The Universe of Creatures

The Universe of Creatures

The Universe of Creatures

The Universe of Creatures

Synopsis

This translation of selections from the De universo grew out of a graduate seminar on William of Auvergne held at Marquette University in 1995. It translates and annotates large parts of the De universo and of the De anima.

Excerpt

the same reason, if "being necessary through itself" is commonly and univocally said of both of them, as "man" is said of Socrates and other individuals of the same species. Hence, if one of them is evil by reason of the fact that it is being necessary through itself, the other will be evil for the same reason; the same thing holds with the good. Hence, each of them will be good and evil. But if being necessary through itself is singular or proper and individual, the same thing happens and in the same way. Just as, if something white is said to be a man by reason of the fact that it is Socrates, something medical will also be a man for the same reason. I have now explained for you the certitude of these proofs.

(595b)

Chapter Four
The error of the Manichees is destroyed in another way if being is said equivocally of the two principles which they assert.

I shall return, then, in accord with my promise, to destroy this most foolish error because of which this wrongheaded fellow raves so madly, namely, that "being" is said of each of the previously mentioned principles equivocally, and in one meaning being (entitas) is nothing other than goodness, but in the other meaning being is nothing other than evil itself. I say, then, that, since he maintains that goodness and evil are contraries by true contrariety, it is necessary that he assign them a common genus. But if being, which is itself undoubtedly the most common of all, is not common to them, for even better reason nothing else will be common to them.

Moreover, since contraries naturally have both their being and their coming to be with respect to the same thing, if goodness and evil are contraries in the genuine sense, they will be and will come to be with respect to the same subject. I mean: a subject the same in genus, as white and black with respect to a surface, or healthy and sick with respect to the body of an animal, or a subject the same in species, as healthy and sick with respect to the same person or with respect to a subject numerically the same. Of necessity, then, goodness and evil share some genus.

Moreover, it is evident through itself that each of them shares in the definition of substance, insofar as substance is taken in its general meaning so that it is said of everything which stands with its own firmness so that it does not need a support or sustaining subject in the way in which an accident is said to need a subject. But if they share in the definition of substance, they, therefore, share in both substance and its name.

Moreover, on this account there will be no discourse between other human beings and these wrongheaded people, because they understand all words with different meanings and intentions than other human beings. For if they equivocally use or rather abuse the term "being," they will equivocate about other things with the same error; hence, they will impose meanings and intentions upon them which the intellects of other human beings neither accept nor understand.

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