Miscellanea Mediaevalia [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 38 (1):151-153 (1984)

John F. Wippel
Catholic University of America
The studies contained in this volume range widely and include the following: K. Bormann, on the concept of truth and the doctrine concerning Nous in Aristotle and some of his commentators; K. Jacobi, on "good" and "evil" and their opposition in Aristotle, some Aristotelian commentators, and Thomas Aquinas; P.-B. Lüttringhaus, on God, freedom, and necessity in Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy; G. Vuillemin-Diem, a long study concerning William of Moerbeke's translation into Latin of Aristotle's Metaphysics; R. Wielockx, on Godfrey of Fontaines as a witness in support of the authenticity of Albert the Great's Summa theologiae; R. Hissette, on Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas and the Paris Condemnation of 1277; A. Zimmermann, on Thomas Aquinas's De veritate, qu. 1; C. Kopp, an edition and study of the fallaciae breves contained in a British Museum manuscript; I. Craemer-Ruegenberg, a study on the terminatio materiae primae as found in a commentary on Aristotle's Physics dating from the second half of the fourteenth century; H. G. Senger, a study of a question by Lambert of Heerenberg, concerning whether Aristotle's soul was saved. Limitations of space will force me to confine my remarks to only a few of these carefully researched investigations. In the first study Bormann seeks to determine Aristotle's views concerning the ultimate ground for universally valid propositions and Aristotle's justification for his belief that certain of these are valid for all men and at all times in spite of the differences in human language. This quickly leads him to consider Aristotle's views concerning mind as active and mind as passive, especially as found in De anima III, 5. Mind as active is not to be identified with Aristotle's Unmoved Mover of Metaphysics XII; it unites with the soul of the individual man during the latter's lifetime, is free from all potentiality, is never acted upon, and exists in separation from the individual human being with the death of the latter. Mind as passive passes away with the individual soul when a particular man dies. Bormann then examines subsequent efforts to clarify Aristotle's thought concerning this by Alexander of Aphrodisias, Themistius, John Philoponus, Averroes, Albert the Great, and Thomas Aquinas. Lüttringhaus introduces his discussion of Boethius's views on God, freedom, and necessity by drawing an interesting contrast between freedom as found in the One of Plotinus and freedom in Boethius. Given his Christian Neoplatonism, Boethius must reconcile human freedom with an omnipotent and omniscient God. His efforts to do so in the Consolatio are then carefully analyzed by Lüttringhaus. As Lüttringhaus points out, Boethius's distinction between absolute necessity and hypothetical necessity in Bk. V is crucial for his defense of human freedom, along with his distinction between divine eternity and human temporality. G. Vuillemin-Diem's study offers new and valuable information concerning Moerbeke's revision and translation of the Metaphysics. Contrary to the long held view that Moerbeke had only newly translated one book and had simply revised an earlier translation for the others, she shows that he newly translated Bks. XI, XIII, and XIV. Moreover, she reveals that a long overlooked surviving Greek manuscript may have served as the model for Morebeke's revision and translation, either directly or through a copy. R. Wielockx turns to three manuscripts from Godfrey of Fontaines' library which still survive in order to cast some new light on the disputed authenticity of Albert the Great's Summa theologiae. The manuscripts contain a number of excerpts taken from the first part of Albert's Summa; many of those contained in the two last-mentioned manuscripts are explicitly attributed to Albert by Godfrey's own hand, according to Wielockx. Given this and the relatively early dating Wielockx has established for the copying of these excerpts into the manuscripts in question, he has here discovered a valuable external and positive indication pointing to the authenticity of at least this earlier part of Albert's Summa. Having already published an important book in 1977 on the Paris Condemnation of 1277, R. Hissette here returns to the disputed issue whether some of these condemned propositions were directly aimed at Thomas Aquinas or at Albert the Great. Hissette acknowledges that a number of positions held by Aquinas and by Albert were in fact touched on by various condemned propositions. He also notes that the authors of the decree itself must have known that the condemned propositions were held by Aquinas and by various Masters from the Arts Faculty at Paris. But given the statement in the prologue of the decree to this effect that it was aimed at members of the Arts Faculty, Hissette continues to deny that either Thomas or Albert was a direct target of this condemnation; they were only indirectly implicated. Some may wonder whether this distinction defended by Hissette is real or only verbal. In his careful analysis of Thomas's De veritate, 1, 6, Zimmermann draws some interesting comparisons and contrasts between Thomas's views concerning whether any created truth is immutable and Anselm's De veritate, on the one hand, and Bertrand Russell's "Truth and Falsity," on the other.--John F. Wippel, The Catholic University of America.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph198438186
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