Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scotus and Ecumenism

"The Vatican" and the Lutherans released a new document recently, that lays another charge at Scotus' door:

"146. Luther’s main objection to Catholic eucharistic doctrine was directed against an understanding of the Mass as a sacrifice. The theology of the eucharist as real remembrance (anamnesis, Realgedächtnis), in which the unique and once-for-all sufficient sacrifice of Christ (Heb 9:1–10:18) makes itself present for the participation of the faithful, was no longer fully understood in late medieval times. Thus, many took the celebration of the Mass to be another sacrifice in addition to the one sacrifice of Christ. According to a theory stemming from Duns Scotus, the multiplication of Masses was thought to effect a multiplication of grace and to apply this grace to individual persons. That is why at Luther’s time, for example, thousands of private masses were said every year at the castle church of Wittenberg."

So he's responsible for the reformation not only because of univocity as the postmodern theologians tell us, but because he allowed for the apparent abuse of multiple masses and he forgot that the mass was just the unique sacrifice of calvary.


The document does not cite a source, but this corresponds to Scotus' discussion in his Quodlibet q. 20. From the document, it sounds like Scotus is wrong, and that Catholics do not believe that the priest can apply grace from multiple masses to the soul of an individual (i.e. in Purgatory). But of course this is wrong. Catholics, even today, have masses said for their deceased relatives on the anniversaries of their deaths and other occasions (and indeed, still pay the priest a stipend). What would be the point of doing this if the grace or merit from a particular mass could not be applied to a soul? All Scotus did was formulate a principle that is still operative today, at least in practice. And if this theory did indeed originate with Scotus, how can we account for the fact that private masses for the dead were said long before Scotus was born?

The document links this teaching of Scotus with a late medieval forgetfulness of the mass being a re-presentation of the single sacrifice of Christ on Calvary; but if Scotus' view in fact is still accepted by the Church today, then the Church today is also forgetful of the unique nature of the sacrifice of the mass. But this may be a separate issue. Catholic apologists spend a great deal of time explaining this aspect of the mass today; and really, once the mass is described as a sacrifice, the fact that there has been more than one mass since Calvary is what requires explanation. It doesn't really matter whether there is just one mass per year or a thousand.

Earlier in the document we find that Cajetan, the most brilliant Catholic theologian of the 16th century, was to blame in causing the rift of Protestantism since he did not try to understand Luther in Luther's own framework, but only in his own, Thomistic framework. So I think we can all agree that Scotus is the remote cause of the reformation, but Cajetan is the proximate cause.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

De anima firesale again

I noticed on that Powell's Books in Chicago is selling the critical edition of Scotus' Quaestiones de anima for only $15!

There are also a few random volumes of the Vatican edition around the $100 mark.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hoffmann Bibliography Updated

Link is on the sidebar.

He dedicates it to B. Hechich, who passed away a half-hour before the last volume of the Ordinatio was brought to him.

I searched "2013" to see the latest updates.  The most (well, only) shocking: Scotus' commentary on the Categories was published by CUA in their Fathers of the Church series! I guess I missed the canonization.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Sales and New Releases from Critical Reprints

New Reprints!

Critical Reprints is pleased to bring you several reprints of important scholarly texts from Thomas Aquinas, Alexander of Hales, and Albert the Great!

In addition to the many reprints of Thomas Aquinas we already stock (like the Leonine Summa theologiae and Summa contra Gentiles), we are now offering:

In addition to the reprints connected with Alexander of Hales we already stock (the whole Summa fratris Alexandri), we are now offering:

Quodlibetal Giveaway (Advent 2013)

For this holiday season, we are inaugurating our first semiannual Quodlibetal Giveaway

Quodlibet means "whatever", and in the Middle Ages, magistri would hold seminannual quodlibetal questions in Advent and Easter, where anyone could ask whatever of the masters. Here at Critical Reprints, we're doing our own take on the medieval quodlibet, by giving you an opportunity to win one critical reprint from whatever we reprint every Advent and Easter.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More on Unitive Containment and the Formal Distinction

From the last volume of the Ordinatio, which has just arrived at my library. The segment here translated is from a question on the distinction between justice and mercy in God (the standard 12th c. examples, used, for example, by the Lombard). Here's a first stab at translation.

