Wolter, Following a lengthy series of demonstrations that the divine essence is infinite, Scotus then concludes that among other things :. Catholics can infer most of the perfections which philosophers knew of you. You are the first efficient cause, the ultimate end, supreme in perfection, transcending all things. You are uncaused in any way and therefore incapable of becoming or perishing; indeed it is simply impossible that you should not exist. You are therefore eternal. You live a most noble life. You are happy. You are the clear vision of yourself and the most joyful love. You possess the power to freely and contingently will each thing that can be caused and by willing it through your volition to cause it to be.
Most truly then you are of infinite power. You alone are simply perfect, not just a perfect angel, or a perfect body, but a perfect being. You are one God, than whom there is no other Ibid. Just as our understanding of the goodness and wisdom that we ascribe to God originates in experience, so too does our notion of infinity.
In his fifth Quodlibetal Question , Scotus walks us through the process of reflection by which we arrive at this concept. Aristotle defines the infinite as infinite with respect to quantity. No matter how many discrete quantities one takes away from it, an infinite amount remains Physics 3. Hence, Scotus notes that this infinity can never be in existence as a whole.
Alluntis and Wolter. If we think of something among beings that is actually infinite in entity, we must think of it along the lines of the actual infinite quantity we imagined, namely as an infinite being that cannot be exceeded in entity by any other being. It will truly have the character of something whole and perfect.
It will indeed be whole or complete Ibid. In summary, we know God through the numerous concepts of various perfections and attributes by which creatures imitate and represent God. We know of God that God is an infinite being, and because God is an infinite being, God possesses these perfections in the highest possible degree.
For this reason, of all of the things that we know of God, the most significant is that God is infinite being. First, Scotus holds that theology is pointless absent any concepts univocal to God and creatures, as theologians would literally have no idea what they are talking about. Section 5c, below, discusses why Scotus does not believe that the generally accepted account of God talk as analogical will do.
Again, theologians present certain conclusions as the product of sound reasoning and Scotus naturally enough holds that sound reasoning requires the univocity of concepts Cross I say that God is not only conceived in a concept analogous to the concept of a creature namely a concept which is entirely different from a concept said of a creature , but also in some concept that is univocal to God and creatures. But then it would seem that natural theology is a dead-end practice. As Scotus says, we need a univocity sufficient to avoid the fallacy of equivocation.
Again, just as demonstration cannot proceed absent terms whose meanings are fixed, Scotus believes that without such terms we literally do not have any idea what we are saying when we talk about God. If some ideas do not pertain equally well to God and creatures, if the data of experience do not somehow map onto the divine essence, we know nothing of God, the correct account ratio of any divine attribute or perfection need not have anything at all in common with a similar correct accounting of the attribute as it is manifest in creatures. As Scotus puts it, if things were really this bad, we would have no better reason to call God wise than a rock Ord.
Apart from univocity and analogy, Scotus had another option when it came to knowledge of God proffered in the negative theology of Rabbi Moses Maimonides d. Every denial entails an assertion and when we deny that God has some attribute, this is on the basis of positive knowledge that shows us that it is inconsistent to affirm this attribute of God.
In sum, if we lack concepts univocal to God and creatures, Scotus believes that natural theology must fail on several counts. We could not construct sound proofs with God as the subject and all of our concepts of God would prove to be vacuous inasmuch as all knowledge is tied to experience and experience could not then serve to provide any correct account of God. Medieval illumination theory holds that God is somehow responsible for our having knowledge.
During his middle period c. All the other things are either said of the primary substances as subjects or in them as subjects. So if the primary substances did not exist it would be impossible for any of the other things to exist trans. Ackrill, 2b For Aristotle, predicates apply only to individual substances; they do not correspond to hypostasized, otherworldly Platonic essences such as goodness and beauty. Mundane substances, not otherworldly forms, ground our knowledge.
It was accordingly natural for Aristotelian and Augustinian accounts respectively to downplay and emphasize the need for illumination. In all these good things. For his part, Scotus holds that were the human intellect so weak as to require an illumination to form concepts of God, this very weakness would likewise undercut our ability to receive these concepts Ord. Rather, Scotus will allow for a general form of illumination to the extent that God both produces objects in intelligible being and is also that in virtue of which these objects move us to understanding Ord.
Every metaphysical inquiry about God proceeds in this fashion: the formal notion of something is considered; the imperfection associated with this notion in creatures is removed, and then, retaining the same formal notion, we ascribe to it the ultimate degree of perfection and then attribute it to God. Consequently, every inquiry regarding God is based upon the supposition that the intellect has the same univocal concept which it obtained from creatures Ibid. Scotus believes that natural theology rests tacitly or otherwise on the assumption that experience furnishes concepts univocal to God and creatures.
