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WHY SAINT THOMAS CRITICIZED SAINT AUGUSTINE ---------------------------It is generally agreed upon that the most important philosophical

event to have occurred in the 13th century was the substitution of a new doctrinal synthesis for that of St. Augustine. If it were necessary to indicate the critical point of departure between the old and new scholasticism, the most appropriate response would without a doubt be the theory of cognition. Before St. Thomas Aquinas, there was nearly unanimous agreement with the Augustinian doctrine of Divine Illumination; after St. Thomas Aquinas, this agreement ceased to exist; to such an extent that [even] the Franciscan doctor John Duns Scotus himself abandoned the Augustinian tradition on this essential issue, that is, the Augustinian tradition which his Order had hitherto supported most faithfully. The fact is difficult to contest and the number of those who persist in supporting [the idea that] Thomism and Augustinianism have but one and the same theory of cognition diminish every day#. The question that no one seems to have asked, however,

is why this change of face was carried out and what reasons St. Thomas could have had to abandon the well-worn path of Augustinianism. Moreover, Thomism was a new event, surprising even in the eyes of a number of contemporaries, so it becomes necessary to look for the internal reasons which provoked its appearance and assured its success. It does not look like the result of an unconscious contamination of Christianity by Greek paganism, as John Peckham and Roger Bacon thought. [To say so] would [not only] be to mistake polemics for history, but it [would] furthermore overtly contradict everything that we know about the character of St. Thomas Aquinas. No one was more conscious of what he was doing, nor more constantly preoccupied with assuring a perfect coincidence between the interests of philosophical and religious truth; the idea that he consciously sacrificed one for the other is contradicted by all of his doctrine; the idea that he did so unconsciously is inconsistent with the success that he achieved. On the other hand it is difficult to find a systematic criticism of St. Augustine in the writings of St. Thomas. Every time that we find the Augustinian doctrine of illumination at issue, St. Thomas assimilates the texts in question and combines them with his own meaning, sometimes with disconcerting subtlety, always as if his position had already been taken and defined, which does not make it easy to discover what would motivate him to change the already accepted doctrinal positions. In the face of such an important historical problem and of a philosophy which is so stingy with the secrets regarding the genesis of its own thought, one cant help but wonder if certain reasons for St. Thomas attitude should not be sought outside of St. Augustine himself. In other words, if St. Thomas truly eliminates the Augustinian doctrine of illumination without telling us what seemed to him to be insufficient about Augustinianism, it might be the case that he did not make this doctrine the immediate object of his criticism; when you think about it, this hypothesis seems more and more true. Why would St. Thomas alone have thought that Augustinianism, which had nourished christian thought centuries, would not have been able to sustain it for centuries more? In order to deny [Augustinianism], one would have to admit that he who had for so long proclaimed the truth, could be declared wrong overnight

without requiring any change to either doctrine itself or to any of its external circumstances Or, that after the test of several centuries no internal difficulty would arise which could render such an exclusively religious doctrine suspect in the eyes of a christian thinker. There is little reason why augustiniasm would never have been put in check, even within Christianity, unless its fate is not bound by the same conditions as those of non-christian philosophy, which has resulted in its own condemnation. Such is the hypothesis that, concerning a particular point, we would like to submit to the test of reality by researching what influence the thought of Avicenna could have exercised on the fate of medieval Augustinianism. The influence of Averroes on the latin thought of the middle ages is indeed readily evident; Avicennas, on the other hand, is much less manifest and certainly more complex, but possibly no less substantial [durable]; potentially even surpassing that of Averroes in depth. No one seemed to follow Avicenna so fully as the Averroists followed their master, but it seems to have been because no one could, and for this very reason accomodation with Avicenna remained possible#. Although some did welcome him, thanks to the clever strategy that he presented as necessary for reason but incidental to faith, there was generally a take it or leave it attitude towards Avicenna that tended to fall more on the side of leave it. Avicenna was hardly very acceptable as-is; but the Christians, whose thought found itself already nourished by Proclus and by Plotinus through saint Augustine, could find in him this same platonism which permeated the influence of the Syrian Christians#. From this point of view, an Augustinian could not read Avicenna without being struck by the close doctrinal kinship which so nearly approached his own, and without feeling the desire to put himself more fully in agreement with him. Beyond this purely philosophical reason there is another, which still exerises some influence despite being more external. All of the scholastics of the 13th century, despite being generally diverse and differing often in matters of nuance, considered Aristotle to be the authentic interpreter of natural reason in the purest sense; some praised him, others blaimed him, but no one boubted his authority on this matter. However, even if we do know that Aristotle is the interpreter of reason, we do not know

which is the right interpretation of Aristotle. All of the dispute sometimes reduced to this single problem; the answer to which will not only explain Aristotles authentic intentions to us, but will also allow us to hear the voice of reason itself. St. Albert the Great expressed this very clearly, saying, conveniunt autem omnes Peripatetici in hoc quod Aristoteles verum dixit, duia dicunt quod natura hunc hominem posuit quasi regulam veritatis, in quo summam intellectus humani perfectionem demonstravit; sed exponunt eum diversimode prout congruit unicuique intentioni.# The question of what Aristotle truly thought is not only of interest to reason, but also to its connection with faith. If Averroes is correct about Aristotle [si cest Averroes qui est Aristote] the agreement between faith and reason remains forever impossible. If Avicenna is correct, on the other hand, the agreement is still possible, but only after he is distinguished from his errors; [distinguished] not only from a work of interpretation, a reciprocal accommodation and adaptation between the doctrines, but also from the inevitable infiltrations of Avicennian thought into Augustinianism; this is the history of the contamination which constitutes the history of Avicennian Augustinianism. We would risk falling into error, however, if we departed immediately from the doctrine of the Augustinian philosophers without passing through that [doctrine] of Avicenna. It would be easy to mistake that [doctrine] which St. Thomas criticizes with [the doctrine] of Avicenna if one did not examine the forms of Avicennianism which St. Thomas wanted to reproach, so as to make evident for us the secret absurdity with which the doctrine is concerned and which struck St. Thomas as worthy of his attention. At the same time we will come to see that the problem of cognition is nothing but a particular case of the problem of the efficacy of secondary causes as well as come to a better understanding of the principles which condition the solution. I. THE THOMISTIC CRITIQUE OF THE MOTECALLEMIN

Among the anonymous philosophers who are condemned in the Summa Contra Gentiles, there is a sect which St. Thomas bluntly accuses of being stultitia. The little that he said of their doctrine piques ones curiosity about their excessive nature. We do not presume to claim that we have recognized them every time we encountered them in the Contra Gentiles, quite the contrary; however,

it will be useful to assemble here several texts which allow us to confirm that St. Thomas knew and referred to their doctrine directly; once their identity is established, and we have determined the intermediary through which St. Thomas came to know them, it will become much easier to recognize them for the researcher who will encounter them again. [We encounter the Motecallemin] for the first time when the Conrta Gentiles rejects the error of those who say that everything proceeds from God according to his will pure and simple, such that God never has any other reason to do anything except that He wills it#. The second time, we find that the same error is rejected without shining any additional light on those who committed it. St. Thomas has proposed to establish that God acts according to his wisdom. Although transcendent, this is in a certain manner of speaking analogous to [the way that] a being [un tre] endowed with intelligence performs its operations, by ordering the means in view of the end. To establish this thesis is to once again refute the error of those who claimed that everything depends upon Gods will alone without any reason#. The editors of the great Leonine edition refer to this in the margins of book III, ch. 97, towards the end, and to Rabbi Moses, Doctor perplexorum, Tertia Pars, ch 25#. References which are perfectly justified, as we will see later. Let us examine the new text from the Contra Gentiles which we have just addressed. In this chapter Thomas discusses the question of how divine providence is exercised with respect to things. His response, that Gods governance of things takes into account the diversity of their forms, is extremely important for resolving the historical problem whose solution we are seeking. In other words: one could conceive two different ways in which God governs [administrerait] beings; In the first way, he could bend [ploierait]

them to His will without concern for their own nature, necessarily doing violence to the forms which constitute them. In the second way, entirely contrary to the first, God could dispose the things and could use them with a view to their end, taking account of that which he willed that they be and the forms which He himself conferred upon them. Only this second way is worthy of Gods wisdom. And voil, once again the error of those who say that everything stems from Gods will simply and without reason is rejected#; but this time St. Thomas indicates something very valuable: those who commit this stigmatized error are the Muslims: qui est error loquentium in lege Sarracenorum; and it is Moses Maimonedes who reports their opinion: ut rabbi Moyses dicit. These infidels taught, St. Thomas tells us, that if fire heats instead of cools, it is simply because God wills it to be so. We first must agree upon this. Does he maintain that If one were to trace back any natural cause step by step that he would end up at God as its first cause? All of christian philosophy would agree in saying so. For example, if one were to ask them [the christian philosophers] why wood heats up in the presence of fire, the response would be that the natural action of fire is to heat, this is its natural action because heat is its proper accident, that this accident results from its form [sa forme propre], and that this form was given to it through the will of God. They would not respond, on the contrary, by saying: the fire heats the wood because God wills it. In this way this response and this cause dispense with all other responses and all other causes. The adversaries targeted by St. Thomas, every time that he condemns the arbitrariness of their explanations purely by the will of God, are always the Muslims who, removing forms from things, refuse to interpose any nature between phenomena and the free will of the creator. Once attention is drawn to the true sense of this critique, one can see that he has allowed these same people to pass, without recognizing them, in chapter. 69 of book III: De opinione eorum qui rebus naturalibus proprias subtrahunt actiones. In this passage, the

dialectical progression of the Summa Contra Gentiles has just lead St. Thomas to the problem of divine governance. God exists; He and He alone is creator, since He has created all things, He preserves them in their being by His providence, and nothing of what they do is done without the assistance that He lends them. Present everywhere, and immediately joined to all things, He is not only the cause in virtue of which they exist [elles sont] but also the cause of every one of the actions which every one of them performs when it acts: omne operans operatur per virtutem Dei#. Here we are faced with a fundamental requirement of this system; it therefore allows no exception [nous sommes ici devant une exigence fondamentale du systme, elle ne souffre par consquent aucune exception] It seems impossible to reserve all efficacy for God more exclusively and to deny secondary causes more radically; however, St. Thomas has just affirmed the omnipresence of God within the creature, [extending] even as far as the creatures very operation, [when] he turns resolutely against the opinion of those those who rob natural things of their proper actions. Certain philosophers who he does not name, but who we now recognize as those who were in error concerning the previous conclusions, have deduced that no creature exercises any efficacy in the production of natural effects, so much so that instead of saying that fire heats, they must say that God causes heat in the presence of fire, and so on for all other natural effects. After noting the analogous doctrine of Avicenna, and a host of similar arguments that he borrows from Gebriol, St. Thomas adds: certain Muslims are believed to have argued in favor of such a thesis because of this, that even accidents do not result from the action of bodies, because no accident can pass from one body into another; they imagine then that is impossible for heat to pass from one hot body into another heated body by the agency of the hot body [par lui], instead they argue that all accidents of this kind are created by God#. This new detail [prcision] can not help but send the historian back

to another passage and to suggest to him that, even before this [instance of encountering them], he had already encountered the same Muslims without recognizing them. As early as [ds] chapter 65 of book III, he discussed a doctrine quorumdam loquentium in lege Maurorum, where he mentions accidents, that they might be subject to God just as narrowly#. However, in this new text St. Thomas addresses a very different point of view, the most interesting part of which is his detailed treatment of the doctrine of his adversaries. The problem to be solved is that of preserving things in being or, as they say, of continuous creation. Having demonstrated that God rules the universe through his providence, St. Thomas concludes that He preserves things in their existence. However, after having demonstrated this new conclusion, he turned back to the extremists who, here again, fall from truth into error because of their unfortunate over-zealousness. In order to better prove that the universe could not subsist unless God preserved it, these Muslims began by reducing all bodily forms to nothing but mere accidents; then, claiming that no accident lasts for more than a few moments [pendant deux instances], they show that Gods formation of things is a never ending work and that he is continually engaged in it. It seems then, if they are correct, that the only things which would require a causal agent would be those things which are being and not becoming [or: being done but will never be finished] [celles qui sont en train de se faire et sans le devenir]. Also, since they admit that all bodies are composed of atoms, and that these atoms are the only things which possess any kind of stability, these philosophers are consequently alone in understanding that these atoms could sometimes subsist [even] if God were to withdraw his preserving and governing operation. Some amongst them go even further still, declaring that something does not cease to exist unless God created in it the accident of its destruction. So many obvious absurdities, St. Thomas calmly concludes.

