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.
And we would also not call upon God, in accord with what Augustine says in the beginning of the Confessions: 'Who calls upon you if he not know you?' Hence, it is necessary to grant that it is possible for a human being to know the quiddity of God in some way, in accord with what Augustine says in homily one from On John: 'What was produced in your heart when I said "God"? A certain great and highest substance was known, which transcends every mutable creature. This is the word about God in your heart.""
Note that Duns Scotus makes the same case against those who advocate a merely negative knowledge of God (what God is not). The following is from Duns Scotus, Opus Oxoniense, Book 1, Distinction 3 (Translation by Allan Wolter, Duns Scotus: Philosophical Writings, p.14):
"For every denial is intelligible only in terms of some affirmation. It is also clear that we can know negations of God only by means of affirmations; for if we deny anything of God, it is because we wish to do away with something inconsistent with what we have already affirmed. Neither are negations the object of our greatest love."

No comments:

Post a Comment