ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf


171. Anti-Realist Formulas. -- Under this head we may classify a number of solutions which appeared early in the twelfth century and which are all inspired by the teaching of Boëthius that genera and species are simply individual things regarded under different aspects. Among these we may place the doctrines of Adelard of Bath and of Walter of Mortagne, the "Indifference" theory and the "Collection" theory.

(a) Adelard of Bath and the Theory of the "Respectus". -- The Englishman, ADELARD OF BATH, professor at Paris and Laon, was one of the first of the medieval scholars to complete his scientific education by travelling in Greece and Spain. The first fruits of this acquaintance with an unknown world were his Quaestiones Naturales. Besides a translation of Euclid from the Arabic (1116) and other mathematical writings, Adelard also wrote a treatise De Eodem et Diverso{1} (about 1105-6), which he dedicated to William, Bishop of Syracuse. It is in the form of a dialogue between Philosophia (the unchangeable, De Eodem) and Philocosmia (changeable knowledge, De Diverso). It is saturated with Platonism as found in Chalcidius, St. Augustine, Boëthius, etc., and with the spirit of the contemporary productions of the schools of Chartres.{2}

We find in the De Eodem et Diverso the seeds of anti-realism: the same concrete being is genus, species and individual, all at once, but under different aspects (respectus).{3} Genus and species are modes of understanding the individual; they are the term of a deeper intuition, altius intuentes, acutius considerata.{4} Hence the unity of the generic element in a number of individuals is of the conceptual order and not of the real order, and the theory of the respectus is thus one of the forms of anti-realism.

But Adelard did not follow up the psychological aspect of the question. It is the logical point of view that dominates the treatise; and this too is a source of difficulty in interpreting the text.{5}

Adelard of Bath is more than an advocate of the "aspects" theory. His Quaestiones Naturales and De Eodem et Diverso show him to have been a psychologist and man of science. His psychology is distinctly Platonic and Augustinian. He teaches that intellectual knowledge, the sole source of certitude, is innate: the senses have no causal influence in its production. The soul, created by God, is spiritual, entirely independent of the body, to which it is, against its own nature, united. The faculties are identical with the substance of the soul. A theory on the localization of mental functions and a number of physiological informations coming directly from Galen and Hippocrates, are borrowed by Adelard from Constantine the African (168). His whole psychology reveals a careful attention to facts of observation and experience. His cosmology, like that of William of Conches, revives the atomism of Democritus, dwells on the Pythagorean notions of unity and harmony, and regards the whole universe as one vast organism.

(b) Walter of Mortagne and the Theory of the "Status". -- Born at Mortagne, in Flanders, in the early years of the twelfth century, WALTER{6} was educated at the school of Toumai. From 1126 to 1144 he taught rhetoric and philosophy successively at Ste. Geneviève (Paris), and died Bishop of Laon in 1174. He has left a Tractatus de Sancta Trinitate and six minor works of but little interest to philosophy. His Platonism is revealed in a letter to Abelard, in which he regards the body as an obstacle to the higher conceptions and aspirations of the soul.

It is through John of Salisbury that we learn the formula of the status, defended by Walter of Mortagne.{7} Plato is, according to different states (status), an individual (Plato), a species (man), a genus, subaltern or supreme (animal or substance). It is true, indeed, that John of Salisbury connects this view with realism. But the text of the latter is laconic and difficult to interpret aright. Are not the status of Walter of Mortagne another way of expressing the respectus of Adelard of Bath? For both use analogous terms to describe the identity of the individual; the species and the genus.{8} We believe this to be so.

According to a hypothesis of Hauréau, Walter would be the author of a text contained in No. 17813 of the Latin manuscripts of the National Library of Paris.{9} In this text we encounter yet another formula for solving the Universals problem

(c) The "Indifference" Theory. -- Apart from the document just referred to, "Indifferentism" is expounded and refuted in the De Generibus et Speciebus, printed by Cousin among the works of Abelard, a text in which we find the expression, sententia de indifferentia.{10} Every existence is individual, but in each individual there are determinations peculiarly its own, constituting its differential quiddity or essence (differens), and also specific and generic realities which are found not-different (indifferens) in all the other individuals of the same species and genus. It is therefore the same being that is called, according to the standpoint (status) from which we view it, individual, species and genus. In so far as they are endowed with life and reason, men form a unum et idem.{11} Though the text says nothing on the nature of this unity, to be found in Socrates and all other men, the unity in question cannot be any more than a product of thought; for, nothing exists outside the individual: nihil omnino est praeter individuum.{12} "Indifferentism" should therefore be classified among the anti-realistic solutions of the Universals problem.