Gathering together these scattered theses, and giving them a provisional order, we get the following table: 1 - Bodies are composed of atoms. 2 These atoms, the only stable realities, alone could survive for a time upon the cessation of the divine concurrence. 3 Outside of these atoms, nothing exists but accidental forms. 4 None of these accidents lasts more than an instant. 5 Nothing, therefore, can pass from one subject into another. 6 From this it results that, all transitive action between two bodies is impossible, it is the efficacy of God alone which can explain the changes which occurr in created beings. The close relationship between the different theses that we have just summarized seems to be more heavily emphacized in reviews that it is in St. Thomas himself. Now, one of [these theses] refers us to Maimonides and shows its authors to have been Muslims; it is therefore not surprising that one can find most of the other theses in book I of [Guide des indcis]#. All of these theses were supported by the Motecallemin, and the most excessive of them [were supported] by the Acharite sect#; we will see, in examining their doctrine, that [even] if [St. Thomas has] has given them an unceremonious thrashing in the Contra Gentiles, he still did not betray them; In fact, he may have even given them a stronger systematization than they had originally. In order to situate this sect at least roughly within the whole of Muslim thought, it will be convenient to depart from the distinctions that are well known amongst philosophers (Falcifa) and theologians (Motecallemin). The philosophers, Arabic thinkers like Avicenna,

were principally influenced by Greek philosophy; they teach a physics that is founded upon the Aristotelian theory of the four causes, recognizing the existence of natures and forms which define beings as themselves, and searching, with Aristotle, within these natures and forms, for the principle of the operations that beings naturally perform. However, in a reactionary movement that presaged that of augustinianism against thomism in the 13th century, the theologians stood against these philosophers, troubled by their bestowal of an independence upon nature that threatened the absolute omnipotence of Allah. But they strove nonetheless to discover in that same philosophy the remedy for the ills which, by the imprudence of the philosophers, threaten religion. The doctrine which is thus constituted, from the 2nd century of the Hegira [??], takes the name calm, that is to say: word, or discourse. From the word calm comes the verb tecallam, which means: to profess calm; the past participle of this verb is motcallam, in the plural motcallenin, that is: the supporters of calm. The hebrew translators rendered this last term by the word Medabberim, and it is this Hebrew translation which the latin translators have in turn rendered by the word: loquentes. Thus, the formulas that we have identified in St. Thomas should be understood in this precise sense; error Loquentium in lege Sarracenorum; quidam etiam Loquentes in lege Maurorum; these do not mean: the error of those who speak in accordance with muslim law, but rather: the error of certain muslim theologians. Among these theologians, whose works and opinions are innumerable, as Mamonides tells us, there is one sect whose radicalism attracts his attention; that of the disciples of Abou lHasan Ali


ben Ismal al Achari, of Bassorah (880-940), which are refered to as the Acharites, after their founder. This sect was but a branch of another, that of the Motazilites, or The Separated who are also mentioned by Maimonides. Now, we first encounter the Motecallemin in connection with divine causality in book I, chapter 68. The theologians, who are not referred to by name, do not allow God to be called Cause, but instead reserve for him the name Efficient; which Maimonides argues against according to the order of Aristotles four causes, showing in particular that God is the final cause of all things. This development foretells a similar text of St. Thomas, which was very likely inspired by this, which we encounter immediately after a critique of the Acharites where the testimony of Maimonides is expressly invoked. Still on the issue of divine causality, we see the theologians reappear once again in book III, chapter. 17 of the Guide, but this time they are not named. This doctrine, Buxtorf says: est sectae Assariae inter Ismaelitas. These are people who believe that nothing in this world happens by accident, but [instead] that everything depends immediately on the pure will of God. Now, one of the more curious consequences of this denial of all accidental occurrences is the denial of final causes; they become useless from the very moment that every occurrence is attached directly to a particular decision of Gods will. Their only response to the question: why do things happen the way that they do, is that God willed it#. The examples


invoked in favor of this thesis in the passage are borrowed from the moral order. The Acharites seemed preoccupied above all with justifying in advance all of Gods conduct [de justifier davance tout conduite de Dieu] whatsoever, with respect to [any] man. And these are possibly the same [people] who we find established in the field of physics, in book III, chapter 26, where Maimonides proves against them that Gods works result from his wisdom, and not from his will alone#. For St. Thomas, there is a close kinship between these men; [between those] who deny the existence of cause and effect [and] those who are content to account for phenomena by Gods will alone. The structure of the eye, for example, did not at all seem to them to have been willed by God in order to make vision possible, since God could have made us [able to] see otherwise [i.e. even without eyes]; the real reason for the structure of the eye, since there is no definite end, is simply that God willed it: ita voluit Deus. The terms in which Thomas summarises their doctrine are borrowed from Maimonides almost verbatim [presque litteralement], who he expressly cites on this occasion. However, two differences deserve to be noted. The first is that St. Thomas simplified these examples that Maimonides used; instead of the organ of sight, he chose, as a way of suppressing the interposition of ends between Gods will and its effects, the more brutal case of fire and heat. This simplification, willed by St. Thomas, is explained according to the second difference that we must note here. The theologians who deny the order of causes may have been the same as [those who] we will see deny the reality of essences and refuse all efficacy to created beings. In any case St. Thomas will consider their doctrines as


complementary in the most obvious manner and [he] will not hesitate to link together the scattered theses indicated by Maimonides with the thread of a single inference. Now, pending further information, it seems to us that this systematization properly belongs to St. Thomas. We have not been able to find in Maimonides any express mention of this solidarity between the denial of final causes and efficient causes. In the passage from book III, chapter 26, where Maimonides asks why the magistri speculationis refuse to admit any final cause. He gives a simple response: It is in accord with their doctrine of the creation of the world within time; because when one asks them why God created the world at one moment rather than another, they respond that it is because God willed it so#. [Here, Maimonides shows] an undeniable doctrinal relation, however St. Thomas will replace it with another that is seemingly more profound: the root of all of the doctrine is the negation of essences. For these muslim theologians, who no longer acknowledge the substantial forms of beings, no causality is concievable other than that of God; that which is not anything definite has no more reason than anything else to produce a particular effect, and the end of the Contra Gentiles (lib. III, cap. 98) strongly connects the negation of providence, by those who teach of a God who is pure will, to their negation of the proper forms of bodies and of natural actions which result from these forms. Once he has re-established this transition, St. Thomas once again borrows information from Maimonides. Turning to book I, chapter 73, of the Guide, we find a summary of the first twelve theses that Maimonides considered to be the foundation upon which the ediface constructed by the Loquentes is based. Now, for someone who has just read the corresponding passages of St. Thomas, the correlation between his text and two of those most curious of these theses immediately attracts attention: time is composed of instances; no acident lasts for more than a few


moments#. It is therefore sufficient to read Maimonides own exposition in order to see the curious doctrine of St. Thomas adversaries reproduced. In the first place, these theologians are atomists. They teach that the entire universe, and every body which makes it up, is composed of pieces [parcelles] which are so small that they can not be further divided. Each piece, taken separately, is devoid of quantity, but they acquire quantity by coming together, and thus generating a body. These are then, in short, very liberal disciples of Epicurus, except concerning one point where they take their freedom so far as to directly oppose the thought of their master: according to Epicurus, atoms subsist necessarily and from all eternity. Now, the muslim theologians were interested in the atoms in order to subordinate the world to God, and not in order to make it independent, which explains a modification of the doctrine which would not have surprised Lucretius in the least: God perpetually creates atoms to the extent that it pleases him, and without this creation, none among them could subsist#. By this we arrive at the second point of doctrine: time is composed of instances.


Indeed, as Maimonides notes, these theologians have well understood the demonstrations by which Aristotle established that space/ shape [letendue], time, and movement are three corresponding and amenable [justiciables] realities as a consequence of the same interpretation [Phys. VI, 2]. From this they logically concluded that, since space is composed of atoms, time must be composed of instances, the atoms of time, so to speak#. Finally, the substance which is the atom is always and necessarily endowed with accidents which constitute its properties; this is an important point for understanding the Thomistic critique of the doctrine, since this thesis, formulated from an Aristotelean point of view, amounts to to saying that all properties of bodies are explained by accidental forms, and never by substantial forms. Moreover, this expresses well the Latin of the old translation which St. Thomas would have read: formae naturales sunt accidentia (fo 34, v.); which he repeats in the Summa Contra Gentiles: posuerunt omnes formas esse accidentia. (L. III, c. 65). This being said, the doctrine which St. Thomas criticized is derived from [this very notion] [se dduit d'elle-mme] Since, if there is nothing but atoms, the accidents of these atoms, and indivisible instances, all transitive and effective [efficient?] action between two bodies becomes impossible. That which we call an effect produced by a body is reduced, for the unbiased observer, to the appearance of a new accident within a certain subject. Now, since time is made of atoms of duration, this accident which thus comes to appear can not itself last for more than an instant, and it is therefore necessary that God creates it again


in the [very] next moment if he wants to assure its duration#. But, practically, this assertion amounts to maintaining that a body is never posessed of properties in virtue of its proper nature; even, as Maimonides says, that for him neither the natures of things nor natural law have at any moment any properties other than those attributed to them by God#. [This] doctrine is so radical in its negation of all proper substance of natural forms that certain of these theologians, who do not even believe that [natural forms] are capable of disappearing on their own, suppose that God would end the world by creating in it the accident of end,# foolishness which St. Thomas found very amusing: quorum etiam quidam dicunt quod res esse non desineret, nisi Deus in ipsa accidens decisionis causaret. Quae omnia patet esse absurda. How then, under such conditions, could an accident pass from one subject to another? What we think of as cause could do nothing but receive at every moment that which we pretend that it gives; and if the regular succession of cause and effect brings our imagination back to the hypothesis of a nature, let us consider that this regularity results from a simple custom established in things by God. Therefore, we discover, not only this thesis, but also the very argument that St. Thomas attributes to these


Muslims: They recognize, then, by a mutual agreement that this white material that has been lowered into the vat of indigo which renders it black, and which has been dyed, it is not the indigo that has rendered it black; since the blackness is an accident in the body of the indigo and could not pass to another body. There is absolutely no body which exercizes an action; the last efficient [cause] is none other than God [le dernier efficient nest autre que Dieu], and it is he who created the blackness in the body of the fabric, when the same is united with the indigo, for such is the habit that he has established#... Most of them (scil. the Motecallemin), and notably the majority of the Acharites, are of the view that, for the movement of a pen, God created four accidents which do not serve as causes of one another, and which can not but coexist together. The first accident is my will to move the pen; the second accident is my ability to move it; the third accident is human movement itself, in this case, the movement of the hand; finally the fourth accident is the movement of the pen. In fact, they pretend that, when man wants something and then he does it, at least as far as he believes, he [God?] first creates in him the will [to act], then the ability to do that which he wants to do, and finally the action itself; since he does not act by means of the ability created in him, which has no influence over the act.# Such is the general scheme [lconomie gnrale] of these stultitia, which St. Thomas and Maimonides both saw as a joke, and which prefigures, in a rudimentary way, a kind of Melbranchian occasionalism [in that it shares] the same concern for reserving


for God all directive efficacy [lefficace conduisant] to the point of entirely refusing it to creatures. Now, we can see from the [above] comparison between St. Thomas and Maimonides, that the adversaries who are criticized in the text of the Contra Gentiles, [i.e. the stultitia], which we have identified as the Motecallemin and, for their most excessive theses, the Acharites; that St. Thomas knew them through the Guide for the Perplexed#; the contents of which he has faithfully, and sometimes even literally, reproduced, with the exception of three main differences: first he simplifies the examples, substituting the clear case of fire which could cool instead of heat, for the case invoked by Maimonides: man is naturally no more capable of thought than a bat#. Second, we have not found anywhere explicitly formulated by Maimonides, the thesis that atoms could subsist for a short time without divine assistance; this is suggested through the entire text, which only considers accidents, and which even addresses certain dissidents who allow for the permanence of certain accidents, but he does not list/ name them # [?? sans dailleurs en donner le catalogue??]. Third, instead of focusing on the Acharite doctrine which concerns the plan of establishing creation within time, as Maimonides did, St. Thomas organized his whole [treatment] around their denial of essences and substantial forms, from which resulted the various consequences which we have seen condemned above: everything depends upon Gods will, to the exclusion of His reason (Contra GentilesI, II, 24): Gods will is the only explanation for all natural effects; to the exclusion of all natural bodies (Contra Gentiles, II, 24); it is the efficacy of God which alone produces all natural effects, to the exclusion of all efficacy of bodies (Contra Gentiles., III, 69); it is the conservation of the world by God which alone preserves things, to the exclusion of all substances interposed between the permanence of God and the continual flux of accidents (Contra Gentiles., III, 65). What now remains to be considered is the criticism that St. Thomas levels against this doctrine. We have seen that he criticized it [the doctrine] rather severely, but this does not suffice for an argument against it, since, despite the fact that it is dangerous due to its almost monstrous character, [the doctrine] is due a certain amount of value because it formulates an


