Fate, Providence and Moral Responsibility in Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Thought

Fate, Providence and Moral Responsibility in Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Thought: Studies in Honour of Carlos Steel

Pieter d’Hoine
Gerd Van Riel
Volume: 49
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 786
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qdwbf
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  • Book Info
    Fate, Providence and Moral Responsibility in Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Thought
    Book Description:

    Essays on key moments in the intellectual history of the West. This book forms a major contribution to the discussion on fate, providence and moral responsibility in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and Early Modern times. Through 37 original papers, renowned scholars from many different countries, as well as a number of young and promising researchers, write the history of the philosophical problems of freedom and determinism since its origins in pre-socratic philosophy up to the seventeenth century. The main focus points are classic Antiquity (Plato and Aristotle), the Neoplatonic synthesis of late Antiquity (Plotinus, Proclus, Simplicius), and thirteenth-century scholasticism (Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent). They do not only represent key moments in the intellectual history of the West, but are also the central figures and periods to which Carlos Steel, the dedicatary of this volume, has devoted his philosophical career.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-145-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VIII)
  3. FATE, PROVIDENCE AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY: An Introduction
    (pp. IX-XIV)
    Gerd Van Riel and Pieter d’Hoine

    In the tenth book of theLaws, Plato provides his most extensive account of theology. In this book, which is entirely conceived as the preamble to a law that prohibits atheism, Plato tackles three claims made by atheists:

    (1) that the gods do not exist, (2) that they exist but take no thought for the human race, or (3) that they are influenced by sacrifices and supplications and can easily be won over. (LawsX 885b; trans. T. J. Saunders)

    Plato refutes the first claim by adducing evidence that the universe is the effect not of chance, but of careful...

  4. PART 1: PLATO AND ARISTOTLE

    • 1. ÉMERGENCE DE LA THÉMATIQUE DE LA PROVIDENCE DIVINE DE DIOGÈNE D’APOLLONIE À PLATON
      (pp. 3-22)
      Lambros Couloubaritsis

      Lorsqu’on cherche à situer l’origine de la Providence divine, on se heurte à de nombreuses difficultés, la plus importante étant le sens qu’on devrait accorder à cette notion. Déjà l’origine latine du terme, lié davantage à la vision (prévoir, prévision, prévoyance...), perturbe la problématique grecque de la πρόνοία, liée à l’intellect, l’intelligence, la pensée, — terme plus rarement utilisé à l’époque romaine, sauf parfois sous le forme infléchiepraecogito.¹ Platon utilise les deux expressions verbales, mais dans un sens proche, avec des nuances différentes: προνοείσθαί (préméditer, prédélibérer) et προοράν (prévoir l’avenir). Dans leCratyle(395c), il associe les deux termes par...

    • 2. COMMENT ÊTRE RESPONSABLE DE SON DESTIN ? Platon et le mythe d’Er
      (pp. 23-38)
      Pierre Destrée

      Si l’on veut tenter de reconstruire la théorie platonicienne de la responsabilité, l’un des textes sur lesquels on doit se focaliser est sans aucun doute le célèbre mythe d’Er qui clôt laRépublique. Depuis Aristote, les philosophes grecs ont à peu près tous tenu l’expression έφ’ ήμίν (et les philosophes latins aussi, qui l’ont traduite par «in nostra potestate») comme étant centrale dans cette problématique : issue sans doute de la langue courante, l’expression « ce qui dépend de nous » caractérise ce dont nous sommes responsables, tandis qu’à l’inverse, ce qui relève de « ce qui ne...

    • 3. LIBERTÉ ET CARACTÈRE DANS LE MYTHE D’ER
      (pp. 39-58)
      Sylvain Delcomminette

      La question des rapports entre déterminisme et liberté ne se pose pas seulement au niveau des relations entre l’homme et le monde qui l’entoure, mais également au sein même de notre vie la plus intime. Indépendamment des obstacles extérieurs qui peuvent entraver nos désirs et nos actions, ces désirs et ces actions sontils totalement de notre ressort ? Ne sont-ils pas eux-mêmes déterminés par nos dispositions et notre tonalité générale, bref par ce que l’on peut nommer notre « caractère » ? Or dans quelle mesure sommes-nous responsables de ce dernier ? Dans quelle mesurechoisissons-nousnotre caractère ? Si...

