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SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE « FICTUM » THEORY IN OCKHAM AND ITS RELATION TO HERVAEUS NATALIS It is not clear whether or not William of Ockham, the Oxford Franciscan, ever read what Hervaeus Natalis,1 the Paris Dominican, had to say a decade or so earlier about the universal. Codex Vat. Pal. lat. 998 includes two short questions dealing with Hervaeus' doctrine regarding the ens rationis which fall between some logic commentaries belonging to Ockham and a "Quaestio de universali secundum viam et doctrinam Guillelmi de Ockham."2 This juxtaposition may indicate someone's interest in the comparative views of Ockham and Hervaeus on the topic, or may even be a reflection of Ockham's own familiarity with Hervaeus' work. Be that as it may, the thought of these two men who wrote in the early years of the fourteenth century on this question reveal some remarkable similarities. As a point of departure in our consideration of these resemblances it will be helpful to sketch briefly how Thomas Aquinas explained intellectual knowledge, for there was something in his explanation which bothered both men though in differing degrees. The conceptual terrain mapped out by Aquinas in this question is clear.3 a - The object of intellectual knowledge is the res extra, i.e., the thing outside the mind. In a secondary and reflexive way, the activity of the mind itself can become its own object.4 b - For the res extra to become the known object it must be 'de-materialized': intellectus... intelligit rem ut separatam a conditionibus materialibus.5 The res extra cannot actually exist 'de-materialized,' 1 Hervaeus Natalis was Master of Theology in 1307, provincial of France in 1309, Master General of the Dominican Order in 1318 until his death in 1323. For a list of his works, see P. Glorieux, Répertoire des Maîtres en Théologie de Paris au XIIIe siècle (Paris, 1933), 199-206; for a critical biography, see A. de Guimaräes, "Hervé Noël (f 1323): Étude Biographique," Arch. FF. Praed., 8 (1938), 5-81. 2 See infra, Appendix, pp. 279-282. 8 Aquinas' doctrine in this matter is scattered throughout his works; e.g.. Summa Theol, I, q. 85, aa. 1-2, Contra Gentiles, I, cc. 51-53; In Boetii de Trin., lect. 2, q. ? [5], aa. 1-4. 4 Summa Theol, I, q. 85, a. 2; In de Anima, III, lect. 8, nn. 717-718. 8 Contra Gentiles, I, c. 53. Ockham's Fictum Theory and Hervaeus Natalis261 or to say the same thing, it cannot exist 'de-singularized.' 'Dematerialization ' results from the thing's 'being considered.' Another way of thinking about this is as follows. I experience many single instances, for example, Socrates, Plato and so on. The mind then, attending to a similarity found to obtain among the many instances, generalizes; that is to say it fixes its attention only on what is common and ignores the differences. St. Thomas' term for this is abstractio totius or abstractio universalis a particulari, i.e., the mind views the totality as such and does not pay any notice to the individuals in their singularity which go to make up the totality.6 Total abstraction goes on whenever I think of things like 'the army' or 'the population .' c - Needed for the totalizing or de-materializing and de-singularizing abstractive process of consideration is what Aquinas calls the species intelligibilis impressa. His reason for positing this is that the required contact between the res extra, which is singular and material, and the mind which is spiritual, could otherwise not be established. The intellectus agens brings about this needed ontic parity by 'spiritualizing' the res extra, thus allowing the object to inform or impress itself on the intellectus possibilis.7 This done, the intellect is in the position to think, or perhaps better, is 'activated' to think. Aquinas' phrase is: species intelligibilis est principium intelligendi.3 This part of the account does not cover universality. d - Corresponding to the species intelligibilis impressa is the natura communis outside the mind. The species represents or is the imago of this natura communis. Neither of them is universal in the strict sense. The natura communis in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 260-282
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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