error in its purest state. Very few philosophers would be willing to go so far; all the more reason to lay ruin, right before their eyes, to a thesis which they rejected but which nonetheless seems to be the logical conclusion of their doctrine. From the numerous arguements which the Summa Contra Gentiles directs against this error we can identify the following doctrinal directions/ branches/ disciplines [les directions doctrinales suivantes]. First,[we see] a philosophy which refuses all proper action of secondary causes, mainly those which are corporal, in order to reserve all efficacy for God alone; which is in direct contradiction of the testimony of sense. Indeed, God is immutable, everyone agrees on this; therefore, His being could not be the origin of the diversity that we see in the operations of things. Now, if we suppose that there are no natures or different forms interposed between the immutable operation by which God acts in things and the effects that they produce, there is no reason why the Gods action should produce different effects. Hoc autem ad sensum apparet falsum. The senses do not always bear irrefutable testimony, but this does not mean that one could argue against their most obvious experiences: there are different natures, and each definite nature produces definite effects. Fire always heats and never cools; man will never beget anything other than man; in the presence of such a diversity of effects of a cause which is perfectly one and simple, it is impossible to deny the existence of a plurality of intermediary causes [une pluralit de causes interposes]#. Next, St. Thomas tries to satisfy the legitimate sense of respect for Gods grandeur which inspired the theory that he wished to criticize. It would be too little simply to show such a doctrine to be false; it is necessary above all to show to the [doctrines] supporters that they have in fact gone directly against their own intentions; as that which attests to the greatness of the worker is the perfection of his work. Now, to create beings that are incapable of action, which are not able to transmit anything of the divine efficacy from one to another, takes away from the proper activity which makes natures distinct and [which] makes a universal order possible; does this really demonstrate the perfection which created a world of distinct and ordered active natures?# To deny the proper operations from creatures, to


diminish their dignity, is to deny something of the glory of God. Furthermore, to deny that bodies are capable of acting is to ruin the possibility of all science, since we only know causes through their effects. If, therefore, we suppose that bodies are not endowed with any efficacy to produce their effects, we will not have any recourse to knowing their proper natures, which amounts to saying that science will be rendered impossible#. Finally, we should note the ridiculous objection of the Acharites, that a body could not act because an accident can not pass from one subject to another. The action that a body exercises does not, in fact, consist in passing the same accident from the agent body to the patient body [ faire passer laccident mme quil possde dans le corps sur lequel il agit] any more than it does in stripping [one body] of its form in order to confer it upon another. To act, to be in action, is to reduce to act that which is in potency with regard to the same act. [ramener l'acte ce qui est en puissance l'gard de ce mme acte]. So when one body heats another, it is not that the numerically same heat which is found in the hot body passes into the heated body; rather, it is that, in virtue of the heat contained in the heating body, another heat, which is numerically distinct, and which can be found in potency in the heated body, comes to develop there#. Transitive action could then have real efficacy without necessitating an exchange of accidents between the bodies involved But truthfully, this thesis in its purest [and most straight foreword] form is not what is genuinely in need of criticism, rather, more deserving of a proper critical effort are its milder and less recognizable forms; most notably in the case of the doctrine taught by Ibn Gabirol; a doctrine to which St. Thomas addresses immediate attention. II - THE THOMISTIC CRITIQUE OF IBN GABIROL When closely analyzing the above texts from the Contra Gentiles, on order to extract the parts that address the Acharites directly, we


can not fail to be struck by the fact that their doctrine is exposed and criticized in connection with others, most notably those of Ibn Gabirol and Avicenna. All of [the criticism] takes place as if, alongside those who radically deny things their proper operations, St. Thomas was directing his attention to others, who, without denying [things] all activity, do not attribute [to them] the efficacy which they are due. It is therefore from this point of view that one should, with [St. Thomas], consider this critique; as St. Thomas himself suggests the order by which we can most profitably examine them. St. Thomas discusses these according to the order of their descending radicalism. Understand by this that, after exposing the doctrine which refuses all efficacy to things, he exposes the one that most nearly resembles it [celle qui sen approche le plus], that is, the doctrine of Ibn Gabirol; then, a doctrine which is less radical still, but inspired by the same spirit, that of Avicenna; through which he will be led to some of his contemporaries. Ibn Gabirol, as we know, is none other than the Avicebron [referred to] by St. Thomas and other scholastic philosophers#, whose Fons vitae they frequently cited either as a doctrinal authority or, conversely, as the object of criticism#. St. Thomas alleges that his opinions [there/ in the Fons vitae [ici]] partially agree with those of the Acharites; [but] later in the Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas is less discrete and speaks of [Ibn Gabirol] as if he were one of the Muslim theologians who refuses all efficacy to bodies#; we


will continue, then, to follow the guiding idea which inspired the critique of Arabic atomism. Truly, this is not an arbitrary issue to take up if the discussion of the theses of Fons vitae rely on those of the Acharites, since, despite the obvious and considerable differences which separate the two doctrines, both proceed in the same spirit. For Ibn Gabirol the object of philosophy is to [first] identify a will as the origin of things and [then] to construct a universe [that is] entirely permeated by the efficacy that stems from [that will]. Nothing is more characteristic of his thought than his insistance upon recalling this fundamental thesis and the energy with which he formulates it. The idea that everything in existence is subject to and depends on the rule of this will is, for him, a great secret and a profound truth. Things are not what they are because they are defined by certain forms which have been imprinted upon the matter that sustains them. Therefore, the why of the existence of things is not found in natures, but in the knowledge of the will which gave them being: hoc enim continetur in scientia de voluntate. To search for the reason why things exist specifically as they do, is to search for the reason why genus, species, and individuals exist. But, since it is the will which moves all forms subsisting in matter and which brings them to the ultimate end of the matter in which they subsist. Since it is still the will which permeates and contains everything, and because form obediently follows will, it is necessary that the impression of generic, specific, and individual forms within matter is done according to what the will desires for them [to be]#. This vision of a universe born of and dominated by [a will] as if the universe were suspended from it, is precisely what all of Gebirols doctrine


suggests to us: omnia quaecumque sunt, coarotata sunt sub voluntate, et omnia pendent ex ea. But it is clear, in the same way, that such a universe attributes no more efficacy to matter than does the world of atoms imagined by the Acharites, even though they each give different reasons for this impotence. In this universe which is totally contained and penetrated by divine will, nothing can be done that is not done in virtue of the primary action which moves all and penetrates all. The spectacle of a universal activity, which gives us the world of beings, is not misleading, provided that we know how to interpret it: all of this activity represents nothing more than the diffusion of Gods unique and primary efficacy throughout the world. If one should eliminate this spiritual energy from his thought then he will behold the private and inert movement of things. We can observe two things about this. First, that St. Thomas summarises the thought of Gebirol with a literal fidelity, when he says: Propter has igitur rationes ponit Avicebron quod nullum corpus est activum, sed quod virtus substantiae spiritualis, pertransiens per corpora, agit actiones quae per corpora fieri videntur.; Gebirols own words were: nisi esset vis spiritualis agens, penetrabilis per haec corpora, nec moverentur, nec agerent#. And second, that Gebirols doctrine concerning the lack of efficacy on the part of creatures is, in his thought, nothing but one with of Gods omnipresence in things; hence the same ordering of chapters in this part of Summa Contra Gentiles: since St. Thomas has already established that God is present in every being as well as in each of their operations, a thesis which he shares with Gebirol, after which he adds: Ex hoc autem quidam occasionem errandi sumpserunt...#. The error which he sees is concerned with something that neither Gebirol nor any of his kind were able to successfully comprehend, that God is simultaneously present in every operation of every creature and that each thing


remains, however, the efficient cause of its own operation. From all the arguments given by Gabirols in support of his thesis, St. Thomas chose to discuss those which he considered most characteristic. Provided by the importance that he attaches to this doctrine is that after having discussed certain provisions of Gebirol in the Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas responds to them again by writing the Summa Theologiae; [or], in one writing or another, St. Thomas faithfulness to the original text is always of such precision that one can scarcely doubt that he had, [in summarising? en lu rsumant] the Latin translation before him. The first of Gebirols arguments that the Contra Gentiles retains is, in effect, the one which is closest of all to the heart of the doctrine developed by the Fons vitae. Material substance are defined as essentially passive: ipsa est patiens;... haec substantia non est agens sed patiens; and there does not seem to be any another distinction which could separate matter from spirit in a philosophy which defines spirit as a single universal activity [lactivit universelle mme]. Therefore, [even] the most basic observations will suffice to verify the doctrine, provided that they present evidence for the slowness and the passivity whereby matter opposes the principles of movement: as air, thickened by vapor, becomes opaque and opposes the passage of light; where light is like the active spiritual principle#, since matter which opposes its own transitive movement [mouvement de transmission] is like the corporal and passive element. Gebirol also formulates a general law which covers [relvent] all cases of genus, in terms which leave no ambiguity: a body becomes less mobile and active as its quantity increases, therefore no corporal substance is, as such, endowed with activity#. According to St. Thomas, this is an argument which relies


upon multiple confusions, but particularly upon an ignorance of what a corporal substance truly is and of the conditions necessary for its form to act. Gebirol argues as if the actions exercised by bodies came from pure forms; in other words, from the idea that form is truly the active principle of beings, he wrongly concludes that the form acts in a pure state. But this is his error. If the form of fire existed separately, according to the platonic idea of form, since this would be fire-in-general, it could produce nothing but fire-in-general; and since it would be pure form , pure act, it is absolutely true that, in joining itself to matter, this fire-in-general would have to loose its actuality, therefore also - everything acts according as it is in act - its act. A universal form of fire is nothing but a chimera, whereas particular fire really exists, and generates other particular fires as its effects. And it always proceeds in this way: one form giving reality to others. Now, if we think about these forms which are united to matter as they actually present themselves to us, it is wrong to say that the matter to which they are united diminishes their activity, this is even the exact opposite of the truth. As with a given intensity of heat, the larger the heated body, the more heat will be imparted; likewise, with a given intensity of gravity, the larger the body, the faster it will fall. The converse of this proves the same point, since if a force is applied to a large body, the bigger the body, the more it will resist movement; as a bodys resistance to violent movement gives testament to its natural movement; therefore, the size [quantit] of a body, all other things being equal, increases its ability to act rather than decreases it#, and consequently


the argument of Gabirol turns against the very thesis it claims to demonstrate. The second argument from Fons vitae recorded in the Summa Contra Gentiles is summarised more briefly, but in a manner no less faithful. Every patient is subject to an agent, and every agent, except the first cause, requires an inferior subject to be subject to its action. Now, no substance exists which is inferior to corporal substance, upon which it might act; therefore no body is capable of acting#. This arguement is no less summary than the previous one, and it commits on matter the same error that the other commits on form. Gebirol argues about bodies as if every one of them were nothing but pure matter; but then each of them would be prime matter, a simple abstraction which is encountered in nature no more than the form of fire which the Platonists speak of. Therefore, we will once again argue according to real substance, which is composed of matter and form, and we will once again see Gabirols argument turn on itself. Indeed, it is true that corporal substance is placed in the lowest level of the universal order, but this does not mean that bodies must be devoid of all activity, as there is an order and a hierarchy between bodies themselves, and even the least of them is capable of acting. In order to understand this, suffice it to remember that a body is always composed of matter and form, passive by its matter, but active by its form. A body can then always act by its form on the matter of another body, and vice-versa#. By simply denouncing the chimera which is formless body we can see this universe of absolute passivity vanish before our eyes. The third of Gebirols arguments which is reproduced in the Summa Contra Gentiles is more direct and simpler still: of all beings, corporal substance is most remote from the first active cause