    • 4. THE FATE OF PROVIDENCE AND PLATO’S WORLD SOUL IN ARISTOTLE
      (pp. 59-74)
      John Dudley

      It is well known that Aristotle believed, like Hegel in a later era, that his predecessors were not entirely wrong in what they had said and had all contributed in some way to the establishment of the truth. The philosopher must distil the element of truth in what they had said and include it in the true philosophy. This is what Aristotle meant by dialectic.¹ In the case of Plato, the truth that Aristotle distilled from the Idea of the Good was his Unmoved Mover.² The truth he saw in Plato’s many Ideas were his substances composed of form and...

    • 5. WAS ARISTOTLE AN ETHICAL DETERMINIST? Reflections on His Theory of Action and Voluntariness
      (pp. 75-100)
      Jörn Müller

      In the contemporary debates on free will, Aristotle has been frequently quoted in support of a compatibilist position, i.e. as anavant la lettrechampion of the idea that freedom of human action is compatible with determinism. Among others, a very thorough study on the problem by Christoph Jedan, titled: ‘Willensfreiheit bei Aristoteles?’, attributes such a view to Aristotle.¹ Many arguments against this deterministic interpretation, which is in most cases implied by such a compatibilist picture of Aristotle’s ethics,² were already discussed critically 30 years ago by Richard Sorabji, who favours an indeterministic understanding of Aristotle.³ This debate involves several...

  5. PART 2: HELLENISTIC AND EARLY IMPERIAL PHILOSOPHY

    • 6. PRESUPPOSITIONS OF MORAL ACTION IN ARISTOTLE AND ALEXANDER OF APHRODISIAS
      (pp. 103-116)
      Frans A.J. de Haas

      Many accounts of ethics in the tradition of western philosophy take one or more of the following intuitions as their starting point.¹ A moral agent is supposed to have a sufficient level of awareness of her surroundings, and of her own position in it. She is also supposed to be able to assess her own activities and their consequences and, if necessary, to adjust her future behaviour to her findings. She can deliberate about possible courses of action and choose the one that best suits her aims. She can also deliberate about the aims she wants to achieve. Last but...

    • 7. PLUTARCH AND THE STOIC THEORY OF PROVIDENCE
      (pp. 117-136)
      Keimpe Algra

      In a more or less self-contained section of hisOn Stoic Self-Contradictions(De Stoicorum Repugnantiis, henceforthDe Stoic. Rep.) Plutarch attacks the Stoic theory of providence, using a series of quotations from Chrysippus, culled from various works. The section starts out (chapter 30 in modern editions) from the problematic Stoic distinction between the good and the (preferred or dispreferred) indifferent, a distinction much maligned by Academic sceptics, witness for example Cicero’sDe Finibus.¹ This distinction, Plutarch argues, threatens not only the theory of virtue (a point also made by the Academic sceptics), but also the theory of divine providence, if...

    • 8. THE MIDDLE PLATONIC DOCTRINE OF CONDITIONAL FATE
      (pp. 137-168)
      Jan Opsomer

      Scholars of so-called ‘Middle Platonism’ (or as some prefer to call it: of ‘Post-Hellenistic Pre-Plotinian Platonism’) do not tire of repeating that there is no such thing as a unitary Middle Platonic philosophical school, nor a standard Middle Platonic doctrine for any domain of philosophy. What unites Platonists of this era is the appeal to the authority of Plato and a corresponding ideology, based on some very general shared tenets: the belief in a transcendent providential god and an immortal soul, the rejection of Stoic determinism and of Epicurean hedonism, an ethics based on the idea that one should assimilate...

  6. PART 3: PLOTINUS

    • 9. THE QUESTION OF EVIL IN THE WORLD IN PLOTINUS
      (pp. 171-186)
      Luc Brisson

      The Soul is a hypostasis proceeding from another hypostasis that is its cause, viz., the Intellect, which depends on the One. Following Plato in theTimaeus(35ab), Plotinus insists on the soul’s intermediary position between what is primarily indivisible, characteristic of the Intelligible, and what is divisible in bodies, specifying that the soul comes to be within bodies by accident. It is both divisible in bodies, because there is a soul in each body, and indivisible in the Intelligible: as Porphyry was to repeat in hisSentences, it is everywhere and nowhere.

      In this way, Plotinus makes a distinction between...

