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


258. First Disciples. Matthew of Aquasparta and John Peckham. -- During the few years he devoted to teaching, St. Bonaventure made disciples. The influence of his lectures survived him in the schools. His immediate successors, MATTHEW OF AQUASPARTA and JOHN PECKHAM, are most deserving of note.

MATTHAEUS AB AQUASPARTA (1235 or 1240-1302), master at Paris and at Bologna, was the second of his order called to Rome as lector of the Sacred Palace (1281), where Innocent IV. had established a Studium Generale. He was elected general of the order in 1287, made cardinal in 1288, and bishop of Porto soon afterwards. He wrote Commentaries on the Sentences, Quodlibeta and Quaestiones Disputatae -- the fruit of his teaching at Rome and Bologna. Imbued himself with the teaching of St. Bonaventure (from whom he borrowed liberally, e.g., his arguments against the eternity of creation and his theory of the hylemorphic composition of spiritual substances), Matthew imparted to Duns Scotus not a few of his own favourite theories. We can form an estimate of his personality as a scholastic from some questions of his recently edited De Fide et De Cognitione Humana, selected from his Quaestiones Disputatae. These reveal their author as a writer of undoubted talent, with a sober, clear and manly style, and a depth and richness of thought which place him abreast of even the best known among his contemporaries.

The De Fide gives his system on the foundations of faith and its relations to reason. It is worthy of note that he restates and refutes the reasonings of Abelard, observing that the latter's teaching still found many adherents (alii dixerunt et multi adhuc dicunt).{1}

The De Cognitione contains a whole psychology. It opens with an exhaustive discussion on the foundations of human certitude and the vision of truth in the "rationes aeternae". The author's sympathies with St. Augustine are manifest on every page. In fact it is difficult to find, in the theses of the philosopher-cardinal, anything else than the doctrine of his favourite master; and his exposition of it appears to us more lucid and concise than St. Bonaventure's. In the first place, the truth of things has its objective basis in the "rationes aeternae".{2} Moreover, God is not only the creator of the human understanding;{3} He conserves it and concurs in every single one of its operations.{4} This immediate concurrence, essential to the activity of all created being whatsoever, is in keeping with the inner nature of each created agent. Matthew next insists, with St. Bonaventure, on the special resemblance (imago similitudo) the intelligent creature bears to his Creator. This resemblance springs from the very power of understanding, and it is in this sense that the Divine concursus, as applied to the act of understanding, gets the special name of an illumination.{5}

In Matthew's doctrine on ideas we find the following peculiarities: (a) Cognition is an active phenomenon. Though endowed from birth with ajudicatorium naturale, we have no innate actual idea of the external world (cf. St. Bonaventure, supra, 255, IV.). All our ideas come from without, through the channels of the senses. But the sense object does not act upon the soul. On the contrary, the latter forms within itself, on the occasion of the sense impression, a corresponding sensation. And the same is true of thought: the intellectus agens transforms the species sensibilis ("et illud vocat Philosophus abstrahere") and determines the intellectus passivus, without any causal intervention of the external object. This is pure Augustinism (239) with the Aristotelian theory of the intellectus agens forcibly attached to it.{6} (b) We know individual things, each by its own proper individual species.{7} Matthew here expressly refers to the Thomistic opinion (300), which he holds to be insufficient, that the "intellectus singulare cognoscit per quandam reflexionem".{8} (c) The soul has a direct consciousness or cognition of itself. Though it is not itself the primary object of its own knowledge ("nec primus actus cognitionis potest esse in semetipsam; quantum ad cognitionis initium indiget . . . excitatione a corporis sensibus"), nevertheless, as soon as it comes into possession of species abstracted from without, it can know itself and its internal states not merely by inference but by intuition "sua interiora . . . (potest) . . . directo aspectu cernere et intueri, ita quod semetipsam et habitus existentes non cognoscit tantum per arguitionem sed per intuitionem".{9} That the Augustinian view is here meant to be conveyed, we may gather from the author's refutation of St. Thomas's position, that the soul becomes aware of its existence and states only in the actual exercise of its activities: "percipit se esse et habitus sibi inesse per actus".{10}

Those Augustinian positions do not prevent Matthew from subscribing to the doctrine of natural and substantial union between soul and body.{11} He was led to study this question in considering those higher mystic states of rapture and ecstasy, which he regarded with St. Bonaventure as of the supernatural order, and as originating in the intelligence but completed and perfected in the will{12} (cf. 198 and 256).

