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SCHOLASTICISM AND THE PREDOMINANCE OF THE ARISTO
TELIAN NOTIONS OF MATTER AND FORM.
WHILE the Arabians, as we saw in the previous chapter, drew their knowledge of Aristotle from abundant though much polluted sources, the Scholastic philosophy of the West began by dealing with extremely scanty, and, at the same time, much corrupted traditions.24 The chief portion of these materials consisted of Aristotle's work on the Categories, and an introduction to it by Porphyry in which the “five words” are discussed. These five words, which form the entrance to the whole Scholastic philosophy, are genus, species
, difference, property, and acci- . N. 3. dent. The ten categories are substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, possession, action, and passion.
It is well known that there is a large and still steadily increasing body of literature on the question what Aristotle exactly meant by his categories, that is, predications, or species of predication. And this object would have been sooner attained if men had only begun by making up their minds to treat as such all that is crude and un
24 Prantl, Gesch. der Logik im division into the three periods of tho Abendlande, ii. 4, finds in Scholas- incomplete, the complete, and the ticism only theology and logic, but no again inadequate accommodation of trace at all of philosophy.' It is Aristotelianism to ecclesiastical docquite correct, however, to say that trines, is untonable). In the samo the different periods of Soholasticism place will be found a complete enucan only be distinguished according meration of the Scholastic material to the varying influence of the gradu- which the middle ages had at their ally increasing Scholastic material disposition. (and so, for example, even Ueberweg's
certain in the Aristotelian notions, instead of seeking behind every unintelligible expression for some mystery of the profoundest wisdom. It may now, however, be regarded as settled that the categories were an attempt on the part of Aristotle to determine in how many main ways we can say of any object what it is, and that he allowed himself to be misled by the authority of language into identifying modes of predication and modes of existence, 25
Without entering here upon the question how far we can justify (e.g., with Ueberweg's logic, or in the sense of Schleiermacher and Trendelenburg) the exhibition of forms of being and forms of thought as parallel, and the assumption of a more or less exact correspondence between them, we must at once point out, what will be made clearer further on, that the confusion of subjective and objective elements in our conception of things is one of the most essential features of Aristotelian thought, and that this very confusion, for the most part in its clumsiest shape, became the foundation of Scholasticism.
Aristotle, indeed, did not introduce this confusion into philosophy, but, on the contrary, made the first attempt to distinguish what the unscientific consciousness is always inclined to identify. But Aristotle never got beyond extremely imperfect attempts to make this distinction; and yet precisely that element in his logic and metaphysic, which is in consequence especially perverse and immature, was regarded by the rude nations of the West as the corner-stone of their wisdom, because it best suited their undeveloped understanding. We find an interesting example of this in Fredegisus, a pupil of Alcuin's, who
25 This latter point is very well this controversy, which it would bere shown by Dr. Schuppe in his work, lead us too far to discuss. According “ The Aristotelian Categories,” Ber- to Prantl, Gesch, der Logik, i. 192, lin, 1871. Less forcible seems to me what actually exists receives its the argument agrinst Bonitz, with re- full concrete determination by means gard to the meaning of the expres- of the elements expressed in the sion κατηγορίαι του όντος. The phrase categories. employed in the text seeks to avoid
honoured Charles the Great with a theological epistle 'De Nihilo et Tenebris,' in which that ‘Nothing' out of which God created the world is explained as an actually existing entity, and that for the extremely simple reason that every name refers to some corresponding thing. 26
A much higher position was taken by Scotus Erigena, who declares 'darkness,' 'silence,' and similar expressions, to be notions of the thinking subject; only, of course, Scotus also thinks that the absentia' of a thing and the thing itself are of the like kind : so therefore are light and darkness, sound and silence. I have, then, at one time a notion of the thing, at another a notion of the absence of the thing, in a precisely similar manner. The 'absence, therefore, is also objectively given: it is something real.