Ordinatio IV d. 46 q. 3 ad arg. princ. 4 (ed. Vat. XIV, 215-217):

To the second, it is said that mercy connotes something other than justice, although those two are unqualifiedly [simpliciter = realiter] the same as each other.
But against this: that connotation does not require some distinction of this kind from that as it is in itself, but only as it is understood [accipitur] and signified, because connotation is required for this. The argument, however, requires that there is some distinction between them [justice and mercy] as they are causes of distinct effects. Nor does the distinction of reason suffice for this, because a relation of reason is not that by which some effect is really made [efficitur], rather, generally, no real distinction in an effect depends on a relation of reason in a cause, just as was proved in d. 13 of the first book. That distinction of effects depends essentially on a distinction in the cause, therefore that is not only one of reason.
I concede, therefore, to that argument that just as in God the intellect is not formally the will, nor contrariwise, although one is the same as the other by the truest identity of simplicity, so also justice is not formally the same as mercy or contrariwise. And according to this formal non-identity, that [= mercy] can be the proximate principle of some external [= extra] effect, of which the other [= justice] is not the principle, in the way in which just as if this and that [= mercy and justice] were two things [res] because to be a formal principle befalls each as it is formally such.
Contra: the divine esse is most actual, therefore it includes every divine perfection; but it would not include, if there were a formal distinction there, because everything distinct formally is there actually, and consequently, as distinct, it is there in act, and so the essence as distinct does not include every act. 
Again, if there are there real distinct formalities, therefore there are distinct realities there, and so distinct things [res]. Proof of the first consequence: because formality is distinct by its own reality.
To the first: the divine esse contains every actuality of the divine essence unitively. [Entities] are not contained unitively which are contained without all distinction, becuase union is not wihout all distinction; nor are they contained unitively which are contained as unqualifiedly [simpliciter] really distinct, because are contained in a multiple manner or separately [dispersim]. Therefore this term 'unitive' includes some distinction of the [entities] contained, which suffices for union, and nevertheless such a union which is repugnant toall composition and aggregation of the distinct [entities]. This can not be unless there be posited formal non-identity with real identity.
To the argument, therefore, I concede that the essence contains every actuality, and consequently every formality, but not as formally the same, becaues then they would not be contained unitively.
To the second it can be said that as many formalities as are there, so many are there realities and things [res]; but each reality is only qualified [secundum quid], just as was shown there [Ord. I d. 13, according to the Vat. editors]. Otherwise, that consequence can be denied: 'many real formalities, therefore many realities', just as 'many divine persons, therefore many deities', is denied. But the first response is more real [realier]. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Scene from my Defense

This is what happens when Henry of Ghent scholars are on your committee:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Eckhart Edition

King's College London has started up a Meister Eckhart Project. See here for details.

Some selections (bold is my emphasis):

To study this towering figure of Meister Eckhart and his early 14th c. humanist environment of philosophy and theology at the University of Paris an AHRC-Major Research Grant (£571.000 for the years 2013-2016) was awarded for the project 'Meister Eckhart and the Parisian University in the early 14th century - Codex Vaticanus Latinus 1086', directed by Professor Markus Vinzent (PI) and Professor Oliver Davies (CO-I). The project includes one postdoctoral researcher (Chris Wojtulewicz), two Phd studentships (one held by Maria O'Connor, the other is advertised now) and several associated teams (Professor Denys Turner, Yale and King's College London; Professor Walter Senner, Rome with his team; Professor Loris Sturlese, Lecce with his team; Professor Dietmar Mieth, Erfurt with his team and the Max-Weber-Kolleg, Erfurt). The project teams intend to rewrite the history of this time, broadening the textual basis for Eckhart and reading his texts against the background of other, largely unexplored scholars of his time.

That's a lot of money for a medieval philosophy project. I dare say if one were to check the NEH website, one would find that this group has been funded more generously than the Richard Rufus of Cornwall project or the Scotus Parisian Reports project. Note, there is a PhD "Studentship" available. I don't know what that is, exactly. Note also the big names associated with the project. Finally, note that the part at the end about rewriting the history of early 14th c. philosophy (my own favorite sub-sub-subfield)

Here's some more from higher up on the same page, where they talk some more about rewriting history, and some re-discovered questions of Eckhart:

Although the re-discovered Questions are already worth a detailed study, the source from where the four derive will shed further light on these questions: The manuscript Vat. Lat. 1086 ranks as a document of crucial importance which will help us understand the development of philosophical, theological and juridicial teaching at Paris in the beginning XIVth century. Prosper's collection contains names and opinions of students, bachelors and masters (regents) of the university and preserves the documentation of a detailed insight into the atmosphere of learning of this European cultural centre as no other document does. For many of the named people, this will be a first scholarly study of their bio-bibliography and their thinking.

