Thomas Williams has developed a radical interpretation of Duns Scotus’s voluntarism using an earlier interpretation of my own as a foil. He argues that the goodness of creatures and the rightness of actions are wholly dependent on the divine will, apart from any reference to the divine intellect, human nature, or any principle other than God’s own arbitrary will. I explain how his interpretation fails to account for the roles that essential goodness and divine justice play in divine volition. The (...) unmitigated voluntarism that Williams develops does not conform to the full range of authentic Scotistic texts. Despite the interest Williams’s voluntarism may have if taken as a theoretical position, it does not do justice to the nuance and speculative depth of Scotus’s actual understanding of the divine will, whose creative artistry is repugnant to arbitrary volition. I am grateful to Williams for the provocation to develop further the richness of Scotus’s volutarism. (shrink)
These volumes continue the Franciscan Institute's splendid critical edition of Ockham's lectures on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. As the editors note, each is a "reportatio" or student report of the actual lectures Ockham gave as a bachelor of theology at Oxford rather than an Ordinatio or revision prepared for publication and distribution to the book sellers, which a bachelor usually did in the interval between the completion of the lectures and the formal proceedings connected with his inception as master. (...) Ockham, for whatever reason, found time only to do such a detailed revision on his lectures on the first book, and this mainly on the earlier questions he had treated there. An idea of the extent of such a revision can be gleaned from the fact that Ockham's questions on the first book alone ran to four volumes whereas his questions on each of the next two books is easily contained in a single volume of normal size. (shrink)
Peircean scholars in particular and historians of philosophy in general will welcome this initial volume of a new critical edition of the most important writings of this scientist/philosopher, not inaptly referred to as the "Socrates of America" because of the richness of seminal ideas to be found in his philosophical speculations. Until now, students of his basic philosophy have had to rely mainly on the topological Hartshorne-Weiss edition of his "collected works," which introduced the philosophical world to the goldmine of (...) original conceptions to be found in this hitherto unknown thinker. Like virtually all systematic philosophers, however, Peirce's seminal notions underwent development during almost six decades of literary activity. Those reading his collected works soon discovered that to reach any adequate idea of his system, they needed to know not only the time the item was written but also its context, and this meant going back to the manuscripts in the Houghton Library of Harvard, available in microfilm. It was here the enterprising researcher was confronted with substantial problems, for the material contained therein, would run to approximately a hundred thousand printed pages. Many of the manuscripts were repetitious, representing subsequent working drafts, but each with some new and exciting idea or important digression. The serious and intrigued scholar was both prompted on the one hand to pursue a particular topic further and at the same time repelled by the time and effort required to do so. It was to remedy this unhappy situation, particularly in view of the widespread growing interest in America's most original thinker both here and abroad, that resulted in the creation of the "Pierce Edition Project" at Indiana University/purdue University of Indianapolis under the general editorship of that internationally famous Peirce scholar, Max H. Fisch, aided by a staff directed by Professor Edward C. Moore. Almost a decade has passed since they began the gargantuan task of sifting through the mass of unpublished manuscripts, arranging dated items in chronological order, and determining as far as possible from paper watermarkings, similarity of thought and expression, etc. the approximate time of composition of the numerous bits and pieces of undated material spanning a period of some sixty years. More than three years time was devoted to this dating process alone, and the job of determining the final ordering and renumbering of the known manuscripts assigned to the project's principal associate editor, Christian J. W. Kloessel. In the Preface to the present volume, Moore sets out the general plan of this elaborate edition. "Each volume will contain a brief historical introduction giving an account of the activities of Peirce within its time span, including the work he was doing in the sciences, in mathematics, and in the history of science. Each volume will also include a single chronological list of all the papers Peirce wrote within the period covered by that volume. Thus readers who wish to make a thorough study of Peirce's work will find within each volume a guide to the complete Peirce corpus for the years of the particular volume. The historical introduction near the beginning and the chronological list near the end of each volume will serve as a frame for the papers that appear between them. It is hoped that reference to these additional materials will provide a comprehensive sense of Peirce's work in mathematics, the sciences, and philosophy". Because most of the texts in this initial volume exist only in a manuscript form of a working copy, never intended for publication as they exist, with their haphazard punctuation, phonetic spellings, abbreviations, etc., the editors felt it necessary to append over a hundred pages of editorial notes to satisfy the most meticulous historiophile who might like to reconstruct the original form of the writings in question, but which to the general user will probably seem to be an unnecessary expenditure of time and effort that might have been used to better purpose. Be that as it may, those interested in the history of ideas will be more than gratified that the many years of careful and patient labor by the editorial staff of the Peirce Edition Project at the Indiana University/ Purdue University of Indianapolis has begun to bear fruit. (shrink)
These two volumes, the seventh and eighth respectively of William of Ockham's Opera theologica, together with volume nine, which contains Joseph Wey's edition of the Quodlibeta Septem, published in 1980, and volume X containing his two treatises on quantity, De sacramento Altaris and De corpore Christi, promised for later this year, will complete the critical edition by the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University of Ockham's Opera theologica. The remaining two volumes IV and V of the Opera philosophica, covering his (...) commentaries on the Physics, are also in press and should appear before the end of this year. Since the Opera politica, done by the Manchester University Press, have been available for some time, this will make all the extant authentic works of Ockham available in a modern critical edition by the end of 1985. The staff of Franciscan Institute and their collaborators are to be congratulated on the record time taken to complete this monumental edition, with its extensive indices, especially the topical, which makes it so valuable as a research tool for medieval philosophy and theology. (shrink)
This work is typical of the cautious approach to metaphysical problems by the new breed of Oxonian analysts. Unlike Wittgenstein and his early followers, they do not believe metaphysics deals solely with pseudo-problems that will evaporate with a clearer understanding of how ordinary language functions. Rather they believe, as is the case with scientists evaluating various theoretical models, a cost/benefit analysis of the more meaningful solutions philosophers have given to important metaphysical problems will lead to a clarification of the merits (...) and weaknesses of each and hence lend some measure of probability to one's preferential options. This third approach by David Armstrong to the problem of universals falls in this literary genre. As a volume in the new "Focus Series," it is designed to provide case studies of this key philosophical problem for a special clientele or class of students--those advanced undergraduates or philosophy majors in schools where contemporary analytical writings in the Oxford tradition are still the basis of the curriculum. As such it is broader in scope than his two previous works, intended to introduce its readers to views other than his own. Since the neo-metaphysicians that draw their inspiration from Oxford are cautious about the lasting value of their work, still less will their writings be suitable for courses in the history of philosophy or useful for a core curriculum in schools where philosophical analysis is not the dominant orientation. But where that approach to philosophy still prevails, as at Armstrong's University of Sydney, or many other Anglo-American universities, this work will undoubtedly fill a needed gap not covered by other survey courses of a more general nature. (shrink)
ANALYST: Yesterday you explained your interpretation of the approach to God-concepts via the affirmative and negative way, which seemed analogous to the physicist’s approach to theoretical entities via affirmative and negative analogies. Today I thought we might discuss the third approach you claim is needed, that of the way of eminence. Hopefully you can throw some light on this subject and also upon something you designated as "Augustinian abstraction," whatever that might be.