which is God; it therefore does not seem that the efficacy of the first cause reaches to corporal substance, but just as God is pure act, so also is corporal substance, which is lowest on the scale of being, pure potency#. This objection stems from the same source as the previous one, but which St. Thomas, in order to give it a more precise form, must at least briefly summarize. Gebirol simply says that matter, the least of all beings, is too far removed from the first cause to still be able to participate in its efficacy; St. Thomas sees this argument as the same as the one just formulated: bodies are not just very distant from God, they are the absolute opposite extreme of the scale of beings, where God is pure act, bodies are pure potency. So, reasoning about this new formulation, St Thomas once again notes that the opposite extreme of pure act is not bodies, but prime matter. It is this, this pure abstraction, which suffers everything and does nothing, by definition. But bodies, remote from God though they may be, are not however the most remote possible, since they are composed of matter and form and since, by their form, they participate in the divine likeness. It is precisely this form which is the principle of their activity, in the same way as their matter is the principle of their potency#. Here again Gebirol has confused material substances with the definition of matter, and he has therefore argued about a pure abstraction. These arguments passed as-is from the Summa Contra Gentiles to the Summa Theologiae, but, in this latter work, we find them framed between two objections borrowed from St. Augustine, as if he said, or at least could appear to have said, something similar to what Gabirol taught. This convergence, which we find here for the first time, is evocative enough on its own; but will become even more so if we closely examine the exact content of these two objections. The first refers to The City of God, but could just as well be referring to Fons vitae; St. Thomas seems to refer so directly to this text, in fact, that one begins to wonder whether or not he had actually reproduced Gabirols fourth objection and simply masked it under Augustines authority#. And the second, which refers to De Trinitate, could just as easily be confused with the typical Acharite argument which St. Thomas criticizes in the Contra Gentiles: one body never acts on another because an accident can never pass from one subject to another#. Such a convergence becomes all the more inevitable because


the Summa makes no express mention of the Arabic theologians, and thus the Augustinian argument naturally seems to fill the void left by their absence. This twofold convergence [rapprochement] of texts, therefore, suggests a hypothesis, one which we should bear in mind in order to see if it will be confirmed later by other similar facts: St. Thomas intentionally juxtaposes [rapproche] the doctrines that he refutes with texts of St. Augustine which appear to cover them with their authority [qui paraissent les couvrir de leur authorit]. Thomas manner of proceeding in the two texts mentioned above is very helpful in showing this point: he begins by calling on St. Augustine and interpreting him according to his own sense, if he can, then he refutes the error which the text would contain if one were to claim another interpretation. For the first objection, he begins by noting that Augustine speaks of corporal nature in general, which has no other inferior nature on which to act, however he never denies that one particular body could act on another; to maintain that he did make such a denial (which he never does) would be to confuse body with prime matter. In the fifth objection, St. Thomas does not even invoke St. Augustine, he simply reaffirms, just as he did against the Acharites in the Contra Gentiles, that bodies possess substantial forms and that the action exercised by an accident does not consist in passing from one subject to another#. The animating spirit which emerges from these refutations of Gebirol, and all the doctrine which is compromised by his thought, leads us to the conclusion that the root of his error is an ignorance of the true nature of corporal substance. Instead of arguing about the substantial composite of form and matter which is true body, he always argues about either pure ideas, which are purely active, or about pure matter, which becomes pure potency and is devoid of all efficacy. But what is such a doctrine if not the very doctrine of Plato, and even worse. Since Plato at least admitted that in matter there are a certain number of accidental principles which properly belong to it, like the dyad of big and small,


or rare and dense#, in stead of allowing, like Gebirol, some sort of prime matter that is totally bare and entirely at the mercy of ideas. The doctrine of Fons vitae, basing the refusal of all proper efficacy of creatures on a misconception of their substantial nature, thus appears to us ultimately as a sort of exasperated Platonism. But other Platonists have shown themselves to be more moderate, and consequently more faithful to the thought of their master, by once again including accidental dispositions as properties of bodies, between prime matter and ideas. Such is at least the solution to the problem that stops Avicenna, as we will see, and that St. Thomas critique works against.

III - AVICENNIANISM I. - The Thomistic Critique of Avicenna The doctrine of Avicenna presented, in St. Thomas eyes, the interest in showing with an exceptional clarity the link connecting cosmology and the theory of cognition#. That is, with


Avicenna himself, one must begin with God which is one and necessary [un et ncessaire quil convient de partir]. Incorporal and indivisible, this first being can not have a cause, neither efficient, material, formal, nor final, lest he be deprived of his necessity. Now, a being which has no final cause could not produce effects that are different from him by means of an intention analogous to those which guide our actions, otherwise such a being would act with a view toward something other than itself and would fall under the determination of a final cause; furthermore, it would act with a view towards something inferior to itself, which is absurd; and finally, by this very same action the first being would become ontologically complex [un tre multiple], since this would distinguish him from the goodness of the thing whereby it is rendered desirable to him, the knowledge which he would have of this goodness, and the intention that he would have to acquire it, all of which are unacceptable consequences. The only way to conceive of the production of the world by a God who is necessary and simple is thus to represent him as a pure intelligence, which knows itself as well as everything that could result from it, and through the love of its own glory, does not oppose the things that could arise from all resulting goods# [ne soppose pas ce que tous ces biens dcoulent]. Under these conditions, the created being engendered by this one, simple act could itself be nothing other than one and simple. If, in fact, we admit that two distinct existences proceed immediately from God, or two distinct essences which are capable of composing one and the same being through their union - as matter and form - we would also have to admit two different modes in the divine essence from which these beings could originate, as well as the multiplicity of Gods effects, which would be rooted in his essence and destroy his simplicity. Now, as soon as we admit that one, as one, could produce nothing but one, we no longer have any choice regarding the nature of the being that it will produce: it could not be material, since matter is the principle of multiplicity and diversity; it could not be the form of something material, since this would immediately yield a primary duality, which is inconceivable given the perfect simplicity of the divine being; therefore it could be nothing other than a pure Intelligence, one and simple, free from all matter, and which does not animate a body#.


[!REVISE THIS PAGE!] One and simple, we say, but no longer perfect unity or perfect simplicity. Gods first effect [le premiere caus de Dieu], despite being so close to the primary unity [lunit premiere], is nonetheless the intermediary by means of which all the multiplicity of particular beings is engendered. Now, nothing of that which serves as means could be pure unity, as it participates in some way in each of the two beings that it joins#; it is thus the virtual multiplicity of this first effect which gives an account of the plurality of beings which we will see emerge. But where does this multiplicity come from? We consider Gods first effect to be the first pure Intelligence. Insofar as it derives from the first Being, it is necessary; but, taken in itself, it is only possible, since nothing could compel the First to be its cause. As a result of the initial production of the first effect, we see that a duality is brought about; one which, however, does not affect the first cause at all. And this primary duality will soon give rise to a third term. The first Intelligence necessarily knows the first Being; but it also necessarily knows through it; and finally, it knows only potentially through itself; therefore, in reality, we must use a triad of acts to deal with


the origin of things, even though the essence produced by God is purely one in all that it contains by the principle of its being. Having understood this, the worst is over, as this is sufficient to cause the first sphere, and thereby all the others, all the way up to the sphere which contains the Earth. The act by which the first Intelligence knows the first Being brings about the Intelligence which is immediately inferior to it, the act by which it necessarily knows in virtue of the first Being brings about the soul of the final sphere, and the act by which it potentially knows through itself brings about the body of this same sphere. The second Intelligence, which is the Intelligence of Saturn, in turn brings about the third, or the Intelligence of Jupiter, by means of the act in which it knows the first Being; insofar as it knows necessarily, it brings about the soul of the sphere of Saturn; insofar as it knows potentially, it brings about the bodies of this sphere, and so on all the way up to the agent Intelligence to whose influence we are directly subject#. It follows from this that the problem posed by the operations of secondary causes in general, and of man in particular, is nothing but a case of the universal problem of the production of beings. If the philosophy of Avicenna employs the influence of an agent Intelligence in order to account for the generation of sensible and intelligible forms, it is because their appearance is explained by a triad which is analogous to the one composed by the greater celestial spheres. Certain modifications are introduced, however, to this lowest degree of the universal hierarchy. Up to the sphere of the Moon, everything happens for the first effect [le premiere caus]; but the Intelligence of the moon brings about one last pure Intelligence which, instead of bringing about the body and soul of a sphere, produces human souls and the four elements, and thus the Earth which we inhabit#. In


knowing itself necessarily, it gives birth to our souls; in knowing itself potentially, it gives birth to the elements. The generation of four elements by a pure intelligence clearly presents a difficulty; however, not on the part of their matter as one might expect, but on the part of their forms. The matter of the elements is one, as by it they are all equally elements; the Intelligence could thus produce this without being divided. On the other hand, the forms of the elements are many, and consequently the appearance of water, earth, air, and fire constitutes a difficult problem. We can begin solving this problem by considering the four forms as elements. As such, they reduce to ideas of four possible beings, which God thinks about simply by thinking, and whose forms are known by the Intelligences insofar as they know God#. More difficult, however, is to consider the forms as they are realized in matter by a pure Intelligence which must not be divided. It is here that Avicennianism introduces the characteristic notion of preparatio. We say that matter is prepared to receive a form when it is perfectly disposed to receive it, that is to say, when it is in a disposition such that the corresponding form has nothing to do other than reside within it, as it were#. The role


of the appropriators, or preparers is therefore a decisive one in this metaphysics because it explains how an agent cause, which is continually bringing about a plurality of forms, could vary the distribution of these forms without compromising its own simplicity#. Here, it is the movement of the different celestial spheres which, acting upon prime matter, prepares it to receive one form rather than another, and it is the last Intelligence which confers the forms to them. Under these conditions, the explanation of any sort of form always supposes, in Avicennas eyes, the instrumentality of three elements: matter, a preparer of this matter, and an Intelligence that gives the form to the matter once it has been prepared. For this reason, the final Intelligence, brought about by the [Intelligence of the] Moon, receives the name agent Intelligence, and plays the role of a universal dispenser of the intelligible forms that it is full of [dont elle est pleine, there must be a less awkward way to say this] - this is the dator formarum that St. Thomas speaks of - to the extent that elemental matter [matire lmentaire, prime matter?] has been prepared to receive them. As we have seen, this is true for the generation of natural forms; it is likewise true in the generation of health by a doctor, who is but a preparer#; it is also the case in the production of knowledge of intelligible things in us by the imagination, which is a preparer in the same way. In reality, it is the agent Intelligence alone which produces health in the body and intelligibility in thought, as soon as the matter, [i.e.] either the organ or the imagination, has been adequately adapted. Human knowledge in particular takes place in the following way. The initial fact to be explained is that a


soul, which at first did not think an idea and was consequently only potentially intelligent with regard to this idea, comes to think it, i.e. becomes actually intelligent with regard to this idea. In order for the soul to pass from potency to act, there must be some cause which actually possesses the idea in question and confer it to the soul. This cause could only be the separate Intelligence, which possesses in itself all intelligible forms, and could confer them to us. The Intelligence would behave with respect to our intellect as the sun does with respect to our vision. The sun is visible in itself just as the Intelligence is intelligible in itself; as the sun, by its light, makes things actually visible which were only potentially visible when they were in darkness, likewise the Intelligence makes ideas actually intelligible which were only potentially intelligible before being illuminated by it. [But] how is this influence of the Intelligence exercised upon our souls? The senses place sensory data at our disposal, which are retained in the imagination. Our reason considers these data, and as the result of this consideration (consideratio, cogitatio) the abstract form of all of its sensible and material elements appears in the intellect. This [idea of] abstraction does not hold that the sensible singulars presented to the imagination themselves become transformed into intelligibles and transported into the intellect; neither does it hold that our knowledge of a multiplicity of similar objects will itself produce its own image in the intellect when considered separately[elle ne tient pas non plus ce que notre connaissance dune multiplicit dobjects semblables engendre delle-mme son image dans lintellect lorsquon laconsidre part]: [rather, it holds that abstraction] is due to the fact that, when considering sensibles, the soul finds itself made fit for the abstract idea which emanates to it from the agent Intelligence#.


Two significant consequences stem from this conception of abstraction. The first is that there is a rational activity prior to abstraction which prepares for it. Without a consideratio that disposes [adapte] the intellect to the emanation of the Intelligence, the abstraction would not be produced. Some important doctrinal consequences result from this, first for the history of augustinian thought in the XIIIth century#. The second is that, by virtue of Avicennas cosmogony, man can not have an agent Intellect of his own, because the agent Intelligence of the [whole] terrestrial sphere assumes this role for all human beings. Every individual, every fragment of a sphere which did not come into existence, is but a soul and body, its soul being subject to the agent Intelligence in the same way as the soul of each sphere is to the Intelligence that generates and governs it. That being said, Avicenna is naturally lead to deny that intelligible forms, once known by the possible intellect, could be retained therein; a point which gives his doctrine its most characteristic aspect and which will be the central focus of the Thomistic critique when it wants to adapt itself exactly to its adversary. In such a system, there is no conceivable place where intelligible species could be retained. They could not be retained in the body, which is unworthy to serve as their subject, since they could not occupy a place in space without being deprived of their intelligible nature; they could not be ideas, subsisting by themselves in the soul, which the intellect could either contemplate or set aside as it pleased; because intelligibles which subsist in the soul could not, not always be perfectly known. To this we can also add a kind of supplemental impossibility, that intelligible forms are not subsistent realities in the same manner as Platonic ideas. Thus, the only solution to this problem remains to be that the soul turns to the Agent Intellect every time that it wants to receive an intelligible form,


and that it turns away from the Agent Intellect every time it wants to temporarily forget them; acquiring knowledge, then, is nothing other than acquiring the habit of uniting ones self to the Agent Intelligence and receiving forms every time one feels the desire to contemplate them#.