IN.03. This is an error which we find also in Aristotle himself. Negation in a proposition (årópaois) he correctly explained as an act of the thinking subject : Privation' (otépnous), for example, the blindness of a creature that naturally sees, he regards, however, as a property of the object. And yet, as a matter of fact, we find, instead of the eyes in such a creature, some degenerate form which has nevertheless only positive qualities : we find, it may be, that the creature moves only with much groping and difficulty, but in the motions themselves everything is in its way fixed and positive. It is only our comparison of this creature with others that, on the ground of our experience, we call normal, that gives us the notion of blindness. Sight is wanting only in our conception. The thing, regarded in itself, is as it is, without any reference to see. ing or not seeing
It is easy to perceive that serious blunders like this are to be found also in the Aristotelian enumeration of the categories; most conspicuously in the category of relation (Tpós ti), as, e.g., double,' "half,' 'greater,' where no one will seriously maintain that such expressions can
36 Prant), Gesch. der Logik, ii. 17 foll., esp. Anm. 75
be applied to things except in so far as they may be compared by the thinking subject.
Much more important, however, became the vagueness as to the relation of word and thing in dealing with the notion of substance and the species.
We have seen how, on the threshold of all philosophy, appear the 'five words' of Porphyry-a selection from the logical writings of Aristotle, intended to supply to the student, in a convenient form, what he chiefly needs at starting. At the head of these expositions stand those of 'genus' and 'species;' and at the very introduction of this introduction stand the eventful words which probably aroused the great medieval controversy about universals. Porphyry mentions the great question whether the genera and species have an independent existence, or whether they are merely in the mind; whether they are corporeal or incorporeal substances; whether they are separate from sensible objects, or exist only in and through them? The decision of the problem so solemnly propounded is postponed, because it is one of the highest problems. Yet we see enough to perceive that the position of the 'five words' at the entrance to philosophy is quite in accordance with the speculative importance of the notions of genus and species, and the expression betrays clearly enough the Platonic sympathies of the writer, although he suspends his judgment.
The Platonic view of the notions of genus and species (comp. p. 74 ff.) was, therefore, in spite of all inclination towards Aristotle, the prevailing view of earlier medieval times. The Peripatetic school had received a Platonic portico, and the young disciple on his entrance into the halls of philosophy was at once greeted with a Platonic consecration; perhaps, at the same time, with an intentional counterbalance to a dangerous feature of the Aristotelian categories. For in the discussion of substance (ovola), he declares that, in the primary and strict sense, the concrete particulars, such as this particular man, this
horse standing here, are substances. This is, of course scarcely in accordance with the Platonic contempt for the concrete, and we must not be surprised at the rejection of this doctrine by Scotus Erigena. Aristotle calls the species substances only of the second order, and it is only by the mediation of the species that the genus also has a certain substantiality. Here then was opened, at the very outset of philosophical studies, a wide source of school controversy, although on the whole the Platonic view (Realism, because the universals are regarded as ‘res') remained, until nearly the close of the middle ages, the prevailing, and, at the same time, the orthodox doctrine. It is, therefore, the most absolute antithesis to Materialism produced by all antiquity that controls from the first the philosophical development of the middle ages; and even at the dawnings of Nominalism there appeared for many centuries scarcely any tendency to start from the concrete phenomena which could in any degree remind us of Materialism. The whole era was swayed by the name, by the thought-thing, and by an utter confusion as to the meaning of sensible phenomena, which passed like dream-pictures through the miracle-loving brain of philosophising priests.
Things changed, however, more and more after the influence of Arabian and Jewish philosophers had become observable, from the middle of the twelfth century, and gradually a fuller knowledge of Aristotle had been spread by means of translations, first from the Arabic, and later also from the Greek originals preserved at Byzantium. But, simultaneously, the principles of the Aristotelian metaphysic became only more and more fully and deeply rooted.
These principles are, however, of importance for us, not only because of the negative part which they play in the history of Materialism, but also as indispensable contributions to the criticism of Materialism ; not indeed as though we must still measure and try the Materialism of to-day by