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Utrum Quia Experientia Decepti Aristoteles Et D.

Thomas Causas Posuerunt Aequivocas In Natura Operantes Text, with a Translation by Bart A. Mazzetti[1]

[1] Based on a draft translation by Christopher DeCaen.

WHETHER BECAUSE ARISTOTLE AND ST. THOMAS WERE DECEIVED BY EXPERIENCE THEY POSITED EQUIVOCAL CAUSES OPERATING IN NATURE _______________ Any work of nature is the work of some intelligent substance which is a universal cause in causando; which work, nevertheless, is called by nature by reason of a passive principle. And this has a bearing on the question of the possibility of evolution. For no natural and univocal generation is given without a universal or equivocal cause in act producing in act and per se in the singular the generated thing according to the notion of the species. For example, although Socrates is the per se cause of his son according as he [his son] is this man, he is not, nevertheless, the per se cause of the fact that his son is a man, since no particular univocal agent can be the cause of the species simply; for by generating, Socrates would be the cause of the human species, and therefore of all men, and consequently, of himself, since he himself is a certain man as is proved in Summa Contra Gentiles, Book II, c. 21, and, in the same work, Book III, c. 65, and in many other places. For causes should correspond proportionally to their effects, as is shown in the commentary on the second book of the Physics (St. Thomas, lect. 6), and so, of this [fact] that Socrates and his son are of one species in reality, inasmuch as the wholly same notion is truly predicated of both univocally and per se, this itself has a cause per se and not per accidens. And so it is said, in the same place [e.g. the Contra Gentiles], that man is generated by man and the sun. But if naturally acting causes of the generables were not given [i.e., assigned] except for effects which are the same in species, all that pertains to nature in the unity of species or genus will have come forth by chance.[1] From the same principle by a proportion it follows that even if there were no universal agent except the first, namely, the cause of the whole of being, yet in that [cause] the notion of a cause of its very being would be distinguished from the notion of a per se cause of the species. For although the cause of the whole of being be at the same time the per se cause both of the individual and of the species, yet it is not the cause of its very being under such an ultimate respect. And so the Holy Doctor says that this cause of natural things according to species, either immediately or mediately, is God ( Summa Contra Gentiles III, c. 65). Whether, then, the per se cause of the species be only God Himself, or whether created intellectual substances, or whether certain species be from God alone, but others from created substances, does not pertain to the present question, * so long as it is 1

held that every univocal generation at one and the same time is the effect of a universal agent in causando. But concerning an equivocal cause and equivocal generation, there is strong debate. And so it must be said that experience confirms [that] both plants and animals proceed in a likeness to the species. Such generation of procession is called univocal by reason of an agent of the same species, and not as if it were lacking an equivocal agent. Whether the last generation should be assigned to a certain equivocal agent alone remains to be tested by experience. And the generation of such a thing would be named equivocal simply, since it would not have an agent except of a higher species. And so a demonstration of equivocal causality which is preserved in any univocal generation in no way depends on some equivocal generation (as nevertheless Josef Gredt appears to have taught).

Any work of nature is a work of some separated substance whose action is universal in causando. Which position in no way depends on the ancient doctrine about celestial bodies (although in generation a created universal agent uses a bodily medium), nor upon the truth of a certain equivocal generation. From which it does not follow that the works of nature are preserved by preternatural causes, as appears to certain men. For motion or any work is named by nature not only by reason of an active principle, but also solely by [reason of] a passive [principle], as St. Thomas shows in his commentary on the Second Book of the Physics, lect. 1. And so, although a separated agent would not have the notion of nature in that sense by which it is defined in that place, nevertheless its motion and work can be an extrinsic natural term solely by reason of a passive principle. Therefore it is exceedingly to be wondered at concerning those men among the Scholastics who have rejected a priori every possibility of evolution by way of equivocal generation (which nevertheless remains to be confirmed by experience). This denial happens either because they believe that Natural Philosophy does not treat of any but univocal causes of the works of nature, or because they concede to the notion of nature only an active principle. And in this many of the Scholastics assent as to a first most natural postulate.