Here just a few examples of people who's questions are contained in Ms. Vat. Lat. 1086 :
Prosper, Jacques d'Ascoli, Gregoire de Lucques, John de Monte s. Elygii, Gregoire de Lucques, Henricus (de Gand?), Gilles de Rome, Aegidius Romanus, Simon de Corbeia?, Bertrand de Turre, Gerardus de s. Victore, Gregoire de Lucques, Pe de sto dyo, Henricus Amandi, Jean de Pouilly (142ra1), Jean, de l'ordre du Val des Ecoliers?, Martin d' Abbeville, François Caraccioli or de Caroccis di Napoli, Brito: Raoul Renaud, Gui Terreni or de Perpignan, Durandus, Thomas de Aquino ...

[of course, for most in the list they give, there already are bio-bibliographical studies and texts published; interestingly, they make no mention of the previous detailed studies of this ms. by Courtenay and Glorieux. But it is just a webpage blurb, after all]

Only after a few monhs into the running of the project - Eckhart's new Questions have already been published in the authoritative critical edition of his works with Kohlhammer under the research associate's pen of Professor Loris Sturlese. And in the near future, the first fascicle of the indices for the entire Deutsche and Lateinische Werke of Meister Eckhart will follow (authored by Professor Markus Vinzent).

As a next step, the project will provide a critical commentary of Eckhart's Parisian Questions together with further studies on those colleagues of him with whom he debated at Paris University and elsewhere, taking into account Vat. Lat. 1086 and other parallel manuscripts, in order to read Eckhart against the background of the network of University teachers in Paris and elsewhere.

Hmm... no mention of Gonsalvus Hispanus, Eckhart's opponent in a famous debate at Paris ca. 1300. Also, they don't mention Scotus, no doubt because Scotus and Eckhart scholarship are worlds to themselves, but they were in Paris at the same time. Surely there is some point of comparison? I see in their translation there is one on the attributes, but it doesn't seem to have anything useful, being mainly what seems to me a restatement of some of Godfrey of Fontaines' principles.

Don't forget to check out the giftshop!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Festum Ioannis Duns Scoti

Domine Deus, fons omnis sapientiae, qui Beatum Ioannem presbyterum, Immaculatae Virginis assertorem, nobis magistrum vitae et scientiae dedisti, concede, quaesumus, ut, eius exemplo illuminati, et doctrinis nutria, Christo fideliter adhaereamus. Qui tecum vivit. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Scotus on the Transcendentals

From Reportatio I d. 8 [p. 2 q. 5], ed. and tr. Wolter-Bychkov I, 574.

I respond: I say that those things are transcendentals, not in the genus of substance, nor quantity, nor quality, nor any other genus, because whatever is said of God transcends [categories]. Of this there is a proof, for whatever pertains to a being before it descends into the ten categories transcends [them]; but whatever pertains to God is such; therefore etc. The minor is proved: because being is first divided into finite and infinite before it is divided into the ten categories; because only one of them, i.e. finite is divided into the ten categories. And so it is about the other conditions of being, namely possible being, necessary being, and act, which first pertain to being, so that being is first divided through these and their opposites, before descending into the ten categories according to one of these.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

R.I.P. Barnaba Hechich

I was informed by word of mouth a few days ago that fr. Barnaba Hechich, who was the praeses for the Vatican Commission editing the works of Scotus through Ordinatio III and IV recently passed away. Requiescat in pace.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Medieval Philosophy Position in Fribourg

If anyone with a masters degree working on a doctorate wants to live and work on natural philosophy at the Université de Fribourg/Suisse, check out this link.

Monday, October 21, 2013

QQ de anima Firesale!

I was poking about on today, where I typed in "Duns Scoti". I discovered a bookstore that was selling multiple copies of the recent (2006) Scotus critical edition of the QQ de anima for only USD 17.00! So if anyone needs a beater copy, now's your chance.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ordinatio Translations

I came across this link  of a webpage for a scholar who has translated several volumes of the Ordinatio (from the Vatican edition). There is also some other material of interest, such as Suarez, and Jerome of Montefortino, an 18th c. Scotist.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pope Francis on Thomism

The current pope recently had this to say about Thomism:

"The church has experienced times of brilliance, like that of Thomas Aquinas. But the church has lived also times of decline in its ability to think. For example, we must not confuse the genius of Thomas Aquinas with the age of decadent Thomist commentaries. Unfortunately, I studied philosophy from textbooks that came from decadent or largely bankrupt Thomism. In thinking of the human being, therefore, the church should strive for genius and not for decadence."

Ouch! Even I, Scotist though I be, have spent many happy hours poring over Thomist manuals. I can only dream of such an education.

We might ask, why were they decadent? It is contrasted with "thinking of the human being", which perhaps means restricting ones' theologizing and philosophizing to human affairs and human nature. so no transcendental metaphysics, no seven-fold division of distinction? I'm not really sure. Of course, who would disagree that the church should strive for genius and not decadence?

Maybe this is the best response.