    • 10. PLOTINUS’ METAPHORICAL READING OF THE TIMAEUS: SOUL, MATHEMATICS, PROVIDENCE
      (pp. 187-210)
      Riccardo Chiaradonna

      Aristotle’s treatises were part of the late Neoplatonic school curriculum and the doctrine of the harmony between Plato and Aristotle is among the key philosophical views of Greek Neoplatonism; yet not all Neoplatonists endorsed this thesis in the same way. For some of them, the harmony between the two masters was virtually complete. In hisCommentary on the Categories, for example, Iamblichus developed a thoroughly Platonic/Pythagorean reading of Aristotle’s treatises, which, as Simplicius reports, made extensive use of the theory of intelligible principles (this is what Simplicius dubs νΟερά θεωρία: Simpl.,In Cat. 2.13). Iamblichus pushed his reading of Aristotle...

    • 11. CHOICE, SELF-DETERMINATION AND ASSIMILATION TO GOD IN PLOTINUS
      (pp. 211-224)
      Alessandro Linguiti

      Modern interpreters are often uncomfortable in dealing with the ancient notion of freedom and related topics such as the ideas of choice, decision, self-determination, voluntariness/involuntariness and responsibility.¹ Between us and the ancients there is a remarkable distance as far as the way of conceiving freedom and free will is concerned; and the main reasons for this are the Christian theological implications of the notions of predestination, divine foreknowledge, omnipotence and the providence of God. Moreover, modern theories of political freedom, while still indebted to ancient stances, are marked in several respects by a radically different perspective. As a consequence of...

  7. PART 4: THE NEOPLATONIC COMMENTATORS

    • 12. SIGNS AND TOKENS: DO THE GODS OF NEOPLATONISM REALLY CARE?
      (pp. 227-238)
      John M. Dillon

      Let me say at the outset that is both a great pleasure and a privilege for me to contribute some thoughts on divine providence to a book in honour of one who is not only an old friend but who has himself contributed greatly to our understanding of the role of providence in later Neoplatonism. For that reason, I shall not venture to discuss here the problem of providence and fate in Proclus (which is in any case being touched on elsewhere in this volume), but will confine myself to the earlier period.

      In approaching the topic of divine providential...

    • 13. A PROBLEM CONCERNING PROVIDENCE: Proclus and Plutarch on Inherited Guilt and Postponed Punishment
      (pp. 239-252)
      Robbert M. van den Berg

      In this paper I intend to explore Proclus’ justification of the ancient idea that children and even grandchildren and great-grandchildren may be held responsible for the crimes of their ancestors. In scholarly literature this principle of transmittable responsibility is known as ‘inherited guilt’.¹ E.R. Dodds, in his seminalThe Greeks and the Irrational, describes it as “the characteristic archaic doctrine” that “is the teaching of Hesiod, of Solon and Theognis, of Aeschylus and Herodotus”.² It was invented to save the idea of divine justice. In the long run no crime goes unpunished. Even if the culprit himself manages to escape...

    • 14. ASCENT OF THE SOUL AND GRADES OF FREEDOM. Neoplatonic Theurgy between Ritual and Philosophy
      (pp. 253-266)
      Christoph Helmig and Antonio L.C. Vargas

      In Plato’sPhaedo, Socrates famously asserts that “while the soul is mingled with this mass of evil [i.e., the body], our desire will not be satisfied, and our desire is of the truth” (Phd.66b; trans. B. Jowett).¹ Death is no evil, because death signifies, after all, leaving behind the body, and to the imprisoned Socrates, the body may well be compared to a prison. While embodied, the soul is not free to choose what it would like to do, because of the body’s constraints. One feels hungry, tired, dizzy etc., because of the body, its needs and its weaknesses....

    • 15. A FATAL OR PROVIDENTIAL AFFAIR? Socrates and Alcibiades in Proclus’ Commentary on the Alcibiades I
      (pp. 267-290)
      Danielle A. Layne

      In hisCommentary on the Alcibiades I, Proclus identifies Socrates with a divine man of knowledge and asserts that his soul imitates the ‘providence of the gods’ insofar as via his ‘forethought for those in need of salvation’ he benefits the less perfect soul of Alcibiades (seeIn Alc. I, 32.10-13). Never failing to notice difficulties with such identifications, though, Proclus pertinently picks up on an important problem regarding the relationship between Socrates’ beneficial providential agency and the provocative idea that Alcibiades was made better in his association with the philosopher. That is, in the pens of many other commentators,...

