Markus Vinzent's Blog

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Meister Eckhart's re-discovered Parisian Questions (English Translation)

This is work in progress, as together with a team (Ian Richardson, Maria O'Connor, Walter Senner, Loris Sturlese, Marie-Ann Vannier and colleagues) we are working towards an edition, translation and commentaries of the re-discovered Parisian Questions in English, but also one in German and French.
So, here the preliminary English translation (a German translation by Loris Sturlese in cooperation with Walter Senner and me) has appeared in Eckhart's critical Kohlhammer edition (LW V Supplement):

1. Does omnipotence which is in God need to be considered as absolute power or as ordinary power?
And it seems that it has [to be considered] as ordinary power, because it needs to be considered as that which suits God to do and as that what he is able to do.
The counter-argument. The omnipotence encompasses all that does not entail the contrary, and this is more than what is ordinary.
It has to be shown first that the power is in God. As power is spoken of as being ordained towards action. Action, however, is two-fold. First, of course, as the form of a passive power and [second] as activity which accords to an active power.
And this is in God; on the one hand, because where there is intrinsic and extrinsic activity, there is power; in God, however, is intrinsic and extrinsic activity; on the other hand, because according to Avicenna, power is first to be found in men since they have the strength to overcome. God, however, cannot suffer from someone else, hence he is the ultimate action.
But you ask: In which way is this power to be found in God?
The answer has to be: as that what is found in creatures as ultimate perfection, once the imperfection is removed [from them].
Again, I say that this power is really one, because it is said of all as one.
Further, [divine] essence is principle of all emanations, and itself is one. Therefore asf.
Second, one has to enquire, in which way that distinction between absolute and ordinary power, has to be understood. If now something is attributed to God himself, such things belong to absolute power. If, however, things are attributed to himself with regards to intellect and wisdom, they then belong to ordinary power.
Similarly, thirdly, one has to answer this question that the Master in the Sentences determines, based on the authority of the Saints, and he seems to say that they are both attributed [to God].
Some, however, say that he is omnipotent because he is able to do whatever he wills out of himself and through himself.[1]
The counter-argument: This only explains the way in which power works.

I, therefore, say, <God’s power> rather has to be taken as absolute power because it needs to be taken as that which can extend itself to all things, which do not imply contradiction, because it is taken with regards to what is possible.
Likewise, the power of God would otherwise be limited, if it were taken in a specific way.[2]
Similarly, as knowledge is said of God who knows everything, because he knows everything, so also power.[3]
Why, however, does one not say that he wills everything?
The answer: He only wills that to which he applies his knowledge or power. And note that he is not called omnipotent because in him be the power for everything, but because he can do everything that is possible.
To this argument it must be said that out of absolute power God can make what is not decent now. If, nevertheless, these things were made, they would be decent and just.
To this argument it must be said that out of absolute power God can make what is not decent now. If, nevertheless, they were made, they would be decent and just.
But you may say: ‘Can he not do, except what he has foreseen?’ One has to reply that, of course, if ‘except’ refers to doing, then the statement is true, because what he does, he has foreseen. But if it refers to power [or, what he can], then it is wrong.
But you say: ‘Augustine says in the Enchiridion that he is omnipotent because “he can do whatever he wills”, not because he can do everything.’
One has to reply that Augustine spoke of 'wills', because in ‘everything’evil is included which are impossible for God. Therefore, it is said like this.

2. Is the essence[4] of God more real than the <personal> property?
It seems that the essence [is more real], because it is called infinite reality.
The counterargument: Everything acts through realising. A Father, however, generates through fatherhood, because through it [i.e. fatherhood] he is constituted in his being [Father].
Likewise, the Father does not make the Son alike in essence, because in number he is the same with the Son.
One has to say that the question presupposes a real property and an essence as well. Some, however, say that property is the power to generate,
first, because power and act are of the same genus, and generating is a relation;
second, because acting of a subject, taken per se, is what it is, and the form through which it is, is that through which [it is];
third, because the power to generate is notional, as it does not apply to everything;
fourth, because the Father does not communicate the power to generate when he produces the Son;
fifth, because he does not generate, insofar as he is God, because in this way the Son would have generated, therefore he generates insofar as [he is] Father.
       
