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

318. His Philosophical Teachlngs. -- I. Metaphysics and Theodicy. -- There is no real distinction between essence and existence. On this important question, he holds against Thomism with Henry of Ghent. Nor does he shrink from the logical consequences of his view; multiplying the existential acts of the concrete being, even of the accidental being: tot sunt esse quot sunt essentiae.{1}

Individuation does not come from the primal matter (St. Thomas), but from the substantial form. The hierarchy of contingent essences is limited: a processus ad infinitum, as understood by Giles of Rome, involves a contradiction.

In the same way as Henry of Ghent, and for the same reasons, Godfrey denies that individuals have in God each its own proper idea, distinct from the idea of the species (324).

II. Physics. -- Godfrey defends the theory of the simplicity of the astral substance (295). He holds quite a peculiar theory on transubstantiation, superadded to the generation theory (294), in regard to corporeal change: an existing body can be converted into another existing body in such sort that the substance of the former, now converted, remains somehow whole and entire in the second, both existing prior to the process of change. Nature offers us no instances of any such phenomena, but they are wrought by God, whose omnipotence can achieve all that is not self-contradictory. Since the thing to be converted must be potentially the other thing -- according to a principle of metaphysics -- the two things must agree in materia.{2} And this is why God could change an egg into an ox, if He so wished, but could not change a material body into an angel, or vice versa. For a philosophic explanation of the evolution of the material universe the scholastic theory of generatio is sufficient, and the transmutatio advocated by Godfrey may be eliminated from cosmology.

III. Psychology. -- Relying on the principle "quidquid movetur ab alio movetur," he works out a vigorous refutation of the Augustinian ideogeny of James of Viterbo,{3} the special illumination theory of Henry of Ghent{4} -- to which he opposes the most pronounced intellectualism -- and the false interpretation of the species intentionales, to which Henry of Ghent and very many others had subscribed.{5} Godfrey propounds the peripatetico-Thomistic doctrines (299, 300) with a clearness and penetration rarely equalled by any other scholastic.{6} In order to fit in Aristotle's classifications of the faculties of the soul with the tripartite division of St. Augustine, he identifies the memoria of the latter with the two intellects of the former{7}

In the study of the will even more than in that of the intellect, Godfrey directly attacks the teaching of Henry of Ghent. Almost the whole of the sixth Quodlibet is devoted to a critique of the latter's voluntarism (324), to which Godfrey opposes an intellectualism more marked than even that of St. Thomas. For, not only is the will not simpliciter activa, as Henry of Ghent taught, but even in the free volition of means conducing to an end there is, according to Godfrey, no element of self-motion: for the Thomist solution (302) he has only hard words.{8} The will, he teaches, is simpliciter passiva, always determined by the understanding, even when it freely follows this determination. After this it is quite superfluous to observe that Godfrey accentuates intellectualism in all its other applications (302).

While showing a preference himself for the Thomistic theory of unity of form in man, Godfrey declares that he is unable to refute the arguments in favour of pluralism. On ths point he never got beyond the stage of hesitation and expectancy.

{1} Quodl., iii., I, p. 305, edit, of DE WULF and PELZER. "Praeter hoc esse (substantiale) sunt plura esse secundum quid et tot quot sunt ibi formae accidentales" (ibid., 4, p. 311).

{2} Quodl., v., 1 and x., 1.

{3} Ibid., ix., 19.

{4} Ibid., vi., 15.

{5} Ibid., ix., 19.

{6} Ibid., v., 10.

{7} Ibid., v., 8.

{8} "Qui vero ponunt quod movetur (voluntas) ab uno quasi a fine et non ab aliis videntur ponere irrationabilia et contradictoria: ubi invenitur eadem ratio movendi ponendum est quod si unum movet quod et aliud: et manifestum est autem quod voluntas deliberativa nunquam vult aliquid nisi secundum modum et formam apprehensionis" (Quodl., x., 14, according to MS. Bib. Nat., Paris, n. 75842).

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