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The status of the soul in the Franciscan tradition after Duns Scotus. William of Alnwick’s and Peter Auriol’s positions on the intellectual soul

This research aims at considering the positions on the status of the soul of two Franciscans, William of Alnwick and Peter Auriol, whose conclusions diverge sharply while starting from a common background (both studied in Paris at the beginning of the XIV century and both came into contact with the studium of Bologna). Firstly, Alnwick’s and Auriol’s positions must be located in the historical framework in which they develop. In fact, the dispute over the soul was a crucial issue during the XIV century, in the decades following the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) and especially after the publication of the Clementine Constitutions by Pope John XXII (1317). This document stated that, according to the Catholic faith, the rational soul is per se, vere et essentialiter, the form of the body. This pronouncement opened the field to multiple questions: what are the relationships not only between the intellectual soul and the sensitive and vegetative ones, but also with the body? Which is its destiny? Secondly, the project investigates the sources of such a debate, namely the unicist position of Thomas Aquinas, the pluralism of forms typical of the Franciscan school with focus on the status of the intellectual soul itself and its link with the body, which is connected not only to the theme of the uniqueness of the intellect of Averroist heritage, but also to the theme of the immortality of the soul, in particular to Duns Scotus’ opinion on this topic. In doing so, we will highlight the multiple levels on which this dispute plays out: the uniqueness or the plurality of forms, the inherence of such forms in the individual or their separateness from it and the subsistence of the soul in itself. The debate on the status of the intellectual soul and its relationship with the body will be studied both from an anthropological and a noetic point of view in the Franciscan framework after Scotus’ proposals and the Council of Vienne, with focus on Alnwick’s and Auriol’s thought. The analysis of Alnwick’s view will involve the two loci he dedicated to this issue: two questions of his Sentences commentary (Sent. II, d. 15, q. un and Sent. II, d. 17, q. 1) and three determinationes (the 5th, the 6th and the 7th). The former questions bear the following titles: Utrum forma sensitiva bruti producatur in esse a generante vel creante (dist. 15, q. un.); Utrum anima intellectiva sit forma hominis (dist. 17, q. 1). The first one deals with the lower levels of the soul, so it is important to analyse it, in order to understand the differences existing between those levels of the soul, whose operations are related to the senses, and the intellectual soul. In the second question Alnwick focuses on the rational soul, asking himself whether the rational soul is the form of human beings and whether it is dependent or independent from the body. It is evident that the second option is the correct one (otherwise the soul could not be the form of the body). These two questions could be found only in the ms. Padova, Biblioteca Antoniana, 291 and I intend to transcribe them from it, because they represent the early position of Alnwick. On the other hand, the manuscript tradition of the determinationes is more complex; as the 5th and the 6th where firstly edited by Faustino Prezioso considering only one manuscript (Città del Vaticano, BAV, Vat. Palat. 1805) and later all the three determinationes on the soul where transcribed by Zdzislaw Kuksewicz in 1966 and then edited by Dominic Veliath in his PhD thesis in 1967. So, it is important to clarify the status of the manuscript sources, in order to examine not only Alnwick’s position, but also his relationship with his philosophical references and targets. From determinatio 5 it emerges that Alnwick is a proponent of the theory of the intellective soul as a substantial form of the body, opposing the Platonic thesis, the Averroist noetic – a theory ascribable to John of Jandun, according to Maier’s (1949) opinion –, and Olivi’s position. Against such solutions William wants to demonstrate the individuality of the rational soul as the cause of the unity of the individual. This theory is coherent with the thesis of the demonstrability of the immortality of the soul, an element on which Alnwick focuses in the determinatio 6 and which differentiates his position from Scotus’ one (Prezioso, 1964). Finally, Alnwick argues, in determinatio 7, on behalf of the provability of the plurality of souls in individual human bodies against the English theologian Thomas Wylton, who, in agreement with Maier (1949) and Veliath (1970), I believe to be the target of determinatio 7 because he is mentioned by Alnwick as Thomas Anglicus. In conclusion, we intend to observe how Alnwick proves the correctness of Vienne’s dispositions and explore the relationship with his sources and his opponents, in particular Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Jandun and Wylton (Veliath, 1970). On this issue, we would consider the possibility that some criticisms in Alnwick’s determinationes are directed against Peter Auriol (in disagreement with Duba, 2012b), indeed it would be interesting to consider more deeply not only the relations of these philosophers with the sources, but also their reciprocal contacts. Indeed, the position of Auriol is particularly interesting because, even if he is not part of the group of Averroists in Bologna, in Sent. II, d. 16 he, firstly, defends Aristotle’s and the Commentator’s interpretation as philosophically more consistent. According to him, Averroes would not have denied that the soul is the form of the body, although the soul is a form in an equivocal way compared to other material forms, as it does not directly represent the actualization of matter. However, in accordance with the dispositions of the Council of Vienne, in questions 2 and 3, Auriol elaborates a fideistic conception, according to which the intellect represents the form of the body in the same manner as all other material forms. In the following d. 17, the Doctor Facundus criticizes the arguments of the Commentator on the uniqueness of the agent and the possible intellect, as this would not safeguard the singularity of knowledge. The experience that actions and thoughts are the subject’s own operations would not be fully explainable through the theory of man-aggregate, that is, the operative union of the imagination with a separate and extrinsic agent (Brenet, 2007). Moreover, a thorough study on this topic is only possible if both loci are considered together. Such analysis would make it possible to assess the impact of the decisions of the Council of Vienne on Auriol’s position on the soul and the coherence of his thought on this theme – issue on which the scholarly debate is still open (see Baldissera, 1942, Poppi, 1996, Nielsen, 2009, Duba, 2012a).   So, the analysis on Auriol’s thought will involve the second book of his Sentences commentary (in particular dd. 16 and 17, with some references to dd. 12 and 19), currently available in the printed edition of 1605, considered by scholars unreliable (Hoffmann, 2015). For this reason, besides comparing the position of the Sent. II with that of the Tractatus de principiis naturae and the questions on the soul of the Quodlibet (qq. 6-7), our aim is to make the critical edition of distinctiones 16 and 17 (which in the edition of 1605 are contained on pages 218a-242b), as they represent the turning point of Auriol’s treatment on the soul. Despite its size, the goal is to succeed in making the edition of these two distinctions, mainly by using the ms. Firenze, BN centrale, Conv. soppr. A.3.120 and Padova, Biblioteca Antoniana, 161. These two manuscripts, according to Schabel (2000) and Fornasieri (2019), are the reference ones among the eighteen that contain Auriol’s Sent. II. All these manuscripts will be taken into account in the edition, although in two of them d. 16 is certainly not reported (the ms. Assisi, Biblioteca del convento di San Francesco, 197 and ms. Città del Vaticano, BAV, Vat. Lat. 943).

Date:2 Aug 2021 →  Today
Keywords:Soul, William of Alnwick, Peter Auriol, Intellect
Disciplines:History of philosophy
Project type:PhD project