The counterargument: Damascenus in his first book, chapter eight [writes]: ‘Generating is the work of nature’. Therefore, nature is the principle.
Likewise, the noblest act derives from the noblest power.
Likewise, in the essence lies the similitude of the product. Therefore etc.
It is not valid to say that this is only true in the univocal generation, [but] not in an identical one, because, it is valid, indeed, in univocal ones on account of the unity of the form. This, however, is the greater unity, since it is a numerical unity.
Likewise, the property cannot be the first term of the formal production, according to the fifth book of the Physics, nor, therefore, the principle; because also whiteness and foundation are always understood as <being> prior to the relation.
To the first of these, one has to say that the passive power and its act are of the same genus, because the <passive> power could not by itself be set by itself in a genus, this, however, does not apply to the active power, which by itself can be set in a genus.
To the second, one has to say, what acts sometimes acts through a common form; because in man the sensitive nature is the principle to remember, which would not be in an animal, …
… it is appropriated from the Father.
To the third, one has to say, that the power is essential and communal to the Trinity, be it to elicit, connected with due respect.
<To the forth …>
<To the fifth> that insofar as he is God, with due respect.
Others say, that the essence and the property are the potentiality; more principally, however, they say it is the property. Their reason: Whatever is in the generated, has something else that responds in the generating. In the generated, however, are nature and relation. Therefore etc. More principally, however, it conveys property; because the producer likens the product and sets a distinction, and this he intends most. Therefore, the property is more principally.
The counter‑argument. They do not grasp the sense of the question, because the question is not with regards to the total aggregate, but to that power by which generation occurs. Likewise, the conclusion is false. The determination does not remove what has been signified, but restricts it to the kind of mode for which it is considered. The power, however, means the absolute, therefore, to generate does not take away the signified, but only restricts it etc.
Likewise, the power to generate is neither a composite construct, nor one that is intransitive.
About the reason: The principle of generation is that which generates, and thus it is truly argued; but the question relates to the principle that makes the generation to occur.
To the second one has to say that with regards to the end of the generation, rather a distinction is intended, but the intention of the one who acts is primarily to communicate nature.
Others say that the power to generate is formally and intrinsically the essence; that is what I hold. Therefore, Damascenus, in the first book, chapter eight: 'the natural germination is the one according to substance etc.' And the master <Peter Lombard> in the first book, seventh distinction: 'its power is its nature'.
Second, it is shown that a property formally and in itself is not a principle, by which <something happens>. First, because in this way the Father likened the Son to him in fatherhood. Further, because the power is the foundation of relation by which the one who produces is related to the product, and this cannot be grounded in the production, even not amongst creatures, because it (the relation) is as such in the product, therefore, it is grounded in the power to produce. Furthermore, because the power to generate is prior to the product, hence prior to the Son and, therefore, it is prior to the Father. Lastly, because the power to generate is a kind of quality, hence, intrinsically it is not a relation.
Thirdly, I say that a certain aspect follows this power, namely that the power to generate is the principle of generation. The principle, however, signifies the order which follows it (the principle). Hence, the aspect follows the power to generate. Accordingly, I understand the master who says that the essence insofar as it is fatherhood is the power to generate. That is true as consequence, not as form or intrinsically.
Furthermore it is argued: in the Son is the essence, therefore also the power. Similarly, that the Father gives everything to the Son; in this, he is not distinct.
On the first one has to say that the potentiality is common, action, however, is not. This is to deduce from the end of the second Analytics <of Aristotle>, because action is singular, the potentiality is universal and common. From which I say, it <the power> does not generate, because the intellect does not remain fruitful in the Son, like the will that remains, for it generates according to its fatherhood.
Or one has to say: that power, insofar as it denotes the aspect, is not in the Son, and, therefore, it cannot become actualized in the Son. And if it is argued that in this way the Son would not be omnipotent, one has to answer that he turns the ‘what’ into a ‘how’.
What relates to the second topic results from what has been said before.
Then, one has to say to the question that there is one act according to the thing, according to the mode of knowing, however, that it is rather to be taken towards the part of the substance. Because the relation is a measure from an entity, as the commentator of Metaphysics XII, note 20 says.
To this argument I partly agree, but the way it is argued is poor. Because the simply infinite is not, unless it is one, and this is the essence, as the Damascene says, because it contains supereminently everything. But infinity, in general, contains supereminently what is common to that genus, so that it is not inconvenient that such is multiplied, because they are of different sorts. From this one can derive our proposition.
Other problems are solved.

