On the Borders of Being and Knowing
Late Scholastic Theory of Supertranscendental Being
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Leuven University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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In his Being and Some Philosophers (1952), before a discussion of modern accounts of ‘being,’ Étienne Gilson writes, “[N]ow that Scholastic philosophy has been dead for nearly five centuries, philosophers don’t even care to remember how it died.”¹ Here, one wonders whether Gilson’s report of Scholasticism’s death, like Mark Twain’s, may have been at least a little “exaggerated.” There can be little doubt that ...
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Beginning with Antisthenes (d. ca. 365 ) and Plato (d. 348 ), the essays com-prising this volume trace a passage that begins with a distinction between “being” and “something” and ends with the late Scholastic doctrine of supertranscendental being that will offer a bridge over this distinction. In the first essay, I begin with Aristotle (d. 322 ) and note, first, his distinguishing between “being as being” ...
Table of Contents
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1. Sprouts from Greek Gardens: Antisthenes, Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics
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Looking to treat a doctrine that has roots in Greek antiquity and then grows to the main trunk of Kantian philosophy, I begin with a passage in Plato’s Republic where [Socrates] “Tell us this then. Does one who knows know something or nothing? [Glaucon] “Being. For how would knowing non-being be knowing something?[Socrates] “Are we then agreed upon this, having looked at the matter from how-...
2. Suárez on Beings of Reason and Truth
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From Parmenides on, it has been a commonplace in the Western philosophical tradition that truth is a function of being. One need only remember the general Platonic doctrine of Forms, which are at once “really real” (ὄντnullς ὄν) and the locus of intelligibility and truth. More specifically, Plato in the Theatetus and again in the Sophist has raised the problem of truth and falsity with respect to non-existing ...
Chap. 3: Extrinsic Cognoscibility
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Following its first publication at Salamanca in 1597, the Disputationes metaphys-icae of Francisco Suárez (1548-1617) had almost incredible influence. Comprising two quarto volumes, each approximately a thousand pages long, in the thirty-nine years immediately after its debut it was reprinted at least seventeen times in Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany.¹ In various ways, it was adopted and ...
Chap. 4: Impossible Objects
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As is well known, Aristotle in his Metaphysics distinguished being as found in the categories from ‘accidental being’ (τὸ ὂν κατὰ συμβεβηκός) and from ‘being as true’ (τὸ ὂν ὡς ἀληθές).1 The latter two ‘beings’ he then excluded from ‘being as being’ (τὸ ὂν ᾗ ὄν), the subject of metaphysics.2 ...
Chap. 5: The Teleology of Impossible Objects
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...“Big fleas have little fleas that on their backs do bite’m, With his own intention of instructing novices, Luis de Lossada, S.J. (1681-1748), has summarized the new, yet old, terminology of the disputed Scholastic doctrine of intellectual intentionality.¹ Although the Scholastics have ambiguously used the term ‘intention’ – first in relation to will and then to understanding,² in executing ...
Chap. 6. Beings of Reason and Imagination
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Think of “real” being as that which can exist independent of the human mind, and beings of reason will be “unreal.” They will not be actual or even possible existents. Best examples would be self-contradictory things, which, although they are somehow in our minds, are nevertheless divided against themselves and thus unable to exist apart from being thought. Concrete cases might include cen-...
Chap. 7: Four Degree of Abstraction
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The doctrine of three degrees of abstraction is a venerable Scholastic common-place. Related to Aristotle’s division of theoretical sciences,¹ briefly it states that physics, mathematics, and metaphysics are distinguished one from another on the basis of the abstraction of their objects from matter. Physics has as its object mobile being, which abstracts from individual matter. The object of mathematics ...
Chap. 8: From Transcendental to Transcendental
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In the second edition (1787) of his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, in the Transcen-dental Analytic, just after the Table of Categories and just before his Deduction of the Pure Concepts of Understanding, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) added a section (Abschnitt § 12, B 113-14) that marked at once the deficiency of an older Scholastic doctrine of transcendentals and yet in it arguably an adumbration of his own doc-...
Chap. 9: Supertranscendental Nothing
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...“Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.” For those innocent of geography, let me first explain that Finisterre is a cape in northern Spain at the westernmost point of the Spanish mainland. It marks an end of Europe; beyond Finisterre there is only the ocean. As readers of this essay may see, “supertranscendental nothing” is arguably a philosophical Finisterre which ...
Chap. 10: Wrestling with a Wraith
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Philosophers have traditionally been concerned with thinking and its boundaries in relation to things. Of course, any such concern immediately provokes a further query about what is a thing? The prima facie answer might be that a thing is what-ever is or can be, which is to say, whatever is actual or possible. In this way, the no-tion of “thing” seems convertible with that of “being.” By medieval philosophers, ...
Chap. 11: The Borders of Knowability
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This essay concerns the upper and the lower borders between what is and what is not knowable for human beings, particularly as these borders were variously considered by some seventeenth-century Jesuit thinkers. Expanding, let me say that the boundary above is reached when one confronts the reality of God, who while He may be evidently knowable in Himself is not so, at least in this life, for ...
Chap. 12: Conclusion
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While our basic journey from the Greeks to Kant should lie open, the entries in this volume are not always arranged along its exact timeline. All but the first such entry, as they developed several interests, were previously published over years, in different venues with different style sheets to follow. Because of diverse reader-ships and the general unavailability of primary source materials, there was neces-...
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indices of names
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Index of terms
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I. Repertorium Commentariorum Medii Aevi in Aristotelem Latinorum quae in II. Lexicon Plotinianum, ed. J.H. Sleeman (†) & G. Pollet, 1980, 1164 col.III. Proclus. Commentaire sur le Parménide de Platon. Traduction de Guillaume de Moerbeke. Tome I: Livres I à IV, ed. C. Steel, 1982, x-64*-288 pp.IV. Proclus. Commentaire sur le Parménide de Platon. Traduction de Guillaume de ...
Page Count: 350
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy - Series 1