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

243. Dominicus Gundissalinus, Archdeacon of Segovia, is not only remarkable as one of the Toledo translators (226), but also as a philosophical writer of considerable importance in history. Five of his treatises are extant: De Divisione Philosophiae, De Immortalitate Animae, De Processione Mundi, De Unitate, De Anima. The three latter, borrowing from the Fons Vitae of Avicebron, are posterior to the translation -- in which Gundissalinus himself collaborated -- of this work. Baur, the editor of the De Divisione Philosophiae, places it at a date subsequent to 1240.

Gundissalinus is an eclectic compiler, susceptible to the influence of other men's ideas, accustomed as he was to the work of translation. He was an Aristotelian in metaphysics and psychology, but drew from commentaries and Arabian texts instead of the original sources. As a consequence, his Aristotelianism is tinged with Neo-Pythagorism and Alexandrian Neo-Platonism, like his Arabian sources. But he strips these foreign elements of the pantheism they breathed in the Neo-Platonists and in more than one of the Arabians too; for Gundissalinus is an individualist. And this in turn he owes to a third -- the Christian -- influence, especially of Boëthius and St. Augustine. The most noteworthy among his teachings are those that refer to the classification of the sciences, to metaphysics and to psychology.

He undertakes a classification of the philosophical sciences in a didactic sort of treatise, entitled De Divisione Philosophiae: a large compilation from Alfarabi's De Scientiis and various writings of Ammonius, Isaac Israeli, Avicenna, Boethius, Isidore of Seville and Venerable Bede. He emphasizes the distinction between theology, the Scientia Divina (Deo auctore, hominibus tradita) and philosophy, the Scientia Humana (quae humanis rationibus adinventa esse probatur); he propounds this principle which was advocated by all the great scholastics: nulla est scientia quae philosophiae non sit aliqua pars; he offers approvingly no less than six definitions{1} of philosophy; and he sketches a scheme of division which runs mainly on Aristotelian lines. The philosophical sciences proper (scientiae sapientiae) include a theoretical and a practical group. The former embraces Physics, Mathematics and Metaphysics. As subdivisions of Physics (scientia naturalis, de his quae non sunt separata a suis materiis) we find the following branches enumerated: medicina, indicia, nigromantia, ymagines, agricultura, navigatio, specula, alquemia. Mathematics (de his quae sunt separata a materia in intellectu non in esse) include the following branches: arithmetica, geometria (with optics), musica, astrologia, scientia de aspectibus, de ponderibus, de ingeniis. Metaphysics is a scientia divina which treats de his quae sunt separata a materia in esse et in intellectu. Practical philosophy is divided into politics, economics and ethics.

Logic, according to the Arabian idea, is an instrumentum preliminary to philosophy and presupposed in a certain sense in the acquisition of knowledge of whatsoever kind; but in another sense it is a part of philosophy, and is itself preceded by other sciences.

These latter form a third group called the propedeutic sciences: the scientia litteralis, or grammar; and the scientiae civiles, or poetry (including history) and rhetoric.

After outlining this classification, Gundissalinus takes up and explains each branch in detail. His effort in this work of classification was the starting-point of a genuine onward movement, both scientific and didactic, and his influence is manifest in all the thirteenth-century works dealing with this problem. The treatise of his contemporary, Michael Scot, Divisio Philosophiae,{2} is merely a compendium of the work of Gundissalinus. He also inspired the work of Albert the Great{3} and Robert Kilwardby, who did much for the classification of the sciences, acknowledges his deep indebtedness to Gundissalinus.

In metaphysics, Gundissalinus is Aristotelian, as we might infer from the attention he pays to the scientia prima in the De Divisione Philosophiae. The object of Metaphysics is Being, with the consequences of Being (consequentia entis: substance and accident, universal and particular, cause and effect, act and potency). His treatment of these topics is inspired mainly by Alfarabi and Avicenna; yet we find in the De Unitate traces of the Alexandrian and Arabian theories of emanation and mystic gradations in the scale of beings. Unity is set forth after the manner of the Neo-Platonic pantheists as the constitutive principle and ground of all things. God is the creatrix unitas whence the creata unitas springs. The derivation of the creature is not by way of emanation from the bosom of God, as with Avicebron, but by a general creative participation, on the nature of which the De Unitate says nothing. Intelligence, world-soul and bodies are three successive steps which mark the appearance and development of unity in creation: moreover, every being, with the sole exception of the First Being, is composed of matter and form, two opposite principles held together by the cohesive force of unity. Those theories are evidently borrowed from the Fons Vitae, which Gundissalinus had studied and translated.

The De Immortalitate Animae is a small treatise on rational psychology. Its plan is original, and it presents a curious mixture of Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic (Arabian) theories. Its author propounds the theory of abstraction as described by Avicenna, the distinction between intellectual and sense knowledge, the individuality of the real beings to which our universal concepts apply; he then undertakes to prove the immortality of the soul, with rigorous cogency, by the famous Aristotelian argument based on the characteristics of thought; but this teaching is all interspersed with Arabian and Neo-Platonic theories. Such, for instance, is the theory regarding rapture (raptus): when the flesh is subdued and its resistance to the higher aspirations of the spirit diminished, the latter can launch itself in ecstasy upon the intelligible world and thus attain to the most complete emancipation from the servitude of the body: whence the author concludes (with Plato, and against Aristotle) that death, by severing the bodily trammels of the soul, secures for it the plenitude of its perfection. This proof of immortality was exceedingly popular in the thirteenth century.{4} Another Alexandrian conception to which Gundissalinus gave a peripatetic meaning, is that of man as a "microcosm". Finally, his close contact with Arabian philosophy accounts for his close attention to psycho-physiological doctrines. His influence in psychology is traceable in Helmandus of Frigidimonte, in John de la Rochelle, and in a lesser degree in Albert the Great and St. Bonaventure. It is most apparent, however, in William of Auvergne, who plagiarized the De Immortalitate Animae.

{1} "Assimilatio hominis operibus creatoris secundum virtutem humanitatis -- tedium et cura et studium et sollicitudo mortis -- rerum humanarum divinarumque cognitio cum studio bene vivendi conjuncta -- ars artium et disciplina disciplinarum -- integra cognitio hominis de seipso -- amor sapientiae." We quote from BAUR's edition. {2} Fragments of this treatise are reproduced in the Speculum Doctrinale of Vincent of Beauvais: edited by Baur in an appendix.

{3} BAUR, Dominieus Gundissalinus, De Divis. Philos., pp. 365, 375.

{4} BÜLOW, pp. 115 sqq. (246). Des Dominicus Gundissalinus Schrift v. d. Unsterblichkeit, etc.

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