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De magistro--Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, and John Duns Scotus on natural conceptions.

THE LATER MEDIEVAL DEBATE that I present here under the title De magistro is the proper answer of Latin thinkers in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to a paradox formulated in Plato's dialogue Meno, the so-called paradox of learning. This medieval answer can only be understood from the frame that Augustine's treatise De magistro imposed. De magistro, itself a solution to the Meno paradox, linked the paradox of learning to the necessity of illumination, a Neoplatonic doctrine that replaces the Platonic doctrine of anamnesis. In the introduction, I will show that the solution formulated in the Latin Middle Ages goes back, via Arabic philosophy, to the early Stoa. At the same time, however, the medieval solution assumes a separate identity, and in the main parts of this contribution, I aim to present this distinct character.


The paradox of learning formulated in the Meno says that one can neither search for what one does not know, nor for what one does know, for in the former case one would not know what to look for, and in the latter case one would already know, which makes [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] superfluous. (1) A wealth of alternative answers was formulated in classical antiquity, all aiming to replace the Platonic doctrine of recollection. (2) The famous Plutarch fragment 215f records a series of such answers, as formulated in the Lyceum, the Stoa, and the Garden:


The problem advanced in the Meno, namely, whether inquiry and discovery are possible, leads to a real impasse. For we do not, on the one hand, try to find out things we know, [since this is] a futile proceeding; nor, on the other, things we do not know, since even if we come across them, we do not recognize them: they might be anything.


The Peripatetics introduced the notion of potential intellect; but the origin of our difficulty was actual knowing and not knowing. Even if we grant the existence of potential intellect, the difficulty remains unchanged. How does this intellect operate? It must be either on what it knows or what it does not know.


The Stoics make the natural conceptions [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] responsible. If these are potential, we shall use the same argument as against the Peripatetics; and if they are actual, why do we search for what we know? And if we use them as a starting-point for the search for other things that we do not know, how do we search for what we do not know?


The Epicureans introduce prolepses; if they mean these to be articulated, search is unnecessary; if unarticulated, how do we extend our search beyond our prolepses, to look for something of which we do not possess even a prolepsis?

The fragment introduces, in its condensed or even truncated Greek style, the notion of "natural conceptions" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) as the proper answer of the Stoa to the Meno paradox. The Stoic answer is stretched on the rack of a distinction between potential and actual cognition, such that it is either said to succumb to the same pitfall as the Peripatetic solution of a potential intellect, or does not offer any solution at all. The Stoic [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are distinguished from the Epicurean "preconceptions" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which, in line with the fundamental procedure of "conceptual articulation" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), are subjected to an alternative pair of opposites, namely articulated-unarticulated ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). This is interesting, of course, since one might consider the distinction of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to express an authentic Stoic idea. (4)

The fragment's editor, Sandbach, considered it to be important evidence in the debate with Bonhoffer, who claimed [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which are both called [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to be identical already in the older Stoa and who restricted this cognition a priori to the moral realm (5) (in line with Diogenes Laertius, VII 53: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); (6) evidently, if the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are to serve as a solution to the Meno paradox, their scope must exceed the range of moral conceptions. (7) The debate between Bonhoffer and Sandbach contributed to our understanding of the tension between the genetic and criterial aspects of the Stoic [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--which, as criteria common to all people, cannot depend on an empirical origin--and can be considered to linger on, in as far as the adversary positions find adherents to the present day. (8) This very tension induced the development in the later Stoa towards an innatism that emancipated the criterial function proper from the genetic aspect and was embedded in a doctrine of emanation and illumination in Neoplatonic philosophy. As having induced such a development, the tension built the proper context in which Augustine conceived his solution of the Meno paradox in the treatise De magistro. (9)

The doctrine of natural conceptions is a common feature in the Stoa, in Arabic philosophy, and in medieval Latin philosophy, and in each of these traditions, its articulation is bound to attempt to answer the Meno paradox. (10) Nevertheless, there are substantial differences between these traditions. Arabic philosophy erects its doctrine of natural conceptions and its solution of the Meno paradox on a fundamental distinction between the orders of concepts and demonstration, which distinction transforms the doctrine of natural conceptions into a doctrine of primary concepts, a doctrine which is itself embedded in the Arabic version of a doctrine of emanation and illumination. (11) Medieval Latin philosophy, which integrated the doctrine of natural conceptions into a doctrine of the transcendentals, advanced to a critique of the doctrine of illumination. (12) As a result, the tension between the genetic and the criterial aspects of the natural conceptions returned in full force, as the origin of these conceptions was to be explained by sense-experience alone. The discussion with Augustine's De magistro--and with its contemporary defenses, like Bonaventure's Christus unus omnium magister--was a privileged place for medieval authors to reflect on the epistemic status of the transcendentals as natural conceptions.

The immanent tension between genetic and criterial aspects, which was shown to accompany these doctrines of natural conceptions, builds the subject of controversies in scholarly literature on each of the constituting traditions. (1) The debate between Bonhoffer, Sandbach, and their followers on the relation between [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is actually concerned with the balance of explaining the empirical origin of the natural conceptions without compromising their privileged status as conceptions common to all men. (13) (2) Scholarly literature on Arabic philosophy witnesses a debate on the role and scope of abstraction with regard the cognition of first principles, in which Gutas and Hasse challenge the traditional explanation of their exclusive origin in an illumination by superior intelligences. (14) (3) Finally, there is a continuing debate on the origin of the knowledge of being in Aquinas, which was originally occasioned by the Marechal school, which detected a transcendental dimension in the knowledge of being and was met with incomprehension by those who pointed to the explicit affirmations of Aquinas with regard to the sensory origin of all our cognition. (15)

Another aspect that pervades these respective traditions of the doctrine of natural conceptions is the correlation with a doctrine of nonexistent objects that results in the privileged status of the concepts of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and res. (16) The early Stoa not only attaches great importance to the difference between [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] that do or do not convey a cognition of real existent objects, but also reserves systematic place for a doctrine of nonexistent objects such as place, time, the void, and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], which necessitates the introduction of a highest concept [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] that encompasses all objects, being or not-being. Arabic philosophy, notably in the context of discussions of the Meno paradox, but also in the context of the formulation of doctrines of primary conceptions, deals extensively with nonexistent objects, and presents the concept gay' to account for quidditative content indifferent to actual existence or nonexistence. Medieval Latin philosophy, finally, advances from a conception of being as actuality to a conception of being as essentiality at the end of the thirteenth century, inducing fundamental speculations in Henry of Ghent and Matthew of Aquasparta on the intelligibility of nonbeing, which posed a problem in a doctrine of the transcendentals as a set of primary conceptions of the mind convertible with being. Maybe it is not by accident that in the Arabic and medieval Latin traditions, we find more or less explicit reminiscences of the Stoic discussion with scepticism, as scholars recently demonstrated. (17)

After having presented the discussion on Augustine's De magistro as the place where the Latin Middle Ages negotiated their solution to the Meno paradox and explained that the doctrine of natural conceptions as the Latin solution to the Meno paradox goes back via Arabic philosophy to the early Stoa, the present contribution will investigate the variety of doctrines of natural conceptions in medieval Latin philosophy, as formulated by Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, anal John Duns Scotus. And the main question is, of course, whether these doctrines of natural conceptions, primarily such as they are formulated in medieval Latin philosophy, but also in the continuity of Greek, Arabic, and Latin traditions, convey a characteristic structure. The doctrines of natural conceptions, such as they are formulated in medieval Latin philosophy, share the common space created by the dismissal of a doctrine of illumination. The question poses itself, therefore, how they relate to strict innatism, on the one hand, and radical empiricism, on the other.


The famous eleventh disputed question De veritate of Thomas Aquinas, which bears the title De magistro, is a discussion with Augustine's eponymous treatise. "In De magistro," Bonaventure reports, "Augustine proves throughout the conclusion that Christ is our one teacher." (18) In fact, Augustine sets out to prove in the treatise that one does not acquire knowledge from without, but from within, by inner instruction. (19) The proof is that neither in the case of sensibles is teaching from without possible, for here we have recourse to direct experience, (20) nor in the case of intelligibles, where one is taught by the inner light of the truth. (21) The strategy of Augustine's treatise is generally interpreted in the light of his critical adaption of the Platonic doctrine of anamnesis, which he replaced by the theory of memoria as a thesaurus of knowledge irradiated by divine illumination, an adaption first developed by Plotinus. (22)

Bonaventure, in his fourth theological sermon Christus unus magister omnium, stresses this doctrinal element of illumination in his presentation of the acquisition of knowledge. He presents a triad of cognitive modes "belief," "reason," and "contemplationz in each of which Christ is shown to be the teacher. (23) With regard to the second mode, that is reason, Bonaventure shows that scientific cognition requires immutable truth on the part of the object and infallible certainty on the part of the subject. In the first case, Christ's teaching denotes the relation of cognition to the Ideas in the divine mind, in the second case, the necessity of illumination (24) The triad of cognitive modes is ordered, and this order is said to be violated by the philosophers: "The philosophers ignored this order: Neglecting faith and grounding themselves entirely on reason, they could in no way achieve contemplation." (25) Finally, Christ's teaching of our intelligence is presented as intermediary between common and special grace; Bonaventure attaches the name of Augustine to the recognition of this middle way in the explanation of understanding as the mutual completion of a Platonic doctrine of Ideas and an Aristotelian doctrine of abstraction that, each considered apart, are deficient. (26)

In contrast or even opposition to this contemporaneous defense of the necessity of illumination, Aquinas's account of the acquisition of knowledge in De magistro proves the natural light of human reason to be sufficient for insight into the truth and strategically reveals the superfluity of a doctrine of divine illumination, in line with the more extensive reinterpretation of the doctrine of Augustine he gives elsewhere. (27) Thus, in the first article of the disputed question De magistro, Aquinas appeals to self-evident principles as the criterion of the verification of scientific propositions and restricts the influence of the divine light to the endowment of reason with such evidences: "The light of reason by which such principles are evident to us is implanted in us by God as a kind of reflected likeness in us of the uncreated truth.: (27) From the early commentary on Boethius's De trinitate, with its focus on epistemology, (20) until the Summa theologiae, this highly controversial doctrine remins basically the same. It is essential to Aquinas's understanding of the relation between nature and creation that natural reason be, in principle, sufficiently equipped to reach its goal, the knowledge of truth, by its own means.