But is not Scotus overhasty in his univocity-or-nothing approach to knowledge of God see above, section 5a? Thomas Aquinas makes this point when he states that whereas we lack terms univocal to God and creatures, demonstration can nevertheless proceed by means of analogical terms:. No name is predicated univocally of God and of creatures.
Neither, on the other hand, are names applied to God and creatures in a purely equivocal sense, as some have said. Because if that were so, it follows that from creatures nothing could be known or demonstrated about God at all; for the reasoning would always be exposed to the fallacy of equivocation. Therefore, it must be said that these names are said of God and creatures in an analogous sense ST Ia. In the latter work, Aristotle investigates the possibility of metaphysics as the universal science of being qua being, ranging from substances and their modes or accidents to the first unmoved mover 4.
- About the Foundation;
- Birds in Paradise;
- Anthony Mansueto - Google Scholar Citations;
- About the Book.
- The Mango Tree and Other Stories.
But, demonstration is not transcategorial, as diverse entities have nothing in common Posterior Analytics 1. Separating the likes of Aquinas, on the one hand, and Scotus, on the other, were the Condemnations of , drafted as a reaction to so-called Latin Averroist readings of Aristotle that developed out of the reception of the commentaries on Aristotle of the Muslim philosopher Averroes d.
Henry of Ghent d. Whereas Aquinas held that metaphysics studies God only indirectly as the cause of categorial beings, Henry construes metaphysics as the study of being taken absolutely, comprising both God and creatures Dumont b. Quidditative knowledge of God is of the divine attributes grasped in an imperfect or quasi-accidental manner Dumont a.
Such knowledge of God and so broad a metaphysics requires concepts that are general enough to apply to God and creatures without suggesting that the two share in anything real, so as to avoid collapsing the metaphysical distance between them. On reflection, these pseudo-concepts are exposed as each being the conflation of two concepts, one proper to God, the other to creatures.
As the pseudo-concept in fact comprises utterly distinct concepts, its existence does not entail that God and creatures actually share in any real feature. It is because in either case the concepts are of being and its attributes as undetermined either negatively or privitively that the concepts were initially conflated see Dumont a and b, and Quodlibeta 13, q. Scotus therefore replaces the analogous pseudo-concept with the univocal concept and modalizes negative and privitive indetermination into the degrees of intensity that characterize the instantiation of traits in God and creatures, respectively Dumont, As regards the traditional sense of analogy wherein terms apply primarily to God and in a secondary sense to creatures, Scotus would likely insist that if religious language does not preserve a univocal conceptual content common to both senses, it devolves into chance equivocity as discussed above in section 2a Williams and Cross Scotus takes up the notion of the univocal concept of being that renders metaphysics a natural theology in response to the question as to whether we have natural knowledge of God.
Ultimately, Scotus will conclude that although we cannot naturally grasp the divine essence in its individuality as it is distinct from all things, we nevertheless can naturally acquire a concept whereby we conceive God essentially and quidditatively as the subject of inherence with respect to the divine attributes. As regards the properties of the divine essence that we arrive at in metaphysics, for Scotus these remain identical with the divine essence and yet formally distinct from one another inasmuch as they may be considered without reference to one another.
In the case of the divine essence the formal distinction implies even less composition than in that of creatures, wherein various formal aspects united in an essence perfect one another, as, for example, the rational quality may perfect animal nature. See Hall , n. An infinite entity must possess every perfection of being Quodlibet 5. Hence the distance between God and creatures is secure.
Scotus conceives of metaphysics as the universal science of what he terms the transcendentals as such Questions on the Metaphysics, prologue. The medieval theory of the transcendentals has its roots in Plato and Aristotle and was developed by Augustine, Boethius, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite late-fifth or early-sixth century C. Phillip the Chancellor codifies the theory in his Summa de bono , which asks how we speak of both God and creatures as good and proposes that goodness pertains to God and creatures in respectively absolute and relative senses inasmuch as goodness and unity and truth are transcendental attributes or properties of being as such.
Following Aristotle Cat. The ten categories together comprise all things except God. Since the transcendentals are the attributes of being as such that is, as conceptually prior to its division into finite categorial and infinite divine being , they therefore cut horizontally across the various categories and extend vertically to take in God and creatures.
