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11/17/2015 2:50 pm  #1

Francis, Scotus and the Univocity of Being

John pointed me to this interesting article on on Scotus originally linked to by the gentlemen at The Smithy. The following quote seems especially pertinent with regards to the purported significance of Thomas' Analogical Theory of Predication. Some alarmists claim that to deny Analogy is some how to anthropomorphise or bring God down to the level of created being - the Franscicans turn this insult back at its originator and claim that to deny Univocity is to deny the intimate link between the Deity and the world, and the latter's status as a mirror of the former.

Duns Scotus proves himself to be a very good follower of Francis of Assisi. This may seem surprising, considering that Francis worked by intuition, experience, and action. Francis had little use for scientific philosophical work. But Duns Scotus shows himself to be a follower of Francis when he develops the very theory that now causes him to be blamed for the errors of modernity: the univocity of being. In other word, the nature of being is such that it means the same thing when applied to created beings, such as us, or uncreated being, or God. If it were any other way, if not even being itself were shared between us and God, then how could we ever know God? How could we truly experience God in nature, truly encounter him in nature, if it were any different? If human beings are truly creatures made by God to share eternal life with God in the life to come, how could we not at least share the common ground of being with him?To make knowledge of God, experience of God now, and community with God in the life to come possible, being must be the same ground of our existence as it is of God’s existence. If it were any different, then our created existence as material beings could not find its fulfillment in community with God. Anything less than univocity of being, such as the theory of the analogy of being, does not properly appreciate the value that created being has for God. This is unacceptable to Duns Scotus, or any Franciscan. It would go completely against the intuition of Francis. Hence, Duns Scotus insists on the univocity of being. Being must mean the same when applied to created beings in the natural world as it means for the uncreated eternal being of God.

For my part I think the debate between Analogy and Univocity of Being is badly formulated. When we speak about 'being' applied analogously in the case of God what we are really talking about is the way in which God exists, just as an accident exists in a different way than a substance. If however we wish to speak of existence in a transcendental sense as cutting across all categories there is no reason why we should not do so providing we keep the above in mind.

Last edited by DanielCC (11/18/2015 5:42 am)


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