The first article of the disputed question De magistro addresses the possibility that man teaches another man, which Augustine denied. In a first step, the corpus articuli detects similar explanational strategies in three different fields of problems: the eduction of forros to being, the acquisition of virtue, and knowledge acquisition. (30) On each of these issues, there is a basic variance in explanatory strategies: externalism vs. immanentism. The former position holds that the relevant forms are given by an external agent, the latter holds that they are always already there, but need an external agent in order to become manifest. With regard to the acquisition of knowledge, the explanation of Avicenna is presented as a form of externalism (the separated agent intellect irradiates the human mind with intelligible forms) and the doctrine of Plato as a form of immanentism (learning is nothing but recollection). Aquinas opposes these explanatory strategies, since both fail to account for the causality proper to the proximate causes: externalism, since it reduces all forms to the first cause, and immanentism, as it reduces all external agency to the level of accidental causes. Aquinas presents Aristotle as proposing an explanatory account midway between these alternatives. The forms preexist not actually, bur only potentially, and are actualized by a proximate cause, not by the first cause. (31) This means in the case of the acquisition of knowledge that cognition is explained as the actualization of the proper inclination of reason towards knowledge by an intelligible form derived from sense-experience.

The second step: Since the question concerns not so much the acquisition of knowledge, but rather the possibility of teaching and learning, Aquinas enriches his basic account of the acquisition of knowledge with a further specification of the contribution of internal and external factors. The model he uses is the relation of ars and natura in the process of healing, and the choice of this model to explain the possibility of teaching and learning will prove influential.

The contribution of a doctor to the cure of a patient is not the introduction of a form of health from the outside, bur the doctor supports nature as an internal principle striving for health with medication as his instrument, for otherwise man could never regain health without a doctor. In the same way, a teacher does not introduce the form of knowledge from without, but supports nature as an internal principle striving for knowledge with appropriate instruments, for otherwise man could never attain knowledge without a teacher. Since teaching relates to discovery as art relates to nature, and since art works in the same way and along the same trajectory as nature, teaching follows the same process as the discovery of knowledge by a man alone. (32)

The explanation of the possibility of teaching and learning is based upon the account of the acquisition of knowledge. In the discovery of knowledge, one advances to things unknown by applying general self-evident principles to certain definite matters, proceeding from these to particular conclusions, and from these to other conclusions again. Hence, a man is said to teach another by manifesting to the other the reasoning process which the teacher himself goes through by his own natural reason, such that, through the instrumentality of what is told him by the teacher, the natural reason of the other arrives at a knowledge of things which he did not know before. (33) Evidently, Aquinas does not follow Augustine in the entirely negative conclusion that man cannot teach another man, for man is said to effectively cause knowledge in another through the activity of the learner's own natural reason, which causing is teaching. Yet he subscribes to the privileged place that Augustine reserves for divine teaching: "God alone teaches interiorly and principally," since all human teaching is only effective in virtue of the natural light, implanted in us as a participated similitude of the uncreated truth. (34) In the same way as Aquinas opposes (in the rejection of the position of Avicenna as the main representative of externalism) the Augustinian claim that man leams only by the influence of the first cause, he challenges (in line with his defense of the Aristotelian position) the Platonic doctrine that all learning is recollection, as a representative of immanentism.

In this account of the possibility of teaching and learning, the basic problem is to explain the acquisition of the knowledge of first principles without recourse to a doctrine of illumination. The explanation that Aquinas provides in the following text, a description of the actualization of the proper inclination of reason towards knowledge by an intelligible form derived from sense-experience, is controversially debated in scholarly research.
   We must give a similar explanation of the acquisition of knowledge.
   For certain seeds of knowledge preexist in us, namely the first
   concepts of understanding, which by the light of the agent
   intellect are immediately known through the species abstracted from
   sensible things. These are either complex, as axioms, or simple, as
   the notions of being, of the one, and so on, which the
   understanding grasps immediately. In these general principles,
   however, all the consequences are included as in certain seminal
   principles. When, therefore, the mind is led from these general
   notions to actual knowledge of the particular things, which it knew
   previously in general and, as it were, potentially, then one is
   said to acquire knowledge. (35)

The "similar explanation of the acquisition of knowledge" articulates the explanatory account midway between externalism and immanentism, which Aquinas also provided on the issues of the eduction of forms to being and of the acquisition of virtue: potentially preexistent forms are actualized by a proximate cause. We observe, however, that the acquisition of knowledge actually involves a twofold movement of actualization: on the one hand, the cognition of the first concepts of understanding caused by the species abstracted from sensible things, and on the other hand, the cognition of particular things potentially included in the knowledge of the first principles. As a consequence, the cognition of first principles assumes a double character. In relation to the discursive derivation of particular knowledge virtually included in the universal principles, these principles themselves are said to be "grasped immediately by the intellect" and to be "known immediately in the light of the agent intellect," that is, they present a form of underivative cognition. In relation to the proximate cause of the actualization of the proper inclination of reason towards knowledge, however, the first principles are said to be "known through the species abstracted from sensible things," that is, they present a form of derivative cognition. This is the outcome of Aquinas's rebuttal of the doctrine of illumination: the ascription of an empirical origin to the prediscursive knowledge of the first principles.

Jan Aertsen has linked this complex account of the origin of the first conceptions, immediately known by the light of the agent intellect and mediated through the species abstracted from sensible things, to a broader tendency in the thought of Aquinas: (1) stress on the moment of innateness: the first principles are known by nature, (36) on the one hand, and (2) the recognition of the abstractive moment: the dependency on sense experience, on the other hand. (37) Aertsen refers to the controversy in scholarly literature with regard to the complexity in the knowledge of the first conceptions of the intellect. The different positions in this debate all agree that the abstractive moment in Aquinas's account of the origin of the first conceptions poses a problem: some hold that it threatens to put knowledge of the transcendentals on the same level as knowledge of other abstract concepts; others, for example existential Thomists, hold that the conception of being cannot be the result of abstraction, and still others, for example transcendental Thomists, emphasize the innateness of the first principles of the intellect. (38)

I do not aspire to contribute to the controversy. Instead, I may observe that the complex account of the origin of the first conceptions found in Aquinas's answer to the problem of the possibility of learning conveys a distinct structure: in between strict innatism and a radical empiricism, the first conceptions are distinguished from innate concepts as forms of acquired knowledge, and they are distinguished from empirical concepts as forms of natural cognition. My hypothesis is that this structure is characteristic of natural conceptions as such. As a consequence, the complexity in the knowledge of the first conceptions of the intellect in Aquinas would not be proper to transcendental knowledge, but would relate primarily to the doctrine of natural conceptions, to which Aquinas recurs in his account of the origin of the first conceptions.


The first article of the Summa Quaestionum Ordinariarum of Henry of Ghent deals with the possibility of human knowledge. The treatise De magistro contained in the later questions of this first article is clearly based upon its first two questions. In the first question, Henry defends the possibility of both sensitive and intellective knowledge against the skeptical tradition, such that the intellect truly perceives a thing as it is without any deception or error, which a truer understanding or one received from a truer sense does not contradict in its proper action of understanding. (39) The famous second question adds a distinction between the cognition of the true, in which the intellect follows the senses, and the cognition of truth, in which the knowledge and judgment of the intellect surpass the knowledge and judgment of the senses. By purely natural means, Henry claims, only the former kind of knowledge is available to us. The latter, as far as an entirely certain and infallible knowledge of the truth is concerned, requires divine illumination. (40) This complex stance on divine illumination, defending the realm of natural cognition on one hand, and refusing its claim to perfection on the other hand, marks Henry's treatise De magistro.

From the fourth question of the first article of the Summa onwards, a series of questions begins that systematically investigate the possibilities of teaching man by oneself, by another man, an angel, and God. The fourth question itself inquires whether it is possible for a human being to know by nature or from acquisition. (41) In the corpus articuli, Henry of Ghent gives a synthesis of the positions of Aquinas and Bonaventure. (1) At first, Henry follows the scheme developed by Aquinas in his De magistro. The difficulty with regard to knowledge acquisition occurs more generally with regard to the manifestation of forms that exist in a subject: material forms, virtues, and sciences. And from antiquity, it is said, there has been a threefold opinion: externalism, immanentism, and a midway position. Henry gives a far more detailed account of these positions than Aquinas had done. Interestingly, he presents the Platonists as adherent to both externalism and immanentism and describes at length the position of Plato and the exact point at which he is mistaken, namely, in the idea that all learning is remembering. (42) The midway position is, as it was in Aquinas, ascribed to Aristotle and presented as a process of actualization by a proximate cause of a potentially existent forro. (43) (2) Subsequently, Henry points, in a more Bonaventurian vein now, to the insufficiency of the explanations of both Aristotle and Plato. Aristotle's position is insufficient, for his only means to account for the acquisition of knowledge is the species abstracted from the senses, whereas perfect knowledge requires an influence of the uncreated exemplar. Plato's position, as was already explained, is insufficient because he attributed too little to the proximate causes. The truth about the generation of forms, therefore, lies in the synthesis of the positions of Aristotle and Plato, which Henry illustrates with quotations of Augustine. Aristotle's synthesis of externalism and immanentism is enriched by a double extrinsic agency, from both the proximate cause and the first cause: "Thus we say that all the forms of knowledge and morality come from within in terms of the potency of the recipient and also come from the outside, not only in terms of the impression of a particular agent in the manner of Aristotle, but also in terms of the universal agent in the manner of Plato. Thus, an external agent cannot by its species impress on the soul a perfect word of the truth without an impression from the exemplar of the eternal truth." (44)

