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GUNDISSALINUS ON NECESSARY BEING: TEXTUAL AND DOCTRINAL ALTERATIONS IN THE EXPOSITION OF AVICENNA'S METAPHYSICA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 February 2016

Nicola Polloni*
Affiliation:
Università di Pavia, piazza Botta, 6–27100 Pavia, Italy

Abstract

This article examines the textual alteration strategy carried out by Dominicus Gundissalinus in his original works. One of the most striking examples of this approach can be detected in the large quotation of Ibn Sīnā's Metaphysica I, 6–7 in Gundissalinus’ cosmological treatise De processione mundi, in which the Spanish philosopher variously modifies the text he translated a few years before. After a short presentation of Gundissalinus’ double role as translator and philosopher, the study moves on to the analysis of Ibn Sīnā's doctrine of necessary and possible being, and the five demonstrations of the unrelated uniqueness of necessary being offered by Ibn Sīnā. These arguments are directly quoted by Gundissalinus: nevertheless, the author modifies the text in many passages, here examined through the analysis of some representative excerpts. The results of this enquiry suggest that Gundissalinus is following an effective alteration strategy, envisaging at least two main purposes: the clarification of Ibn Sīnā's line of reasoning, and the doctrinal assimilation of Metaphysica's theories in his original philosophical system. In appendix to this article the whole text of the two versions of Metaphysica I, 6–7 is presented.

Résumé

Cet article envisage la stratégie d'altération textuelle réalisée par Dominique Gundisalvi dans ses œuvres originales. Un des exemples les plus significatifs de cette stratégie peut être reconnu dans la longue citation de Metaphysica I, 6–7 d'Ibn Sīnā dans le traité cosmologique de Gundisalvi, le De processione mundi, où le philosophe espagnol modifie différemment le texte qu'il a traduit quelques années auparavant. Après une brève présentation du double rôle de Gundisalvi comme traducteur et philosophe, on analyse la doctrine de l’être nécessaire et de l’être possible d'Ibn Sīnā, et les cinq démonstrations de l'unicité sans relation de l’être nécessaire offertes par Ibn Sīnā. Ces arguments sont cités directement par Gundisalvi: l'auteur cependant modifie le texte en plusieurs passages qui sont examinés à travers l'analyse des cas les plus exemplaires. Les résultats de cette enquête nous suggèrent que Gundisalvi suit une véritable stratégie d'altération, ayant en vue deux finalités principales: la clarification de la ligne de raisonnement d'Ibn Sīnā et l'assimilation de ses théories dans le système doctrinal de Gundisalvi. En appendice à cet article on présente en entier le texte des deux variantes de Metaphysica I, 6–7.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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References

1 For an overall account on Gundissalinus’ biography, see Polloni, Nicola, “Elementi storiografici e documentali per un profilo biografico di Dominicus Gundisalvi”, Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge, 82 (2015), forthcomingCrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 For the practical development of Toledan translation activity, see Marie-Thérèse D'Alverny, “Les traductions à deux interprètes, d'arabe en langue vernaculaire et de langue vernaculaire en latin”, in Geneviève Contamine (ed.), Traduction et traducteurs au Moyen Âge. Actes du colloque international du CNRS organisé à Paris, Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes, les 26-28 mai 1986 (Paris, 1989), pp. 193–206.

3 See Marie-Thérèse D'Alverny, “Avendauth?”, in Homenaje a Millás-Vallicrosa (Barcelona, 1954), vol. I, pp. 19–43; and Alexander Fidora, “Religious diversity and the philosophical translations of twelfth-century Toledo”, in Constant Mews – John Crossley (eds.), Communities of Learning. Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe, 1110-1500 (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 19–36.

4 See Charles Burnett, ” ‘Magister Iohannes Hispanus’: towards the identity of a Toledan translator”, in Georges Comet (ed.), Comprendre et maîtriser la nature au Moyen Âge. Mélanges d'histoire des sciences offerts à Guy Beaujouan (Genève-Paris, 1994), pp. 425–36; Burnett, Charles, ”‘Magister Iohannes Hispalensis et Limiensis’ and Qusta ibn Luqa's De differentia spiritus et animae: a Portuguese contribution to the arts curriculum?”, Mediaevalia. Textos e estudos, 7–8 (1995): 221–67Google Scholar; Robinson, Maureen, “The heritage of medieval errors in the Latin manuscripts of Johannes Hispalensis”, Al-Qantara, XXVIII (2007): 4171CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Robinson, Maureen, “The history and myths surrounding Johannes Hispalensis”, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 80 (2003): 443–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 Gundissalinus, De processione mundi, ed. Georg Bülow, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, XXIV, 3 (1925), 5, 15–17, 10.

