The Origin of Diversity in Albertus Magnus' "de Causis Et Processu Universitatis a Prima Causa"

Dissertation, University of Notre Dame (1993)

The Book of Causes, a ninth-century, monotheistic reworking of Proclus' polytheistic Elements of Theology, was translated from Arabic into Latin in the twelfth century and attributed to Aristotle. Considering it the theological completion of Aristotle's Metaphysics, Albert the Great concluded his series of Aristotelian paraphrases by commenting on this Neoplatonic text. ;The Book of Causes teaches that God, as pure goodness, cannot hold back his creative efflux, giving less to some than to others: that some have less is due to the delimitation of their receptive capacity by secondary causes. Further, accidents of translation made many readers of the Latin think it taught that God made only the first creature, which in turn created the diverse multitude of lesser things. Thus, the book was taken to uphold the supposedly Aristotelian doctrine that from the One only one thing can emanate. ;Most Christians countered that God freely determined the number and kinds of creatures. Albert, however, defended the philosophers, denying that "from the One only one proceeds" removed God's causality from the diversity and multiplicity of things. This he did by equating the first created thing of the Book of Causes, namely, the Plotinian Being-Intellect, with the Dionysian procession of Being from God's Intellect and with the analogically common notion of being in Aristotle's Metaphysics. ;For, being alone is the proper term of creation, so that being is the first and, indeed, the one created thing. Still, nothing is diverse from being, so that the one God, by creating this one thing, produces all things. Of course, what really exists is, not being, but the many beings. However, the many beings are one in the analogically common notion of being. And, after an analysis of the Ideas inspired by Eustratius and Ibn Sina, Albert proposes that this analogically common notion of being is the divine Idea of being considered as already flowing out from God's mind but not yet received in the many beings and multiplied or diversified by their participation in it
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