Markus Vinzent's Blog

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Meister Eckhart, Parisian Question IV - a much neglected text

In preparation of a contribution to the exhibition catalogue on 'Taery Kim, Performing Space', a contemporary video artist who is inspired by and interprets Meister Eckhart's understanding of Space and Time, I had to study the fourth of Meister Eckhart's Parisian Questions, unfortunately a much neglected text in Eckhart research. Nevertheless, it is an important witness for Eckhart's radically new understanding of 'space' compared to those to whom he refers, his teachers Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, opening up their concept of a closed container space which provides the place and location for things, and re-conceptualising it as an open space to be, a transcendental and universal space where everything has its non-categorical place and location - or rather where there is no given place, but where place is dynamically understood as space and space as a continuum of dynamics. This he details in his Exposition of Genesis (In Gen. I n. 49 [LW I/2, 220,1-221,6]), and exemplifies in the following Question which I give with text and my own translation:

Utrum aliquem motum esse sine termino implicet contradictionem
Whether any motion without end implies a contradiction?
◊1◊ Videtur quod non, quia invenitur motus sine termino ut motus caeli.
◊2◊ Contra: terminus motus est idem quod motus. Qui igitur negat terminum, negat motum.
◊3◊ Dicendum quod implicat contradictionem, quia non contingit moveri, nisi contingat motum esse. Item esset potentia sine actu.
Ad argumentum de motu [caeli] dicendum quod terminus, a quo motus caeli, abicitur. Ideo speculatio remanet de termino, in quo motus est et ad quem. <LW5:073>
◊4◊ Quantum ad terminum, in quo motus est, est subiectum motus, et hoc est primum mobile. Corpus igitur primum mobile est primum corpus, ratione qua primum corpus habet minus de potentia et per consequens minus de motu; inquantum est primum mobile, habet minimum de motu. Nam aliqua sunt, quae sunt perfectionis, quaedam imperfectionis; nam moveri dicit imperfectionem. Et ideo quanto aliquid magis perfectum, tanto minus de motu et de loco, et quia corpus caeleste est perfectum primo, ideo minime movetur et locatur, sed omnia movet et omnia locat; nam terra nihil locat, aqua vero plus, et sic ascendendo habet minimum de motu, quia habet solum motum localem, item solum ubi; nec est etiam ab alio in aliud nisi ratione. <LW5:074> Item est unus motus, et movetur per partes, non per centrum; nam est primum mobile ab immobili quod est in ipso, quia hoc est perfectionis; ideo debet moveri in se, non in centro.
◊5◊ Et si arguitur: partes habent esse in potentia, dicendum quod argumentum arguit oppositum. Nam eo ipso quod sunt in potentia, per eas movetur, quia motus est actus entis in potentia. Nam causa mutabilitatis in omnibus et immutabilitatis est totum et pars; nam quae habent plenum esse, immobilia sunt, ut deus; sed omne habens partem de esse est mutabile. Et hoc dicit Thomas Quaestione de malo in articulo de daemonibus q. 2 in solutione cuiusdam argumenti. Et sic caelum movetur per partes, quia primum; ideo unus motus et uniformis, <LW5:075> ex quo sequitur quod [non] habet contrarium. Astrologi autem, quia invenerunt in caelo stellato difformitatem, ideo posuerunt quod non erat primum mobile.
◊6◊ Terminus autem ad quem motus caeli quidem antiquitus dicebatur `quod´ generatio et corruptio istorum inferiorum. Sed dicendum quod in motu suo hoc quaerit caelum quod quaerit materia. Quae quia non habet esse totum, sed partem, ideo quaerit omnes formas: sic quia caelum est quantum, habet partes, et quia non habet locum, quaerit eum: ideo movetur, ut accipiat ubi omnium partium secundum dextrum et sinistrum.
◊7◊ Vel potest dici quod corpus caeli est supremum. Sed de natura superioris est influere et dare esse, et de natura inferioris est quaerere esse; et de natura superioris est quod sit praesens omni inferiori et se toto et quolibet sui ipsi toto inferiori et cuilibet sui; et quia hoc non potest simul, ideo successive <LW5:076> influit inferiori. Quis igitur est terminus suus? Dicendum quod non quaerit aliquid sibi, sicut nec oculus videt sibi, sed toti, quia habet esse propter totum et se toto fini. Igitur et terminus quem quaerit caelum in motu, est esse universi vel conservare universum.
◊1◊ As it seems, no, since motion without end can be found, such as the motion of the heavens.
◊2◊ The counter-argument: The end of motion is still motion. Who, therefore, negates the end [to be motion], negates motion [itself].
◊3◊ One has to say that it implies a contradiction, because something does not attain to be moving, unless it is being moved. There also would be power without action.
To the argument about the motion of the heavens, one has to say that the end, from which the heavens are moved, is disregarded. Therefore, speculation remains about the end, within which and towards which they are moved.
◊4◊ With regards to the end, within which something is moved, it is the subject of motion, and this is the first mover. The first moving body, therefore, is the first body, because the first body is less powerful and consequently less motion; insofar as it is the first mover, it has the least motion. What is perfect differs from what is imperfect, but to be moved is called an imperfection. Accordingly, the more perfect something is, the less motion and location it has, and because the heavenly body is the first perfect one, therefore it is least moved and located, but moves all things and locates all things. Whereas the earth locates nothing, the water already more, and thus in an increase [the heavenly body] has the least motion, because it has alone the spatial motion, namly solely its ‘where’, as it is neither from something else, nor to something else, unless notionally. Similarly, it is one motion, although moved in [its] parts, [but] not through its centre; for it is the prime mover by the immovable which is in it, because this constitutes its perfection. Therefore, it needs to move in itself, not in its centre.
◊5◊ And if it is argued: The parts have potential being, one has to say that the argument proves its opposite. Because the fact that they potentially are, moves them, because motion is the act to be of something that potentially is. And the cause of mutability and immutability in all things are the total and [its] parts; because what has full being is immutable, such as God, but all those who have a part of being, are mutable. And this Thomas states in the Question On Evil, in the article on demons, question two, in the solution of that argument. So the heavens is moved through [its] parts, because it is the first [mobile body], wherefore it has only one motion, a uniform one, from which follows that it has no contrary [motion]. The astrologers, however, assume therefore that it was not the prime mover, because they discover in the heavenly constellation a deformation.
◊6◊ In olden times, however, the end to which motion of the heavens was said to be the generation and passing-away of those inferior things. Yet, one has to say that, in its own motion, the heavens strive for the same as matter does. Because what has no total being, but parts [of it], therefore strives for all forms: Thus, as the heavens has quantity, it has parts, and because it has no place, it strives for it: therefore it is moved so that it receives the ‘where’ of all parts, be they right or left.
◊7◊ Or one could say that the heavenly body is the supreme one. However, it is the nature of the superior to infuse and give being, and it is the nature of the inferior to strive for being; and it is the nature of the superior that it be present to all inferior ones, namely itself as a whole and itself in whichever way possible to the inferior as a whole and to each of its parts; and because this cannot be done in one go, it therefore infuses the inferior successively.
What, then, is its end? One has to say that it does not strive for anything else for itself, as neither does the eye see for itself, but for the whole [body], as it has being with regards to the whole and itself wholly for this end. Thus also, the end which the heavens strive for in motion is the being of the universe or the conservation of the universe.


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