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

332. Theodicy. -- God in Himself -- The manifold Divine perfections commingle in the unity of the Infinite Essence. To this leading idea Scotus adds some secondary notions in keeping with his general metaphysics. Firstly, he asserts his "formal" distinction between the Divine attributes: which seems to endanger the unity itself of the Divine Essence. Then again, he makes the concept of being univocal. God and the creature are not indeed species of a common physical genus, Being. They are, however, included in one and the same metaphysical genus of Being. Being belongs properly to both; but God possesses it per se, the creature per participationem: in this restricted sense, Scotus would admit that the concept of being is applied univocally to God and contingent things. But while thus bolder than St. Thomas on this point of according to man, within the limits indicated, a proper knowledge of the being of God, Scotus on the other hand depreciates our intellectual faculties by denying them the power of demonstrating the life of God, or His omnipotence to accomplish directly, should He wish, the works of created causes. In conformity with the general theory of Scotus on the activities of spiritual substances, the will of God is conceived as nobler than His intelligence; and freedom is an essential property of all Divine volition (334). He gives expression again to this idea in dealing with the relations between God and the creature.

God and the creature. -- The Divine ideas are not the very essence itself of God (293), for this would imply, according to Scotus, an objective dependence of the Divine essence on the creature, prior to all acts of intellect. They are rather objective presentations of the creature in the Divine intelligence.{1} This is a nuance of the exemplarism theory.

Scotus attacks the arguments brought forward by Henry of Ghent to prove that creation took place in tempore, and inclines himself towards the Thomist solution of the question. Not only does the existence of creatures depend on a decree of the Divine free will (293): their nature too has its ultimate foundation in the (free) will of God, and not in His intelligence (St. Thomas). Thus again, by another application of his "voluntarism," the limits of the natural and the supernatural are determined, not by the inner constitution of things, but, in ultimate analysis, by a volition of the Infinite Being. Similarly, contingent future events are conditioned in the Divine intelligence by the Divine will: sovereign mistress of the nature of things, the Divine will decides and fixes the moral law, the constitution of civil society, etc.{2} This same anxiety to safeguard, in the case of man, the essential freedom of all volition, made Scotus an opponent of the Thomistic praemotio physica.

{1} Report., i., dist. 36, q. 2.

{2} VACANT, op. cit., p. 452.

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