Henry of Ghent

Henry of Ghent

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Henry of Ghent scholastic
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 philosopher, known as Doctor Solemnis (the Solemn Doctor), also known as Henricus de Gandavo and Henricus Gandavensis, was born in the district of Mude, near Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

, and died at Tournai
Tournai
Tournai is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut....

 (or Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

). Between the death of Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 in 1274 and the arrival of Duns Scotus
Duns Scotus
Blessed John Duns Scotus, O.F.M. was one of the more important theologians and philosophers of the High Middle Ages. He was nicknamed Doctor Subtilis for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought....

 in the early 14th century he was the leading Augustinian
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

.

Life


Henry is supposed to have belonged to an Italian family named Bonicolli, in Dutch Goethals, but the question of his name has been much discussed (see authorities below). He studied at Ghent and then at Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 under Albertus Magnus
Albertus Magnus
Albertus Magnus, O.P. , also known as Albert the Great and Albert of Cologne, is a Catholic saint. He was a German Dominican friar and a bishop, who achieved fame for his comprehensive knowledge of and advocacy for the peaceful coexistence of science and religion. Those such as James A. Weisheipl...

. After obtaining the degree of doctor he returned to Ghent, and is said to have been the first to lecture there publicly on philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

.

Attracted to Paris by the fame of the university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

, he took part in the many disputes between the orders and the secular priests, on the side of the latter. Following the publication of the papal bull Ad fructus uberes by Pope Martin IV
Pope Martin IV
Pope Martin IV, born Simon de Brion held the papacy from February 21, 1281 until his death....

 in 1281, Henry supported the secular clergy against the Mendicant Orders over the question of the 'reiteration of confession' (the obligation to confess to their parish priest, at least once a year, sins already confessed to a friar). Henry was engaged in this violent controversy for the rest of his life.

Being of essence


Henry argued that not only do individual creatures have a being corresponding to their essence
Essence
In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Essence is contrasted with accident: a property that the object or substance has contingently, without...

 - the being of essence or esse essentiae, they also have a 'somethingness' (aliquitas). The being created by God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 is not the being of actual existence
Existence
In common usage, existence is the world we are aware of through our senses, and that persists independently without them. In academic philosophy the word has a more specialized meaning, being contrasted with essence, which specifies different forms of existence as well as different identity...

, but the being of essence, also called esse latissimum (being in the widest sense), or esse communissimum, the most general form of being. The determination of essence respecting its being made actual is a delimitation, or specification, of that being. thus, esse essentiae comes first, then comes esse aliquid per essentiam, being a something through essence, finally the whole essence thus made up is put into actuality.

Intentional distinction


An intentional distinction is where the very same thing is expressed by different concepts in different ways (Quodl. V, q. 12). Unlike a purely logical distinction, an intentional distinction always implies a sort of composition, although it is minor with regard to that implied by a distinction in reality.

For example rational and animal, as they are found in man, is not a distinction of reason, since one is not a definition of the other. Nor is a real distinction, otherwise the conjunction of 'animal' and 'rational' in some particular person would be purely accidental (per accidens). Therefore there must be some intermediate distinction, which Henry defines as 'intentional'. This principle was later developed by Scotus into the formal distinction
Formal distinction
In scholastic metaphysics, a formal distinction is a distinction intermediate between what is merely conceptual, and what is fully real or mind-independent...

.

Illumination


Henry's doctrines are infused by a strong Platonism
Platonism
Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

. He distinguished between knowledge of actual objects and the divine inspiration by which we cognize the being and existence of God. The first throws no light upon the second. Individuals are constituted not by the material element but by their independent existence, i.e. ultimately by the fact that they are created as separate entities. Universals must be distinguished according as they have reference to our minds or to the divine mind. In the divine intelligence exist exemplars or types of the genera and species of natural objects.

On this subject Henry is far from clear; but he defends Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 against the current Aristotelian criticism, and endeavours to show that the two views are in harmony. In psychology, his view of the intimate union of soul and body is remarkable. The body he regards as forming part of the substance of the soul, which through this union is more perfect and complete.

Scientific knowledge


Henry's standards for truth exceeded what is now commonly accepted in science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

. Following closely Aristotle's Posterior Analytics
Posterior Analytics
The Posterior Analytics is a text from Aristotle's Organon that deals with demonstration, definition, and scientific knowledge. The demonstration is distinguished as a syllogism productive of scientific knowledge, while the definition marked as the statement of a thing's nature, .....

, he demanded that "First, it must be certain, i.e. exclusive of deception and doubt; secondly, it must be of a necessary object; thirdly, it must be produced by a cause that is evident to the intellect; fourthly, it must be applied to the object by a syllogistic reasoning process". He thus excluded from the realm of the knowable anything about contingent objects. In this respect he was contradicted by his younger contemporary Duns Scotus
Duns Scotus
Blessed John Duns Scotus, O.F.M. was one of the more important theologians and philosophers of the High Middle Ages. He was nicknamed Doctor Subtilis for his penetrating and subtle manner of thought....

.

Works

  • Quodlibeta Theologica (Paris, 1518; Venice, 1608 and 1613).
  • Summa quaestionum ordinarium (Paris, 1520; Ferrara, 1646).
  • Henrici de Gandavo Opera Omnia Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1979 sqq.
  • Syncategoremata Henrico de Gandavo adscripta edited by H.A.G. Braakhuis, Girard J. Etzkorn, Gordon Wilson. With an introduction by H.A.G. Braakhuis; Leuven: Leuven Univeristy Press, 2010.


Mistakenly attributed to Henry of Ghent:
  • the Affligem Catalogus virorum illustrium, first published in De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis ed. Suffridus Petri (Cologne, 1580).

Translations

  • Henry of Ghent's Summa of Ordinary Questions. Article One: On the possibility of knowing Translation with an introduction and notes by Roland J. Teske, S.J. South Bend, St. Augustine Press, 2008. ISBN 1-58731-359-6.
  • Henry of Ghent's "Summa": The Questions on God's Existence and Essence (Articles 21-24). Translation by Jos Decorte (†) and Roland J. Teske, S.J. Latin Text, Introduction, and Notes by Roland J. Teske, S.J. (Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations
    Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations
    Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations is a book series sponsored by the and published by , a publishing house based in Louvain, Belgium. Modeled upon the Loeb Classical Library, the Dallas series has the goal "to build a library of medieval Latin texts, with English translations, from the period...

     5). Louvain/Paris: Peeters, 2005. ISBN 978-90-429-1590-9.
  • Henry of Ghent's "Summa": The Questions on God's Unity and Simplicity (Articles 25-30). Latin Text, Introduction, Translation, and Notes by Roland J. Teske, S.J. (Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations
    Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations
    Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations is a book series sponsored by the and published by , a publishing house based in Louvain, Belgium. Modeled upon the Loeb Classical Library, the Dallas series has the goal "to build a library of medieval Latin texts, with English translations, from the period...

     6). Louvain and Paris: Peeters, 2006. ISBN 978-90-429-1811-5.

External links

  • Henry of Ghent, Catholic Encyclopedia
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

    article
  • Henry of Ghent, Website of the University of North Carolina with the plan of the Critical Edition and many works available in PDF format.