Clearly, then, Henry classifies divine illumination as a form of acquired knowledge and hence answers to the question "that it is possible for us to know in potency from nature, but it is possible in act and in perfection from our study and acquisition," such "that it is not possible for us to know perfectly except by acquisition." (45) His complementing the position of Aristotle with an influence of the uncreated idea, however, seriously risks obscuring the concepts of nature and naturalness, for it seems here, although such is formally contradicted by the answer to the second objection, (46) that nature is lacking in things necessary. Furthermore, the intellect is a natural potency, not only in the sense that it is a principle of acting that informs the subject, but also in the sense, which the answer to the first objection refused to the intellect, that, at least with regard to its grasp of the first principles, the cognitive potency is not capable of opposites. Henry, therefore, distinguishes in the answer to the third objection between reason and intellect:
   It must be understood that the intellective power is both reason
   and intellect. Insofar as it is intellect, it operates as nature
   concerning its proper objects, namely, when it understands the
   first principles. instantly by a simple look without any discourse
   and investigation.... And yet the intellect does not have that
   knowledge entirely naturally and from within, but it comes to it
   from an object which it receives from outside and, along with this,
   from the eternal exemplar if it has to have the perfect knowledge
   of the truth, as was said above. And in this respect that knowledge
   is also natural in a certain way and acquired in a certain way; it
   is nonetheless present naturally only in potency inasmuch as it is
   not in act except by that which is acquired.... The knowledge of
   the intellect, however, would be purely natural if it did not need
   to be acquired from the outside in any way. And the question was
   proposed concerning this way of knowing from nature without any
   acquisition necessary for knowing, namely, whether it is possible
   for a human being to know from nature or from some acquisition--and
   an acquisition of something beyond what a human being has from
   nature by which he is disposed to know. (47)

Only in relation to discursive knowledge, therefore, is the intellect properly a rational potency, (48) for in relation to the prediscursive grasp of the first principles, it acts as nature: determined to one way of acting, it is incapable of opposites. As such, however, it is still a form of acquired knowledge, since the intellect by itself only potentially knows these principles and needs to be affected by an external object to actualize even this natural cognition. (49) The structure of natural conceptions is: natural in a certain way, and acquired in a certain way. Much the same way as it happened in Aquinas, the cognition of first principles will prove to be the foundation of the possibility of learning, as Henry explains in answer to the objection that the Meno demonstrates that all learning is remembering. (50) It is important to note, finally, that the double mode of external acquisition, the abstraction of a created species and the illumination of an eternal exemplar, is here adduced to characterize the knowledge of principles.

In the fifth question, Henry affirms that it is possible for a human being to acquire knowledge by himself. This affirmation is based on Aquinas's comparison of learning with the recovery of health: sometimes a patient recovers all by himself, sometimes he needs a doctor.
   But with regard to bringing the intellect from potency to act, it
   must be known that ... in a sick person the natural power within to
   heal the disease is at times so powerful that it can make the
   person healthy in act from healthy in potency without any external
   help and assistance from a doctor and medicine. But it is at times
   so weak that it cannot do this without help from external medicine.
   It happens in the present case in a similar way, because at times a
   human being is found to be so subtle and industrious as a result of
   natural cleverness that he is able under the guidance of natural
   reason by the internal help alone of the light of the agent
   intellect to elicit from the first principles naturally understood
   the proximate conclusions and, from them, further ones, and in that
   way by proceeding gradually thereafter and in an orderly way go on
   to the ultimate particular conclusions on the matter to be known.
   Concerning such a human being I say that by himself and without any
   external teacher he can in the way described acquire for himself
   perfect knowledge.... But when a human being is not such by
   natural industry, I say that by himself he cannot acquire a perfect
   knowledge of any matter without a teacher. (51)

After having thus affirmed in the fifth question that by himself a human being can acquire knowledge from himself by purely natural means without any exterior teacher, Henry advances in the sixth question to discuss the contribution of an external teacher. He basically copies the solution of Aquinas again. Teaching relates to discovery as art relates to nature, and art works in the same way and along the same trajectory as nature, hence teaching follows the same process as the discovery of knowledge by a man alone. Now in the discovery of knowledge, man discursively deduces conclusions from the self-evident first principles, and from these again other conclusions, ordering his conceptions scientifically; in the same way, the teacher ought to proceed in teaching a student. (52) In this process of learning, the student's interior reason is the essential cause, for the order of concepts formed interiorly, in which the truth of the thing to be known is perceived immediately, is the essential and proximate cause; the exterior teacher is only accidentally the cause of the acquisition of knowledge in the student. (53)

A twofold conclusion imposes itself. The first conclusion is that, although Henry adheres to Aquinas's explanation of learning, he restricts the latter's rejection of divine illumination to the realm of cognition by purely natural means. Only in this realm, that is, with regard to the incomplete truth taken from the created exemplar received from the thing, "not from the illumination of the divine and eternal exemplar," can it be said that God does not teach in every act of learning. (54) This implies that if Henry of Ghent cites Augustine's dictum that God alone and most of all can teach, he does not mean, like Aquinas did, that God has merely bestowed man with the capacity of natural reason, but "[God] does this in this manner of teaching, that is, that which consists in showing the conformity of a created thing to its first exemplar, by which the creature has been created and inscribed, because the conformity to such an exemplar cannot be seen except by looking at it, and only God can show this exemplar to a human being so that he sees it." (55) As the continuation of this text makes clear, a rival explanation of the dictum that God immediately teaches in every act of learning any truth would even reject the restricted realm of cognition by purely natural means, by making the illumination of the uncreated exemplar obligatory for all cognition. (56)

But, although Henry's stance on the necessity of divine illumination is, to say the least, ambiguous, it is evident as well that he endorses the possibility of natural cognition be it supported by some general, and hence preconscious divine illumination, or not. This brings us to our second conclusion. Henry's ambiguous stance on divine illumination expresses itself in his account of the knowledge of first principles. In his answer to the third objection in the fourth question, as we have seen, Henry applies the necessity of divine illumination to the knowledge of first principles. In the last questions of the first article of the Summa, however, Henry accounts for the knowledge of first principles from an empiricist stance, without any reference to divine illumination.

In the tenth question, Henry explains that, although knowledge acquisition can be taken to refer to a pure potency, in which case it is necessary to hold that a human being who learns can acquire knowledge without previously knowing anything, in this way learning is not taken in, its proper sense, which refers to the movement to actual knowledge in the path of discipline, by the external guidance of someone or by the internal guidance of natural reason. (57) The eleventh question follows up with the problem whether the knowledge that precedes all acquired knowledge is innate in human beings, in which we find Henry's authorative account of the acquisition of the cognition of first principles. Only the potency to know is innate, he says here, which means that, "by calling acquired everything that is added to what is innate, all habitual and actual knowledge is acquired." Now "something that is not innate, but added on and acquired, can be acquired in two ways: in one way, naturally, in another way rationally," (58) In the first way, one acquires the knowledge of first principles, in the second way, knowledge of conclusions. All Henry's efforts in this question are directed at a clarification of the epistemic status of this knowledge of first principles, in the middle between innate and rational knowledge. Henry is at pains to show that in the process of knowledge acquisition, the abstraction of an intelligible species automatically induces the cognition of the first transcendental concepts and the complex principles based on them. The name he gives to this automatic effect of abstraction is: "naturally acquired." This cognition "is not innate in any way, bur acquired naturally, and thus it is not acquired in the proper sense, because, as was said, it comes naturally without being sought out and investigated, as the knowledge of a conclusion is sought out and investigated by someone who is learning." (59) From this evidence, in particular the name of "naturally acquired" knowledge given to the cognition of principles, it is safe to infer that, in the same way as Aquinas did, Henry confirms the middle structure characteristic of natural conceptions: distinguished from innate concepts as forms of acquired knowledge, and distinguished from empirical concepts as forms of natural cognition.


The fourth question of the commentary on the first book of the Metaphysics by John Duns Scotus (60) deals with the description of the process of knowledge acquisition in the text commented upon, that is, the derivation of intellectual cognition from experience, which the opening of the Metaphysics shares with the concluding chapter of the Posterior Analytics. (61) The extensive discussion of this question integrates elements of the discussion on the possibility of learning. In the corpus articuli, Duns Scotus (1) discusses the possibility of learning in line with the question De magistro by Thomas Aquinas, and (2) subsequently refutes the opinion of Plato that, since scientific knowledge is innate in us, all learning is recollection, before he switches to (3) the systematic exposition of his own views on the acquisition of knowledge, in the course of which he refutes (4) the opinion of Henry of Ghent that all senses are true if not contradicted by other sensitive or intellectual cognition. Central to Duns Scotus's answer to the question, as our analysis will show, is a certain interpretation of the transition between sensitive and intellectual cognition, according to which the intellect has the possibility of arriving at certain cognition independent of the epistemic imbalances of its sensory input.

