Appendix V. Metaphysica, Questio I, 5 (anonymous)

The first edition of John’s commentary on the Metahysics was established by Marcus Antonius Zimara[1], who also added an index of noticeable terms and a list of the questions. It was first printed in Venice in 1505. This edition presents a revised text, complemented with questions by other authors, perhaps under the supervision of John of Jandun himself[2].

In this edition question I, 4 is followed by a question I, 5: if all men desire the same science (qu. I, 5 “Utrum omnes homines appetant unam scientiam”), treated in a much shorter way. However, this question does not appear in the manuscripts; it is one of the anonymous questions added in the edition. Here, Albert the Great is quoted in one of the arguments for the negative answer (“Item, et est ratio Alberti: unusquisque appetit scientiam ad quam aptus natus est, sed ad unam scientiam omnes homines non sunt apti nati, ergo etc.”), but also in the oppositum, where it is the only argument: “Oppositum vult Albertus in suo commento”[3]. So, this entire question seems to have been inspired by Albert. Then the author adds that this question is not commonly disputed, but that he has introduced it for a better understanding of the first proposition (as Albertus had added his Digressio)[4].

In a notandum “for the understanding of the question”, the anonymous author explains that man has a double nature: matter and form, form being also double: common form, such as the forma intellectiva, and individual form. Thus, the solution is also double:


Ex hoc sunt dicenda duo ad questionem. Primo quod omnes homines unam scientiam appetunt ex parte forme communis. Secundo quod omnes homines non appetunt unam scientiam gratia forme individualis (f. 5va).


The discussion of the first point contains an argument mentioning the intellectus possibilis, “invented by Aristotle” according to Averroes, and concluding:


sed scientia maxime scibilis maxime satiat intellectum, ut scientia dei, quia est vera ratio cognoscendi et est verum obiectum.


The second ‘conclusio’ is then argumented: “quod omnes homines gratia nature individualis non appetunt unam scientiam”. As for the authorities, apart from Averroes and Aristotle, the author mentions the “auctor sex principiorum”, saying “anima coniuncta corpori complexiones corporis imitatur”. In a notandum he remarks that even if all men desire one science as far as their common nature is concerned, not all men pursue this nor arrive at their goal because of multiple reasons, as has been said about the text (“sicut tactum fuit super litteram”). Clearly, the author had a literal commentary at his disposition. A little further on he mentions again Aristotle’s saying about “dolose cyprigene etc.”, adding “ut dictum fuit prius in quadam questione”, and some are hindered by laziness, others by greed, “ut prius etiam ibidem dictum est”. Here he refers in fact to the passage of the Ethics quoted in the previous question (by John himself[5]).

Let us quote an interesting passage. In the treatment of the first argument for the opposite (thus, affirmative) answer, the author quotes Aristotle saying that all men do not succeed to reach the ‘common’ science because of their individual nature, “and so says Aristotle in the second chapter of this treatise”[6]:


Aliqui non recipiunt nisi demonstrationes tantum, et hoc propter consuetudinem; aliqui propter fortem impressionem recipiunt demonstrationem, sicut melancolici; aliqui recipiunt tantum poetica propter consuetudinem, et hoc forte propter sensum et debilitatem intellectus; aliqui sunt qui nolunt recipere nisi probetur auctoritatibus aliquorum propter debilitatem proprii iudicii, quia dicit Aristoteles in secundo huius: Quibusdam est debilis certitudo propter impossibilitatem complectendi (5vb).


What Aristotle says is in fact that “the effect which lectures produce on a hearer depends on his habits”[7]; some people do not listen to a speaker unless he speaks mathematically, others unless he gives instances, while others expect him to cite a poet as a witness, etc. So, Aristotle talks about a speaker and his hearers, and not explicitly about science or knowledge, although this is of course implicit[8].



[1] For Zimara’s criticism of Jandun’s Metaphysics, see Maurer, p. 195.

[2] R. Lambertini, « Jandun’s Question-Commentary on the Aristotle’s Metaphysics », in F. Amerini, G. Galluzo (eds.), A Companion to the Latin Medieval Commentaries on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Leiden (Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition 43) 2013, pp. 385-411.

[3] Albertus Magnus, Metaphysica I, 5, p. 7 : « Et est digressio declarans quid sit naturale sciendi desiderium et ad quid scire et unde provenit tota diversitas studiorum ».

[4] For the rest of this passage, see below pp. xx.

[5] See above Ch. 10, p. xx and n. 25.

[6] Arist., Metaph. I, 3 (995a) : « Et illi quidem omnia certe ; hiis vero flebilis est certitudo aut propter impotentiam complectendi aut propter micrologiam ». Note that the term flebilis in the Latin translation has been changed here into debilis. This is not the case in Albertus Magnus (l. II, c. 12).

[7] Translation Ross.

[8] Albertus Magnus interpretes this as the theoria veritatis (II, 12).


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