Now there appears to be some doubt about this, whether, namely, the consideration of equivocal causes belongs to Metaphysics alone, or also to Natural Philosophy. But it must be understood that it belongs to Metaphysics alone to consider by reason about the universal cause itself, as is clear from St. Thomas in his commentary on the Sixth Book of the Metaphysics, lect. 3. But it belongs to Natural Philosophy to show at least the an est of every cause of which the proper effect is established by sense, and of those things which are defined with sensible matter, as is clear concerning individuals of the same species, and from the very definition of motion, according as motion is the proper passion of the mobile thing, the act of the existing in potency inasmuch as it is of this sort; the natural philosopher shows that there is one unmoved First Mover of any motion of whatever species, existing beyond every species of motion, and beyond every genus of mobile being; of whose nature, nevertheless, it pertains to the metaphysician to consider. But since many men are deceived about the natural proof of a moving thing by an entirely unmoved thing, it must be noted that in this matter the Natural Philosopher does not proceed from motion because motion participates in something of the nature of quantity, according as the division of motion is taken either from the division of space or from the division of the mobile; such a consideration of motion pertains [rather] to the middle sciences between the mathematical and the natural, in which the measure of motion is treated (as St. Thomas has it in his commentary on The Trinity of Boethius, q. 5, a. 3, ad 5 ). Now sciences of this kind do not demonstrate except through the formal cause, which is taken from mathematics, but not through the agent.

[1] That is to say, if the only naturally acting causes to be assigned in the generation of a species such as man were univocal causes such as Socrates, who generates his son, and his son, who generates another like him, etc., there would be no per se cause of the species man. The same argument would apply to the genus. Therefore it would follow that the unity of the species and of the genus would be solely by chance. [Footnote added by Editors] *N.B. With respect to a point De Koninck makes above, that God created creatures without the mediation of other creatures is the teaching of the Catholic Faith, as St. Thomas explains in his Commentary on the First Decretal of Gregory IX (= The Decree Firmiter of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215): There was another error of those holding God to be the first principle of the production of things, but nevertheless not to have created all things immediately, but held this world to be created through the mediation of angels: and this is the error of the Menandrites. And in order to exclude this mistake he [Gregory] adds: who by His almighty power; the reason being that every creature has been produced by God according to the Psalm (8:3): For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers (Aliorum error fuit ponentium Deum quidem esse primum principium productionis rerum, sed tamen non immediate omnia creasse, sed mediantibus Angelis mundum hunc esse creatum: et hic fuit error Menandrianorum. Et ad hunc errorem excludendum subdit: qui sua omnipotenti virtute; quia scilicet sola Dei virtute omnes creaturae sunt productae, secundum illud Psal. VIII, 4 (3): videbo caelos tuos opera digitorum tuorum.) 3

[Excerpted from super primam et secundam decretalem ad Archidiaconum Tudertinum, in Opera Omnia, Tomus XL (Rome: Sancta Sabina, 1969), pp. E1-E50; my trans.] [Note added by Editors]

UTRUM QUIA EXPERIENTIA DECEPTI ARISTOTELES ET D. THOMAS CAUSAS POSUERUNT AEQUIVOCAS IN NATURA OPERANTES ________________ Quodlibet opus naturae est opus alicujus susbstantiae intelligentis quae est causa universalis in causando; quod tamen opus a natura dicitur, ratione principii passivi. Et hoc valet ad quaestionem de possibilitate evolutionis. Nulla enim datur generatio naturalis et univoca sine causa universali seu aequivoca, actu et per se generatum producente in singulari secundum rationem speciei. V.g., quamvis Socrates sit per se causa filii ejus secundum quod iste est hic homo, non tamen per se causa est ejus quod iste filius sit homo, quia nullum particulare agens univocum potest esse simpliciter causa speciei; generando enim, Socrates esset causa speciei humanae, ideoque omnis hominis, et per consequens suimetipsius, cum ipse homo quidam sit ut probatur in II Contra Gentiles, c. 21, et. ibid., III, c. 65, aliis multisque locis. Causis enim debent proportionaliter respondere effectus, ut ostenditur in II Physicorum (D. Thomas, lect. 6). Et ideo, ejus quod tam Socrates quam ejus filius unius speciei sint in re, ita ut eadem omnino ratio vere de utroque praedicetur univoce et per se, hoc ipsum habet causa, per se et non per accidens. Et ideo dicitur, ibid., quod home generat hominem et sol. Quodsi generabilium non darentur causae naturaliter agentes nisi quae effectibus eaedem sint in specie, omnia, quod ad naturam attinent, in unitatem speciei vel generis a casu prodierint. Ex eodem principio proportionalitas sequitur quod etiamsi agens universale nullam esset nisi primum, causa scilicet totius esse, adhuc in eo distinguenda esset ratio causae ipsius esse, a ratione causae per se speciei. Quamvis enim causa totius esse sit simul causa per se tum speciei tum individui, non tamen sub isto ultimo respectu causa est ipsius esse. Et ideo dicit S. Doctor quod haec causa rerum naturalium quantum ad speciem est Deus, vel mediate vel immediate (Contra Gentes III, c. 65). Utrum igitur causa per se specierum sit ipse solus Deus, vel etiam substantiae intellectuales creatae, sive quaedam species sint a Deo tantum, aliae vero a substantiis creatis, non pertinet ad praesentem quaestionem, dummodo habeatur quod omnis generatio univoca simul est effectus agentis cujusdam universalis in causando. De causa vero aequivoca et de generatione aequivoca, valde ambigatur. Et ideo dicendum quod experientia constat plantas atque animalia in similitudinem procedere speciei. Iste processus generatio dicitur univoca ratione agentis ejusdem speciei, at non quasi careret agente aequivoco. Utrum ulterius generatio detur quaedam ad agente aequivoco tantum, experientia testandum remaneret. Et talis generatio simpliciter aequivoca appellanda esset, cum agens non haberet nisis altioris speciei.

