Monday, September 17, 2007

Peter of Tartaretus on Scotus, Ord. 1.5.2.un. nn. 129-138

More of Peter Tartaretus's 15th century exposition of the third difficulty Scotus brings up in the Ordinatio 1.5.2.un. nn. 129-138 (translated here). As is usual with Peter, these explanations make some of Scotus's more elliptical passages a bit clearer for me. Of course, this is a rough translation, and anytime I quickly translate a text, I'm bound to make some glaring, rudimentary errors. But the general ideas are here, for anyone interested.

[From Peter's Lucidissima Commentaria, bk. 1, dist. 5, quest. 2, art. 3, p. 202-203 of the 1583 Venetiis edition.]

The third difficulty is in the manner of the argument. Wherever one identifies the foundation of a relation and the relation which is founded in the foundation, one identifies some potentiality, because a foundation is in potentiality to any relation which actuates the foundation. In the divinity, the divine essence is the foundation of relations of origin, so the divine essence will be potential with respect to such relations. Therefore, Lord Scotus, since you posit real relations and the essence in the divinity, you posit potentiality and actuality.

Scotus responds with a distinction as the first point. The order of generation, and the order of perfection in creatures are opposites, as is clear from Metaphysics 9, because those things which are prior by generation are posterior by perfection, and those things which are prior by perfection, are posterior by generation. This should be understood for things in the same genus, for an accidental form is by generation induced in a composite after the substantial form, but nevertheless it is not prior in perfection, as is clear from Scotus's Quodlibet, question 13.

The second point is that in the order of generation and the order of perfection, that which is simply speaking first, is possessed by these orders uniformly. That is, in the divinity, what is strictly speaking first is possessed uniformly by both orders: namely, that which is first in one order is also first in the other order. In the divinity, what is first in origin is most perfectly first. In creatures the order goes from potentiality to act, and thus from imperfection to perfection. This is why the things that are prior by generation are posterior by perfection. But it is not this way in the divinity ad intra (although ad extra God could order nature otherwise)

The third point is that if in creatures these two orders uniformly coincide in what is first, that is, if they are simultaneous, we do not seek the matter first and the form second. Rather, we seek the form first and afterwards the matter, and this is because it is not presupposed that a natural agent acts by producing a form.

The fourth point is that in the divinity, one should imagine two instants of nature. When we do this, in the first instant there is the divine essence as the most actual being, existing de se and ex se. This is not how created natures exist, since they do not exist de se like this. They have actuality in their singulars. From this it follows that in this first instant of nature, we do not imagine the divine essence as a subject receptive of an act. When we imagine its existence in the second instant of nature, the properties and relations, which have existence from the divine essence itself, and the relations of origin spring forth, not as products, nor as really distinct, nor even as supposita [i.e. singular instances of the divine essence].

The fifth point is that the relations of origin do not spring forth as forms enforming the divine essence. Rather, they spring forth as things which are naturally identified with the divine essence, as will be said later. Something can be a foundation in two ways: as a material foundation, in which case it is receptive, or as a formal foundation, in which case it is perfective. The first sort of foundation is entirely receptive in creatures, and maximally so if the relation is distinct from the foundation. But when something is a formal and perfective foundation, it gives existence to its relations, and it makes those relations be ordered to it and spring forth from it. In this way, the divine essence is the foundation of the relations, because it is that by which the relations of origin are the same, namely that by which the relations are the same God.

Then Scotus moves to the form of the argument. He concedes the major premise for receptive foundations, but he denies this for formal and perfective foundations. In the way he says there is a formal and perfective foundation in the divinity, there is not a receptive and potential foundation there, and in this way the solution to the argument of this whole difficulty is clear.

An example of this can be taken from creatures. It is said that the relations of origin spring forth from the divine essence and are in the divine essence, but not as forms which actuate the divine essence. Rather, it is such that the divine essence gives existence to them. For the purpose of explaining this, we can take some examples from creatures, but since we can't know everything about God from creatures, we'll suppose something per impossibile.