Saint Thomas clearly determined how this doctrine distinguished itself from others, and that its distinguishing characteristic is also its weakness. For Avicenna, all knowledge of universals presupposes a consideration of a singular by the possible intellect, and a preparation carried out by its inferior faculties which are the sensible memory and the imagination. This doctrine is entirely metaphysically backwards. It seems that, according to Avicenna, the more our soul delves into the sensible, the nearer it gets to the intelligible [notre me sapproche dautant plus de lintelligible quelle se plonge davantage dans le sensible]; wouldnt it be more plausible to understand the exact opposite of this, that the soul must divert itself from the sensible in order to dispose itself to receiving the influence of the separate intelligence? The reason for this implausibility is that, at its core, Avicennas doctrine is nothing other than a kind of Platonism; and an inconsistent one. First of all, this is a kind of Platonism#, and St. Thomas was pleased to refute all such cosmogonies that founded their physics, epistemology, and morality on the same ruinous basis#. When he embraces the entire field of metaphysical speculation with a single glance, St. Thomas sees the possibility for only two general errors; in the middle of which we find Aristotle; within the golden mean of truth. On one side, there is Anaxagorism, which could be defined as an integral intrinsicism: all forms are innate within matter, all ideas are innate within thought, and all virtues are innate within the soul. On the other hand, there is Platonism, which could be defined as an


integral extrinsicism: all forms, ideas, and virtues are received entirely from without. In both cases secondary causes do nothing. According to Anaxagorism, secondary cause serves only to dismiss the obstacle that prevents an effect from being manifested while in Platonism secondary cause can only prepare the way for or carry out the acts of the first cause. Thus, the secondary cause is not truly responsible for producing its effect in either of these two doctrines. There is no doubt that Avicenna leans in the direction of Platonism. It matters little in this case whether intelligible forms come to us from many separated ideas or from a single separate Intelligence. It is significant, however, that kind of Platonism is rendered inconsistent by the fact that separate substances, being essentially immutable, must continually illuminate our souls and radiate the knowledge of things upon them. While Plato did posit that the ideas are separate and immutable, he did not commit the error of allowing sensibles to play the role of disposing the soul to the reception of intelligibles, because if this were the case the soul would receive them perpetually. He instead supposed that the ideas had caused the knowledge of all cognizable things in our soul from the very beginning and that sensible things simply roused the intellect to consider the knowledge that it already possessed. This is why Plato said that understanding is nothing other than remembering. Everything in Platonism comes to the soul from without, but everything was given to it all at once; the improbably hypothesis of a soul that turns to sensible things in order to better dispose itself to the action of intelligible substances is therefore an error that Avicenna adds to that of Plato, but is one which Plato himself did not fall victim to1. II - The Thomistic Critique of William of Auvergne

Dicere autem quod per hoc quod intellectus possibilis inspicit singularia quae sunt in imaginatione, illustratur luce intelligentiae agentis ad cognoscendum universale; et quod actiones virium inferiorum, scilicet imaginationis et memorativae et cogitativae, sunt aptantes animam ad recipiendam emanationem intelligentiae agentis, est novum. Videmus enim quod anima nostra tanto magis disponitur ad recipiendum a substantiis separatis, quanto magis a corporalibus et sensibilibus removetur: per recessum enim ab eo quod infra est, acceditur ad id quod supra est. Non igitur est verisimile quod per hoc quod anima respicit ad phantasmata corporalia, quod disponatur ad recipiendam influentiam intelligentiae separatae. Plato autem radicem suae positionis melius est prosecutus. Posuit enim quod sensibilia non sunt disponentia animam ad recipiendum influentiam formarum separatarum, sed solum expergefacientia intellectum ad considerandum ea quorum scientiam habebat ab exteriori causatam. Ponebat enim quod a principio a formis separatis causabatur scientia in animabus nostris omnium scibilium: unde addiscere dixit esse quoddam reminisci. Et hoc necessarium est secundum eius positionem. Nam, cum substantiae separatae sint immobiles et semper eodem modo se habentes, semper ab eis resplendet scientia rerum in anima nostra, quae est eius capax. St. Thomas, Cont. Gent., lib. II, cap. 74. Regarding Avicennas assertion that it is impossible to retain intelligible forms within the intellect, St. Thomas, supported by a handful of texts from Aristotle, opposed him on the grounds that if matter and sense knowledge are able to retain the forms that they receive, then the intellect, which is superior to them, must be to all the more capable of doing the same. 39

First and foremost amongst those who suffered the influence of Avicenna is his translator, Dominicus Gundissalinus#. It is well known that he spared no expense in his translation of Avicenna, [a very interesting fact when compared with the relatively minimal effort that he put into] his De Anima, which is only a compilation. [Devoted though he was, however,] Gundissalinus simply had to depart from Avicenna on certain points, most notably on the issue of the Agent Intellect. Gundissalinus was Christian, so how could he have accepted this illumination of the intellect by a separate substance that removes the intellect from the individual and renders his immortality impossible? On the other hand, Gundissalinus knew almost nothing of psychology beyond what he learned from Avicenna. How then, having faithfully followed Avicenna up to this point, does Gundissalinus bring himself to this departure? By substituting St. Augustine and Denys for Avicenna in order to explain the origin of our knowledge. Gundissalinus quickly remembered that he was not simply the translator of Liber VI Naturalium, but also a Christian who was capable of drawing upon the treasury of Platonism present in the Church Fathers, and that this was the way that he could escape embarrassment. Even though no one has yet made a complete study of Gundissalinus sources, it is nevertheless clear that two-thirds of his treatise are identical with Avicenna. It would appear as though


the Arabic philosophers translator was faithful to the very limits of his ability; and as it turned out, this got him quite far. Gundissalinus not only borrowed his division of the intellect into intellectus facilis, adeptus, in habitu from Liber VI Naturalium, but he also directly borrowed the philosophers theory of cognition considered as an infusion of forms in the soul by a separate agent intellect. For him, as for Avicenna, learning [apprehending] is nothing other than acquiring the habit of uniting oneself to the agent intellect#. But what is this agent intellect? If we were to look to Gundissalinus for a specific answer to this question we would come up empty-handed; however, if we look at his work as a whole we find that it does suggest a solution, which is that a Christian knows of no agent intellect other than God#. Chapter X of De Anima claims to resolve the avicennian problem: De propriis viribus hominis, however, it resolves it in juxtaposition to Avicennas psychology which has just been described; a mystical psychology with a very different inspiration. The exact source of this psychology is not known to us; whether Gundissalinus invented it or simply presented it in a new configuration, it is certainly the most original thing his treatise contains; in any event, here are its principal elements.


Knowledge is the comprehension of the form of a thing by the intellect or the imagination. When the form is grasped by the imagination, the knowledge is sensible; and when the form is grasped by the intellect, the knowledge is intelligible. In order for there to be an intelligible knowledge, it is necessary that the form be unified with the intellect that grasped it. But the soul can not grasp that which is sensible without an intermediary, because their modes of being are not the same; while it can, on the other hand, grasp that which is intelligible without an intermediary, because their modes of being are of the same nature; when the soul apprehends the truth concerning sensible things, it


makes use of its intellect, and acquires knowledge; when it apprehends the truth concerning purely intelligible things, it makes use of its understanding#, and it acquires wisdom#. Intellect and knowledge are only used with a view towards understanding and wisdom to the point that, once it reaches the highest degree, the soul abandons all of its other operations in order to offer itself to the light of God as a mirror offers itself to the rays that it reflects. But to say all of this is to confuse the avicennian theory of the agent intellect with a mystical interpretation of augustinian wisdom#; a confusion which will have unfathomably significant consequences. Once he was made more amenable by his combination with Christianity, Avicennas influence grew increasingly profound and widespread. The summary and abrupt juxtaposition of the two doctrines, which contented Gundissalinus, [called out to others] for a more thorough job of interpretation and adaptation. One of those who provided a more attentive and fruitful reflection upon Avicennas works is, without a doubt, William of Auvergne#. The attitude that he


adopted with regard to Arabic philosophy was already one that would be maintained by a great number of scholastic theologians after him, which consisted of: an emphatic rejection of its cosmology, especially of its doctrine of separate Intelligence, and yet a sense of being in intimate agreement with its notions of the nature of the soul and of the origin of our understanding. Concerning this first point, William of Auvergnes position is perfectly clear: The avicennian universe, driven by a hierarchy of souls and intelligences, frankly seems unacceptable for a Christian and absurd in the eyes of reason. The Christian can not accept this interposition of a multitude of beings between himself and God; neither in the order of efficient causality, nor in the order of finality. Nothing can create other than God Himself, who directly created everything by virtue of his power. Nothing can be our end other than God himself, towards whom the human intellect looks as towards the light that illuminates him and will confer beatitude upon him. As soon as one reflects upon the anti-christian notions that are present in his thought, that a soul is made for an Intelligence instead of being made for God, it becomes immediately apparent that Avicennas cosmology could not possibly have spread within scholastic philosophy. From the point of view of reason, the avicennian universe appears to William of Auvergne as one which defies common sense; as neither the souls nor the Intelligences that make it up play a role suitable to their natures. Let us first take a look at the souls. Every one of them is presented to us as having its gaze constantly fixed upon the intelligence of its sphere; turned towards this separate intelligence,


tirelessly contemplating its perfection, it ignites within the soul a violent love which burns with the desire to be assimilated with it, to be lifted up even into the very heavens that it moves [contemplant sans relche sa perfection, elle senflamme pour lui dun amour violent et brle du dsir de sy assimiler en lui assimilant jusquau ciel quelle meut elle-mme]. If the soul were to be given that which it covets it would find itself, by the same token, in a state of complete actuality. That is to say, in a sort of Glorified state, wanting nothing, doing nothing. While the soul is still trying to reach such a state, on the contrary, it moves its own heavens in order achieve it. Why? Because the souls proper place is the perfection of its heavens, in which it wants to rest, and since each part of the heavens possesses but one part of its proper place at a time, the soul must rotate its heaven so that he can at least possess in succession those things which he can not yet possess simultaneously. In this roundabout way the heavens imprint upon the soul, which successively actualizes the potency of each part of its heaven with respect to each of its possible positions in space. An absurd notion, as William of Auvergne bluntly put it: multipliciter ridiculosus est, sed etiam impossibilis; because the successive acquisition of these parts of the souls proper place through the heavens doesnt actually do the soul any good if, in order to acquire one, he must forget another: perinde igitur est ac si nihil ei acquireretur, cum tantum amittat, quantum ei acquiritur. Further, even if a soul were to establish a balance of his gains and losses every time the heavens make a full rotation, it would still have no more or no less than it already did; no place in the heavens could satisfy the souls desire for the next by having it abandon a place that it had previously desired just as much; this heaven would sacrifice just as much as it benefitted. Even more, every part of the sphere is driven to abandon its previous place by a desire equal to that which motivates the previous location to pursue the next; from this alone we can say that such a desire constantly contradicts itself; Avicennas idea, then, is clearly impossible with regard to the soul#. The idea becomes no less ridiculous when considered alongside the role played by the Intelligences. What is it about souls that is of any interest to the Intelligences, which are in a state of beatitude? What could they see in souls, which are inferior to them, as capable of such an assimilation and, conversely, what benefit do souls derive from endlessly moving their own respective heavens? What would the Intelligences loose if the souls should stop turning their spheres? Absolutely nothing.


