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

312. Condemnations of Thomism. -- Let us deal firstly with Paris. As early as 1270, a move was made to include in the inquiry that led up to the condemnation of Averroïsm on the 10th of December (344) two favourite theories of St. Thomas: his doctrine on unity of substantial form in one of its theological applications, and his doctrine on simplicity of substance in the angels.{1} That same year, indeed, St. Thomas had maintained, in his third quodlibetic disputation, practically all the new theories in which he parted company with the earlier scholastics. This first attempt to involve him failed, but seven years later a similar plan was again set in motion. On the 18th of January, 1277, John XXI., informed that Averroïstic errors were being taught at Paris, ordered the bishop, Stephen Tempier, to hold an investigation. The latter, accordingly, convening an assembly of the masters of theology, proceeded without delay (on the 7th of March) to condemn 219 propositions, bearing mainly on Averroïsm but some of which embodied Thomist doctrines, notably the doctrine on the principle of individuation (theses 81, 96, 191).{2} It is surprising that such an indignity could have been inflicted on St. Thomas -- to associate his doctrines with those of the Averroïsts, his adversaries, and to strike them with the same censures for the same ostensible reasons. It was undoubtedly the supporters of the earlier or Augustinian scholasticism that secured the condemnation, but it is likely that they were aided and abetted by other opponents of St. Thomas: the partisans of William of St. Amour, Nicholas of Lisieux and Gerard of Abbeville would have used all their influence to bring suspicion on one of the most redoubtable champions of the rights of the mendicant orders. Those condemnations of Tempier had no binding force outside the University and diocese of Paris. They were, however, no mere isolated fact, but rather part of a wider plan of campaign of which the ramifications extended to Oxford.

Oxford, under the jurisdiction of the archbishopric of Canterbury, was in fact a centre of active opposition to the new Thomistic theories. The supporters of the older scholasticism were led by two archbishops successively, the Dominican Robert Kilwardby and the Franciscan John Peckham, and were accordingly described in the contemporary documents as the "Cantuarienses".{3}

On the 18th of March, a few days subsequent to Tempier's decree at Paris, the archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Kilwardby, who had been leading the campaign against Thomism among the English Dominicans, got a series of theses in Grammar, Logic and Physics condemned by the masters of the University of Oxford. Chief among the theses in Physics (in naturalibus) are those relating to the Thomistic teaching about generatio, the passivity of matter, the unity of soul in man, and the appearance of new forms in the human body after death.{4} Robert defended his action; to secure respect for his justification of the measures he had taken, he held out both threats and promises.{5} "I do not condemn the theses as heretical, but I forbid them as dangerous," he wrote to PETER OF CONFLANS (Petrus de Confleto). The latter, undertaking to plead with Robert on behalf of Thomism, drew from him a long justificatory letter{6} which serves as a commentary on the decree. Besides the treatise De Ortu et Divisione Philosophiae (263), this document is all that has yet been studied of the works of Robert. It defends the doctrines of the earlier scholasticism: the rationes seminales ("evolutio illarum rationum et explicatio per res actuales fit per secula, materia naturalis prima . . . est quid dimensiones habens corporeas, impregnatum originalibus rationibus"){7} -- and especially the plurality of substantial forms. Kilwardby distinguishes in the human individual three vital forms, all substantial, the union of which constitutes the one single human soul,{8} and an additional form which gives the body its material plasticity.{9} In justification of this multiplicity of forms, he appeals to the superiority of the soul over the body (see Alexander of Hales) and to the identity of the living body of Christ with the body during its three days' repose in the tomb.{10} There was, in all probability, an understanding between Kilwardby and Tempier about this simultaneous condemnation at Oxford and at Paris, for we know that in the course of the same year, 1277, Tempier was thinking of proscribing some additional theses, especially that which expounded unity of substantial form. But in the meantime John XXI. died; and as the bishop of Paris was acting in conjunction with the Roman Curia, an order was issued by a number of the cardinals, during the vacancy of the Holy See (May the 20th to Nov. the 23rd), asking him to drop the matter and postpone his censures to some more opportune time. The Oxford decrees, too, got a wide publicity at Paris and were discussed there quite as energetically as those of Tempier himself.

