Friedman, Russell L.: Intellectual Traditions at the Medieval University: The Use of Philosophical Psychology in Trinitarian Theology among the Franciscans and Dominicans, 1250-1350.
The journey begins with an introduction to the question on which the book focuses: what accounts for the distinctness of the three persons of the Trinity? Tracing the question from the gospel of John through the Arian controversies and onward, Friedman distinguishes two broad medieval answers. The relation account (associated with the Dominicans) holds that the Father, Son, and Spirit are distinguished by the relations among them. The emanation account (associated with the Franciscans) holds that they are distinguished rather by their origins. To this story is added Augustine's psychological model, which patterns Trinitarian processions on the mind's generating a word and love. Franciscans tended to apply this model literally, while Dominicans preferred to read it metaphorically.
Part one, covering 1250 to 1280, identifies the debate's Dominican-Franciscan origins and its early vicissitudes. In chapter one, Friedman shows how the early Aquinas and Bonaventure agree that the Trinitarian persons are distinguished only by relations that are really distinct in their terms (Aquinas's word) or modes (Bonaventure's), but which are not really distinct from the divine essence. They differ, however, on how to interpret the emanations whereby Father generates the Son and the Spirit proceeds from both. For the early Aquinas, the relation gives rise to the person who emanates. For Bonaventure, conversely, the emanation distinguishes persons and grounds the relations among persons. This disagreement bears fruit in two traditions of theorizing about Trinitarian persons.
Chapter two tracks the first stages in the developing Franciscan emanation tradition, focusing on Gerard of Abbeville, Walter of Bruges, William of Baglione, Eustace of Arras, John Pecham, William de la Mare, Matthew of Aquasparta, Nicholas of Ockham, and Roger Marston.
Chapter three turns to the Dominican relation tradition as it developed in the later Aquinas, Bombolognus of Bologna, and Roman of Rome, as well as the spread of Dominican and Franciscan approaches into three secular masters (Ranulph of Houblonniere, Adenulph of Anagrii, and Giles of Rome). For reasons of space, Friedman understandably omits a set of German Dominicans, including Albertus Magnus, who defended the emanation account; but it would have been interesting to discuss why they took this anomalous position.
Part two, covering 1280 to 1320, tells the stoiy of two watershed developments associated with Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus, and the various scholastic reactions to their innovations. Chapter four examines Henry's rejection of the distinguishing role of relations and his literalizing of the psychological model. It clarifies these developments through an interesting discussion of his thought on relations and human psychology. Chapter five examines, first, Dominican relation-account reactions in Giles of Rome, Godfrey of Fontaines, and Bernard of Auvergne; and second, Franciscan emanation-account reactions in Richard of Mediavilla, Alexander of Alessandria, Peter of Trabes, and William of Ware. It concludes with an important summary of five key arguments or puzzles around which the debate has begun to coalesce.
Chapter six turns to Scotus's doctrine of absolute persons distinguished by their absolute origins. Scotus deploys a strong psychological model, explicating Trinitarian processions in line with his own views on how memory brings forth a "word" or "actual understanding." Seeking to understand this development in historical context, Friedman evaluates how Scotus is both indebted to and reacts against Henry. Most interestingly, although they agree in rejecting a relation account, Henry does so because relations in themselves cannot ground real distinctions, whereas for Scotus, it is that relations are too distinct!
Chapter seven canvasses the Dominican response to Scotus's innovations, focusing on Hervaeus Natalis, Durandus of Saint-Pourcain (whose forceful rejection of the literal psychological model leads him to conclude that "Word" and "Love" are not even personal names), and the Liber propugnatorius. Chapter eight covers the Franciscan response, beginning with Hugh of Castro Novo, Alexander of Alessandria, John of Bassol, William of Nottingham, and Robert Cowton. While Scotus's doctrine of absolute persons fared badly among his confreres, they tended to support his explanation of why the Spirit would still be distinct from the Son even if (counterfactually) not emanated by the Son. Friedman examines a debate between Cowton and Thomas Sutton, which dramatizes the reception of Henry of Ghent and Scotus. The chapter concludes with Scotus's reception in Henry of Harclay.
Peter Auriol, the subject of chapter nine, ushers in a new era in the debate. Auriol notably introduces new metaphysical concepts that ground his doctrine of "unelicited emanations," whereby he seeks to erase the conceptual difference between emanations and receptions. Auriol thus inaugurates a "search for simplicity" that will be the topic of part three, covering the period 1320 to 1350. Friedman interprets this new trend (which coexisted alongside other earlier theoretical trends) as the outgrowth of a broader scholastic methodological shift toward prioritizing economy of explanation over explanatory completeness.
