Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A 15th century commentary on Scotus, Ord. 1.5.2.un. nn. 126-128

A 15th century commentary on Scotus: Peter Tartaretus (Pierre Tartaret). This is his exposition of the second difficulty Scotus brings up in the Ordinatio 1.5.2.un. nn. 126-128. You can find a translation of this bit from Scotus, as well as my thoughts on it, in my last post.

[From Peter's Lucidissima Commentaria, bk. 1, dist. 5, quest. 2, art. 3, p. 202 of the 1583 Venetiis edition.]

The second difficulty is that although the divine essence is not called potentiality, at least the relation ought to be called an act. This is argued as follows. What pertains to an act pertains to distinguishing, or this pertains to it insofar as it is an act. But a relation in the divinity distinguishes, so it pertains to that relation insofar as it is an act. Therefore, there will still be something that [operates in the divinity] as potentiality or as matter.

The major [premise] is clear from the Philosopher: to distinguish is [an act] of form, just as distinguishing pertains to acts.

In response, Scotus makes a distinction. An act is, as will be clear enough in distinction 27, quidditative or personal. A quidditative act is that by which something is said to be quidditatively, and in this way the divine essence is a quidditative act because the Father is God by deity, and the Son is God by deity. A personal act is that by which something is said to be, in a certain way, incommunicable, just as filiation is that by which the Son is the Son, and Socrateity is that by which Socrates is formally called Socrates. Similarly, paternity in the divine Father is that by which the Father is the Father. Joining this distinction together, we get this: although the personal, or hypostatic, relation of origin is called a personal act, or a hypostatic act, nevertheless the divine essence is a quidditative act.

It is argued [against this] that an act of origin is said to be an act of essence, for an act which distinguishes is an act of that which does not distinguish if both concur in the constitution of something. A relation of origin distinguishes, and the divine essence is not distinguished in a person, so therefore a relation of origin will be an act of the divine essence. It follows that the essence will not be a quidditative act, it will rather be quasi matter, just as Henry said.

Scotus responds that when it comes to an act which distinguishes, or that which distinguishes an act, that act can be understood in two ways. In the first way, it can be understood as that thing which does not itself distinguish but is enumerated and divided, just as the humanity in Socrates, which does not itself distinguish, is distinguished, divided, and enumerated into its singulars. In the second way, it can be understood as that which does not itself distinguish, but is not divided, enumerated, or multipiled into its many supposita, and this is the case for the divine essence.

To the form of the argument, Scotus concedes the major [premise]. When it comes to that which itself does not distinguish but is enumerated, divided, and multiplied, then what distinguishes is an act of that. But Scotus denies this for that which does not distinguish, is not enumerated, nor is divided, as is the case for the divine essence. Otherwise, Scotus concedes the major [premise] in creatures. The argument is clear there, because a created nature is multiplied into singulars. But this is denied in the divinity because the divine nature is not divided, nor is it multiplied.


Scott Williams said...

Have you seen Peter discuss the divine essence both as 'quasi matter' and as 'remote cause' for the production of the Son and Holy Spirit? I'm still needing to sort out for myself how these different descriptions do different things for the over acct. of the production of the Word/Son. The former seems to be concerned to also address how the Son 'subsists in' the divine essence, and the latter just how the Father requires a certain feature of the divine essence in order to produce the Word/Son.

JT Paasch said...

I've only read Peter's book 1, dist. 5, q. 2 on this, and he discusses Henry's view on quasi-matter there. But he only discusses Scotus's Ordinatio and Quodlibeta, so unless Scotus talks about a particular view of Henry's, Peter probably won't talk about it. He doesn't talk about remote cause here, but if Scotus talks about it elsewhere, then Peter is sure to discuss it!