6 Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima sive Scientia divina, ed. Simone van Riet (Leiden, 1983), I, 6–7, 43, 1–55, 55.

7 Regarding the translation methods used and the Latin rendering of the original Arabic text of the Ilāhiyyāt, see Jean Jolivet, “The Arabic inheritance”, in Peter Dronke (ed.), A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 113–48; and Jean Jolivet, “Le vocabulaire de l’être et de la création dans la Philosophia prima de l'Avicenna latinus”, in Jacqueline Hamesse and Carlos Steel (eds.), L’élaboration du vocabulaire philosophique au Moyen Âge (Turnhout, 2000), pp. 35–49.

8 For the global exposition of Avicennian ontology and the arguments on the necessary being, see: John McGinnis, Avicenna (Oxford, 2010), pp. 159–77; Jean Jolivet, “Aux origines de l'ontologie d'Ibn Sīnā”, in Études sur Avicenne, Études dirigées par Jean Jolivet et Roshdi Rashed (Paris, 1984), pp. 221–35; and Olga Lizzini, Avicenna (Roma, 2012), pp. 97–154.

9 Regarding the ontological perspectives of Avicenna and his hermeneutics of Aristotle, see Amos Bertolacci, The Reception of Aristotle's Metaphysics in Avicenna's Kitāb al-Šifā’ (Leiden-Boston, 2006); and Dimitri Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition (Leiden, 1988).

10 Cf. Heidrun Eichner, “Essence and existence. Thirteenth-century perspectives in Arabic-Islamic philosophy and theology”, in Amos Bertolacci and Nikolaus D. Hasse (eds.), The Arabic, Hebrew and Latin Reception of Avicenna's Metaphysics (Berlin-Boston, 2012), pp. 123–52.

11 See Lenn E. Goodman, Avicenna (New York, 1992), pp. 49–120.

12 Cf. Jalbert, Guy, “Le nécessaire et le possible dans la philosophie d'Avicenne”, Revue de l'Université d'Ottawa, 30 (1960): 89101Google Scholar.

13 See Olga Lizzini, Fluxus (fayḍ). Indagine sui fondamenti della metafisica e della fisica di Avicenna (Bari, 2011).

14 Lizzini, Avicenna, p. 119.

15 Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 46, 72–47, 11.

16 Cf. Olga Lizzini, ‘The relation between form and matter’, in John McGinnis (ed.), Interpreting Avicenna, Science and Philosophy in Medieval Islam (Paris, 2004), pp. 175–85.

17 Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 48, 12–38.

18 Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 49, 40–51, 79.

19 Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 51, 80–52, 12.

20 Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 52, 13–54, 43.

21 Cf. Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 54, 38–47.

22 See Nicola Polloni, Domingo Gundisalvo, filósofo de frontera (Madrid, 2013), pp. 51–9.

23 See Nicola Polloni, “Il De processione mundi di Gundissalinus: prospettive per un'analisi genetico-dottrinale”, Annali Umanistici, 1 (2013): 25–38.

24 Gundissalinus, De processione mundi, 55, 6–56, 12.

25 Gundissalinus distinguishes between materiale esse, a potential being proper of both matter and form before being joined together, and formale esse, an actual being proper of the compound and the ontological components after their reciprocal union acted by their cause.

26 See Polloni, “Il De processione mundi di Gundissalinus”.

27 This is the case of many quotations from Ibn Gabirol's Fons Vitae in the De processione mundi.

28 An example of this second kind of quotation is the exposition of the causal scheme received by Hermann of Carinthia in De Processione Mundi, 19, 21–20, 6.

29 Gundissalinus, Über die Einteilung der Philosophie, ed. Alexander Fidora and Dorothée Werner (Freiburg-Basel-Wien, 2007), pp. 236–52.

30 See the introduction to Gundissalinus, De scientiis, ed. Manuel Alonso Alonso (Madrid-Granada, 1954), pp. 8–32.

31 This is the case, for example, with the Summa Avicennae de convenientia et differentia subiectorum, as we have just seen.

32 For example, the Gundissalinian passage in De processione mundi, p. 30, 12–14, which is a quotation from Avicebron, Fons vitae, ed. Clemens Baeumker (Münster, 1895), p. 260, 12–20.

33 This is the case, for example, with De processione mundi, p. 29, 1–4 directly derived from Fons vitae, p. 277, 5–9. This is of great importance in Gundissalinus’ treatise, for thanks to his hermeneutics of this passage Gundissalinus distinguishes between the material being and the formal being. See Polloni, “Il De processione mundi di Gundissalinus”.