As far as the souls themselves are concerned, they would benefit from the rest. The only benefit that they derive from submitting themselves to the Intelligences is the tiresome work ceaselessly turning the enormous mass of their spheres. But who among us would want to see such an influence exercised over his own soul, or even over that of his horse or his ass, by an Intelligence or even by God? Maybe this sort of influence could seem desirable if it were applied to a windmill, or to a wheel whose continual rotation would serve some use. Or if the Intelligences would do man the service of turning his millstones they would deserve their fair share of praise and thanks. But this is not so for the unfortunate souls of the spheres, whose sole benefit is the dizzying task of keeping the heavenly bodies in motion; their plight very nearly resembles that of a horse or an ass who turns a millstone, with the important difference that the movement of a horse or an ass is actually useful to us, whereas their motion is useless#. So, one can see that it was not just because of his dignity as bishop that William of Auvergne was given the title William of Paris. We should take at least a moment here to note the place that this critique held in history, as it had an extremely significant impact upon medieval theories of cognition. We noted earlier, during our account of


Avicennas doctrine, that a noetic is but a particular case of cosmology. Concerning the problem of illumination, nothing could be more in accord with the doctrine of an agent intelligence, a universal distributor of intelligible forms, than the notion of a human intellect which is purely receptive and possible, such as the one that Avicenna grants us. But now if we consider the fact that even after William of Auvergnes critique struck down the conception of an agent Intelligence as an illuminator of souls, the notion still persisted that the human intellect was made to be adapted to it, we get a more precise idea of the situation that has just been created. However, after this point history was in a certain way already written in advance, it would only be a matter of time until these ideas reached their equilibrium. If one eliminates the averroistic solution, which could be thought of as nothing but heterodoxy, there is only one conceivable outcome: first, to transfer the illuminating functions of the agent Intelligence to God; an idea that the augustinians found appealing as it accorded both with their idea of God as well as of the soul. Second, to note that it is however impossible to deny the soul an act of its own; an idea that would cause Avicenna to gradually fade from view and become intertwined with Augustine. William of Auvergne was far from anticipating such a consequence; he will go on to search for a solution to this problem through a compromise between an Illuminator God and an active human reason that is lacking an agent intellect. If one wants to understand the reasons for such an attempt, which seems quite strange, he will first need to have a certain idea of the human soul. First of all, it is very clear to William of Auvergne that the soul is totally incorporeal; what is very interesting to note about this, however, is that our philosopher incorporates into his account a very strange proof for the veiled man, which Avicenna had already proposed, in order to establish the spirituality of the soul and which will be passed on from augustinian to augustinian until the beginning of the XIV century#. Lets imagine that God had created a man, suspended him in the air, and put a veil over his face. Such a man would never have perceived anything nor would he have experienced any sensation, however we could not doubt that he was able to think and use his intellect.


This man will know therefore that he thinks, he hears, and that he exists: quapropter sciet se cogitare, vel intelligere, et sciet etiam se esse. Now, if one were to question this man and ask him if he had body, he would respond without any doubt that he did not, and he would respond in the same way for each part of the human body. This man would deny having a head, feet, hands, and so on, thus he would deny that he had a body and yet he would continue to assert his existence. Now, what one denies of himself is necessarily other than what he confirms. Therefore this man who denies being a body while affirming the existence of his thought possesses a thought whose essence differs from that of a body. An augustinian could easily apply this argument of Avicennas without feeling that he had departed from St. Augustine#. This method of direct intuition that William of Auvergne appealed to in order to establish the spirituality of the soul served him again to establish its absolute simplicity; an especially important theory in his doctrine as it affected every last one of his ideas about psychology. The unity of the soul as he conceives it is total and unconditional; understand this to mean that, in order to satisfy his requirements, it is useless to imagine any mode of composition that allows for the attribution of faculties to the soul without compromising its simplicity; those who imagine it as a potential whole, or a virtual whole, or as a composite of any kind reason like children or imbeciles#, and that the direct experience that we have of the simplicity of our souls is enough to decisively refute them. The very tone that William of Auvergne takes when he affirms this aspect of his thought emphasizes the importance that he attributed to it. He affirms that the substance of the soul is one and that the plurality of faculties that we attribute to it reduce to the operations that it cooperates in. Thus, for


example, we attribute intellection to the faculty of knowledge through the intellect and we attribute wanting or desiring to the will; but the soul is nevertheless one insofar as it knows, wants, and desires; this is clear and knowable with absolute certitude by all human souls and provides infallible testimony. Without any hesitation or interruption the soul confirms to itself and by itself: it is I who knows, understands, comprehends, wants, desires, and covets; it is I who asks myself what I want or desire and, whenever I am able, I ascertain those things. It is I who remain one and indivisible through all these operations, otherwise we would not even be able to discern the different faculties of the soul in order to attribute them to it#. When it comes to defining the one sense in which it is acceptable to use the term faculty, William of Auvergne exhibits an astonishing degree of radicalism, which provides a tremendous insight into all of St. Thomas thought. The refutation found in the Summa Theologiae of those who refuse to attribute faculties to the soul which are other than its essence, borrows from a well-known argument: either the soul acts by faculties which are distinct from it, or it acts by its essence directly; but God alone acts by his essence directly; therefore the soul can only act by the intermediation of its faculties. Everyone who reads this argument interprets it as nothing other than an appeal to a metaphysical principle whose solution abstracts from the problem at hand [Il nest personne, lisant une telle argumentation, qui ne linterprte comme un appel au principe mtaphysique dont la solution abstraite du problme dpend]. But in fact it is something entirely different. Extraordinary as it may seem, St. Thomas is here only denying a doctrine that was actually taught by one of his predecessors; as William of Auvergne assimilated the activity of the soul with that of God himself, and the consideration


of the divine essence was even the starting point for his rejection of any real distinction between the soul and its faculties. No theologian would refuse God the name Creator nor, as such, would they deny his powers or abilities. Furthermore, there is no doubt that Gods powers and abilities are indistinct from his very essence, and no one would consider this attribute to be something different from him, which would be superimposed upon his essence from without in order to complete him. Now God is not a unique case in this doctrine but he governs all analogous situations in which the essence of it being suffices in itself to give account of its activity. When we say that a white body can distort one's vision, it is clear that the whiteness by which it can distort is one thing and that the body itself which possesses this whiteness is another; whereas, if we say: whiteness can distort one's vision, the power that we are speaking of could be confused with the whiteness itself. In such a case it is no longer an essence acting by way of a faculty, but the activity of an essence. So when we say: the human soul can know, and will, and so forth, the verb "can" designates that which is added to its essence: quaemadmodum dicitur de creatore benedicto. With the human soul, as with God, the power that we attribute to it designates nothing other than its essence: causa autem in hoc est, quoniam neque apud creatorem, neque apud animam humanam, est potentia principium et causa hujusmodi operationis nisi utriusque essentia. William of Auvergne's firmness on this point is unwavering; however one can not help but wish that he had taken


his demonstration further. Three arguments seem nevertheless to have interested him in particular. First, he placed no intermediary between substance and accident; either the operations of the intellect and will are the operations of substances or they are the operations of accidents; but it is inconceivable that knowing, willing, wanting and doing could be accidents, and no one has ever demonstrated sufficient imbecility to believe that something other than a substance, even a living substance, could accomplish such operations. It remains then that the soul itself, taken in its substance, is the cause of the operations that we attribute to its faculties. As for the second argument, he once again supports the absolute indivisibility of the soul, as we already have already seen. Finally, there is his argument from authority, in which he merely seems to place on his side all of those to affirm the unity of the soul; including one example which will prove for him very profitable: the soul which exercises different psychological faculties is like a man who exercises different social functions; the soul is intellect, will, and power just as a man is at the same time Duke, Count, and Marquis of a city, and even sometimes consul and senator as well. Following this, one can put together everything that he has said, intende ergo haec


omnia et aggrega ea, and William of Auvergne guarantees flawless evidence of his doctrine. The most important historical consequence of his fidelity to this thesis comes from it's rigorous application to the problem of the agent intellect. This doctrine does not present itself to him as some attempt to define, in abstract terms, the actual conditions whereby intellectual knowledge is possible; instead it answers this question immediately in psychological terms and begs the question of whether or not it is compatible with the absolute simplicity that he has attributed to the soul. At its core, this doctrine, which is held by those philosophers who faithfully follow Aristotle, can be reduced to this: every act of intellection is composed of two moments: exercising an action, and suffering a passion. In order to explain the passive element of intellection, these philosophers accepted the existence of the material intellect, which receives signs that correspond with objects, as well as an agent intellect which brings these intelligible signs from potency to act; similar to the way in which a light makes actually visible those colors which are only potentially visible in the dark. These conclusions were already very widespread in the time of William of Auvergne, as he tells us that many people accept them without discussion: multi deglutiunt positiones istas absque ulla investigatione discoussionis et perscrutationis recipientes illas, et etiam consentientes illis, et


pro certissimis eas habentes; and he called these very things into question [c'est ce qui le dcide les mettre en discussion]. Or, perhaps we should say instead that he dismissed these very things without discussing them. The only coherent solution to the problem, the one that most of his successors rallied around, consisted in unifying the agent intellect and the possible intellect within one and the same soul. Now, William of Auvergne remembers first of all that this solution goes against everything that he has already said: he denies, and he always will deny, that the soul could possess to intellects, one agent, and the other possible, because he considers the soul to be impartibilis; and once this thesis has been accepted the only remaining solutions are Avicenna's impossible notion of the agent Intelligence, or the absurd notion of a combination of intellects, wherein they are considered as distinct substances seeking to enter into composition. Among the many arguments that were mounted against William of Auvergne's theses, there are some that are particularly interesting to the history of thomistic thought, as they are addressed directly in the Summa Theologiae. First, that which defines William of Auvergne's very position: the idea that there is no agent intellect. This is an inevitable conclusion for one who will neither accept the separate agent Intelligence of Avicenna, nor the possibility that an agent intellect can be part of the human soul; having neither a place within the soul, nor without the soul, the agent intellect is radically eliminated: Intellectus agens... nec ipsa essentia ejus est, nec de ipsa. Now this formulation immediately reminds us of two articles from the Summa Theologica, which we can now see in their full historical significance. Is it necessary that there be an agent intellect? Does the agent intellect belong to the soul? There is no


doubt now that this is an implicit reference to William of Auvergne since, as we have seen, in the history of this problem, his thought is virtually synonymous with a formal denial of the agent intellect. Furthermore, we can see that William of Auvergne has furnished the principal objections that St. Thomas will endeavor to refute. First, there is the argument that draws an analogy between intellectual knowledge and sensible knowledge. Sense is naturally in potency with regard to sensible things, which means that if you put a sense organ in the presence of a sensible object it is useless to imagine that there is an intermediary agent faculty which makes the organ capable of perceiving it's object. Furthermore, in the same way that one would not imagine an agent sense which serves as an intermediary between the sensible and sense, neither is there reason to imagine an agent intellect between the possible intellect and intelligible things. St. Thomas replies saying that this is a false analogy, because sensibles are found in act outside of the soul, which means that there is no reason to assert the existence of an agent sense whose function is to actualize them: it is enough that a purely passive sense-organ can be placed in the presence of sensibles that are in act and that are therefore able to act upon it. On the other hand, abstract intelligibles cannot be found actualized anywhere in nature; before they can be known, they must be produced; and this is exactly why we have the hypothesis of an agent intellect that steps in, which makes actually intelligible for thought that which was not actually intelligible in reality. One can thus explain knowledge of the sensible


without an agent sense, however one cannot explain knowledge of the intelligible without an agent intellect. The second argument that St. Thomas refutes is William's response to one of the arguments invoked by the defenders of the agent intellect, whose case he defends. These Aristotelians essentially argued that, even in the case of sensible knowledge, there must be an agent in order for sensation to be possible: as in the case of light, without which colored bodies could never be seen by the eye. To which William of Auvergne responded that the two had nothing in common. Color, he observed, is not in potency in the colored body, but in act, and is incapable of acting upon the eye not because it does not exist, but because it does not have the strength sufficient to act. Light, therefore, only intervenes in sensation in order to confer upon already existing colors the intensity which allows them to impress themselves upon the visual organ, which means that it strengthens them, but does not actualize them. Then there is the very different case of the possible intellect, which is pure receptivity. The possible intellect does not possess intelligible ideas in any capacity, not even in the powerless state in which color exists in bodies; light, therefore, plays a role relative to sensation which is entirely other than the role played by the agent intellect, assuming that this intellect must be invoked in order to account for intellection. St. Thomas response to this by distinguishing between two possible interpretations of the role played by light with respect to colors. If one accepts, along with the adversaries of William of Auvergne who we have just seen him rebuke but whose interpretation he will ultimately come to embrace, that light has the effect of making colors visible, which


