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DISTINCT IDEAS AND PERFECT SOLICITUDE: ALEXANDER OF HALES, RICHARD RUFUS, AND ODO RIGALDUS God's care for his creatures is perfect. Scripture assures us that God knows each of them individually: Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered (Lk. 12:6-7). But most Christians also hold that God's simplicity is perfect, and prominent theologians of the early 13th century agree that this means that God does not have a different concept or idea for each creature . There is only one divine idea, William Altissiodorensis says; only when we speak allegorically can we accept the view that there are many and diverse ideas in the mind of God {Summa áurea II tr.l c.2, 11:17). Philip the Chancellor agrees: from the complete simplicity of the divine essence it follows that there is no multitude of divine ideas (Summa de Bono 56). On this issue, William and Philip and their later contemporaries had the support of the great 11th century theologian, St. Anselm of Canterbury .1 Choosing instead to follow St. Augustine,2 around 1236 Richard Rufus rejects the consensus of theological opinion at that time.3 In his De ideis, he holds that perfect solicitude for individuals requires that we posit many divine ideas—and not just a multitude of 1AnSeImUS, Monologion c.15 et 37, ed. F. Schmitt, Opera Omnia I (Stuttgart: Frommann Verlag, 1984) 28-29 et 55. Guillelmus Altissiodorensis Summa aurea ? tr.l c.2 ed J. Ribaillier, Spicilegium Bonaventurianum 17 (Paris-Grottaferrata: Coll. S. Bonav., 1982), 111:17. Philippus Chancellarais, Summa de Bono, ed N. Wicki (Bern: Francke, 1985) 56. Augustinus., De diversis quaestionibus 83 q.46, CCSL 44a (Turnholt: Brepols, 1975) 71; PL 40, 30. 3Note that there was nothing new about reinterpreting Augustine's words on the subject in 1235; about 1201 Alexander Nequam considers all the relevant quotations and nonetheless concludes that there is only one idea; Speculum Speculationum, ed. R. Thomson (Oxford: British Academy, 1988) 254-255. 8 REGA WOOD universal ideas, but a great multitude of individual ideas.4 And like Augustine, Rufus identifies divine ideas as Platonic forms. In defending Augustine's views, Rufus does not argue against Anselm. Still a secular philosopher at the time he wrote his De idas, Rufus directs his arguments instead against Aven-oës. His tone is respectful: he describes Averroës' position as rational given his other philosophical commitments, but theologically unsound and philosophically mistaken. At the outset, Rufus saw the issue as one which, rather than dividing Christian theologians, pitted pagan philosophers against Christian orthodoxy. The 13th century theologian who most influenced Richard Rufus initially was Alexander of Hales, a famous Parisian theologian who joined the Franciscan Order. Because Alexander was such an important Parisian master when he joined the order, the event caused a sensation. Rufus became a Franciscan two years afterwards ; his De ideis was written about the time when Alexander became a Franciscan in 1236. Alexander's impact on Rufus was profound; his influence on Rufus' early theological work is easy to document, since Alexander is often quoted; but his influence is also strong in Rufus' earliest philosophical work, where he is frequently paraphrased. Indeed in some ways the early influence is stronger, as one might expect, since this is the period when Alexander's fame was at its height, and Rufus was making up his mind to follow Alexander's example and become a Franciscan. But on the issue of the plurality or simplicity of divine ideas, Rufus chose not to follow Hales' lead. Alexander ultimately rejected the suggestion that there are many ideas in God's mind, claiming that it is more perfect to know one thing than many. So one puzzle confronting us is why in this case Rufus adopts a stance independent of Hales. We will begin by (1) analyzing Alexander's position to see whether there are elements in his discussion which might support Rufus' position. After (2) a brief summary of Rufus' views, we will (3) consider their early reception in 4Rufus, De ideis tr. 1, Erf. Q.312, f...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 7-31
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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