    • 16. LE CYCLE TRIADIQUE DE LA CAUSALITÉ DÉMIURGIQUE: BONTÉ, VOULOIR, PROVIDENCE L’interprétation proclienne de Timée 29e1-30c2
      (pp. 291-308)
      Alain Lernould

      Le discours sur la naissance du monde dans leTiméede Platon comprend, on le sait, trois parties. Dans la première est exposé l’ouvrage de la Raison (Tim.27c-47e), dans la seconde, celui de la Nécessité (Tim.47e-69a) ; la troisième partie est en quelque sorte une synthèse des deux précédentes puisque le point de vue adopté est celui de la coopération de la Raison et de la Nécessité (Tim. 69a-92c). Platon ouvre la première partie en posant la question de savoir pourquoi il y a un monde :« Disons maintenant pour quelle raison celui qui a constitué le Devenir,...

    • 17. HERMIAS OF ALEXANDRIA ON SOCRATES’ DIVINE SIGN
      (pp. 309-324)
      Geert Roskam

      On a beautiful day, Socrates and Phaedrus are talking about .ἔρως in the shadow of a plane tree and on the bank of a refreshing brook. This marvellouslocus amoenusscene at the outset of Plato’sPhaedrusis widely famous and indeed has greatly in-fluenced later literature. Socrates has just developed his own view on love, in reply to Lysias’ speech, and is about to leave, when all of a sudden his divine sign intervenes (242b8-c2). Since our general familiarity with this well-known idiosyncrasy of Socrates¹ may risk to obscure the full relevance and far-reaching implications of this passage, we...

    • 18. WHEN SHOULD A PHILOSOPHER CONSULT DIVINATION? Epictetus and Simplicius on Fate and What is Up to Us
      (pp. 325-340)
      Gary Gabor

      AtEnchiridion§32, Epictetus raises the question of whether, and under what conditions, one should consult the art of divination (μαντική). Epictetus’ answer, along with Simplicius’ commentary on the passage four centuries later, provides a glimpse into late antique conceptions of fate, providence, and human responsibility. While united in a general acceptance of divination as an authentic science, doctrinal differences between Epictetus’ Stoicism and Simplicius’ Neoplatonism lead them to interpret the philosophical significance of the practice in different ways. As determinists who believed in an all-embracing conception of fate, the Stoics believed divination could facilitate the task of the sage...

  8. PART 5: GREEK PATRISTICS AND THE BYZANTINE TRADITION

    • 19. GOODNESS, EVIL AND THE FREE WILL OF MAN IN GREGORY OF NYSSA
      (pp. 343-356)
      Claudio Moreschini

      In early Christian thought, the polemic against pagan philosophical fatalism and determinism, sometimes connected to astrology and mantic, is of the greatest importance. From the second century onwards, almost every Christian writer deals with these questions, often attributing great relevance to them. Anti-astrological and anti-deterministic polemic develops around two essential aspects. The first one is, so to say, theoretical-philosophical, because it aims at depriving astrological doctrines of their value by considering them as groundless and self-contradicting. Therefore, this argument confutes determinism as proposed by astrology. Such a belief is totally pagan and radically opposed to the Christian message, which is...

    • 20. ÉDITION D’UN FRAGMENT CONTRE LES ASTRONOMES, CONTENANT UNE CONTRIBUTION À LA THÉORIE DES QUATRE HUMEURS ET DES TEMPÉRAMENTS
      (pp. 357-382)
      Caroline Macé

      Christian Friedrich Matthäi a publié dans sesLectiones Mosquenses¹ la transcription d’un texte qu’il avait lu dans un manuscrit de la Bibliothèque synodale de Moscou (maintenant conservée au Musée historique). Ce texte, attribué dans le manuscrit de Matthäi à Grégoire de Nazianze, se présente clairement comme un extrait d’un discours contre les « astronomes » : Τοῦ ἁγίου Γρηγορίου τοῦ Θεολόγου ἐκ τοῦ πρὸς ἀστρονόμους λόγου. Un tel discours (ou traité), s’il a réellement existé dans son intégralité, n’est certainement pas de la plume de Grégoire de Nazianze. Néanmoins, la transcription de l’extrait par Matthäi a été reproduite parmi les...