had not been so without it, then the comparison between light and the role of an agent intellect seems to be well-founded. In fact, something which St. Thomas did not note, William of Auvergne differed only from his adversaries and that he conceived of this power is a radical and absolute possibility of the intellect, instead of allowing that sensible species can be compared to the impressions of colors which light renders visible as the intellect renders intelligible phantasms to the common sense. [Et en effet, ce que ne note pas saint Thomas, Guillame d'Auvergne ne diffre de ses adversaires qu'en ce qu'il conoit la puissance comme une possibilit radicale et absolute de l'intellect, au lieu que les espces sensibles que la lumire rend visibles comme l'intellect agent rend intelligibles les phantasmes du sens commun] For such an interpretation: similiter requiritur, et propter idem, intellectus agens ad intelligendum, propter quod lumen ad videndum. However St. Thomas's interpretation of this comparison is quite different. Along with Averroes, he accepts that the effect of light is not to strengthen colors or to actualize them, but instead simply to remove the opacity from the medium which prevents them from acting upon our vision; this is what supported his conclusion that the role of light and sensation is other than the role of the agent intellect and intellection. It is still true that light is necessary for sight just as an agent intellect is necessary for knowledge, however they differ radically in their modes of action. Finally we have a third objection that is borrowed from William of Auvergne, which is representative of the very core of his thought: if one places and intellect, which is by definition able to receive an eligible forms, in the presence of intelligible forms which it is capable of receiving, what more could one say is necessary in order for there to be intellectual knowledge? Absolutely nothing. It is therefore entirely superfluous to imagine the existence of an agent intellect that is necessary in order to render knowledge possible. This argument presupposes


that whose very existence is in question: intelligibles which are actually realized without the collaboration of an intellect to draw them out from the sensible. What is lacking in order for William of Auvergne's doctrine to be acceptable, is a process whereby intelligibles are made present to the intellect. So, even when it looking only at the criticism directed against it by St. Thomas, we can see the latent presence of Platonism the argument's presuppositions and in its affinity for the thought of Avicenna: William of Auvergne never sees the need for an agent intellect since God will always be there to confer primary intelligibles upon our intellect by means of illumination. The next question that St. Thomas considers in the Summa Theologiae is also in response to an issue raised by William of Auvergne: does the agent intellect belong to the soul? This is a different problem from the one we have just seen, although the two are connected; and St. Thomas does a much better job of distinguishing the two issues then William of Auvergne did, who barely distinguished them at all. Whether it is necessary to appeal to an agent intellect in order to make sense out of human reason, is one question; whether the very idea of an agent intellect is reconcilable with human nature, is another. It is this second question that we are going to examine. First, there is the looming issue of the impossibility of housing an agent intellect within a human soul. And why would anyone suggest that the agent intellect is part of the human soul? In order to illuminate it. Now, we know from Scripture that the principal illuminator of our souls is superior to the soul, as this is God, the true light which illuminates every man who comes into this world. It is therefore impossible that a soul should hold its own principle of illumination. St. Thomas responds to this with his personal conception of divine illumination: God illuminates our souls insofar as he has endowed them with a natural light thanks to which


they can know, and which is the same as the agent intellect; this response involves his entire doctrine, which we will look at in its own right. Next, the agent intellect is, by definition, in continual and permanent contemplation of intelligibles; therefore if the soul possessed an agent intellect it could never cease to understand even for a single instant; now, we know that this is not the case; it is therefore impossible to attribute in agent and likes to the soul. This objection is very strong from William of Auvergne's perspective because the soul is strictly one, and this thing which would also be one of its parts is itself also necessarily a whole: an agent intellect within a soul which is also interiorly one, would illuminate it totally and continually, simply by its presence. But this objection loses all of its force and a conception of the human soul such as that of St. Thomas. Aristotle established that the human soul sometimes knows and sometimes does not know, and he is clearly here speaking of the soul and not the agent intellect. As the latter is always in act, however the soul also possesses a possible intellect and it only ever comes to know something itself by virtue of an interaction between it's possible intellect and it's agent intellect. There is also a third objection which is closely related to the preceding one: an agent and a patient are sufficient to produce an action; if then there is in our souls a passive power which is the possible intellect and an active power which is the agent intellect, then it follows that man would be always able to know, provided only that it wants to. But it is clearly false that this should happen so easily, as


knowledge must be acquired painstakingly rather than by a simple act of the will. This is yet another argument that demonstrates the radical opposition between William of Auvergne's Platonism and St. Thomas' Aristotelianism. For William, an agent intellect could be nothing other than a sufficient reason for knowledge [une raison suffisante de connaissance], like a platonic idea, or Avicenna's agent Intelligence; but if one grants him such an agent intellect, William of Auvergne does not see how an actual knowledge of intelligibles would not then immediately result. For him, an intellect in act is knowledge in act. For St. Thomas on the other hand, ever faithful to the instrumental notion of the intellect that he owes to his master Aristotle, an intellect in act is not so much knowledge in act as it is a means of gaining it. To grant an agent intellect to the human soul would not be to free it from the need to look to things and to the outside world, to acquire knowledge, or to practice obtaining knowledge; it would only grant the soul the active principle that permits it to exercise it's different functions. From this perspective, to confer an agent intellect upon the soul is not the same thing as conferring knowledge upon it. Therefore, from William of Auvergne's perspective, if the idea of a separate agent Intelligence is useless and even contradictory, it is no less useless or contradictory to attribute an agent intellect to the soul. Our Doctor remains perfectly firm and never wavers in his convictions on this point. But the denial of an agent intellect does not solve the problem


of cognition, rather it only complicates it. We are still capable of rendering the sensible intelligible, however we have done away with every instrument by which we could do so. This is an unavoidable question that William promises to take up by the end of his De Universo; the reader must patiently wait for a long time before he finally reaches William's answer and, even then, he will be left with


many questions; but this is the answer that we must content ourselves with. If one wants to understand William of Auvergne, especially in this portion of his work, the first thing to note is that he often confused Aristotle for Avicenna. This confusion lead him to many fruitless attempts to explain why an adversary of Plato, such as Aristotle, could teach a doctrine that was nearly as platonic as Avicenna's; a struggle that seems to have been the cause of his greatest difficulties. This was especially problematic for his treatment of the problem of cognition, which we shall now look at in more detail. William of Auvergne's specific position was the following: his thesis of the absolute unity of the soul, which he held more firmly than any other, excludes the possibility that the intellect is composed of both agent and patient parts, but also requires that the intellect is able to draw the intelligible from the sensible on its own. There are two possible solutions to this: either the intellect receives intelligibles from without, or it is able to somehow produce them in itself without being divided. This is a problem whose difficulties are almost inextricable. William of Auvergne was well aware that he was at an impasse and he suffered no illusions on this point; he stoically observes at one point that this question has not yet received a definitive solution, despite having been posed so long ago. However, with an intellectual ardor that never leaves him and with an unwavering trust in God who inspires him, he commits himself to solving the unsolvable with a magnificent obstinacy. William of Auvergne sees no difficulty in demonstrating that the human intellect is illuminated by God and is very open to divine influences; the real difficulty for him comes from trying to explain our knowledge of the world and of bodies. The question of how the inferior world could inform or illuminate an intelligent soul like our own is the stumbling block of all Augustinianism, and of this case in particular. In order to be sure that he has fully exhausted this difficulty, William of Auvergne distinguishes three cases: sensation, abstraction, and the inference by which the intellect passes from knowledge of the cause to knowledge of the effect or, generally speaking, from knowledge of one thing to knowledge of another that is associated with it in reality. The problem of sensation interests us here only indirectly, despite the considerable historical significance of William of Auvergne's proposed solution to it, therefore we will not discuss it any further. However, the two remaining problems deal directly with the activity


of the intellect itself and compel William of Auvergne to finally take a position on this important point. Abstraction, such as we have described it here, requires two steps: first there is a purely imaginative abstraction, which consists in drawing out from the perception of an individual object the generic image that it shares with everything in its genus or species. Then there is an intellectual abstraction, which consists in drawing out from this perception or this image the idea of the genus or the species to which this object belongs. These two stages of operation are clearly distinguished in the account of the cognitive process given in the De Anima, which also explains just as clearly that it is necessary to have different explanations for each of these two operations. Purely imaginative abstraction does not really pose a problem since it does not add anything to the content of sensation, but rather subtracts from it. Yet the term "subtract" makes this operation seem more positive than it really is. For instance if I were to stand near a statue of Hercules such that I could clearly perceive it, I would be able to recognize it as Hercules because I had apprehended all of the statue's individual details, and this kind of knowledge deserves the name sensation. If I were to move away from the statue, however, my ability to apprehend these individual forms would diminish as the distance between us increased, eventually to the point that it would only appear to me as a man, and no longer this man or that man. So our thought passes from a sensation of a particular being to an abstract image of its species simply by considering the perceived object in the absence of its concrete particularizing details. But this first, purely


imaginative abstraction prepares for a higher one that is purely intellectual, and which informs the intellect with purely intelligible ideas. Now, the question of how this second stage of abstraction can be attained is the most difficult question that a philosopher could try answer concerning the intellectual operations of the soul. It is important to mention first that William of Auvergne considered the problem of the origin of the first principles of knowledge to be the same as the problem of the origin of abstract concepts. An interpretation of his text would change dramatically depending on whether one considered his theory of first principles to be resolved at the same time as his question of intellectual abstraction, or if one considered him to have two distinct theories: one that applies only to principles and another that applies only to concepts. We believe, for our part, that William of Auvergne intended to resolve both problems at the same time, and these are the principal reasons for this: first, he himself said that principles are nothing other than things in their most universal state of abstraction: principia haec non sunt nisi res in abstractione universali; this makes it is difficult to see how he could distinguish the formation of abstract ideas from the formation of the first principles of knowledge. Another reason is that, in the same text where he explains the difference between intellectual abstraction and imaginative abstraction, William of Auvergne also claims that he has shed some light on the formation of abstract ideas; but this statement comes directly after his explanation of the formation of first principles. We will reproduce this text here nearly in its entirety, not only because of it's great importance, but also because the two problems currently at issue will be worked out in the same vein: et propter hoc merito quaeritur unde... formae venerunt in intellectum; et eodem modo se habet de intellectu seu intellectione principiorum. Lastly we


hope to demonstrate, by closely examining the texts, that the only way this doctrine could appear to be internally coherent would be if the reader had already accepted William's interpretation beforehand. William of Auvergne begins by claiming, with Aristotle, that it is impossible for the soul to know without a phantasm. But then he immediately adds: sine phantasmate, et intendo sine signo vel forma intelligibili; which tells us a lot about just how well he knew Aristotle. Therefore to say that the soul cannot think without a phantasm would simply mean for William of Auvergne that the soul could not think about things without an intelligible form that represents them. The specific example that he uses does not leave any room for doubt about what exactly he meant by that: in order to prove the obvious fact that a man is not an ass, one first needs to possess the two intelligible forms of man and ass in his intellect. But this raises the question of where these signs or forms came from; the same also goes for self-evident first principles; how do they make their way into the intellect, and from where? Is it these very principles that bestow the intellect with the intelligible forms that it needs in order to have even the most basic thought, such as of the principles themselves, or do forms come from somewhere outside the intellect? This is the question that William of Auvergne has placed before himself. It should be noted that the problem of the origin of concepts is here not only on the same plane as that of the origin of principles, but even anterior to it. As principles are only thinkable if the intelligible forms that are necessary to understand them preexist them; but where do these intelligible forms themselves come from? The first soultion that comes to mind would be to suggest that first principles imprint forms upon our intellect. But this hypothesis does not hold up against scrutiny; as principles are universals, and a universal something abstract, that is, a being of reason that can be neither agents nor patient. We would never claim that the idea of man could exercise any sort of action upon our thought, nor would we say that the idea of man could suffer action. Striking a particular man is not the same as striking the idea of man. If one says that man in general reads, sings, argues, or does philosophy, he does not have to be thinking of any man in


particular. This hypothesis is ultimately nothing other than the error of Plato, who took abstractions as things, believing that universals were capable of acting upon particular beings. Furthermore, once this hypothesis has been eliminated, for the reason that we have just given, there remains only one imaginable solution: since a particular being could only act upon another being, it is necessary that these resemblances, or intelligible forms, are impressed upon our intellect by a particular being. This explanation solves Aristotle's problem that we saw described above in that it accounts for an agent intellect that: contains forms, is external to us, and is the producer of the intelligible forms that it imprints upon our intellect. Unfortunately, this cannot be William of Auvergne's solution to the problem, as he has previously forbidden the possibility that such a being could exist in his critique of the doctrine of a separate Intelligence. So where can we find the first cause of forms? It is here that William introduces the idea of Augustinian illumination. The Christian doctrine, whose absolute truth could never even be questioned, portrays the human soul as being naturally situated at the intersection of two worlds; on the horizon, so-to-speak. One of these is the sensible world, which the soul is joined to by its body. The other world is that of the Creator who, considered in himself, could be understood as the mirror from which all first intelligibles radiate. This creator is the eternal truth, the model that luminously expresses and brilliantly represents all things. We must consider him, despite all of the inadequacies of the analogy, as a mirror or as a living book. That is to say, God is closely joined and present to man, He stands before man's intellect so that it can gaze within Him and read the first principles of knowledge and morality. Hence the conclusion: God himself is the proper and natural book of the human intellect: Creator ipse liber est naturalis et proprius intellectus humani. This would explain how the intelligible signs which we spoke of earlier would make their way into the human intellect; God would have impressed them or, rather, written them there: Ab illo igitur fiunt impressiones de quibus agitur, et inscriptiones signorum antedictorum in virtute nostra intellectiva. All of this seems to suggest that William of Auvergne did not see another possible solution to the problem of cognition other than to assign the role