The opposition became still more vigorous at Oxford under John Peckham, Kilwardby's successor in the see of Canterbury. But the constitution of the conflicting parties was somewhat changed. After the decision of the general chapter at Milan in 1278, Thomism became the official doctrine of the Dominicans, at Oxford as elsewhere. Peckham's first move was to confirm the act of his predecessor, on the 29th of October, 1284.{11} Then, on the provocation of the prior of the Dominicans (RICHARD KLAPWELL or CLAPOEL), he renewed (April the 30th, 1286) the prohibition of the disputed Thomistic theses.{12} The eight propositions condemned this time regard the theory of the unity of substantial form both in its principle and in its more important consequences: ". . . istos igitur articulos haereses esse damnatas in se vel in suis similibus . . . denunciamus". Peckham inveighs with some ardour against the profanas vocum vanitates of philosophers whom he describes as elatiores quam capaciores, audaciores quam potentiores, garruliores quam litteraciores. He advocates a return "to the sound and solid doctrine of the sons of St. Francis, Alexander of Hales and St. Bonaventure".{13} He would apply to a cancerous sore the balm of his pastoral prescriptions.{14} He warns all against the "dangerous" theory of the unity of forms -- and by a clever trick insinuates that the theory may well be of Averroïstic origin.{15} In addition to the plurality of forms he supports the rationes seminales, the rationes aeternae and the theory of the identity of the soul and its faculties: ". . . Quidquid docet Augustinus de regulis aeternis, de luce incommutabili, de potentiis animae, de rationibus seminalibus inditis materiae et consimilibus innumeris".{16} It is not philosophy he would condemn, but its abuse: "novitates (reprobamus) que contra philosophicam veritatem sunt in sanctorum injuriam citra viginti annos in altitudines theologicas introductae". The letter dates from the 1st of June, 1285. The "novelties" were therefore introduced about 1265: which brings us back to the second period of St. Thomas's teaching at the University of Paris.

{1} We owe this information to Giles of Lessines (313).

{2} The 96th error was thus stated: "Quod Deus non potest multiplicare individua sub una specie sine materia". Error n. 7 is interesting inasmuch as in it is condemned the Platonic and Augustinian psychology: "Quod intellectus non est forma corporis nisi sicut nauta navis, nec est perfectio essentialis hominis". Cf. nn. 13, 14 (" Opiniones ducentae undeviginti Sigeri de Brabantia, Boetii de Dacia aliorumque, a Stephano episcopo Pariensi condemnatae de consilio doctorum sacrae scripturae condemnatae," Chartul., i., pp. 543-60).

{3} See e.g., the De Unitate Formae of Giles of Lessines, p. 14 (DE WULF'S edit.) "Sic arguunt cantuarienses".

{4} "Item quod forma corrumpitur in pure nichil (2); item quod nulla patentia est in materia (3); item quod privatio est pure nichil . . . (4); item quod intellectiva introducta corrumpitur sensitiva et vegetativa (7); item quod vegetativa, sensitiva et intellectiva sint una forma simplex (12); item quod corpus vivum et martuum est equivoce corpus, et corpus mortuum secundum quod corpus mortuum est corpus secundum quid (13); item quod intellectiva unitur materie prime ita quad corrumpitur illud quod praecessit usque ad materiam primam (16)" (Chartul., i., p. 558).

{5} A Burgh. MS. adds to Robert's decree the words: "quicunque hec dicta non sustinet nec docet habet a fratre R. archiepiscopo XL dies de indulgentia, qui autem dictas positiones defendit . . ." (Chartul i., p. 560, n. 3).

{6} Published by EHRLE in the Arch. f. Litt. u. Kirchengesch. Mitt., 1889, p. 614.

{7} Ibid., p. 616; cf. p. 623, i., 5-10. The Thomistic theory on privatio is struck by props. 3 and 4.

{8} Prop. 12.

{9} EHRLE, op. cit., p. 635.

{10} The 13th proposition condemned by the decree of 1277 is directly opposed to this teaching of St. Thomas: "Corpus Christi mortuum et vivum non fuit simpliciter idem numero, quia non fuit totaliter idem. . . . Corpus mortuum cujuscumque alterius hominis non est idem simpliciter, sed secundum quid" (S. Theol., 3a, q. 50, a. 5, in c., et ad imam). But then, retorted his adversaries, you must hold that the bodies of the saints, venerated by the faithful, are not those that belonged to them when alive. "Nec aliqua sanctorum corporum tota vel secundum partes aliquas in arbe existere vel in Urbe, sed quaedam alia quae non genuerunt matres sanctorum." Letter of Peckham to the Chancellor of Oxford (Nov. the 10th, 1284). See EHRLE, Zeitsch., etc., p. 174. So, too, in 1271, Nicholas of Lisieux holds as erroneous: "oculum mortuum esse aequivoce oculum" (Quodl., iii., a. 4).

{11} D'ARGENTRÉ, Collectio Judiciorum, t. i., p. 234.

{12} Ibid., pp. 237 and 238, text of articles and condemnation. Prop. viii.: "Octavus est quod in homine est tantum una forma, scilicet anima rationalis et nulla alia forma substantialis: ex qua opinione sequi videntur omnes haereses supradictae".

{13} Chartul., i., p. 634.

{14} "Volentes huic cancerosae prurigini quam poterimus adhihere pastoralis officii medicinam" (EHRLE, Zeitsch., etc., p. 176). According to Peckham, even some of the Franciscans allowed themselves to be captured by Thomistic theories (ibid., p. 191.

{15} "Nec credimus a religiosis personis, sed secularibus quibusdam duxisse originem cujus duo praecipui defensores vel forsitan inventores miserabiliter dicuntur conclusisse dies suos in partibus transalpinis" (EHRLE, op. cit., p. 175). PÈRE MANDONNET has brought out clearly the force of this insinuation (op. cit., p. cxxv).

{16} Chartul., i., p. 634.

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