3. Is diversity real or rational?
And it [diversity] seems to be rational, because it is opposed to identity.
Against [this]: It [diversity] is between extreme reals.
At first, what does the term 'diversity' [mean]? For [it is said] in book five of the Metaphysics [of Aristotle]:[5]
What is diverse through itself[6] is diverse[7] in its totality from that from which it is diverse, but what differs is not [different] in its totality [from what it is different], and therefore is a composite.
Second, what is understood by the term 'relation'?
Some say that [relation] is an inclination of its own nature which resides in the foundation and tends towards the real end, and yet does not include in its own nature neither end nor foundation.
They say, namely, that:
1] some categories only signify a thing,[8]
[2] other  [categories mean] a thing with a certain inclination, as those six [categories],[9]
[3] and yet others [signify] such condition itself, namely the relation.
If, however, the ground were included, it would predicate what-ness [instead of how] which is against Boethius.[10] In addition, the ground is absolute, hence, it is not part of the notion of ‘relation’.
And if one argues: ‘Relative are those which are what they are asf.’ one posits the ground.
Furthermore, similarity is the same quality of many.
With regards to the first one has to say that Aristotle On the Categories defines what is related, not the relation.
With regards to the second, that it is a material definition.
But others say that ground and end concur in the constitution of a relation. Namely as matter and form concur in a species, so also here.
Now, I prove it in the following way: A relation can neither be conceptualized nor exist without ground. Therefore it [the ground] belongs to the essence of a relation.
But you may say: In this way one could [also] argue about the accident.[11]
One would need to say...[12]
Furthermore, I argue as follows: A relation is according to its what-ness an accident, but that it is an accident derives from the ground.
Furthermore, a relation differs according to species from another on account of its ground, as is obvious from equality[13] and similarity[14].
Furthermore, a relation insofar it is a relation is not distinguished from another relation according to its species. Therefore, [a relation is distinguished from another relation] insofar as it is such a relation. But that it is such [a relation], derives from ground and end.
On the first of these, one has to say: [Relation] means a thing under a condition and differs from others as one thing [differs] from another, because a thing is differentiated according to the ten categories. Therefore, relation is not something other beside the categories.
And if one says: one thing accords to several categories as, for example, obviously in the case of knowledge, one has to add that a single thing according to several aspects that it has falls in [several] categories. Because knowledge entails two real [aspects], quality and real relatedness.
Hence, I say: relation is different from these six [categories], because a new relation cannot exist without a new ground, but exists in six categories in such a way, as becomes obvious from the categories of ‘where’ and of ‘habit’. And this is what the commentator notes [Averroes] with regards to Metaphysics V, comment 28.
There is a [second] difference, because relation sets the thing in an indeterminate way towards something, but those six [categories] signify the condition with the thing in a determinate way.[15]
There is a third difference, as relation carries with it some more intrinsic aspect, because relation inheres [something] by the nature of the ground, and emerges from the nature of the ground. The other six [categories], indeed, do not do so.
On the second, one has to say that [relation] predicates materially what something is.
On the third, one has to say that it [the ground], as far as the material aspect is concerned, constitutes [relation]. Because such species [of relation] is constituted by both [ground and end], but its notion is not a composite, because that relation does not add something to the ground, and that the relation is according to itself.
Hence, one has to reply to the proposition that if diversity is taken improperly for similarity etc. [and other qualities], then it [diversity] is a real one [relation]. But if it is taken as the opposite of identity, I [diversity] is a rational one [relation], the reason being that then it [diversity] is immediately based on substance:
First,[16] because no substance [as such] is referred to [anything else],
second, because being-in-relation presupposes inhering,
third, because the Philosopher [Aristotle] in On the Categories grounds all [real] relations on accident,
fourth, because otherwise there would be no accident.
Relation, indeed, as a term and concept can be grounded in substance, and this way, diversity is a relation, but not one according to being.
Against these, however [one has to say]:
Nowhere, the philosopher [Aristotle] makes such a distinction as that between ‘term’ [/ ‘concept’] and ‘being’.
Likewise, I say that
[1] such a distinction can easily be found between relatives, but not in a relation.
[2] Thus, it is false that a real relation could not be grounded in substance. Because such is a relation that it sets something real and has a distinct end. And such is God’s relation to the creature.
[3] Further, the white Socrates belongs together with the white Plato with regards to species, therefore they are similar. If Socrates also belongs together with Plato in substance, in this they are identical or of essential similarity.
[4] Further, if a relation were grounded in matter, it had a substrate. On this more in due course.
Therefore, I say that diversity is a real relation, because it exists in a thing and follows a thing by nature of this thing.
Further: three things are required for a real relation, namely
[1] that both of the extremes is somehow a thing. Therefore, between something and nothing there is no real relation. Hence, Simplicius [writes]: ‘The being of relation is not solitary, it is of one as end, and of the other as ground’. Therefore, it [being of relation] is given reality by both.
Again, the ground is the material, the end like the formal aspect. Therefore, a relation from matter to form that [form] is not, is not a real one.
[2] Second, it is required that both of the extremes is something supposedly different, because it is ordered towards something else, and this other is formal. Therefore the relation of identity is not a real one.
[3] Third, the condition is that it [the real relation] follows the nature of a thing and not an intellectual order.
But these three [conditions] belong to the relation of diversity. Therefore etc.
To the arguments of the opponent that ‘relation is not grounded in substance, because it does not depend [on it]’, one has to say that, if one accepts dependence, namely coexistence, then such [a dependence] belongs to the concept of relation, yet such [a dependence] is not like an effect to cause, as this way there would be no real relation in the Godhead.
On the second [argument], that it is said: ‘something is in’, like something superior in something inferior, in another way like form in matter, also this I concede …
On the third [argument] about the intention of the Philosopher [Aristotle], one has to say that the Philosopher said that [the relation] is grounded on three [potential modes], because first he has introduced the mode of power, or [second] the mode of quantity as mode of numbers – and so, substance to establish relation, introduces the mode of quantity –, or [third] quality.
On the fourth one has to say that what derives from its own nature is an accident.
On the fifth argument one has to say that identity of something with itself is a rational one, but something else is the identity between two substances.