The first example comes from the type of generation which is growth. As the Philosopher clearly sees, this supposes a suppositum. Suppose, per impossibile, that there is someone's hand, and that its matter remains under the form of the hand while it simultaneously acquires some other form, as for example when the hand grows. Here something new is induced in the matter, but the matter remaining under the form of the hand simultaneously acquires some other form. It is clear here that the acquired form does not give existence to that matter, because the matter already has its existence under the pre-existing form, and it remains so. It is similar in the proposition, although there is imperfection in this example because this sort of thing cannot happen unless there is a change, since such matter does not first have such a form, and then later does have such a form. In the proposition, by separating the imperfection of change, the divine essence is understood to already possess from its formal nature actuated being, and it is infinite being, in the first instant of nature. In the second instant of nature, the relations of origin are understood to spring forth from the divine essence, not as enforming relations so as to give existence to the divine essence, since the essence is already understood in the first instant of nature to have actuated existence, and infinite existence. Rather, the divine essence is why the relations of origin have existence. This example does not entirely attend to the proposition, but it does attend to some aspect of the proposition, as was said.

A second example: suppose that the soul enforms the heart, as the principle part [that it enforms], and then afterwards the soul becomes present to other organic parts like the head or the hand such that the soul gives existence to the head or the hand without changing itself. It is clear that the soul receives nothing, even though it did not initially have those parts but later did. Similarly, we say that the divine essence, in the second instant of nature, gives existence to the relations of origin, but not such that the divine nature itself receives existence from them, since in the first instant of nature it is understood to have infinite and actuated existence. This example is more apt than the first.

A third example is again more about matter, but it is more apt than the first. Suppose that the matter of the animated heart, itself remaining under the form of the heart, could communicate itself to diverse forms such as those of the hand, the head, and so on for other organic parts, and suppose that this could be such that the animated heart produced these composites from its communicated matter and these forms. If this happened, they would have the same matter by the communicated production and the communication of that matter such that the matter would be the basis for the existence of many. Similarly, the divine essence would be the basis for the existence of the relations. But this example does not attend much more to the proposition, since although the matter is the same in number and the basis for the existence of many parts, it would receive those forms by undergoing a change.

For this reason, there is a fourth example about form. Suppose that the soul, which is unlimited with respect to its parts, is communicated to the hand, the head, the foot, and so on, such that those parts were not those things unless the soul gave existence to them, and without changing itself. Similarly, the divine essence gives existence to the relations, without changing itself.

One could say that these examples do not attend very well to the proposition, and especially the two examples about matter do not explain the proposition very well, and neither do the two examples about form. But as for the example of the soul, suppose that, per impossibile, the soul is the basis for the existence of the head, the hand, and the foot, but not by enformation. This would be like saying that I am a man by humanity, but not by enformation, since humanity would not [according to this example] enform me. Secondly, suppose that in the examples some part has the nature of a whole, and that it exists per se. Then we would have per se subsistences, or supposita, and then the example would attend to the proposition because the same thing would be the basis for the existence of many without any change to itself. This is because it would not receive existence, nor would it receive something from them, and those parts would have existence, and the soul would not be called imperfect on that grounds that it wouldn't enform them.

Similarly, according to the proposition, the divine essence is the giver of existence, and it is the form by which the relations exist, and this is not by enformation. The divine essence is the form by which such relations have existence, and for this reason the divine essence does not have the nature of matter, nor the nature of a subject. From this, the argument that the divine essence does not have the nature of matter is clear. The divine essence has the nature of form. It is not the foundation, as matter is, but more as form is. Thus, the divine essence has the nature more of form.

This is confirmed by Damascus. The relation does not determine the nature. The hypostasis does not actuate the divine essence. Rather, the divine essence determines the hypostasis, because it constitutes the suppositum, as the Father is Father by paternity (holding that the divine persons are constituted by relations of origin). This explains that the divine essence is not a foundation in potentiality.

It should be known that for one thing to be related to another thing can be understood in two ways. In one way formally, as the Father is formally the Father by paternity, and something is formally similar by similarity. In another way, one thing is related to another thing foundationally, just as Socrates is similar to Plato foundationally by whiteness, by color, or by knowledge. But this is to be similar formally by similarity. If the divine essence were a foundation in potentiality to the divine relations of origin, then the Father would be related to the Son by the divine essence as the foundation, which is false. It is clear that this is false, since we say that the Father is Father to the Son, we do not say the essence is related to [i.e., is the Father to] the Son, as the foundation, because the divine essence is that by which the Father is ad se and not ad alterum. The Father's act of generating is related to the essence foundationally [rather than formally, and in this way] the divine essence can be called the most perfect foundation of the relations.

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