As regards unity, truth and goodness, these were thought to be coextensive properties of being. Monologion , Scotus derives the notion of pure perfections as perfections that are absolutely and unqualifiedly better than whatever is incompatible with them. Hence it is better to be wise than not and if a dog cannot be wise it would be better for it were it not a dog but rather something that can attain wisdom De Primo Principio 4.
Transcendental disjunctions, on the other hand, are disjunctions whose extremes take in all things, for example, finite-infinite Ord. Note that only the attributes of being are coextensive with all beings. The disjunctions are opposed to one another in the sense that they are mutually exclusive within one and the same individual and the pure perfections do not characterize all entities neither dogs nor instances of whiteness are wise.
As noted, transcendentals pertain to being as such prior to its division into finite and infinite being. Yet, Scotus does not hypostasize being as such. He does not maintain that being as such exists somehow independently of either God or creatures. Rather, all being is modalized being, infinite or finite being.
But when we account for the relevant modal factors, this results in the production of new, complex concepts. As Scotus points out, we can be certain that God is a being, whereas we remain in doubt as to whether God is a finite or an infinite being and hence the complex concept of infinite being that is affirmed of God differs from both the simple, univocal concept of being, on the one hand, and that of creaturely, finite being, on the other Ord. III see above, section 4. Working out the implications of metaphysics as the science of the transcendentals as such, Scotus believes that the metaphysician is able to demonstrate that God exists and can ascribe to God various perfections and attributes.
If some being is contingent, then some being is necessary. For the complete proof, with commentary, see Frank and Wolter, Other versions of the proof are at Lect. As regards perfections and attributes of the divine essence, the latter are known to belong to God inasmuch as they characterize all things, whereas the former are ascribed by means of a perfect-being theology that endorses the principle that pure perfections belong necessarily and in the highest degree to the highest nature De primo principio , 4. Hence when the natural theologian has deduced that God is the highest being, the pure perfections are then known to apply to the divine essence, with our creaturely understanding of these perfections serving as the basis of our knowledge of God Wolter, Yet being cannot be a genus, genera are not said of their differences and yet the differences that specify types of beings certainly do exist see above, section 2b.
Perhaps even worse, were being a genus over God and creatures, God and creatures would then agree in some reality, rendering God metaphysically complex composed of that common reality along with a reality that would uniquely determine the divine essence and of a kind with creatures. God would no longer be God. Scotus recognizes that the thesis of the univocity of being and its transcendental attributes would appear to ask that being function as a super-genus above the ten highest genera and that his scheme therefore threatens to collapse the metaphysical space that separates God and creatures.
- I Asked Atheists How They Find Meaning In A Purposeless Universe;
- Mere Christianity Quotes by C.S. Lewis.
- Strategy and Soul: a campaigners tale of fighting billionaires, corrupt officials, and Philadelphia casinos.
- Why the controversy?.
Be that as it may, the univocity thesis does not concern what God is. The thesis is about how we think and talk about God and the conditions to which religious language must conform in order to advance sound arguments. Hence the univocity of concepts under which both God and creatures are conceived is compatible with the metaphysical gap between God and creatures.
But, it should be noted that the distance between God and creatures does not prevent our learning about God through experience. Like other medieval thinkers, Scotus holds that the attributes we ascribe to God belong primarily to God and in a secondary or derivative manner to creatures. Though the understanding of the attributes in question that we build up through experience is admittedly imperfect, it is nevertheless an understanding of God. Alexander Hall Email: AlexanderHall clayton. Introduction John Duns Scotus — defends the existence of concepts univocal to God and creatures on the medieval understanding of concepts, see below, section 2a , most importantly the concept of being.
Scotus avoids transcategorial predication without rendering being a genus by casting his univocity thesis as a semantic thesis: It is plain, therefore, from what has been said that God and creatures are in reality wholly diverse, agreeing in no reality.
What About the Meaning Attributed to Words and Things?
Contemporary Scholarship For Scotus, univocal concepts must refer to both God and creatures without collapsing the metaphysical space that separates them. We know God through univocal concepts of empirical origin: Those things that are known of God are known through the species [that is, a mental grasp] of creatures. Scotus on our Natural Knowledge of God Scotus offers various proofs that we possess concepts univocal to God and creatures.
Perhaps the most well know argument is that from certain and doubtful concepts: Every intellect certain of one concept and doubtful of others has the concept of which it is certain as other than the concept of which it is doubtful. There are two types of concepts that are proper to God: I say that it is possible to arrive at many concepts that are proper to God and that do not agree with creatures.
