Monday, 4 August 2008

Auriol on the Nobility of Things

In S I.2.[2/10].iv, discussing ‘whether God's existence is something per se known’ (utrum esse Dei sit aliquid per se notum), Auriol says that God's existence occurs to man naturally via an ‘imperceptible syllogism’ which involves defining God as the highest thing on the scale of nobility.  Here, then, is how Auriol sees the world:

Omnes naturae sunt secundum nobilius et ignobilius ordinata.  Hanc quidem propositionem assumimus ex sensu.  Videmus namque in universo omnia sic disponi, videlicet quod melior est aqua quam terra, aer quam aqua, ignis quam aer, caelum quam ignis; et similiter ferrum quam plumbum, auricalcum quam ferrum, argentum quam auricalcum, aurum quam argentum; et similiter in animalibus et plantis.

‘All natures are ordered according to greater and lesser nobility.  And this proposition we take from the senses.  For we see universally that all things are thus disposed, namely that water is better than earth, air better than water, fire better than air, heaven better than fire; and likewise iron better than lead, brass better than iron, silver better than brass, gold better than silver; and likewise for animals and plants.’

Was this sort of intuitive hierarchy ever questioned?


Conrad H. Roth said...

Good to see another Warburgian doing this sort of stuff. Long live the niche! As for your question: presumably Scotus would have strongly denied setting God on top of a scale of nobility of created objects. Perhaps this doesn't answer your question though.

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