Sunday, June 21, 2020

What is reality?

Here are some remarks by Peter Thomae on the notion of reality. one should keep these definitions in mind when reading Scotist thought.

Petrus Thomae, Quaestiones de modis distinctionum q. 2 a. 1 (ed. forthcoming ca. 2030)

De tertio, scilicet quid sit realitas, dico duo:
Primum est quod realitas non dicit proprie rem, sed aliquid aliud ad rem pertinens. Hoc patet ex modo significandi, nam ab hoc quod ‘res’ derivatur ‘reale’, unde illud dicitur ‘reale’ quod est ad rem pertinens; sed ab hoc quod dicitur ‘reale’ derivatur ‘realitas’; realitas ergo proprie non dicit rem sed aliquid ad rem pertinens.
Secundum est descriptio quam pono de realitate, quae talis est: illud voco ‘realitatem’ quod est aliquid positivum in re ex natura rei, non contentum in alio | ut in pure passivo vel activo praecise vel sicut in superiori inferius sed actualiter et formaliter inexistens, ita quod ultimate abstractum nullum illorum a quo formaliter distinguitur includit impossibile est in actuali existentia ab illis separari per aliquam potentiam.


Concerning the third [section], namely, 'what is reality', I say two things"
First is that 'reality' does not mean properly 'thing', but something other pertaining to a thing. This is clear from the mode of understanding, for from this that 'real' is derived from 'thing', it is said that 'real' is that is pertaining ot a thing; but from 'real' is derived 'reality'; therefore, reality properly does not mean thing but something pertaining to a thing.
Second is the description which I posit of reality, which is thus: I call that [a] 'reality' which is something positive in a thing from the nature of a thing, not contained in anthoer as in the purely passive or purely active or as an inferior in a superior, but formally and actually existing-in, so that when it is ultimately abstracted it includes none of those from which it is formally distinguished [and] it is possible that it can be spearated from them in actual existence by some power.

Hmmm. well, it is based on two manuscripts. Good manuscripts, sure, but maybe something is missing. Commentary to come.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lee, glad you're back at the blog. This is an interesting text. Usually, when res is discussed it seems to be in terms of the distinction between res a ratitudine and res a reor reris. There are some parallels in the passage you supplied but also very noteworthy differences. Does he make any references in this distinction to Henry of Ghent or to Scotus's Ord. I, d. 36 where the latter speaks of ens ratum?

Lee Faber said...

Hi Victor, thanks for commenting. In fact no, there is no such talk inspired by Henry. There is an objection about the ideas, but Peter does not dwell on it. There is a "Richard" whose views are examined in detail, but I don't know if that is Richard of Mediavilla or de Conington. The latter of course would be Henry-influenced.

Noosphere said...

Your blog is extraordinary, thank you very much for all your articles especially those on the Cambridge Phantasists

Excuse me for this off-topic but could you tell me about Duns Scotus' position on the issue of eternal damnation? It seems to me that the philosophical argument of Apocatastasis is that Evil cannot have the power of Being, so it is inconceivable that a soul burns for eternity in hell

I have another question: conservative Catholics regularly accuse medieval nominalism of having precipitated the royal State (notably through the jurists of Philip IV of France influenced by Roman law and Code of Justinian) into liberal modernity, the transgender ideology etc ... Do you think it's the same kind of grotesque anachronism as the ones about Duns Scotus? Is it relevant to link contemporary relativism to the relationship maintained by William of Ockham with universals?

Thank you again

Garrett said...

Well, on damnation: i think all the high medieval latin thinkers would defend the eternity of hell. On the grounds that it is a matter of rectitude in the will, and the will chan't change after death. Scotus in particular, despite positing 'voluntarism' doesn't seem to have such a high view for even the blessed to avoid sin, and says that God actively blocks their wills from willing evil in the beatific vision (!). So I doubt he would be sympathetic to D.B. Hart's views, or whatever some of the early fathers may have thought.

As for 2, I think it is hogwash. I really don't believe that the metaphysics influence politics in the way these people think. nominalism predates Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham. They also like to equivocate on 'indivdualism' and claim that the emphasis on cognition of singulars leads to modern consumer culture... again I find it unbelievable. This is just one attempt to make thomism relevant again. You posit a disease that has corrupted all of society, a disease caused by not following your favorite thinker. then it is easy to see that the answer to all our problems is ITe ad Thomam, and there is then an excuse for ideological hiring in the universities and seminaries, as well as ideological scholasrship. Rhetorically it is hard to defend against, since explaining how scotus and ockham are being misinterpreted by your garden variety apologist is way too complicated. So the scotus and ockham people respond in specialist journals that no one reads, while Bishop Barron and everybody else trashes medieval philosophy largely unchallenged.