    • 21. A LATE ANTIQUE DEBATE ON MATTER-EVIL REVISITED IN 11TH-CENTURY BYZANTIUM: John Italos and His Quaestio 92
      (pp. 383-394)
      Michele Trizio

      The so-called Àποίαι χαί λύσεις by John Italos, who succeeded Michael Psellos as ‘consul of philosophers’ in Constantinople and held this post until his condemnation for heterodoxy in 1082,1 contains a treatise bearing the peculiar titleTreatise Demonstrating that Matter does not exist the way the Greeks speak of it(Áγοςκαтακενάζων ǒтι οúκ έттι ŭλη καζώς οίΈλληνές øασι).² The text has an aporetic structure and addresses a series of issues concerning the causation of matter, drawing on ancient philosophical positions which are generally presented anonymously. Yet despite concealing his sources, most of Italos’ treatise can be shown to derive from...

    • 22. THE METOCHION, HOLY SEPULCHRE 363 MANUSCRIPT AND AN UNPUBLISHED BYZANTINE OPUSCULE ON PREDETERMINATION
      (pp. 395-418)
      Peter Van Deun and Erika Gielen

      In this contribution, we will go into the details of a very recent manuscript which nonetheless turns out to be a small gold mine. Secondly, one of its little treasures, an unknown text on predetermination, will be edited for the first time, as a humble gift to our friend Carlos Steel.

      It is common knowledge that not only old, but also very recent manuscripts can contain interesting texts which have escaped all scholarly attention until now. This is the case with a codex currently preserved in the National Library of Greece, yet formerly belonging to the collection of the Constantinopolitan...

  9. PART 6: THE ARABIC TRADITION

    • 23. LA PROVIDENCE SELON LE « LIVRE DE LA RÉPRIMANDE DE L’ÂME » ATTRIBUÉ À HERMÈS TRISMÉGISTE. Un document néoplatonicien arabe oublié
      (pp. 421-440)
      Daniel De Smet

      Dans un recueil druze inédit et de date incertaine,Al-šari‘a al-rūhāniyya fi ‘ulūm al-latīf wa-l-basīt. wa-l-kaṭīf (La loi spirituelle concernant les sciences du subtil, du simple et du composé) attribué à Ḥamza b. ‘Ali — un des fondateurs de la religion druze au début du 11e siècle — figure un chapitre intitulé : « La loi de la gnose concernant la science du subtil et du simple, par notre Seigneur, l’Hermès suprême, Imhotep » (Šir‘ at al-‘irfān fī ‘ilm al-laṭīf wa-l-basīṭ li-mawlānā Hirmis al-Harāmisa Ḏī Imḥuti Bih). Il contient une longue série d’admonitions adressées (apparemment par Hermés / Imhotep) à l’â me...

    • 24. WHAT ABOUT PROVIDENCE IN THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS? Avicenna and Leibniz
      (pp. 441-454)
      Jules Janssens

      The issue of divine providence is a long debated question in the history of philosophy. Especially for thinkers working in the framework of a monotheistic religious tradition, as Avicenna and Leibniz, it was a great challenge to justify its existence in a rational way. Although living at different places and at different times, both Avicenna and Leibniz share the idea that a perfect God can only produce the best. Given such basic perspective, one may wonder whether they have an identical or, at least, similar conception of providence. Furthermore, given the rationalism of both these philosophers, one wonders to what...

    • 25. PROVIDENCE IN AVERROES
      (pp. 455-472)
      Richard C. Taylor

      Ibn Rushd or Averroes is famous for his efforts to return to the teachings of Aristotle, to set aside the accretions of various forms of Platonism and to identify and remove teachings more properly religious than philosophical which had come to infect the philosophical doctrines ofal-mashshâ’ûnor Peripatetics of the Arabic tradition. He himself methodically crafted a philosophy he sincerely believed to be a continuation of the genuine thought of Aristotle.¹ Today, however, we are well aware that in this Averroes was in several respects unsuccessful and, as a consequence, unfaithful to ‘the Philosopher’, as the tradition called Aristotle....

