Marcil George ,
Recensione: CAMILLE BERUBE, De I'homme a Dieu selon Duns Scot, Henri de Gand et Olivi,
Antonianum, 59/1-2 (1984) p. 320-322
This is the second collection of articles by Camille Berube to be published in recent years. The first, De la philosophic a la sagesse, printed in 1976 was centered on St. Bonaventure. This one focuses more or less on Duns Scotus or the later Franciscan school. Most of the articles are on Scotus, but some give extended attention to Peter Olivi, Matthew of Aquasparta and Antonius Andreas.
Fr. Berube, a Canadian Capuchin, began his research career by doing an epistemological study on knowledge of the singular in the middle ages. The result of his work appeared first in Franciscan Studies in 1951 and 1953. This work, after further maturation, was published in 1964 in a masterly book entitled, La Connaissance de Vindividuel au moyen age.
The present book contains the result of his continued research into Scotism. It brings together reprints of a number of articles published from 1967 to 1981. Several of these are papers he delivered at congresses of the International Scotistic Society that he is now president of.
At a couple of points in the book, pp. 3 and 286-87, Fr. Berube gives us even further autobiographical information, revealing that as a young man his Scotistic interests were nurtured through the reading of the great modern medievalists, Ephrem Longpre and Etienne Gilson. He says that, though they were favorites of his, in the long run he became dissatisfied with their interpretations of Scotus. He decided he would write a thesis that would test the views of them both. As a young researcher he was advised not to follow such a perilous course. He relented and opted for a narrower and safer topic. Later, however, more confident in his original position, he began publishing some of his findings, i.e. in the articles of 1967 and 1968.
Like any collection containing writings done over a period of fifteen years, this one too has a few problems. It wanders a bit and there are repetitions as well. The focus isn't always clearly on Scotus. Sometimes it is on Peter Olivi and Matthew of Aquasparta, two of Scotus' predecessors. Then the focus switches to Antonius Andreas or Francis Luchetus, two followers of the Scotistic shool. Also quite a bit of attention is given to Henry of Ghent. In fact, one of Fr. Berube's conclusions — and here in particular he is at odds with Gilson — is that Henry of Ghent, not Avicenna, is the real starting point for the work of Scotus. He points out that the Franciscan school, when Scotus arrived on the scene, was very allied to positions held by Henry of Ghent. Peter Olivi first wrenched himself free from Henry's illumination theory. Then Scotus followed separating himself from Henry in a broader and more sustained fashion. Fr. Berube states that Gilson is wrong in his view for the starting point of Scotus. Quoting Charles Balic for support he says there isn't a quote of Avicenna in Scotus' writings that cannot be found in Henry of Ghent's texts. In other words whatever there is of Avicenna in Scotus is second hand.
In the years that it took to prepare the articles for this volume, Fr. Berube got interested in a number of topics. Among them there was the theory of illumination as espoused by Henry of Ghent which includes the view that God is first known. Fr. Berube follows Olivi's refutation of this thesis but points toward Scotus' treatment of it as well. He gives a very thorough analysis of the Scotistic position on the object of the intellect. He not only analyzes the conclusions of the Subtle Doctor, but follows the development of the arguments as well. He reviews in a related fashion the Scotistic doctrine of univocity of being. In the process he goes over a number of interpretations, including those of Gilson, Shircel and Bettoni. There is a lengthy study, very worth while, of the history of the proofs for the existence of God. This came after the publication of the critical edition of Scotus' Lectura. Because of that new edition it was possible to follow the development of the argument from the Questions on Metaphysics and the Lectura through to the Ordinati and beyond to the Reportata and the Quodlibets.
In his study of the Questions on Metaphysics by Antonius Andreas Fr. Berube uses some of his earlier expertise to probe the work. He tests the questions of Andreas against the questions of Scotus on the knowledge of the singular to see just how faithful a disciple Andreas is or how original he tries to be.