Dispositions and Habits of Mind

Henry of Ghent famously denies that there are such things as 'intelligible species'. Well, kind of. Henry thinks that an 'intelligible species' and a 'habit' play exactly the same explanatory role; consequently, Henry argues that we should just posit habits because that is explanatorily more parsimonious. An intelligible species is the name that various scholastic philosophers give for a person's being able to think of something. There are various ways to consider a person's being able to think of something.

Here are some ways to look at this. We might ask whether thinking of something is (a) relatively easy or (b) takes some effort, and whether your thought has (c) simple or (d) propositional intentional content (what do you think when you think of something). If (a) - (d) are sufficiently helpful, we get the following combinations.


Henry of Ghent's Works Now Online

The Good News:

Gordon Wilson has put online PDF versions of all the Critical Editions of Henry's works, both the Quodlibeta and the Summa. I have added a hyperlink over on the sidebar "Henry of Ghent's Works ONLINE".

These PDFs are searchable. This will certainly help future research.

The Bad News:

Quotable Henry: On the Positive (albeit thin) Knowledge of God

Henry of Ghent, Summa Quaestionum Ordinariarum, Article 24, Question 1 (Badius, vol. 1, f.137rC) (Emended translation from Jos Decorte and Roland Teske, 'Henry of Ghent's Summa: The Questions on God's Existence and Essence Articles 21-24).

In what follows Henry ends his criticism of those who say that knowledge of God is merely privative (e.g., 'God lacks finitude') or negative (e.g., 'God is not finite').

"If, therefore, we did not at all know what God is, we would not love God at all, because we can love unseen things, but we cannot at all love unknown things, as Augustine says in book 6 of On the Trinity.


A Companion to Henry of Ghent

In a looong awaited release, Brill has published A Companion to Henry of Ghent (2011) in the series Brill's Companions to the Christian Tradition, edited by Gordan A. Wilson.

For the Table of Contents, authors, and more about this book, go here:


Intelligible Species in the Mature Thought of Henry of Ghent by Michael E. Rombeiro

Michael Rombeiro has a forthcoming article in JHP titled, "Intelligible Species in the Mature Thought of Henry of Ghent".

Here is the abstract:

Henry of Ghent (1217?-93), a prominent theologian at the University of Paris during the last quarter of the thirteenth century, was a central figure on the issue of cognition and one of the first to reject intelligible species as mediating representations in the intellect's act of understanding. Scholars disagree, however, on some key elements of his alternative account. This paper clarifies Henry's doctrine on intelligible species, as well as other forms of mental representation, like the concept or mental word. In breaking with the standard Aristotelian account of Thomas Aquinas, Henry offered a unique and innovative view on species, which had a significant influence on subsequent medieval thinkers.


Dissertation Nearly Finished

In the long quest to write a dissertation, and write it well, my blogging aspirations cooled. The upshot, however, is that my dissertation is nearly finished. I expect to finish and submit by the end of Spring (2011). For those, if there be any hangers-on, interested in what my dissertation is, below is the Table of Contents as it stands presently.


D.Phil. Thesis
University of Oxford, Oriel College