  10. PART 7: THE MEDIEVAL LATIN TRADITION

    • 26. ARE FIRST MOVEMENTS VENIAL SINS? Augustinian Doctrine and Aquinas’s Reinterpretation
      (pp. 475-494)
      Tianyue Wu

      Fear, anger, and joy often come unexpected. As a consequence, passivity is broadly taken as a typical characteristic of emotion. Ancient and medieval thinkers employed terms like πάθος,passio, affectusto depict emotions as something we experience passively and even suffer in life.¹ Even the Stoics, who maintain that we can achieve a full control over emotions, concede that certain affective reactions or commotions are unavoidable in a dispassionate sage.

      In his criticism of the Stoic ideal of dispassionateness in theCity of GodIX 4, Augustine relates how a Stoic philosopher reacted affectively while on board a ship during a...

    • 27. LA DOCTRINE ARISTOTÉLICIENNE DE LA PROVIDENCE DIVINE SELON THOMAS D’AQUIN
      (pp. 495-516)
      Valérie Cordonier

      Ce qu’affirmait ainsi Paul Moraux en 1969, dans le cadre du premier cycle de conférences Charles de Koninck à l’Université Laval, n’a pas perdu sa pertinence, même si notre connaissance de la tradition péripatéticienne s’est depuis lors notablement perfectionnée et affinée. En effet, non seulement Aristote ne parle jamais de « providence » à propos du premier moteur, mais l’idée même que celui-ci — ou ce que par ailleurs il nomme « dieu » — aurait souci du monde semble bien être écartée par les textes aristotéliciens de référence à ce sujet, en particulierMétaphysique Lambda, où il apparaît claire que :...

    • 28. DIVINE GOVERNMENT AND HUMAN FREEDOM
      (pp. 517-538)
      Andreas Speer

      A scientist engaged in a piece of research, say in physics, can attack his problem straight away. He can go at once to the heart of the matter: to the heart, that is, of an organized structure. For a structure of scientific doctrines is already in existence; and with it, a generally accepted problem – situation. This is why he may leave it to others to fit his contribution into the framework of scientific knowledge.

      The philosopher finds himself in a different position. He does not face an organized structure, but rather something resembling a heap of ruins (though perhaps with...

    • 29. THOMAS AQUINAS ON PROVIDENCE, CONTINGENCY AND THE USEFULNESS OF PRAYER
      (pp. 539-552)
      Rudi te Velde

      Does the classical metaphysical notion of providence leave room for real contingency in the world? Many would assume, and not unreasonably, that the notion of providence is tainted with some sort of determinism: everything in the world occurs inevitably, according to a pre-established divine plan. Since that divine plan must be certain and immutable, nothing can occur in any other way than it actually does. The classical notion of providence, with its theological corollary of predestination, seems to lead inescapably to a view of the world as a totalitarian whole closed within itself: nothing can happen outside God’s all-determining will....

    • 30. DIVINE PREDESTINATION, HUMAN MERIT AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY. The Reception of Augustine’s Doctrine of Irresistible Grace in Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus
      (pp. 553-570)
      Pasquale Porro

      It is usually thought that Scholastic masters pay little attention to the historical evolution of philosophical or theological doctrines. This is perhaps too severe and ungenerous, for they admit a significant historical progress, both in philosophy and theology: suffice it to recall here what Thomas Aquinas writes about the progressive acquisition of truth in the prologue to his commentary on Aristotle’sNicomachean Ethics, or about the increasing perfection in metaphysical knowledge in the first part of hisSumma theologiae, q. 44, art. 2. Likewise, just to mention another example, Henry of Ghent explicitly states in hisSummathat there has...

    • 31. HENRY OF GHENT AND THE ETHICS OF INTENTION
      (pp. 571-590)
      Marialucrezia Leone

      In some questions of moral casuistry debated in hisQuodlibeta, Henry of Ghent seems to maintain that a moral act must be judged good or bad not according to the result it produces, but according to its intention; in other words, ethical responsibility should reside, in the opinion of the Flemish Doctor, especially in the aim of an action more than in the work it accomplishes.¹ This doctrinal position appears particular because, as we shall see, it brings Henry to reconsider a series of behaviours that taken in themselves should be judged absolutely negative, as, for example, a homicide or...

    • 32. HENRY OF GHENT ON FATALISM AND NATURALISM
      (pp. 591-604)
      Gordon A. Wilson

      It is well known that in the Middle Ages when Aristotle’s works were available and read, some of these texts presented difficulties for Islamic, Jewish, and Christian thinkers. Al-Ghazali, for example, wrote in hisDeliverance from Errorthat there were three particular Aristotelian tenets which would make a Muslim an infidel: 1) denial of bodily resurrection; 2) belief that God knows universals, but not particulars; and 3) belief in an eternally created world. In the Jewish tradition, Maimonides in hisGuide of the Perplexed, Book ii, chapter 16, maintained that Aristotle had not conclusively demonstrated that the world was eternal;...