4. Is rational difference prior to real difference?
As it seems, yes, because the attributes differ according to reason.
Against this: A thing is prior to reason.
At first, what [is] a real difference? For it derives from a thing. A thing, however, is distinct in the way being is [distinct]. Therefore the thing can appropriately be called an absolute entity, in another way [one has to say], that [a thing] means a relation that is grounded in an absolute thing. In this way [one has to speak] of [real] difference.
In one way, however, ‘reason’, is called intellect, in another way a concept is called ‘reason’, and a thing that is conceived by the intellect is called ‘reason’.
For a thing according to itself is understood in a first act of understanding, an understanding that is grounded in the intellect with respect to the stability of its being, but with respect to the stability of its signifying, it [the understanding] is grounded in the thing, which it signifies. In this way [one has to speak] about the second intentions according to their own way.
And so is reason [/concept] grounded in the intellect, not in a way that a different reason [/concept] existed in a thing, but solely through a comparison by the act of reason. Hence, to differ according to reason is to differ according to the act of reason. This act is [an act] of reason, directed towards the conceived thing, in which it [the act of reason itself] is not, even if [the act of reason itself] is a certain thing.
Following this, I answer the question that the real difference is prior [to the rational one]. Because one cannot admit an intermediate difference, as difference is a property of being. Being, however is entirely either outside of a soul, or in a soul.
I prove the proposition as follows: As the thing is prior to reason, so also the real difference [is prior to the rational one]. Likewise the cause is prior to its effect.
Likewise, the real difference exists before any intellectual act out of a thing’s nature, but the rational difference follows the act of reason. Therefore etc.
Likewise, in …


[1] See Jean Quidort’s commentary.
[2] [Alia] aliqua or aliacumque? In any other way.
[3] Item, sicut Scientia dicitur deum omnia scientem, quia scit omnia, ita de potential, quare autem non dicitur omnia volentem?
[4] In Gen. II n. 207 (LW I 681-2).
[5] [check Barns, Oxford, trans. and Thomas, therese bonin, Aquinas]. See ‘the most different of the things in the same genus, the most different of the attributes in the same receptive material [ἐν ταὐτῷ δεκτικῷ], the most different of the things that fall under the same capacity [ὑπὸ τὴν αὐτὴν δύναμιν] ‘,Metaph. D 10, 1018a27-30, trans. Ross, Metaphysics, 1608.
[6] Se ipso can only relate to diversity, not difference, as the latter can also refer to accidens, while ‘se ipso’ only relates to substance.
[7] Not different, as Thomas makes the differentiation between diversity and difference, see Sent. Met. 10,4.
[8] The first three categories (substance, quality, quantity).
[9] The last six categories.
[10] Boethius, De trin. 4 (Moreschini 178,312-3); see also PL 64,94C.
[11] Z.B. Problem der Eucharistie.
[12] There is a one line lacuna in the ms.
[13] On quantity.
[14] On quality.
[15] In Averroes’ text we only have the determination of the six categories, while relation (as an open term) is not discussed.

[16] Reasons why relation is not a real, but a rational one.