(1) That Duns Scotus starts the corpus articuli with a discussion on the possibility of learning is remarkable, since he introduces Aquinas's solution to this issue in a question which primarily deals with knowledge acquisition. Two features of Aquinas's solution are readily observable: the distinction of the ways of doctrine and invention, on the one hand, and the explanation of their relationship with the example of healing, on the other.
   We have to say that science is produced in two ways, namely, by
   discovery and by teaching, but science by way of discovery is
   prior. For no one teaches unless he has learned either through
   teaching or through discovery. And if it is through teaching, be
   still has such learning through someone who first knew this in the
   other way. These two methods of knowing are illustrated in the case
   of healing. For sometimes nature is so potent that without any
   external help it induces healing. At other times, external help is
   needed, but still this extrinsic aid is only an instrument, and
   nature is still the principal healer. Thus in certain persons, the
   natural light of the intellect is so potent that it suffices of
   itself to apply principles to conclusions and then scientific
   knowledge is acquired by discovery. At other rimes it cannot do
   this, and then it is helped by certain sensible signs proposed to
   it by a teacher, through which the teacher makes an application of
   what he knows. And the learner grasps this and in virtue of his own
   lights he consents to the conclusion, which he sees as following
   from principles that he himself knew of before. (62)

This explanation of the possibility of learning does not refer to any authority explicitly, but I take the implemented explanatory strategy to be specific enough to identify it with the position of Aquinas subsequently adopted by Henry of Ghent. The distinction of the ways of doctrine and invention and the example of healing help the reader to understand that the learner derives the application of principles to conclusions from the teacher, but not the cognition of principles in the natural light of the intellect, which is rather presupposed in this progression; thus, as much as it is the principal healer, nature is the principal teacher. Both features of Aquinas's solution, however, are presented in abstraction from the context in which Aquinas had embedded his solution. Although elements of the basic variance in explanatory strategies with which Aquinas starts his exposition of the possibility of learning will appear in the second section of Duns Scotus's answer, the distribution of the alternative explanatory strategies of externalism and immanentism over the different fields of problems, that is, the eduction of forms to being, the acquisition of virtue, and knowledge acquisition, is absent from this description. In consequence, it remains implicit that this solution to the problem of learning is an explanatory account midway between externalism and immanentisin.

Consequently--and here we find the connection with the text commented on--Duns Scotus discusses the relation between knowledge of principles and the sense cognition it is based upon. Starting from the distinction of the three operations of the intellect: simple apprehension, composition and division, and reasoning, Scotus explains that, although nothing is known by us in any act of the intellect unless sensible knowledge of it in the sense precedes it, the intellectual grasp itself of principles does not depend, for its certainty, on the correct apprehension of sensible content in sense perception. The argument is that knowledge of principles stems from the cognition of simples known through sense perception together with the knowledge of propositional truths. And in the case of both the cognition of simples and knowledge of propositional truths, although some sensible apprehension is presupposed in its activation, the certainty of intellectual cognition is independent of the correct apprehension of sensible content in sense perception. (63)

(2) To arrive at a "more complete or ample solution," Scotus asserts, the debate is to be sought with a number of positions that deny that scientific knowledge is produced as Aristotle claims, by experience and discovery. Three of these positions are made explicit: the ancient position that appearances are true, Avicenna's position on the impression of species by an external intelligence--both of which Scotus does not consider to be his present business to criticize--and finally the position of Plato that scientific knowledge is innate in us, which is argued by the example in the Meno of the uneducated boy's cognition of geometry and with which Scotus associates the paradox of learning in the formulation of the Posterior Analytics. The refutation of Plato's theory in six arguments lists Aristotle's rebuttal at the end of the Posterior Analytics, which is rejected, Augustine's critique in De trinitate, which is accepted, and four arguments of rather limited strength. (64) The reasonable suggestion that a definitive refutation of the postulate of innate cognition would await the announced elaboration of a "more complete or ample solution" and be postponed to the reply to the objections, does not live up to the evidence of the actual reply to the fourth objection, where the argument of the uneducated boy's cognition of geometry in the Meno receives the comment: "one must say that Plato taught the boy," which is explained in line with the original explanation of the possibility of learning in the first section. (65)

(3) Duns Scotus's systematic exposition of the acquisition of knowledge elaborates on the central claim that the intellect has the possibility of arriving at certain cognition independent of the epistemic imbalances of its sensory input, a claim which had been focused, in the first section, on the intellectual grasp of principles. In the third section, Scotus shows that "from the sense, whether erring or not, the intellect can apprehend simple notions and immediately understand what is most universal." (66) The starting point of the analysis is the recognition that the transcendental notions are formed upon any instance of sense cognition, and are independent of it:
   For with any sense perception whatsoever, 'being' and 'thing' are
   impressed upon the intellect. Once simple things are apprehended
   from the sense, whether they be presented truly or falsely, the
   intellect can form propositions about them in virtue of its own
   power, first about what is most universal, and afterwards about
   other things. About the most universal things, given their common
   concepts, the intellect immediately assents to such not because of
   the sense. Indeed, it does so even more certainly than it could
   through the sense, given the assumption that knowledge of the
   truth of these propositions could be received from the sense. (67)

This "declaration of independency" strategically employs a differentiation between what the intellect derives from the senses and what it grasps in virtue of its own power. It is an interesting homage to the tradition, therefore, when Scotus refers to the intellectual cognition of being in terms of Avicenna's Metaphysics: "'being' and 'thing' are impressed upon the intellect." For the point of the text is that these notions are not impressed upon the intellect by some other agent, but naturally conceived by the intellect in virtue of its own power (the final qualifier "given the assumption" entails an overt "quod non"). On this basis, the intellect has the capacity to build propositions which are independent of sense-experience, that is, propositions concerning the transcendental notions: "not because of the sense." It is important to repeat what I have said before: this independency does not mean that no sensible apprehension is presupposed in the activation of the intellect, but that intellectual cognition does not depend, for its certainty, on the correct apprehension of sensible content in sense perception.

After having built common concepts and immediate propositions about them, immediate propositions on less universal things are formed, which, however, need coordination to the common conceptions in order to be understood as immediate truths; and by contrast with mediate propositions, the intellect consequently explores the entire realm of immediate propositions. This allows Duns Scotus first to draw the conclusion: "All conclusions that are naturally knowable to us by way of demonstration, can be known even if every sense errs, or if some sense errs while another does not." (68) The phrase "naturaliter cognoscibiles" does not refer here to the domain of what can be demonstrated by natural reason, since this would exclude all empirical cognition from the realm of scientific knowledge, (69) but more specifically to what the intellect assents to in virtue of its own power. Consequently, Scotus draws the conclusion that "one must admit that in us intellective cognition is simply more certain than sense cognition." (70) As the ensuing discussion with a series of objections makes clear, the point for Scotus is that this certainty is based upon the ability to combine notions into propositions, which pertains properly to the intellect.

(4) It is clear by now that Duns Scotus's answer to the question of the derivation of intellectual cognition from experience, which grants the intellect the possibility of arriving at certain cognition independent of the adequacy of sense experience, follows a different avenue than Henry of Ghent, who held, as is brought to memory in the fourth and last section of the corpus articuli, that all senses are true if not contradicted by other sensitive or intellectual cognition. Duns Scotus can adduce arguments from the skeptical tradition to refute Henry, and answer these objections, and again refute these very answers--the veridical status of sense cognition can be indifferent to him, who has based the possibility of certain cognition on qualities proper to the intellect. (71)

To conclude: Duns Scotus's argument in this fourth question of the commentary on the first book of the Metaphysics is an overt parallel to Ordinatio 1.3.4, where Scotus refutes the Augustinian doctrines of illumination and of ideas (72)--although at the end of this question from the Metaphysics commentary, he addresses some soothing remarks to the position of Augustine, trying to save the authority of Augustine while contradicting his ideas. (73) The structure outlined as the basis of all learning is the characteristic structure of natural cognition--we saw the term "naturaliter cognoscibiles" being used--which is derived from, but not dependent on sense cognition. The alternative it surpasses is stated in an objection: "Either it is through knowledge accepted from the sense, ... or else it is through some innate knowledge not acquired through the sense; and this is not something we assume." (74)


I set out to investigate the proper answer of Latin thinkers in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to the "paradox of learning" formulated in Plato's dialogue Meno, which answer was shown to go back, via Arabic philosophy, to the early Stoa, yet assumes a character of its own.

On the one hand, the medieval Latin solution to the Meno paradox makes use of the idea of natural conceptions, which it derives from the Stoic tradition. These natural conceptions have been shown to possess a characteristic structure: distinguished from innate concepts as forms of acquired knowledge, and distinguished from empirical concepts as forms of natural cognition. This middle structure typical of natural conceptions, which receives a unique expression with the conjunction "naturally acquired" in Henry of Ghent, builds an important strand of continuity between Stoic, Arabic, and medieval Latin philosophy. The mode of cognition specific to these natural conceptions is that they are grasped naturally and without investigation. Henry of Ghent explicitly refers to Averroes's De anima commentary for this opposition between natural and intentional cognition: "thought contents come to be in us in two ways: either naturally (and these are first propositions, whose time of appearance and origin and manner of appearance are unknown to us) or voluntarily (and these are thought contents acquired from first propositions)." (75) The distinction of Averroes goes back itself to the early Stoa: "Some conceptions arise naturally ... and undesignedly, others through our own instruction and attention." (76)

On the one hand, therefore, the medieval Latin solution to the Meno paradox is part of a continuous tradition of reflection on natural conceptions. On the other hand, this medieval Latin solution has a character of its own. Its specific identity is observable in the integration of the idea of natural conceptions in the doctrine of the transcendentais. Admittedly, the feature of transcendental notions to be impressed in the intellect in a primary way derives from the Metaphysics of Avicenna; although one might grant that he has an ontological conception of metaphysics, there is no such thing as a doctrine of the transcendentais proper in Avicenna. The transcendentais as first known concepts are connected with the debate on the proper object of the intellect in medieval Latin philosophy; as Aquinas states, "to each potency, its proper object is first known." (77) Whereas the epistemic constellation proper to the Stoa is specified by the conception of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as the historical a priori--divergent as their views may be, Stoics, Epicurians, and skeptics agree on [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as the ultimate basis of truth-predication--the epistemic constellation proper to medieval Latin philosophy is specified by a completely different historical apriori: the conception of a domain of objects of cognition structured by a first known object, which is the ultimate basis of truth-predication.

Faculty of Philosophy, VU University Amsterdam.

(1) Plato, Meno, in Platonis Opera, vol. 5, ed. J. Burnet (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1907) 80d-e: {MEN}. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(2) For a most controversial account of the ancient solutions to the Meno paradox, see Dominic Scott, Recollection and Experience: Plato's Theory of Learning and its Successors (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

(3) Plutarchus, Moralia. Fragm. 215f, ed. and trans. F. Sandbach, Loeb Classical Library 15 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969), 390-2.