    • 33. VOIR LA PROVIDENCE. Autour du De Visione Dei de Nicolas de Cues
      (pp. 605-616)
      Jean-Michel Counet

      Cet extrait duDe Visione Deide Nicolas de Cues nous place sans préambule au coeur de notre problématique. L’argument de l’ouvrage est bien connu: prié par les moines de Tegernsee de leur fournir une introduction à la vie mystique, Nicolas de Cues finit par s’exécuter en leur donnant un de ses traités les plus réussis, leDe Visione Dei,et en leur envoyant, comme support sensible pour leur méditation, un Omnivoyant, c’est-à-dire un portrait donnant toujours l’impression de regarder celui qui le regarde : où que soit situé le spectateur, à gauche, à droite, qu’il soit au repos ou...

    • 34. FATE, PROVIDENCE AND PREDESTINATION IN THE SAPIENTIAL PROJECT OF DENYS THE CARTHUSIAN
      (pp. 617-636)
      Kent Emery Jr.

      Whether it be by pure chance and accident, or by some intrinsic necessity in the history of philosophy or biological determinism of climate and brain, or whether it be by divine providence, 500 years before the founding of the De Wulf-Mansion Centre at Leuven, the Flemishman Denys of Rijkel, the Carthusian (1402-1471) uncannily anticipated its program in medieval philosophy. No less than Fernand Van Steenberghen, Denys distinguished sharply between philosophy and theology, in terms that Étienne Gilson and Henri de Lubac, for example, deplored. Denys’ main philosophical sources and authorities in his strictly philosophic works will seem familiar to faculty...

  11. PART 8: EARLY MODERN THOUGHT

    • 35. HUMAN NATURE AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE WORK OF JUAN LUIS VIVES
      (pp. 639-652)
      Demmy Verbeke

      In 1948, Ernst Cassirer, Paul Oskar Kristeller and John Randall, Jr. published what would become the most influential anthology of Renaissance philosophical texts in the English-speaking world.² The title of their collection,The Renaissance Philosophy of Man, reveals the topic which has received most attention from scholars of Renaissance thought so far. This preoccupation is not justified by a presumed originality: studies have shown that fourteenth-, fifteenth-and sixteenth-century views on the misery of the human condition or the dignity of mankind for the most part repeat classical, biblical, patristic and medieval sources.³ However, it cannot be denied that the interest...

    • 36. L’ANTI-FATALISME DE JULES SIRENIUS
      (pp. 653-676)
      Guy Guldentops

      Même si nous savons assez peu sur la vie de Jules Sirenius, il semble clair que ce hiéronymite, originaire de Brescia et travaillant au couvent de son ordre à Venise, puis à l’Université de Bologne,² fréquentait les plus hauts cercles aristocratiques de son temps. En 1563, il dédia son traitéDe fatoaux cardinaux Hercule, Frédéric et François Gonzague. Puisque ces trois éminences de Curie jouèrent un rôle primordial au Concile de Trente et que le cardinal Hercule était « un remarquable représentant de plusieurs courants intellectuels et culturels du XVIesiècle »,³ on peut soupçonner que Sirenius tenta,...

    • 37. JACOB BOEHME (1575-1624) ON PREDESTINATION, PROVIDENCE AND FREE WILL
      (pp. 677-696)
      Filips Defoort

      Mystics may have unexpected adepts. Already during his lifetime, Jacob Boehme counted, to his own astonishment (cf.Ep16.9),² a considerable amount of eminent followers, such as non-academic intellectuals, noblemen and physicians, among his friends and acquaintances. In Amsterdam, the centre of the dissemination of Boehme’s thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth century,³ Boehme was for instance studied by Abraham Willemszoon van Beyerland, a so calledmercator sapiensand governor of the Walloon orphanage, who critically translated and edited Boehme’s works.⁴ “No efforts were spared” to get Boehme’s ideas accepted among as big a public as possible.⁵ It is not...

  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 697-770)
  13. INDICES
    (pp. 771-786)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 787-794)