Chapter ten challenges the prevailing interpretation of Ockham as a careless fideist, finding in him instead a robust theological speculation whose fideistic conclusions are motivated by a concern to specify the epistemic status of theological conclusions. Although Ockham's view partly resembles Auriol's, he rejects the literal application of the psychological model, arguing for instance that it is illegitimate to use it to "prove" that there can be only two Trinitarian processions.
Chapter eleven tracks the English reception of Ockham in 1315 to 1350. In Walter Chatton, the search for simplicity manifests in his criticism of terms that seem to hypostatize anything other than the Trinitarian persons, in the Praepositian view that the persons are distinct in and of themselves rather than by any property, and in a strictly metaphorical psychological model. Friedman also provides a prospectus of Adam Wodeham's unexplored Trinitarian theology (against Chatton), reviews a Dominican disagreement about how to protect Divine simplicity (Robert Holcot and an author who is perhaps William Crathom), and briefly discusses some minor Oxford figures.
Chapter twelve examines the quite different landscape of Trinitarian debates in the same time period at Paris, where Friedman distinguishes three general strands of thought: the usual suspects (Dominicans and Franciscans, the latter usually following Scotus), the "independents," and representatives of the "search for simplicity." Representatives of a Dominican tradition include Bernard Lombardi, Durandellus, Augustinus Triumphus, Dionysius de Burgo Sancti Sepulcri, Gerard of Siena, and Thomas of Strasbourg; while Scotists include Landulph Caracciolo and Francis of Meyronnes. Independent new theories were put forth by John Baconthorpe (who held that the Father is constituted by generativity), Gerard Odo, and Nicholas Bonet. "Search for simplicity" theorists receive special attention. Francis of Marcia argues that constitutive properties are neither relations nor emanations, but contain both "eminently." Michael of Massa shifts Augustinian thought toward Franciscan convictions. William of Rubio and Gregory of Rimini represent versions of Praepositionism. From the "search for simplicity," Friedman draws broader historiographical conclusions concerning theological speculation in the fourteenth century. Where Schmaus connects the rise of Praepositionism to nominalism and Scotus's doctrine of absolute persons, Friedman traces it rather to a new aesthetic that favored theoretical streamlining.
The volume's conclusion manages to fit in a few more figures by briefly surveying the response to Rimini's minimalism in Paul of Perugia, John of Mirecourt, Peter Ceffons, Hugolino of Orvieto, and Alphonsus Vargas of Toledo. Wrapping up the study, Friedman highlights the diversity of sophisticated theories in the period studied, which undermine the uncritical "it's all downhill from Aquinas" view of medieval Trinitarian theology.
In addition to his historiographical contributions, Friedman also elaborates important hermeneutic strategies for reading scholastic texts. First, he underscores that treatments of a topic should be read both in the context of their authors' broader thought (recognizing scholasticism's systematicizing aims) and as part of a wider scholastic "conversation." Second, he recognizes that conceptual interbreeding in scholasticism results in theories that defy easy categorization. (In fact, some of the theories he considers show that even the general distinction between relation and emanation accounts does not always carve at the joints.) Hence, he wisely avoids rigid categories in favor of a more fruitful strategy, in which flexibly intertwining conceptual trends can be tracked by examining how authors respond to a traditional cluster of arguments. Finally, he offers guidance on interpreting appeals to authoritative sources, documenting in particular "marginalization strategies" whereby scholastic thinkers brought authorities around to their own side.
One weakness was unavoidable, and Friedman himself acknowledges it: namely, much of the relevant material remains unedited, and many newly edited figures have not yet received in-depth scholarly study. Consequently, some not so well known figures have a somewhat insecure place in the broader narrative. Nevertheless, Friedman has accomplished a Herculean task in bringing the Trinitarian thought of these thinkers to attention, sometimes for the first time ever. In fact, the volume offers tools toward remedying their neglect: namely, an extensive list of the extant critical editions, early printings, and unedited texts of Dominican writers addressing Trinitarian theology in the early fourteenth century; an extensive list of the unedited texts of Oxford theologians addressing Trinitarian theology circa 1330 to 1350; and a critical edition of Eustace of Arras's quaestio "Utrum Spiritus Sanctus personaliter distingueretur a Filio si non procederet a Filio."--Therese Cory, University of Notre Dame
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|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2015|
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