(4) See Epicteti Dissertationes ab Arriano digestae, ad fidem codicis Bodleiani iterum recensuit Henricus Schenkl,(Leipzig: Teubner, 1916), 2.17, 178: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The passage serves as a solution to the Meno paradox, the relevant chapter being opened like this: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Epicteti Diss., 177.

(5) See Adolf Bonhoffer, Epictet und die Stoa: Untersuchungen zur stoischen Philosophie (Stuttgart: Ferdinand Ende Verlag, 1890), 187-222.

(6) Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, ed. Miroslav Marcovich, Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, vol. 1 (Stuttgart-Lipsia: Teubner, 1999).

(7) Francis H. Sandbach, "Ennoia and Prolepsis in the Stoic Theory of Knowledge," The Classical Quarterly 24 (1930): 44-51.

(8) See Dirk Obbink, "What All Men Believe--Must be True: Common Conceptions and Consensio Omnium in Aristotle and Hellenistic Philosophy," Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 10 (1992): 192-232; and further, Henry Dyson, Prolepsis and Ennoia in the Early Stoa (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009); Matt Jackson-McCabe, "The Stoic Theory of Implanted Preconceptions," Phronesis 49 (2004): 323-347.

(9) On Augustine's treatise and its relation to the Meno tradition, see Gareth B. Matthews, "Knowledge and Illumination," in The Cambridge Companion to Augustine, ed. Eleanore Stump and Norman Kretzmann (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 171-85.

(10) For the relation between Arabic philosophy and the Stoa, see the excellent study by Philippe Vallat, Farabi et l'ecole d'Alexandrie. Des premisses de la connaissance d la philosophie politique (Paris: Vrin, 2004).

(11) See Therese-Anne Druart, "Al-Farabi, Ethics and First Intelligibles," Documenti e Studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 8 (1997): 403-23; Deborah L. Black, "Al-Farabi on Meno's Paradox," in In the Age of al-Farabi: Arabic Philosophy in the Fourth/Tenth Century, ed. Peter Adamson (London: Warburg Institute, 2008), 15-34; M. E. Mannura, "Avicenna on Meno's Paradox: On 'Apprehending' Unknown Things through Known Things," Mediaeval Studies 71 (2009): 47-62.

(12) See the influential articles by Etienne Gilson, "Pourquoi Saint Thomas a critique Saint Augustin," Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Litteraire du Moyen Age 1 (1926-7): 5-127; "Reflexions sur la controverse: S. Thomas-S. Augustin," Melanges Mandonnet, vol. 1 (Paris: Vrin, 1930), 371-383. See also Steve P. Marrone, The Light of Thy Countenance. Science and Knowledge of God in the Thirteenth Century, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2001);

(13) Bonhoffer, who identified [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], refused to equate concepts generated by [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], since the empirical origin of the former is incompatible with the claim to universality laid by the latter; Sandbach, on the contrary, rejects the identification of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], since he claims [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are nonuniversal conceptions that arise naturally from experience. The same logic is operative here: the incompatibility of empirical origin with the claim to universality. And only after Obbink blankly denied that [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] lay a claim to universality, did their empirical origin cease to be a problem--without hitherto having induced the obvious inference that this reopens the gate for an identification of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. See Obbink, "What All Men Believe."

(14) See Dimitri Gutas, "Intuition and Thinking: The Evolving Structure of Avicenna's Epistemology," in Aspects of Avicenna, ed. R. Wisnovsky (Princeton: Marcus Wiener, 2001), 1-38; Dag N. Hasse, "Avicenna on Abstraction," in Aspects of Avicenna, 39-72. (Nota bene: Hasse refers to his article in the Recherches for the specification of the issue to the cognition of first principles: Dag N. Hasse, "Das Lehrstuck von den vier Intellekten in der Scholastik: Von den arabischen Quellen bis zu Albertus Magnus," Recherches de Theologie et Philosophie medievales 66 (1999): 31 and following.) See further Richard C. Taylor, "Abstraction in Al-Farabi," American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2006): 151-168; John McGinnis, "Making Abstraction Less Abstract: The Logical, Psychological, and Metaphysical Dimensions of Avicenna's Theory of Abstraction," American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2006): 169-184; Cristina D'Ancona Costa, "Degrees of Abstraction in Avicenna: How To Combine Aristotle's De anima and the Enneads," in Theories of Perception in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy, ed. Simo Knuuttila and Pekka Karkkainen (Dordrecht: Springer, 2008), 47-71.

(15) See Joseph Marechal, Le point de depart de la metaphysique, vol. 5: Le Thomisme devant la Philosophie critique (Paris: Desclee de Brouwer, 1949); D. M. De Petter, "De oorsprong van de zijnskennis volgens Thomas van Aquino," in Begrip en werkelijkheid. Aan de overzijde van het conceptualisme (Antwerpen: Paul Brand, 1964), 94-135.

(16) For the Stoic context of the problem see Emile Brehier, La theorie des incorporeis dans l'Ancien Stoicisme (Paris: Vrin, 1908); Jacques Brunschwig, "La theorie stoicienne du genre supreme et l'ontologie platonicienne," in Matter and Metaphysics, ed. Jonathan Barnes and M. Mingucci (Naples: Bibliopolis, 1988), 19-127; Victor Caston, "Something and Nothing: The Stoics on Concepts and Universals," Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 17 (1999): 145-213. For the Arabic context see Robert Wisnovsky, "Notes on Avicenna's concept of thingness (shay'iyya)," Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 10 (2000): 181-221; Deborah Black, "Avicenna on the Ontological and Epistemic Status of Fictional Beings," Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 8 (1997): 425-453; Therese-Anne Druart, "'Shay' or 'res' as Concomitant of 'Being' in Avicenna," Documenti e Studi sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale 12 (2001): 125-42. For the Latin context see Ludger Oeing-Hanhoff, "Res comme terme transcendental et surtranscendental," in Res, III Colloquio Internazionale del Lessico intellettuale Europeo, ed. Marta Fattori and Massimo L. Bianchi (Roma: Edizioni dell'Ateneo, 1982), 285-96; Theo Kobusch, Sein und Sprache: Historische Grundlegung einer Ontologie der Sprache (Leiden: Brill, 1987); Jean-Francois Courtine, Suarez et le Systeme de la Metaphysique (Paris: Vrin, 1990); Jan A. Aertsen, "'Res' as Transcendental: Its Introduction and Significance," in Le probleme des transcendantaux du XIVe au XVIIe siecles, ed. G. Federici Vescovini (Paris: Vrin 2002), 139-57; Jan A. Aersten, "Tino-logia: An Alternative for Ontology?" in Mots medievaux offerts a Ruedi Imbach, ed. Inigo Atucha et al. (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 729-37.

(17) See Dominik Perler, Zweifel und Gewissheit: Skeptische Debatten ira Mittelalter (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2006); see also the articles collected in Rethinking the History of Skepticism: The Missing Medieval Background, ed. H. Lagerlund (Leiden: Brill, 2010).

(18) Bonaventure, Sermo theologicus 4: Unus est Magister Vester Christus, in Opera omnia S. Bonaventurae, vol. 5, ed. Collegium S. Bonaventurae (Grottaferratta: Quaracchi, 1902). The translation is Bonaventure, Christ Our One Teacher, ed. and trans. R. Pasnau, in The Cambridge Translations of Medieval Philosophical Texts, vol. 3." Mind and Knowledge (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2002): 80-92. Sennon 4:570a: "In libro de Magistro, ubi hanc conclusionem probat per totum librum, quod unus est magister noster, Christus."

(19) Augustine, De magistro, ed. K. D. Daur, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina, vol. 29 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1970), 11, 38: "De universis autem quae intellegimus non loquentem qui personat foris, sed intus ipsi menti praesidentem consulimus veritatem, verbis fortasse ut eonsulamus admoniti. Ille autem qui consulitur, docet, qui in interiore homine habitare dictus est Christus, id est incommutabilis Dei Virtus atque sempiterna Sapientia: quam quidem omnis rationalis anima consulit; sed tantum cuique panditur, quantum capere propter propriam, sive malam sive bonam voluntatem potest."

(20) Ibid., 12, 39: "Namque omnia quae percipimus, aut sensu corporis, aut mente percipimus. Illa sensibilia, haec intellegibilia; sive, ut more auctorum nostrorum loquar, illa camalia, haec spiritalia nominamus. De illis dum interrogamur, respondemus, si praesto sunt ea quae sentimus; velut curo a nobis quaeritur intuentibus lunam novam, qualis aut ubi sit."

(21) Ibid., 12, 40: "Cum vero de iis agitur quae mente conspicimus, id est intellectu atque ratione, ea quidem loquimur quae praesentia contuemur in illa interiore luce veritatis, qua ipse qui dicitur homo interior, illustratur et fruitur: sed tunc quoque noster auditor, si et ipse illa secreto ac simplici oculo videt; doceo vera dicens, vera intuentem; docetur enim non verbis meis, sed ipsis rebus, Deo intus pandente, manifestis: itaque de his etiam interrogatus respondere posset."

(22) See John McCumber, "Anamnesis As Memory of Intelligibles in Plotinus. Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie 60 (1978): 160-7; Gerard J. P. O'Daly, "Memory in Plotinus and Two Early Texts of St. Augustine," in Platonism Pagan and Christian: Studies in Plotinus and Augustine (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001).

(23) Bonaventure, Sereno theol. 4, 567-8: "Secundum hoc apparet, quod triplex est modus cognoscendi, quorum primus est per credulilatem piae assensionis, secundus per approbationem rectae rationis, tertius vero per claritatem mundae contemplationis. Primus spectat ad habitum virtutis, quae est fides; secundus ad habitum doni, quod est intellectus; tertius ad habitum beatitudinis, quae est munditia cordis. Cum igitur triplex sit cognitionis differentia, videlicet creditiva, collativa et contemplativa, omnium harum est Christus principimn et causa, et ita quod primae est principium in quantum via, secundae in quantum veritas, et tertiae in quantum vita."