Unde demonstratio causalitatis aequivoca quae salvatur in qualibet generatione univoca nullomodo dependet a generatione quadam aequivoca (ut tamen Cl. Jos. Gredt docuisse videtur). Quodlibeet opus naturae est opus alicujus substantiae separatae cujus actio universalis est in causando. Quae positio nullomodo dependet ab antiquorum doctrina de corporibus coelestibus (quamvis in generatione agens universalis creatum medio utatur corporeo), nec a veritate generationis cujusdam aequivocae. Ex quo non sequitur quod opera naturae salventur a causis praeternaturalibus, ut quibusdam videtur. Motus enim vel quodlibet opus a natura dicitur non tantum ratione principii activi, sed etiam a solius passivi, ut ostendit Divus Thomas in In II Physicorum, lect. 1, unde, quamvis agens separatum non habeat rationem naturae eo sensu quo ibidem definitur, tamen motus et opus ejus terminus extrinsico naturalis esse potest ratione solius principii passivi. Valde igitur mirandum est de iis inter scholasticos qui omnem evolutionis possibilitatem per modum generationis aequivocae (quae tamen experientia firmanda remaneret) a priori respuunt. Quae negatio contingit vel quia credunt philosophiam naturalem non tractare nisi de operis naturae causis univocis, vel quia rationem naturae activo tantum principio concedunt. Et in hoc plures scholasticorum primo naturalismi postulato assentiuntur. Videtur autem his esse quoddam dubium, utrum scilicet consideratio de causis aequivocis solum pertineat ad metaphysicum, vel etiam ad naturalem. Sciendum est autem quod ad metaphysicum pertinet considerare de ipsa causae universalis ratione;, ut patet ex Divo Thoma in VI Metaphysicorum, lect. 3. Sed ad naturalem pertinet ostendere saltem an est omnium causarum quarum proprii effectus sensu constant, et eorum quae cum materia sensibilit definiuntur, ut patet de individuis ejusdem speciei; et ex ipsa motus ratione, secundum quod motus est propria passio mobilis, seu actus existentis in potentia in quantum hujusmodi; naturalis philosophus ostendit cujuslibet motus qualiscumque speciei esse unum primum movens immobile, supra omnem speiciem motus existens, et extra omnium mobilium genera; cujus tamen naturam considerare ad metaphysicam pertinet. Sed quia multi decipiuntur circa probationem naturalem moventis omnino immobilis, notandum est quod in hoc naturalis non procedit ex motu in eo quod motus participat aliquid de natura quantitatis, secundum quod divisio motus sumitur vel ex divisione spatii vel ex divisione mobilis; ista consideratio motus pertinet ad scientiaes medias inter mathematicam et naturalem, in quibus tractatur de mensuris motuum (ut habet D. Thomas, In Boethium de Trinitate, q. 5, a. 3, ad 5). Hujusmodi autem scientiae non demonstrant nisi per causam formalem, quam a mathematicis accipiunt; non autem per agentem. See also: Darwin's Dilemma Ronald P. McArthur, Universal in praedicando, universal in causando (c) 2013 Bart A. Mazzetti. All rights reserved. 5