinalibus est aliquid communius ente, nam quod dicitur de ente et de aliis ab ente est communius ente; huiusmodi sunt istae aptitudines, scilicet intelligibilitas, volibilitas, etc.

Quarta conclusio quod in privativis est aliquid communius ente, nam privatio est communior quae dicitur de ente et de aliis ab ente; sed non solum ens, sed et alia ab entitate, scilicet passiones, quodlibet istorum est unum (veritas est una, bonitas est una, et sic de aliis); ergo etc.

Rough Translation:

I posit four conclusions:

The first is that although no ratio of first intention is more common than being, some ratio of a second intention is more common than being.

The second conclusion is that in transcendental relations something is more common than being, because whatsoever things are distinct, distinction is common to them and more common than each one of them. Whatsoever things are ordered, ordering also is more common than they are; of this sort are being, true, good, for all of them are distinct and ordered.

The third conclusion is that in aptitudinals there is something more common than being, for what is said of being and of others other than being is more common than being; of this sort are those aptitudes, namely intelligibility, volibility/willability(?), etc.

The fourth conclusion is that in privatives there is something more common than being, for privation is more common which is said of being and of others other than being; but not only being, but also other than entity, namely passions/attributes, for each one of these are one (truth is one, goodness is one, the same is true of the rest); therefore, etc.


Anonymous said...

So, here's my question: if Meyronnes has a supertranscendental notion of being, as the passage presented seems to suggest, is that notion univocal or analogical? Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Scotus claim that privations and beings of reason are not real beings (obviously) and so don't fall under the univocal concept of being? (I know that Suarez, for instance, holds something similar; he claims that beings of reason don't fall under the common objective concept of being, and so they are only analogically related through proper proportionality to real being.) Would that mean, then, for the Scotist, a supertranscendental concept of being is analogical? That would be an interesting situation, yes?

Michael Sullivan said...

Scotus definitely seems to think that the concept of being is not univocal to ens reale and ens rationis. Among later scotists the question is controversial. We've seen positions on either side.

For myself I'm inclined to think that it is univocal. In addition I'm highly inclined to think that not all beings of reason are created equal with regards to what kind of being they have.

As always here it's important to distinguish between logical and metaphysical concepts. Of course logic has a wider domain than metaphysics does. The logician can say things like "the empty set exists" where the metaphysician could only say that it doesn't, except in a severely diminished or qualified sense. The logician or mathematician (or physicist!) talks about the objects of his science as though they were entities simply, and it belongs to the metaphysician to determine to what extent they actually have being.

In my opinion a big gap in many analytic thinkers today is an inability to carefully distinguish between metaphysical and logical concepts on the one hand, and real being and beings of reason on the other. So you get things like the assumption that in addition to being red a car has the additional property of "having the property of redness" and the superproperty of "having properties", etc. But the accident of redness is the only thing actually there.

So with the transcendentals, we have to distinguish between transcendental concepts and the transcendental ratios in things, the transcategoriality of certain features of everything that is. Goodness in a thing is a real transcendental ratio, and so is truth, but the distinction between them is not another positive ratio, it's a concept signifying the fact that a is a and not b even when a and b coincide in a given thing.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I'm inclined to agree with you about supertranscendental being's univocal character (as well as your point about many modes of entia rationis). John Doyle's work on supertranscendentals reveals how, though at first, many Jesuit scholastics regarded supertranscendental being as analogical, later Jesuits moved towards univocity. And as interesting as supertranscendental being is with all of the metaphysical questions it generates, supertranscendental nothing is even more wild!

Unknown said...
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Nathanael said...

More blog posts please.

Daniel said...

I concur with Nathanael's suggestion. Does anyone here have any thoughts on Thomas Ward's new book on Scotus' approach to issues of Hylemorphism and Mereology?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, been busy. Ward's book hasn't shown up at my library yet.

Lee faber

Jim Given said...

Are there kinds and degrees of being? I always conclude that ontologically there are shades of grey rather than metaphysical distinctions. How real is Billy the Kid? The coelocanth? The mokele-mbebe? The "hobbits" found in SE Asia in fossil form? Is the real not partly dissolved in the possible for a Scotist?