of illuminator to God rather than Avicenna's agent Intelligence. Setting aside the equally curious proof [confirmation] that William derives from the theory of prophecy, in which God is said to present us with a book that He has opened to whichever page he pleases, from which we might read the line, or even just the word, that he wants us to see; this sort of illumination applies specifically to the mysteries of grace, and we are here only interested in natural illumination. However, another proof [confirmation] of this doctrine awaits us in the very field of knowledge it self, wherein we must explain the inference that permits the intellect to conclude one thing that rather than another; most notably the ability to know a cause apart from its effect. This is a vexing problem to be sure, one which will be no less difficult to answer then those that came before it, if not even more so. Let us imagine, for example, that our intellect possesses the idea of a cause, and that it moves from this idea to that of an effect. This movement can only be explained in two ways: either the idea of the cause produced the idea of the affect, or the former is nothing but an occasion for the latter. It hardly seems possible that the idea of a cause could determine and produce the idea of its effect, as a product always resembles the thing that produced it, and there is often no resemblance between the idea of a cause and the idea of an effect. Take the case of an eclipse for example, whose cause is the interposition of the Earth between the Sun and the Moon, which does not bear even the slightest resemblance to its effect, which is the darkening of the moon; how then does the first of these ideas produce something so different as the second? There does not seem to be any sensible answer. Therefore only one hypothesis is conceivable, that the idea of the cause is simply an occasion for the intellect to form the idea of the effect; however if one accepts this solution, he must also accept all of the consequences that follow from it. As soon as one grants the intellect such a power, one also becomes obligated to maintain that the intellect is able to move, not only from an idea to the thing that it represents, but also from any idea to every other idea that could be associated with it. Such a movement would be the initial cause of everything that will develop out of dialectic and rhetoric, as well the creation of middle terms, which allow us to establish necessary connections between concepts


using syllogisms. This gives birth to further connections that are somewhat looser and relate more to skill2 than to knowledge; these are the connections that engender belief or opinion. Aristotle explains such connections in his example of the man who observes a currency exchanger and concludes simply from his observation that the person is lending money. William of Auvergne himself makes a complacent return to this theme using his own example of a spider [mais tel surtout l'exemple de l'araigne propos par Guillaume d'Auvergne lui-mme, et sur lequel il revient complaisamment]: When this simple creature feels a vibration in its web, the spider imagines a trapped fly and thinks that this must be his prey. However, we should reflect upon the many problems which are raised by such an operation, as well as the issue of how to these different forms came to be in the imagination if this insect, and from where. They cannot come to him from the external excitation which he experienced, as if this were the case the vibrations produced in his web could not engender such ideas and him. Furthermore, even just after it is born and without having had the time to apprehend anything, the spider is naturally able to produce his silken thread, to weave his web, and to lay in wait for flies. Therefore it is by of some kind of innate art and an internal disposition for producing such ideas that these actions are performed. Thus for man, who connect his ideas by either necessary or dialectical syllogisms, just as with the animal who spontaneously produces images or actions, such actions seem explainable only by a sort of interior fecundity; from which these acts, images, and even ideas themselves spring forth. But we still must discover where this fecundity comes from. Let us follow in the direction that our observation of animal activity has pointed us. The spider is moved to act, and to draw from the images that acts presuppose, because of

This could be translated skill or quick wit. Gilson here uses the word lhabilet, which translates the Latin solertia. 67

a kind of aptitude or disposition that is permanently present in his soul: habitus qui est tanquam mos in anima aranaeae. Following from this model of the animal soul, if we were to consider our intellect to be endowed with a natural aptitude for producing ideas, and with an innate habit - quia est sicut mos - that allows us to spontaneously engender which ever ideas we wish, we will have only explained this fecundity in terms of our previous conclusions concerning the origin of intelligible forms and principles. First and foremost, this sort of solution to the problem offers the benefit of eliminating many of the difficulties inherent to a pure Augustinianism. For instance we are all familiar with Augustine's notion that the soul can produce ideas of bodies on its own; from itself, in itself, by means of its very substance. Taken literally, however, this notion of human knowledge is subject to every objection that we have already directed against the others. We could say that the soul possesses everything that it knows innately, but we would fall into the problems associated with platonic recollection. Or, we could say that the soul is furnished with ideas by an agent Intelligence according to its needs, but we have already clearly shown this to be unacceptable. Or, we could imagine that the soul acts upon itself, but this is to say that it is simultaneously active and passive, giver and receiver, and worst of all, producer and dispenser of ideas that it does not itself possess. The only


conceivable response to this question therefore would be to grant the soul some sort of ability to produce ideas that does not presuppose an internal duality. Difficult as it is to represent, such a productive ability is perhaps conceivable and there even seem to be examples of it in nature. We can call it conceivable because not every motion from potency to act occurs in the mode of passion and action; in fact, there are even cases where the passage from potency to act would be inconceivable if accounted for in such terms. Let us consider for example the case of movement or, more precisely, being moved. For, when a body capable of movement first departs, it must do this on its own, triggered by something invisible. Because if it must be put in motion by another action then that action would also need to have been


produced by something prior to it, and this second by another still, and so on to infinity. There do seem to be concrete examples of this simple productive ability within nature. For instance, there is the generative capacity [vertu] of a seed, which is able to produce another plant of its species, or of an egg, which produces animals of a certain species; these might be good examples of a direct and internal fecundity such as the one responsible for our thoughts. There is of course a significant difference between the two cases, which is that natural generation requires time while mental generation is instantaneous. But this difference is only due to the imperfection of the generative capacity [vertu] that plants and animals possess; nothing prevents us from asserting that the intellect can engender ideas just as instantaneously as God can create things. Such a productive capacity [vertu] is analogous to a seed that is capable of producing its roots, stems, leaves, and seeds all in an instant. This is precisely how our faculty of understanding works according to Auvergne. Its nature is such that when it is stimulated even in the least bit, it is capable of instantaneously engendering the ideas of external things in itself and then spontaneously applying the ideas to the things they represent by a kind of natural mimesis, analogous to that of a monkey or a chameleon. Thus we can see how William of Auvergne constantly returns to the example of animal instinct in order to help us understand the intellects innate ability to instantly produce ideas while remaining undivided. We still have to answer one more question: if the movement by which the intellect engenders and connects ideas is caused by some sort of instinct or innate aptitude, what is it that causes this aptitude itself? Here, William of Auvergne reaches the furthest limit of precision that is available to him in the discussion of such a problem; which means that it will be difficult for us to discern the positive aspect of his conclusion. In reality, our philosopher seems to have represented the intellect under two different, yet equally conceivable, aspects. First, in its most basic state, it is portrayed simply as an ability to understand [puissance de connatre], without innate ideas, without an agent Intelligence to enrich intelligible forms, without a distinction between agent and patient intellect that allows it to derive knowledge by acting upon itself. In this form, the intellect seems absolutely inert, impotent, and empty to William of Auvergne. So, what is necessary in order to render it capable of producing and understanding? God must grant it its fecundity by conferring upon it this internal aptitude which we have just discussed, which is


nothing other than natural illumination itself. In this way, God plays the role of this educer, or of that external facilitator without which our faculty of understanding would remain ever incapable of moving from potency to act. In order to be in act with regard to ideas, our intellect must first be passive with regard to God. We should understand this to be an absolute passivity, much more complete than that of colors with regard to light, for example; as light does not produce colors in a body that it illuminates, it only renders them visible by reinforcing their intensity. Intellectual illumination, on the other hand, is a light that introduces both color and visibility within the thing that it illuminates; it falls upon the soul completely from without and from above: necesse igitur est ut lumen scientiae desuper adveniens totaliter cadat super animas nostras3. But, once the soul has suffered this passion, the intellect is transformed from sterile to boundlessly fertile. Once this aptitude for conceiving ideas is enriched by divine illumination, our faculty of understanding becomes capable not only of passing from potency to act, but also of engendering all its intellections instantly. From that point on, our understanding is like an abundant flowing source; one which springs from within itself and empties out into its own banks in a self-replenishing flood. The intellect is not only the source of the waters of science and wisdom, it is also the basin in which they collect and from which they are replenished. Like an ocean or river, whose waters both give birth to fish and serve as their habitat, so also is our faculty of understanding, which becomes the receptacle and the natural habitat of the knowledge that it generates. But it only generates this knowledge by means of a permanent acquired disposition; and acquired here means nothing other than infused: acquisitum autem intelligo superinfusum. Therefore all knowledge, whether we are speaking of wisdom revealed to the prophets by God, or of science acquired by the intellect within the natural order, points back to Gods initial fertilization of the intellect; as a thought that completes itself with its own knowledge and its own ideas must do so by a generation that recalls and draws upon the idea of the very Word that is within God: sic vis intellectiva quasi impraegnata, et foecundata hujusmodi habitu, de plenitudine illius eructat et gignit scientias in effectu, in semetipsa et intra semetipsam4.

3 4

De Universo, Ia IIae, cap. 41: t.I, p. 839-840. Cf. cap. 16; p.283.


This seems to have been William of Auvergnes last word on the matter; one that had preoccupied him for a long time and which he reflected upon greatly. It would certainly be excessive for us to give too much attention to the technical imperfections of his solution; i.e. how does this illumination take place? Is it in the form of a first gift that maintains a general competition with God, or does it require a special competition? Is it a proper act of man to engage in the activity that divine illumination makes him capable of, or is it simply an extension of a divine activity within us? However, in the course of subsequent developments in scholastic philosophy, many new questions and difficulties were leveled against William of Auvergnes thesis, and though William provided the elements of a solution, he never managed to respond in explicit enough terms to allow one to say that the problems with this doctrine had truly been


resolved. Despite this and other shortcomings, however, his thought is nothing short of remarkable in its originality and its unique explanation of our intellectual fecundity. If we take up this issue where William of Auvergne left it to his successors, we find that it is paradoxically assimilated with Avicennas doctrine under the pretext of a refutation. [...on constate en effet quelle prsentait ce paradoxe singulier de stre assimile la doctrine dAvicenne sous prtexte de la rfuter.] Once he has eliminated the arabic philosophers separate agent Intelligence, and once he has rejected an agent intellect that is part of the soul, William of Auvergne is left with only two things: a purely possible human intellect and God. This is a curious position, but it is explained by the specific question that he has asked himself, which is not exactly the same as the question that his historians ask him. What he wants to know is how a perfectly simple soul can produce ideas on its own without becoming divided. In order to elucidate this difficulty, William of Auvergne ultimately distinguishes two aspects of the problem, and we must make this distinction as well, lest we interpret him incorrectly: first there is the illumination of the intellect by God, then there is the functioning of the intellect thus illuminated. Looking at the first of these two aspects, we see that the human intellect behaves as one that is purely possible5; as it


completely receives illumination from God and yet produces nothing. Now, although William of Auvergne never actually said that God was the agent intellect of our soul, he does describe the human soul as being purely possible, just as Avicenna did, and he assigns to God the very same illuminating role as that played by the separate agent Intelligence in Avicennas doctrine. Therefore his successors are faced with the dilemma of choosing between a decapitated Avicennianism and a doctrine that makes God our agent intellect. As for the second aspect, it is no longer sensible to ask the question of how the human soul is passive in some respect and active in another, because such a question presupposes the divisibility of the soul, which William has clearly insisted is indivisible. In reality, a soul that is illuminated by God is nothing but a simple fecundity; one that generates knowledge and forms and combines them to the degree that it produces them. Thus formulated, and seen within its original boundaries, it is unlikely that William of Auvergnes thought would never fall under St. Thomas Aquinas scrutiny. But, by a phenomenon that is worthy of our attention, Aristotles language began more and more to permeate philosophical and theological schools that were the most hostile to his thought, and this brought about some very curious syntheses, in which Aristotelian terminology was used in the service of ideas that they were never intended to explain. It was through this language that William of Auvergnes doctrine was first welcomed and ultimately criticized by St. Thomas; but only under the pretense that he was providing a reformulation.