Following a lengthy series of demonstrations that the divine essence is infinite, Scotus then concludes that among other things : Catholics can infer most of the perfections which philosophers knew of you. Illumination Theory and Abstraction Medieval illumination theory holds that God is somehow responsible for our having knowledge. Analogy and Univocity Scotus believes that natural theology rests tacitly or otherwise on the assumption that experience furnishes concepts univocal to God and creatures.
Thomas Aquinas makes this point when he states that whereas we lack terms univocal to God and creatures, demonstration can nevertheless proceed by means of analogical terms: No name is predicated univocally of God and of creatures.
Metaphysics as Natural Theology Scotus takes up the notion of the univocal concept of being that renders metaphysics a natural theology in response to the question as to whether we have natural knowledge of God. Metaphysics and the Transcendentals Scotus conceives of metaphysics as the universal science of what he terms the transcendentals as such Questions on the Metaphysics, prologue. References and Further Reading a.
Primary Sources Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica. Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Edited by J. Bollingen Series. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Duns Scotus, John. Opera omnia. Edited by C. Vatican Scotistic Commission. Translated with introduction and commentary by Edward Buckner and Jack Zupko. Washington, D. Duns Scotus, Metaphysician. Translated and edited with commentary by William A. Frank and Allan B.
Translated with introduction and notes by Allan Wolter. Foreword by Marilyn McCord Adams. Indianapolis: Hackett, Translated with introduction, notes, and glossary by Felix Alluntis and Allan B.
Princeton, N. J: Princeton University Press, Translated and edited with commentary by Allan B. Chicago: Franciscan Herald, Ghent, Henry. Paris, I. Badius, ; repr. In 2 vols. Ghent, Henry. Summa quaestionem ordinariarum. Paris ; repr. Bonaventure, NY, Franciscan Institute, Ockham, William. Bonaventure, N. Bonaventurae, Secondary Sources Burrell, David. Cross, Richard. Duns Scotus. Oxford, Edited by Roberto Hofmeister Pich. Dumont, Stephen D. Edited by Jan Aertsen and Andreas Speer. Walter de Gruyter, b.
Zalta ed. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Hall, Alexander.
- Marilyn: A Hollywood Farewell.
- Dont Call Me Big Dog?
- How It All Started: Two Stories of First-time Sex.
- Der Ruf an das Grenzenlose (German Edition)!
Bloomsbury, Co-edited with Gyula Klima. Ingham, Mary Beth. King, Peter. Edited by Thomas Williams, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, How many acts of premeditated evil has God prevented? How many of these tragedies could have been much worse? There is no way we could know. How many traffic accidents has He helped you avoid? How many times has He inspired you to do something that saved someone from injury? We will never know in this life. The plan of happiness allows for agency, and therefore it also allows for evil. There is no flaw in the plan. As you recall, Alma and Amulek taught the people of Ammonihah.
Some of them were so wicked that they responded to the message by building a bonfire and throwing the believing women and children into the flames.
They forced Alma and Amulek to watch the horrible suffering. Those who believed in God were received unto Him in glory! They died, but they were going to a glorious place. You still have your own mission. Like Alma and Amulek, perhaps you were spared because your work is not finished!
After making such a statement, the obvious question becomes, what about those who die in such tragedies? Does that mean their work is finished? Perhaps their work on earth is finished, but apparently there is more work to do in the spirit world. Death is just another milepost in the plan of salvation. One mission president noted the sadness experienced by families who send a missionary out into the field.
He also observed the great joy experienced by the mission president and his wife as they welcome a new missionary into their area. The very same event brings different feelings to different people depending on where they are. Similarly, those who are left behind feel sadness at the passing of their loved one, but there is great joy in the spirit world as the departed spirit enters into the next phase of his or her eternal existence. The best way to prepare for death is to live life at its fullest. I believe the Lord will hold us accountable for what we did with our lives whether we have trials or not, whether we marry or not, and whether our life is easy or not.
Needless to say, Alma and Amulek witnessed an awful scene.
Brahman - Wikipedia
I wonder if they were ever able to forget what they saw. How did they survive? The answer lies in Scripture Four. Alma taught:. Alma and Amulek must have relied on the Atonement of Christ to get them through the sadness, the nightmares, and the emotional trauma of the tragedy in Ammonihah.
We must rely on the Atonement to help us through our personal tragedies as well. We may never have all the answers in this life. The newspapers, the cable news networks, and the politicians will be debating the causes and solutions to our modern problems for years. And one day, the Lord will return and answer all our questions:. Think of the perplexing questions regarding the creation of the universe, the origin of the dinosaurs, and the age of the earth.
The list continues:. Ultimately, it is not the scriptures that help get us through things, but the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the scriptures testify.