Friday, July 10, 2009

Some Scotus passages on the formal distinction (translation)

‘By this composite of realities — i.e., of a potential reality and an actual reality — it is minimal, which suffices for the nature of a genus and a difference. But this is not able to obtain where any reality in something is infinite, for however much something [infinite] is taken precisely, it cannot be potential with respect to some reality. Therefore, since there is some essential reality in God that is formally infinite, there is nothing that can be formally taken as having the nature of a genus’.

[Scotus, Ord., n. 107 (Vat. 4: 202.5-11): ‘Ista composito realitatum — potentialis et actualis — minima est, quae sufficit ad rationem generis et differentiae et ista non stat cum hoc quod quaelibet realitas in aliquo sit infinita: realitas enim si esset de se infinita, quantumcumque praecise sumpta, non esset in potentia ad aliquam realitatem; ergo cum in Deo quaecumque realitas essentialis sit formaliter infinita, nulla est a qua formaliter posset accipi ratio generis’.]

‘Because some reality is taken to be a genus which, considered in itself, is potential with respect to a reality that is taken to be a difference. But nothing infinite is potential with respect to anything, as is clear from the preceding question. This proof obtains for the composition of a species and by the potentiality of a genus, but both are removed from God, on account of his infinity’.

[Scotus, Ord., n. 103 (Vat. 4: 200.5-10): ‘quia genus sumitur ab aliqua realitate quae secundum se est potentialis ad realitatem a qua accipitur differentia; nullum infinitum est potentiale ad aliquid, ut patet ex dictis in quaestione praecedente. Probatio ista stat in compositione speciei et potentialite generis, sed utraque removetur a Deo, propter infinitatem’.]

‘Sometimes, when there are not two things there (as there are two things in incidental composites), or at least when in one thing there is some proper reality that is taken as a genus and another reality that is taken as a difference, and let’s call the first a and the second b, then the following obtains: a, considered in itself, is potential with respect to b, and so by understanding a precisely and by understanding b precisely, when a is understood in the first instant of nature (it which it is precisely itself), it is perfectible by b (as if b were a distinct thing), but it is not really perfected by b, and this is because of the identity of a and b with some whole with which they are really and primarily the same, for [in these cases] a certain whole is produced primarily, and in that whole both of those realities are produced. But if one of those were produced without the other, then the one would be potential to the other and it would really be imperfect without the other’.

[Scotus, Ord., n. 106 (Vat. 4: 201.11-202.4): ‘Aliquando, quando non sunt ibi res et res (sicut in accidentibus), saltem in una re est aliqua propria realitas a qua sumitur genus et alia realitas a qua sumitur differentia; dicatur prima a et secunda b: a secundum se est potentiale ad b, ita quod praecise intelligendo a et praecise intelligendo b, a ut intelligitur in primo instanti naturae — in quo praecise est ipsum — ipsum est perfectibile per b (sicut si res esset alia), sed quod non perficitur realiter per b, hoc est propter identitatem a et b ad aliquod totum, cui realiter primo sunt eadem, quod quidem totum primo producitur et in ipso toto ambae istae realitates producuntur; si tamen altera istarum sine altera produceretur, vere esset potentialis ad eam et vere esset imperfecta sine illa’.]

‘For “[x] to formally include [y]” is for [x] to include something [y] in its essential nature, and so if the definition of the including [x] were stipulated, it would include the definition [of y] or a part of the definition [of y]. But just as the definition of common goodness does not have [the definition] of wisdom in itself, then neither does infinite [goodness include] infinite [wisdom]. Therefore, there is some formal non-identity between wisdom and goodness, in as much as they would have distinct definitions if they were definable. However, a definition indicates not just a concept caused only by the mind, it also indicates the what-ness of the thing, so formal non-identity is real on the part of the thing. In this way then, I know that the mind which puts together the proposition “wisdom is formally non[-identical] to goodness” does not cause the truth of that proposition by putting it together. Rather, the terms of that proposition are found in the object itself, and the mind’s act of putting them together is true from the fact that they are put together in the thing itself’.

[Scotus, Ord., n. 193 (Vat. 4: 261.14-262.10): ‘quia “includere formaliter” est includere aliquid in ratione sua essentiali, ita quod si definitio includentis assignaretur, inclusum esset definitio vel pars definitionis; sicut autem definitio bonitatis in communi non habet in se sapientiam, ita nec infinita [bonitas] infinitam [sapientiam]: est igitur aliqua non-identitas formalis sapientiae et bonitatis, in quantum earum essent distinctae definitiones, si essent definibiles. Definitio autem non tantum indicat rationem causatam ab intellectu, sed quiditatem rei: est ergo non-identitas formalis ex parte rei, et intelligo sic, quod intellectus componens istam “sapiens non est formaliter bonitas”, non causat actu suo collativo veritatem huius compositionis, sed in obiecto invenit extrema, ex quorum compositione fit actus verus’.]

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