The Common Good in Late Medieval Political Thought

By M. S. Kempshall | Go to book overview

8
Godfrey of Fontaines--Love, Virtue, and Justice

The career of Godfrey of Fontaines was shaped by some of the most significant figures in the Paris schools. He studied in the faculty of arts during the second regency of Thomas Aquinas ( 1269-72), almost certainly under the direction of Siger of Brabant, and then in the faculty of theology under Henry of Ghent and Servase (Gervase) of Mt St Elias. It is perhaps only natural, therefore, that, after his inception as regent master in 1285, Godfrey's own teaching should have reflected the impact of these very different influences.1 Indeed, it is precisely this mixed pedigree which lies behind the relatively recent revival of interest in Godfrey's thought: 'sometimes styled a Thomist, sometimes an eclectic, he was an independent and critical thinker'.2

Godfrey of Fontaines's exposure to such a variety of intellectual influences had significant consequences for his philosophy and theology. Thus, although he was deeply influenced by the teaching of Aquinas, Godfrey was not averse to extending it, or even to departing from it, as and when he saw fit. For example, Godfrey refused to accept that the metaphysical distinction between essence and existence was a real difference (secundum rem) rather than just a logical difference (secundum rationem).3 Godfrey's critique of certain Thomist positions, moreover, particularly in the terms

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1
Quodlibets I- XV, ed. M. de Wulf, A. Pelzer, J. Hoffmans, and O. Lottin ( Les Philosophes Belges II-V, XIV; Louvain, 1904, 1914, 1924-31, 1932-5, 1937). For their chronology, see P. Glorieux, La Littérature quodlibétique( 2 vols.; Paris, 1925, 1935), i. 149-68; J. F. Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Godfrey of Fontaines: A Study in Late Thirteenth Century Philosophy ( Washington, DC, 1981), pp. xxiii-xxviii. For Godfrey's disputed questions, see Les Philosophes Belges XIV, pp. 259-61; Quaestio Disputata IV ( O. Lottin, Psychologie et morale aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles ( 6 vols.; Louvain-Gembloux, 1942-60), iv. 581-8); XV ( J. Koch, Durandi de S. Porciano O. P. Tractatus de habitibus Quaestio Quarta ( Miinster, 1930), 60-6; XVII ( J. Grundel, Die Lehre von dem Umstanden der menschlichen Handlung im Mittelalter ( Miinster, 1963), 655-60; XIX ( O. Lottin, "'Les Vertus morales acquises sont-elles de vraies vertus? La Réponse des théologiens de saint Thomas à Pierre Auriol'", RTAM 21 ( 1954), 101-29, 114-22).
2
J. F. Wippel, "'Godfrey of Fontaines'", in New Catholic Encyclopaedia, vi. 578. Cf. M. de Wulf, Un théologien-philosophe du XIIIe siècle: Étude sur la vie, les oeuvres et l'influence de Godefroid de Fontaines ( Brussels, 1906), 3-127; id., Histoire de la philosophie médiévale, 6th edn. ( 3 vols.; Louvain-Paris, 1934-47) ii. 293-6; R. J. Arway, "'A Half Century of Research on Godfrey of Fontaines'", New Scholasticism, 36 ( 1962), 192-218; J. Lejeune, "'De Godefroid de Fontaines à la paix de Fexhe 1316'", Annuaire d'Histoire Liègoise, VI.5 ( 1962), 1215-59.
3
Wippel, Metaphysical Thought, ch. 2; id., "'The Relationship between Essence and Existence in Late Thirteenth Century Thought: Giles of Rome, Henry of Ghent, Godfrey of Fontaines and James of Viterbo'", in P. Morewedge (ed.), Philosophies of Existence: Ancient and Medieval ( New York, 1982), 131-64.

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