(d) The "Collection" Theory. -- The same, we believe, may be said about the "Collection" theory, defended by the author of the De Generibus et Speciebus, after he had successively expounded and refuted the theories of Identity (165, 1), of Indifference (c) and of Verbalism (146 and 177). Every essence exists in the individual state. We give the name species to the collection (collectio) of individual beings possessing one and the same essence, the unity that we attribute to them being based upon the natural similarity borne by the individuals to one another.{13} The author considers the species not from the point of view of the comprehension of the concept but from that of its extension; and he is mistaken in not extending the sphere embraced by such a collectio beyond existing things so as to include possible things also. But this peculiarity, from which he draws certain conclusions about logical predication, does not hinder him from subscribing to the fundamental theses of anti-realism.{14}

John of Salisbury attributes to Jocelin of Soissons a "collection" theory which agrees with the teaching of the De Generibus et Speciebus: "Est et alius qui cum Gausleno Suessioni episcopo, universalitatem rebus in unum collectis attribuit, et singulis eamdem demit."{15}

Whether we consider the respectus of Adelard of Bath, the status of Walter of Mortagne, the non-differens of the indifferentists or the collectio of Jocelin of Soissons, we believe that all these theories, with their various shades of difference, are steps towards the final solution of the problem; and their lack of greater precision explains itself when once they are placed in their proper historical setting.{16}

Anti-realism took a decisive step forward with Abelard.

{1} Das Adelard von Bath Traktat de Eodem et Diverso, edited by H. Willner (Münster, 1903).

{2} The treatise also contains a brief description of the liberal arts, and we may gather from what Adelard there says about dialectic that he must have known the existence of all the parts of Aristotle's Organon (ibid., p. 97. See above, 132).

{3} "Si res consideres, eidem essentiae et generis et speciei et individui nomina imposita sunt, sed respectu diverso" (ibid., p. ix).

{4} "Eosdem autem acutius intuentes, videlicet non secundum quod sensualiter diversi sunt, sed in eo quod notantur ab hac voce 'homo' speciem vocaverunt" (p. 11). "Quoniam igitur illud idem quod vides, et genus et species et individuum sit, merito ea Aristoteles non nisi in sensibilibus esse proposuit. Sunt etenim ipsa sensibilia, quamvis acutius considerata" (p. 12).

{5} Willner has published, in an appendix to the work of Hauréau (Notices et Extr., etc., V., pp. 293-96), an anonymous commentary on the Isagoge, from the same point of view as the De Eodem et Diverso.

{6} Cf. our Histoire de la philos. scol. dans les Pays-Bas, etc., p. 32.

{7} Metalog., ii., 17: "Eorum vero, qui rebns inhaerent (the realists), multae sunt et diversae opiniones, siquidem hic, ideo quod omne quod est, unum numero est (text incorrect in Migne: omne quod unum est, numero est) aut rem universalem, aut unam numero esse, aut omnino non esse concludit. . . . Partiuntur itaque status duce Gautero de Mauritania, at Platonem, in en quod Plato est, dicunt individuum; in eo quod homo, speciem; in eo quod animal, genus, sed subalternum; in eo quod substantia, generalissimum" (MIGNE, P.L., vol. 199, pp. 874, 875).

{8} John of Salisbury mentions yet another distinct theory of "status".

{9} Notic. et Extr., etc., V., pp. 313 sqq.

{10} The theory is also referred to in the Glossulae super Porphyrium of Abelard (Ouvr. inéd., Cousin's edit., pp. 552 sqq.).

{11} We extract from it this striking passage: "Sed simpliciter attendatur Socrates, non ut Socrates, id est in omni proprietate Socratis, sed in quadam, scilicet quod est animal rationale mortale, jam secundum hunc statum est differens et indifferens: differens a qualibet alia re existente hoc modo, quod ipse Socrates nec secundum statum hominis, nec secundum aliquem alium, est essentialiter aliquod aliorum: item indifferens est, id est consimilis cum quibusdam, scilicet cum Platone et cum aliis individuis hominis in eo quod in unoquoque eorum est animal rationale mortale. Et attende quod Socrates et unumquodque individuum hominis, in eo quod unumquodque est animal rationale mortale, sunt unum et idem (HAURÉAU, op. cit., v., pp. 353, Paris, 1892).

{12} De Gen. et Spec., Cousin's edit., p. 558.

{13} "Et sicut Socratitas quae formaliter constituit Socratem, nusquam est extra Socratem, sic illa hominis essentia quae Socratitatem sustinet in Socrate nusquam est nisi in Socrate. Speciem igitur dico esse non illam essentiam hominis solum quae est in Socrate, vel quae est in aliquo alio individuorum, sed totam illam collectionem ex singulis aliis hujus naturae conjunctam" (pp. 524 and 525). "Neque enim diversum judicaverunt essentiam illius concollectionis a tota collectione, sed idem, non quod hoc esset illud, sed quia similis creationis in materia et forma hoc erat cum illo" (p. 526).

{14} We cannot accept the view of REINERS who sees in this theory a cruder realism than in the indifference theory. REINERS, Der aristotelische Realismus in der Frühscholastik, 1907, p. 43.

{15} Metal., ii., 17.

{16} John of Salisbury also refers to authors who, instead of status, used the expression "manieres rerum" (Migne prints erroneously materies rerum); which John understands in an ultra-realist sense. It was after referring to this theory of the "manieres rerum" that John concluded his historical remarks in these apologetic terms: "Longum erit, et a proposito penitus alienum, si singulorum opiniones posuero, vel errores; cum ut verbo comici utar: Fere quot homines, tot sententiae" (Metal., ii., 18).

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