(24) Ibid., 569-70: "Est etiam magister cognitionis, quae est per rationem, et hoc, in quantum est veritas. Ad cognitionem enim scientialem necessario requiritur veritas inmmtabilis ex parte scibilis, et certitudo infallibilis ex parte scientis. Omne enim, quod scitur, necessarium est in se et certum est ipsi scienti.... Requiritur igitur ex parte scibilis veritas immutabilis. Huiusmodi autem non est veritas creata simpliciter et absolute, quia omne creatum vertibile et mutabile; sed veritas creans, quae plenam habet immutabilitatem.... ... Cum igitur res habeant esse in proprio genere, habeant etiam esse in mente, habeant esse et in aeterna ratione; nec esse earurn sit omnino immutabile primo et secundo modo, sed tantum tertio, videlicet prout sunt in Verbo aeterno: restat, quod nihil potest facere res perfecte scibiles, nisi adsit Christus, Dei Filius et magister.... Requiritur etiam secundo ad huiusmodi cognitionem certitudo ex parte scientis. Haec autem non potest esse ex ea parte, quae potest falli, vel ex ea luce, quae potest obscurari. Talis aulem lux non est lux intelligentiae creatae, sed Sapientiae increatae, quae Christus est.. ... Lux ergo intellectus creati sibi non sufficit ad certam comprehensionem rei cuiuscumque absque luce Verbi aeterni."

(25) Ibid., 571: "Hunc ordinem ingoraverunt philosophi, qui, negligentes fidem et totaliter se fundantes in ratione, nullo modo pervenire potuerunt ad contemplationem."

(26) Ibid., 571-2: "Patet etiam, quis sit auctor et doctor: quia Christus, qui est director et adiutor nostrae intelligentiae non soluto generaliter, sicut in omnibus operibus naturae, nec ita specialiter in operibus gratiae et virtutis meritoriae, sed quodam modo medio inter utrumque.... Quod autem dicatur ratio intelligendi, sane intelligendum est, non quia sit intelligendi ratio sola, nec nuda, nec tota.--Si enim esset fatio sola, non differret cognitio scientiae a cognitione sapientiae, nec cognitio in Verbo a cognitione in proprio genere.-Rursus, si esset ratio nuda et aperta, non differret cognitio viae a cognitione patriae, quod quidem falsum est, cum illa sit facie ad faciem, haec autem per speculum et in aenigmate; quia nostrum intelligere secundum statum Viae non est sine phantasmate.--Postremo, si esset fatio tota, non indigeremus specie et receptione ad cognoscendas res; quod manifeste videmus esse falsum, quia, amittentes unum sensum, necesse habemus amittere unam scientiam. Unde licet anima secundum Augustinum connexa sit legibus aeternis, quia aliquo modo illud lumen attingit secundum supremam aciem intellectus agentis et superiorem portionem rationis; indubitanter tamen verum est, secundum quod dicit Philosophus, cognitionem generari in nobis via sensus, memoriae et experientiae, ex quibus colligitur uniuersale in nobis, quod est principium artis et scientiae."

(27) See Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, ed. P. Caramello (Romae: Marietti, 1950), I, q. 84, a. 5; hereafter, ST.

(28) Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de veritate in S. Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia, Leonine edition, vol. 22 (Rome: Editori di San Tommaso, 1970); hereafter De Veritate. Unless otherwise noted, translations by J. V. McGlynn, (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1953). De Veritate, q. 11, a. 1: "Huiusmodi autem rationis lumen, quo principia huiusmodi nobis sunt nota, est nobis a Deo inditum, quasi quaedam similitudo increatae veritatis in nobis resultans."

(29) See Thomas Aquinas, Super Boethium De trinitate in S. Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia, op. cit., vol. 50 (Rome: Commissio Leonina-Editions Du Cerf., 1992), q. 1, a. 1.

(30) Aquinas, De Veritate qq 11, a. 1: "Dicendum, quod in tribus eadem opinionum diversitas invenitur: scilicet in eductione formarum in esse, in acquisitione virtutum, et in acquisiuone scientiarum."

(31) Ibid.: "Et ideo, secundum doctrinam Aristotelis, via media inter has duas tenenda est in omnibus praedictis. Fomme enim naturales praeexistunt quidem in materia, non in actu, ut alii dicebant, sed in potentia solum, de qua in actum reducuntur per agens extrinsecum proximum, non solum per agens primum, ut alia opinio ponebat."

(32) Ibid.

(33) Ibid.: "[C]ontingit in scientiae acquisitione, quod eodem modo docens alium ad scientiam ignotorum deducit sicuti aliquis inveniendo deducit seipsum in cognitionem ignoti. Processus autem rationis pervenientis ad cognitionem ignoti inveniendo est ut principia eommunia per se nota applicet ad determinatas materias, et inde procedat in aliquas particulares conclusiones, et ex his in alias; unde et secundum hoc unus alium dicitur docere quod istum decursum rationis, quem in se facit ratione naturali, alteri exponit per signa et sic ratio naturalis discipuli, per huiusmodi sibi proposita, sicut per quaedam instrumenta, pervenit in cognitionem ignotorum."

(34) Ibid.: "[H]omo dicitur causare scientiam in alio operatione rationis naturalis illius: et hoc est docere; unde unus homo alium docere dieitur, et eius esse magister.... Ex ipsis enim principiis per se notis considerat, quod ea quae ex eis necessario consequuntur, sunt eertitudinaliter tenenda; quae vero eis sunt contraria, totaliter respuenda; aliis autem assensum praebere potest, vel non praebere. Huiusmodi autem rationis lumen, quo principia huiusmodi nobis sunt nota, est nobis a Deo inditum, quasi quaedam similitudo increatae veritatis in nobis resultans. Unde, cum omnis doctrina humana efficaciam habere non possit nisi ex virtute illius luminis; constat quod solus Deus est qui interius et principaliter docet, sicut natura interius et principaliter sanat; nihilominus homo et sanare et docere proprie dicitur modo praedicto."

(35) Ibid.: "Similiter etiam dicendum est de scientiae acquisitione; quod praeexistunt in nobis quaedam scientiarum semina, scilicet primae conceptiones intellectus, quae statim lumine intellectus agentis cognoscuntur per species a sensibilibus abstractas, sive sint complexa, sicut dignitates, sive incomplexa, sicut ratio entis, et unius, et huiusmodi, quae statim intellectus apprehendit. In istis autem principiis universalibus omnia sequentia includuntur, sicut in quibusdam rationibus seminalibus. Quando ergo ex istis universalibus cognitionibus mens educitur ut actu cognoscat particularia, quae prius in universali et quasi in potentia cognoscebantur, tunc aliquis dicitur scientiam acquirere."

(36) See Ibid., q. 11, a. 1, ad 5: "Ad quintum dicendum, quod in eo qui docetur, scientia praeexistebat, non quidem in actu completo, sed quasi in rationibus seminalibus, secundum quod universales conceptiones, quarum cognitio est nobis naturaliter indita, sunt quasi semina quaedam omnium sequentium cognitorum." Summa Contra Gentiles, Leonine edition, vol. 13 (Romae: Commissio Leonina, 1918), I, c. 57; hereafter SCG: "Ea quae naturaliter cognoscuntur, absque ratiocinatione nobis sunt nota: sicut patet de primis principiis." ST I, q. 60, a. 2: "Intellectus enim cognoscit principia naturaliter, et ex hac cognitione causatur in homine scientia conclusionum, quae non cognoscuntur naturaliter ab homine, sed per inventionem vel doctrinam." In Duodecim Libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis Expositio, ed. M.-R. Cathala (Romae: Marietti, 1950), lib. 4, lect. 6, n. 4: "Tertia conditio est, ut non acquiratur per demonstrationem, vel alio simili modo; sed adveniat quasi per naturam habenti ipsum, quasi ut naturaliter cognoscatur, et non per acquisitionem. Ex ipso enim lumine naturali intellectus agentis prima principia fiunt cognita, nec acquiruntur per ratiocinationes, sed soluto per hoc quod eorum termini innotescunt." In SCG II, c. 83, this natural cognition is related to the cognition of the proper object; in ST I, q. 79, a. 5 ad 3, it is related to cognition proper to the human species. See SCG II, c. 83: "Cum natura semper ordinetur ad unum, unius virtutis oportet esse naturaliter unum obiectum: sicut visus colorem, et auditus sonum. Intellectus igitur cum sit una vis, est eius unum naturale obiectum, cuius per se et naturaliter cognitionem habet. Hoc autem oportet esse id sub quo comprehenduntur omnia ab intellectu cognita: sicut sub colore comprehenduntur omnes colores, qui sunt per se visibiles. Quod non est aliud quam ens. Naturaliter igitur intellectus noster cognoscit ens, et ea quae sunt per se entis inquantum huiusmodi; in qua cognitione fundatur primorum principiorum notitia, ut non esse simul affirmare et negare, et alia huiusmodi. Haec igitur sola principia intellectus noster naturaliter cognoscit, conclusiones autem per ipsa: sicut per colorem cognoscit visus taro communia quam sensibilia per accidens." See ST I, q. 79, a. 5, ad 3: "Ad tertium dicendum quod omnia quae sunt unius speciei, communicant in actione consequente naturam speciei, et per consequens in virtute, quae est actionis principium, non quod sit eadem numero in omnibus. Cognoscere autem prima intelligibilia est actio consequens speciem humanam. Unde oportet quod omnes homines communicent in virtute quae est principium huius actionis, et haec est virtus intellectus agentis." We owe the foregoing list of texts to De Petter; as he shows, Aquinas combines the vocabulary of innate cognition (see, De veritate q. 10, a. 6, ad 6: "prima principia quorum cognitio est nobis innata") with that of acquired knowledge: see SCG II, c. 83: "ipsorum principiorum cognitio in nobis ex sensibilibus causatur;" Quaestiones Disputatae De Anima, ed. B. C. Bazan, (Romae: Commissio Leonina, 1996), q. 1, a. 5: "etiam ipsa principia indemonstrabilia cognoscimus abstrahendo a singularibus." See De Petter, "De oorsprong van de zijnskelmis volgens Thomas van Aquino," 100 and following. Natural cognition is the middle between innate and acquired cognition.

