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By Copleston, Frederick

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Extra resources for A History of Philosophy - Ockham to the Speculative Mystics (Christian Library)

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Ockham appears to be referring to the theory of Petrus Aureoli, according to which the concept, which is the object appearing to the mind, is a ‘fiction’. ‘ The first intention is an act of the understanding signifying things which are not signs. ’ And Ockham proceeds to say that both first and second intentions are truly real entities, and that they are truly qualities subjectively existent in the soul. That they are real entities, if they are acts of the understanding, is clear; but it seems rather odd perhaps to find Ockham calling them qualities.

For it might be answered that sin is its own punishment and virtue its own reward. Petrus Aureoli proceeds to give some arguments of his own; but he is not very confident as to their probative force. ’ First of all, man can choose freely, and his free choices are not affected by the heavenly bodies nor by any material agent. Therefore the principle of this operation of free choice also is unaffected by any material agent. Secondly, we experience in ourselves immanent, and therefore spiritual operations.

That only individuals exist came to be the accepted belief. At the same time the moderate realists, like Aquinas, certainly believed in the objectivity of real species and natures. If X and Y are two men, for example, they do not possess the same individual nature; but none the less each possesses his own human nature or essence, and the two natures are similar, each nature being, as it were, a finite imitation of the divine idea of human nature. Duns Scotus proceeded further in the realist direction by finding a formal objective distinction between the human nature of X and the X-ness of X and between the human nature of Y and the Y-ness of Y.

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A History of Philosophy - Ockham to the Speculative Mystics (Christian Library) by Copleston, Frederick


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