JOHN PECKHAM, a pupil of St. Bonaventure at Paris, afterwards taught there himself towards 1269, and later at Oxford, where he was master. He next became lector of the Roman Curia, and finally Archbishop of Canterbury in 1279. A number of Quaestiones Disputatae and Quodlibeta, a Tractatus Sphaerae and treatises De Perspectiva, De Numeris and Super Ethicam, are set down in his name in various manuscripts. These works being still unedited, the doctrines of Peckham are not well known. We can gather, however, from certain of his letters, that he was an ardent admirer of tradition{13} and a vigorous supporter of received doctrines as against the innovations of Thomism (312).

Besides Peckham and Aquasparta, we may also mention, among the earlier disciples of St. Bonaventure: WILLIAM DE LA MARE (wrote Commentaries on the Sentences and Quaestiones Disputatae, still unedited); a Brother EUSTACHIUS (author of some Quaestiones Disputatae) whom the Quaracchi editors propose to identify with Eustachius of Arras{14} a Brother SIMON; and WALTER OF BRUGES (Bishop of Poitiers, 1279-1307, author of Quaestiones Disputatae and Commentaries on the Sentences).

{1} Quaracchi edit., p. 63: "In istum errorem lapsus fuit Petrus Baalardi". He also chronicles the theory of Frederick II., denying the existence of all positive law. "Istius erroris dicitur fuisse Fredericus, qui fuit imperator; qui omnes legislatores reputabat truffatores" (p. 83).

{2} "Quidditas ipsa concepta ab intellectu nostro, relata tamen ad artem sive exemplar aeternum" (p. 233). See whole of q. i.

{3} That, he remarks, would not contain the whole meaning of St. Augustine's teaching.

{4} Lumen ergo illud, movendo nostrum intellectum, influit quoddam lumen menti nostrae, ita quod per lucem divinam videt objective et quasi effective, sed per illud et in illo lumine videt formaliter; quod quidem lumen continuatur et conservatur in mentibus nostris ad praesentiam divinam. Nec alicui subtrahitur cognoscenti, immo omnibus bonis et malis indifferenter assistit secundum ordinationem et dispositionem immutabilem suae sapientiae, qua cooperatur in intellectuali operatione" (p. 255). "Ratio cognoscendi materialis est ab exterioribus, unde ministrantur species rerum cognoscendarum, sed ratio formalis partim est ab intra, scilicet a lumine rationis, partim a superiori, sed completive et consummative a regulis et rationibus aeternis" (p. 268). {5} "Operatio intellectualis circa naturalia naturalis est. Deus autem operatur et cooperatur in operationibus creaturarum secundum modum et exigentiam suae naturae, ut visum est. Et quia creatura rationalis imago Dei est vel ad imaginem, ipsa ratio imaginis exigit, ut in ejus operationibus cooperatur secundum modum objecti moventis, eo quod mens nata est moveri et illuminari illa luce" (ad. i., p. 262). Cf. ad. 5 where he contrasts the influentia generalis et communis with this influentia of the illuminative order.

{6} "Sic igitur dico sine praejudicio, quod anima sive intellectus accipit sive capit species a rebus extra, non virtute rerum corporalium agentium in animam vel intellectum sed intellectus sua virtute facit et format. Huic sententiae Augustinus corcordat in auctoritatibus adductis in opponendo; concordat nihilominus Philosophus: et ideo huic positioni ad praesens adhaereo" (p. 291). The whole responsio must be read (pp. 278 sqq.).

{7} "Dicendum sine praejudicio, quod revera intellectus cognoscit et intelligit singularia per se et proprie, non per accidens, ita quod singularia cognoscit per species singulares, universalia per species universales" (p. 309).

{8} Op. cit., p. 307.

{9} P. 329.

{10} P. 326.

{11} P. 421.

{12} P. 405.

{13} In the De Humanae Cognitionis Ratione, etc., we find a quaestio distutata of John Peckham on the "rationes aeternae". His view coincides with St. Bonaventure's: in every act of intellectual cognition the "lumen increatum supersplendens" concurs with the "lumen intellectus creatum" and the "intellectus possibilis" (p. 181).

{14} They publish a quaestio of Eustachius on the foundations of human knowledge (op. cit., pp. 179 sqq.), in which the problem is solved in the sense of St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas.

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