(37) See Jan A. Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals: The Case of Thomas Aquinas (Leiden: Brill, 1996), 173.

(38) Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals, 174 and following.

(39) Henry of Ghent, Summa Quaestionum Ordinariarum, in Opera Omnia, ed. G. Wilson (Louvain: Leuven University Press 2001); hereafter SQO (page numbers refer to the Latin edition). Unless otherwise noted, translation is from, Henry of Ghent's Summa of Ordinary Questions: Article One: On the Possibility of Knowing, trans. R. J. Teske (South Bend: St. Augustine's Press, 2008). SQO, a. 1, q. 1, pages 11-12: "Quod ... contingit aliquid scire et rem percipere sicuti est, manifestum est ex eis quae experimur in nobis et circa nos, et hoc tam in cognitione sensitiva qumn intellectiva. In cognitione enim sensitiva sensus ille vete rem percipit, sicuti est sine omni deceptione et fallacia, cui in actione propria sentiendi suum proprium obiectum non contradicit aliquis sensus verior vel intellectus acceptus ab alio sensu veriori, sive in eodem sive in alio.... Cognitione ... intellectiva, sicut iam dictum est de cognitione sensitiva, intellectus ille vere rem percipit, sicuti est sine omni deceptione et fallacia, cui in actione propria intelligendi non contradicit intellectus verior vel acceptus a sensu veriori. Nec de tali intellectu plus dubitandum est quam de sensu."

(40) Ibid., q. 2, 39-63.

(41) Ibid., q. 4, 90: "Utrum contingat hominem scire a natura ah ab acquisitione."

(42) The relevant thesis from the Meno, however, is already at stake in the first question, where it is counted as the sixth of seven errors in antiquity which deny the possibility of certain cognition; see ibid., a. 1, q. 1, 13-14: "Contra hoc tamen antiquitus vigebant septem errores, taro ex parte sensus, tam ex parte intellectus, quorum quinque reprobat Philosophus IV' Metaphysicae, illorum scilicet errorem qui negabant scientiam negando illud principium scientiale 'de quolibet affirmatio vel negatio, et non simul de eodem'. Sextum vero, qui erat Menonis negantis hominem posse addiscere, reprobat in principio Posteriorum. Septimmn autem, qui erat Academicorum negantium veri perceptionem, reprobant Augustinus et Tullius in libris suis De Academicis."

The fifth and sixth objections render this very paradox as follows. Ibid., 7: "Quinto ex parte scientis, et est argumentum Menonis quo negabat scientiam in principio Posteriorum, ut dicit Commentator super [] Metaphysicae, sic. 'Nemo addiscit nisi qui aliquid novit', secundum Augustinum III[degrees] De Academicis et Philosophum IX[degrees] Metaphysicae. Qui autem aliquid novit non addiscit, quia 'discere est motus ad sciendum'. Nemo ergo est qui aliquid addiscit. 'Nemo autem potest habere disciplinam qui nihil didicit', secundum Augustinum ibidem. Ergo ete. Sexto arguitur ex eodem medio aliter formando argumentum sic. 'Nihil addiscit qui nihil novit. Non potest autem habere disciplinam qui nihil addiscit'. Ergo 'non potest habere disciplinam qui nihil novit'. Homo quilibet ab initio nihil novit, quia intellectus humanus, antequam recipiat species, est 'sicut tabula nuda in qua nihil depictum est', ut dicitur in III[degrees] De anima. Ergo etc."

(43) Ibid., q. 4, 94-103.

(44) Ibid., 104-5: "ut dicamus quod omnes formae scientiales et morales ab intra sunt quantum ad potentiam susceptibilis, et etiam ab extra non solum quantum ad impressionem agentis particularis secundum modum Aristotelis, sed etiam quantum ad impressionem agentis universalis secundum modum Platonis, ita quod ... perfectum verbum veritatis imprimere non possit res extra in animam per suam speciem sine impressione ab exemplari veritatis aeternae."

(45) Ibid., 107: "Breviter ergo dico ad quaestionem quod scire in potentia nobis contingit a natura, in actu autem et perfectione a studio nostro et acquisitione.... ergo perfecte non contingit nobis scire nisi acquisitione."

(46) Ibid., ad 2, 108-9.

(47) Ibid., ad 3, 110-11: "[I]ntelligendum quod potentia intellectiva et est ratio et est intellectus. Inquantum est intellectus, operatur ut natura circa propria obiecta, intelligendo scilicet prima principia ... simplici intuitu statim curo ei offertur obiectum, sine omni discursu et investigatione.... Nec tamen illam notitiam habet intellectus onmino naturaliter et ab intra, sed contingit ei ex obiecto quod aecipit ab extra, et curo hoc ex exemplari aeterno, si perfectam debet habere veritatis notitiam, ut dictum est supra. Et quoad hoc etiam illa notitia quodam modo est naturalis et quodam modo est acquisita; solum tamen in potentia inest naturaliter, in quantum non est in actu nisi per hoc quod est acquisita .... Esset autem cognitio intellectus pure naturalis, si nullo modo indigeret acquiri ab extra. Et de hoc modo sciendi a natura sine omni acquisitione necessaria ad sciendum proposita est quaestio, an scire contingit homini a natura, an ab acquisitione aliqua et alicuius super id quod habet homo a natura, quo dispositus est ad sciendum."

(48) See ibid., ad 1, 108: "[P]otentia cognitiva naturalis est, maxime autem respectu sui subiecti. Subiecti enim sui potentia naturalis est, quia naturaliter animae indita et non ab extrinseco acquisita. Respectu vero sui actus, maxime illius qui est scire ea quae post principia, non est proprie potentia naturalis, sed rationalis, quia scire conclusiones non contingit homini nisi via rationalis inquisitionis et investigationis, quae valet ad opposita, quia in ea potest errare et dirigere. Unde Philosophus in II" Physicorum dividit principium operativum quod est fatio contra principium operativum quod est natura, eo quod rationalis potestas valet ad opposita, natura vero ad unum tantum." Emphasis added.

(49) Ibid., ad 7, 117-8: "[R]atio in homine et est ratio et est natura. Si ergo sciret ductu rationis naturalis, ut est natura, tunc revera naturaliter sciret, sicut naturaliter scit principia prima intelligendo ea simplici conceptu, non ratiocinando, quae tamen non scit naturaliter nisi in potentia, ut dictum est et amplius infra dicetur. Sed ut actualiter ea sciat et intelligat, requiritur aliquid acquisitum quo ea intelligat, ut saltem species intelligibilium. Nunc ergo quia homo scit ductu naturalis rationis, ut est fatio, discurrendo et ratiocinando, hoc non est scire naturaliter, sed rationaliter, non per scientiam innatam, sed per acquisitam."

(50) See ibid., ad 5, 113-4: "Ad quintum, quod "puer respondet ad interrogata", dicendum quod non sic respondet propter aliquam scientiam quam prius anima eius habuit et quae in ipso secundum habitum latet, ut per interrogata commoveatur ut exeat in actum, sicut opinatus est Plato, sed quia ex notitia primorum principiorum incomplexorum quam prius sibi acquisivit per sensus cognoscendo tenninos, statim--hoc est modico discursu--patent ei quaecumque proponuntur sub interrogatione per immediata; et hoe maxime quando homo est ingenio perspicax et assistit divina illustratio ad perceptionem veritatis sincerae, cui Augustinus attribuit quod sic puer respondet, I[degrees] libro Retractationum. Sicut enim patent intellectui statim, scilicet sine omni discursu, prima principia ex prima notitia terminorum, ita patere possunt ex proximis principiis proximae conclusiones, ita quod quaestionibus singulis propositis ordinatim et gradatim et per immediata semper sine omni discursu ex praecedentibus patet intellectui veritas sequentium.... Unde quia scientiae geometricae traduntur per immediata, ad interrogata geometrae puer bene respondit. Si tamen interrogatus fuisset per mediata, non sic respondisset, quia veritas mediatorum non patet statim in primis nisi media explicentur. Si etiam interrogatus fuisset de rebus aliis, non sic per immediationem ad prima principia connexis, nequaquam diserte respondisset." See also ibid., q. 1, ad 5 and 6, 26-7: "Ad quintum et ad sextum, quod non contingit scire, quia non contingit addiscere, dicendum quod assumptum falsum est. Bene enim contingit addiscere, ut patebit inferius. Sed intelligendum quod addiscere dupliciter potest accipi: uno modo communiter ad omnem acquisitionem scientiae de novo--sic non oportet quod omnis addiscens aliquid novit, quia addiscens notitiam primorum principiorum ex nulla notitia praecedente eam acquirit--; alio modo proprie ad cognitionem conclusionum solum, quam acquirit secundum actum ex notitia principiorum praecedente, in qua latet secundum potentiam, ut infra patebit; et sic addiscens aliquid novit."

(51) See ibid., a. 1, q. 5, 128-9: "Sed circa deductionem intellectus de potentia in actum sciendum quod sicut ... in aegrotante aliquando vis naturalis intra curativa morbi tam potens est, ut sine omni adminiculo exteriori et adiutorio medici et medicinae de potentia sano faciat actu sanum, aliquando vero est in tantum debilis, ut hoc non possit facete sine adiutorio medicinae exterioris, similiter contingit in proposito quod aliquis homo aliquando invenitur ex sollertia naturali ira subtilis et industrius, ut solo adiutorio interiori luminis intellectus agentis possit exprimis principiis naturaliter intellectis elicere ductu naturalis rationis conclusiones proximas, et ex illis alias ulteriores, et sic deinceps gradatim et ordinatim procedendo usque ad conclusiones ultimas particulares rei cognoscendae. De tali homine dico quod per se et sine omni doctore exteriori potest dicto modo sibi perfectam scientiam acquirere.... Quando vero homo ex naturali industria non est talis, dico quod per se scientiam alicuius rei perfectam acquirere non potest sine doctore."