34 See Nikolaus D. Hasse, Avicenna's De Anima in the Latin West (London, 2000), pp. 13–18.

35 See Polloni, Domingo Gundisalvo, filósofo de frontera.

36 Cf. Avicenna, Liber de Philosophia prima I, 43, 21–23, and Gundissalinus, De Processione Mundi, 7, 3–8, 4.

37 Cf. Avicenna, Liber de Philosophia prima I, 44, 24–30, and Gundissalinus, De Processione Mundi, 16, 23–25.

38 Cf. Gundissalinus, De processione mundi, 8, 5–10: “Dicimus etiam non posse esse, ut id, quod est necesse esse, habeat aliud necesse, ita ut hoc sit simul cum illo et illud cum isto, nec unum illorum sit causa par alterius, sed aequaliter se concomitantur in necessitate essendi. Cum enim consideratum fuerit unumquodque eorum per se sine alio, aut erit necessarium per se, aut non erit necessarium per se”; and Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 46, 72–77: “Dicemus etiam esse impossibile ut ei quod est necesse esse sit compar aliud necesse esse, ita ut hoc simul habeat esse cum illo, et illud simul habeat esse cum isto, nec unum eorum sit causa alterius, sed sint coaequalia in comitantia essendi. Cum enim considerata fuerit essentia uniuscuiusque eorum per se sine alio, non potest esse quin sit vel necessarium per se, vel non necessarium per se”.

39 For example, cf. Gundissalinus, De processione mundi, 8, 20–27.

40 Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 46, 86–87.

41 Gundissalinus, De processione mundi, 8, 21–22.

42 Cf. Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima I, 48, 12–17: “Relativorum autem non est necesse unum esse ex altero, sed cum altero. Quod autem facit illa duo esse necessario est causa quae coniungit illa, vel etiam duae materiae, vel duo subiecta de quibus illa praedicantur. Non autem esse duarum materiarum vel duorum subiectorum tantum sufficit ad hoc, sed esse tertium quod coniungit illa”; and Gundissalinus, De processione mundi, pp. 9, 20–10, 1: “Relativorum autem alterum non dat esse alteri, sed est simul cum eo; datorum autem esse causa est coniungens illa. Duae etiam materiae vel duae solae substantiae non sufficiunt per se ad conferendum sibi hoc esse, quod dicitur de eis, sed egent alio aliquo tertio, quod componat ea inter se”.

43 This passage, where we find the alteration of Metaphysics’ “ex causis extrinsecis” to the De processione's “ex causis intrinsecis”, and the subsequent “acquisita ab alio a se” to “ex causa extrinseca”, is quite problematic. As is known, Bülow chooses the MS Paris, BNF, Lat. 6443 as the main manuscript for his critical edition of the Gundissalinian treatise. At the same time, among the four manuscripts Bülow used for this edition, it should be stressed that the MS Città del Vaticano, BAV, Lat. 2186 often presents a stricter proximity to the original text of the quotations Gundissalinus presents in his treatise. This is probably due to some corrections introduced by the copyist, who may have had some of the sources used by Gundissalinus at his disposal, and in particular Avicenna's Metaphysics. It is therefore not surprising that the MS Lat. 2186 is the only manuscript used by Bülow to report a reading concordant with the Avicennian text, that is, “ex causis extrinsecis”. Furthermore, an identical philological situation can be found with the critical edition by Alonso Del Real and Soto Bruna. Nevertheless, a rapid recension of further manuscript witnesses, unknown to Bülow, shows that at least the MSS Toledo, BCT 47–15; Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College 504; Città del Vaticano, BAV, ottob. Lat. 1870; and Bruxelles, KRB II.2558 share the same version presented by MS Città del Vaticano, BAV, Lat. 2186. This is the only passage examined in this paper where such a philological outcome can be seen: regarding the other changes introduced by Gundissalinus, the manuscript tradition seems to be coherent in presenting the textual alteration analysed, alterations that therefore cannot be ascribed to the material transmission of the text. However, this fact contributes to the claim of a new critical edition of Gundissalinus’ De processione mundi that takes into consideration the new manuscript witnesses already found for the elaboration of a new stemma codicum. Until then, any use of these new witnesses would be improper, since the parental relations between these new versions are still philologically unclear. I will come back to this topic in a further study.

44 “Animalitas” is expressing here the possession of a soul in accordance with the logical divisions of the Porphyry's tree.

45 Although the critical edition by Bülow reads “inter” here, it is possible to suppose a corruption of the text, since the meaning of the text becomes unintelligible and an “inter” is not admissible for a singular entity (the essence of the form of the necessary being). An emendation of the text could be proposed, reading “intra” instead of “inter”; this is not the right place for a critical revision of the text, however. Nevertheless, since both readings imply a direct relation with the essence of the necessary being, I choose to use the paraphrases “to be related” to express both possibilities.

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