(53) See ibid., a. 1, q. 6, 137-8; see also ibid., q. 10, 169-71.

(53) See ibid., a. 1, q. 6, 138; and ad 7, 140-1.

(54) See ibid., a. 1, q. 7, 147: "De eis igitur quae naturaliter sunt cognoscenda ab homine et ex puris naturalibus ad exemplar creatum acceptum a rebus, ut est omnis cognitio qua scitur id quod verum est in re, etiam qua cognoscitur ipsa veritas rei incomplete, et cum ad hoc sufficiat exemplar acceptum are, non illustratione divini et aeterni exemplaris, simpliciter dicendum est quod Deus non docet in quolibet actu diseendi."

(55) Ibid., a. 1, q. 7, 144: "Et hoc isto modo docendi qui scilicet sit ostendendo conformitatem rei creatae ad suum exemplar primum, a quo creatura et creata est et deseripta, quia conformitas ad tale exemplar non potest videri nisi aspiciendo ad ipsum, et solus Deus potest homini hoc exemplar ostendere, ut ad ipsum aspiciat."

(56) Ibid., a. l, q. 7, 145-6.

(57) See ibid., a. 1, q. 10, 170-1.

(58) See ibid., a. 1, q. 11, 179-80: "Appellando ergo acquisitum omne superveniens ei quod innatum est, omnis notitia in habituet onmis notitia in actu acquisita est. Sed aliquid quod non est innatum, sed superveniens et acquisitum, dupliciter potest acquiri: uno modo naturaliter, alio modo rationaliter."

(59) Ibid., a. 1, q. 11, 182: "... non est innata ullo modo, sed naturaliter acquisita, et ita non proprie acquisita, quia naturaliter, ut dictum est, adveniens est, non quaesita nec investigata, sicut est quaesita et investigata a discente scientia conclusionis."

(60) John Duns Scotus, Quaestiones super lib, vs Metaphysicorum Aristotelis, in Opera, Philosophica, vol. 3, ed. G. Etzkorn et al. (St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: The Franciscan Institute, 1997); hereafter In Metaph. (page numbers refer to the Latin edition). Unless otherwise noted, translations by A.B. Wolter and G.J. Etzkorn, Questions on the Metaphysics of Aristotle by John Duns Scotus, vol. 1 (St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: Franciscan Institute Publications, 1997). In Metaph., lib. 1, q. 4, 95: "Utrum ex experimentis generetur ars." The importance of this text lies in the fact that Scotus's Metaphysics commentary defends a straight intellectual cognition of the singular, which is introduced in In Metaph., lib. 1, q. 5, 132: "singulare potest per se intelligi," and which is defended in book 7, q. 15. In In Metaph., lib. 1, q. 4, 120-2, the issue is explicit only in the answer to the third objection, where Scotus seems to ascribe the position to his opponent: "Immo simpliciter intellectus agens, secundum te, non causat universalitatem, quia primum obiectum possibilis est singular." The edition refers to Aquinas; I would rather suggest Richard Conington, Quodlibet I, q. 4. See W. Goris, Absolute Beginners. Der mittelalterliche Beitrag zu einem Ausgang vom Unbedingten (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 193 and following.

(61) For the state of research on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics 2.19, see the contributions in the first part of Interpreting Aristotle's 'Posterior Analytics' in Late Antiquity and Beyond, ed. F. A. J. de Haas, M. Leunissen, and M. Martijn (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 3-97.A

(62) Scotus, In Metaph., lib. 1, q. 4, 97-8: "Dicendum quod dupliciter generatur scientia: per inventionem et doctrinam; sed illa per inventionem prior est. Nullus enim docet, nisi qui vel didicit per doctrinam vel per inventionem. Et si per doctrinam, adhuc habuit ab alio prius sciente. Est autem de istis duobus modis addiscendi sicut de sanatione. Quandoque enim natura est ita potens quod sine adiutorio extrinseco inducit sanitatem. Quandoque indiget adiutorio extrinseco, sed adhuc illud extrinsectun non est nisi instrumentum, et natura principahter est sanans. Ita in quibusdam, naturale lumen intellectus est ira potens quod ex se sufficit quod applicet principia ad conclusiones, et tunc dicitur scientia acquiri per inventionem. Quandoque non potest, et tunc iuvatur ex quibusdain signis sensibilibus propositis sibi a docente, per quae docens exprimir applicationem quam apud se habuit. Et addiscens concipit, et in virtute luminis proprii conclusioni consentit, quam deductam esse videt ex principiis sibi prius notis."

(63) See ibid., 100-101: "Sic ergo patet qualiter cognitio experimentalis valet ad cognoscendum illud quod est principium artis et scientiae, de quo habetur II Posteriorum, quia et propter cognitionem simplicium quae cognitione sensitiua apprehenduntur, et propter cognitionem veritatis in compositione, sicut prius dictum est. Quoad primum non est cognitio experimentalis--sive frequens acceptio sensibilium--necessaria, sed aliqua apprehensio sensibilis; et ita necessaria quod sine illa impossibile est vel simplex, quod est terminus principii, vel compositum ipsum ab intellectu concipi. Et idem etiam aeque verum est de conclusione sicut de principio. Quoad secundum iuvat cognitio experimentalis, ut citius assentiatur principio affirmativo, si per sensum cognoscatur coniunctio extremorum in singularibus; negativo, si disiunctio. Sed non est necessaria nec ipsa nec aliqua apprehensio sensitiva. Licet enim numquam per aliquem sensum videatur haec affirmatio uel negatio, nec eorum separatio in re, si tamen ex sensibilibus apprehendatur affirmatio uel negatio, et intellectus componat hanc propositionem 'de omni affirmatio vel negatio vera', assentitur isti. Et etiam ubi sensus percipit coniunctionem singularium terminorum in re, adhuc certius adhaeretur principio complexo per lumen naturale intellectus quam propter aliquam apprehensionem sensus. Si enim in apprehensione sensus esset error, et intellectus iudicaret sensum errare in hoc, et tamen a sensu errante acciperet notitiam simplicium, et illa componeret ex sua virtute, adhuc intellectus circa illud principium non erraret quantum ad veritatem compositionis."

(64) Ibid., 105-8.

(65) Ibid., 122-3.

(66) See ibid., 108: "Secundo directe ad clariorem intellectum quaestionis est considerandum quod a sensu, sive errante sive non, potest intellectus apprehendere simplicia et statim universalissima."

(67) See ibid., 108: "Quia ad quamcumque apprehensionem sensitivam imprimuntur intellectui ens etres. Simplicibus apprehensis a sensu vero uel falso, propositiones fiunt virtute propria intellectus: primo de universalioribus, postea de aliis. De universalissimis, factis communibus conceptionibus, statim intellectus illis assentir, non propter sensum, immo certius quam posset per sensum, dato quod a sensu accepisset cognitionem veritatis illarum propositionum."

(68) See ibid., 109: "[O]mnes conclusiones nobis naturaliter cognoscibiles per demonstrationem cognosci possent, etiamsi omnis sensus erraret, vel si aliquis erraret et aliquis non."

(69) The point of the text, which deals with the contribution of cognitio experimentalis to the process of reasoning, is the distinction between, on the one hand, propositional content with regard to which the intellect can reach absolute certainty--that is, immediate and mediate propositions established on the first conceptions--and, on the other hand, propositional content that is empirical and therefore liable to errors imported from the senses. See ibid., 112-3: "[C]ertitudo proprie non est nisi circa compositionem et divisionem, quae ad intellectum tantum proprie pertinent. Prima operatio intellectus semper vera est, licet sequens sensum errantem.... In compositione autem et divisione, sicut dictum est supra, errat intellectus sequens sensum errantem, sed non circa prima principia nec circa conclusiones quas exprimis principiis deduxit, sed circa alias conclusiones quarum aliam notitiam non habet nisi a sensu errante."

(70) See ibid., 110: "[C]oncedendum quod in nobis cognitio intellectiva sit simpliciter certior quam sensitiva."

(71) See ibid., 113-115.

(72) See Martin Pickave, "Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus on Skepticism and the Possibility of Naturally Acquired Knowledge," in Rethinking the History of Skepticism, op. cit., 61-96.

(73) See Scotus, In Metaph., lib. 1, q. 4, 125 and following.

(74) See ibid., 112: "Aut per notitiam acceptam a sensu, ... aut per notitiam aliquam innatam, non acquisitam per sensus; talis non ponitur."

(75) Henry of Ghent, SQO, a. 1, q. 5, 127-8: "Hinc dicit Commentator super IIIum De anima: 'Intellectus qui in nobis est duas habet actiones, quarum una est comprehendere intellecta, alia est extrahere formas et denudare a materiis, quod nihil aliud est nisi facere eas intellectas in actu postquam erant in potentia.' Intellecta autem duobus modis fiunt in nobis: aut naturaliter--et sunt primae propositiones--, aut voluntate--et sunt intellecta acquisita ex primis propositionibus." See Averroes, In III De anima, ed. F. S. Crawford (Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 1953), comm. 36, page 496: "intellecta autem duobus modis fiunt in nobis: aut naturaliter (et sunt prime propositiones, quas nescimus quando extiterunt et unde et quomodo) aut voluntarie (et sunt intellecta acquisita ex primis propositionibus)."

(76) Aetius, Placitae Philosophorum, in The Hellenistic Philosophers, 2 vols., ed. and trans. A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987), 4.11, translation at 1:238, text at 2:185: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

(77) Aquinas, Super Boethium De trinitate, q, 1, a. 3, page 87.

Correspondence to: Wouter Goris, Faculty of Philosophy, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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