Perfect Productive Power: A Unifying Theme In The Philosophical Theology Of John Duns Scotus


Marilyn McCord Adams

The Center for Philosophy of Religion, Rutgers University, Australian Catholic University

Published in the Canadian Journal for Scholarship and the Christian Faith ( on 22 October 2015


John Duns Scotus is above all a philosophical theologian. For Scotus, the subject-matter of theology is not human experience or cultural practices. The subject-matter of theology is God. To begin to honor its subject, theology will have to be systematic. Just as a heap of things does not constitute a universe, so a handful of claims do not make a science. If–for Scotus–a universe has to be held together by essential orders of excellence and dependence, a science is organized by logical relations and by unifying themes or ideas. In any rich system, there are doubtless many themes that are overlapping and interwoven. My aim in this lecture is to display how perfect productive power is one such theme in Scotus’ thought. First, Scotus argues cosmologically that perfect productive power is the ultimate explainer of the existence and causal interactions of things here below. Next, Scotus articulates how perfect productive power explains God’s triunity. Finally, perfect productive power goes some way towards explaining Divine policies in creation and strategies in redemption. It is only logical if–like all of Gaul–my remarks are divided into three parts!

I. Perfect Productive Power Ad Extra:

1.1. Perfect Productive Power, Actual and Necessary: Scotus launches his inquiry into the being of God with a cosmological argument. There are many features of the world from which philosophical theologians reason to a single source of the being and well-being of everything else. Scotus’ starting-point is carefully selected: ‘something is produced’. Scotus tries to show how this statement combines with distinctive but widely agreed and commendable metaphysical assumptions to yield his preliminary conclusion: ‘something is perfect productive power’.1

Looking back, we can recognize how Scotus’ initial claim is already theory-laden. Surely, experience does not acquaint us with production, but with the bare-bones fact that something–cows and flowers and chemical compounds–comes to be. Scotus begs to differ. Observation shows patterns of coming to be: e.g., that whenever A’s are present, B’s come to be; and when A’s are not present, B’s do not come to be. Scotus takes for granted the axiom ‘ex nihilo nihil fit2 and Aristotle’s consequent contention that always-or-for-the-most-part regularities require to be explained in terms of the possession and exercise of productive power. B’s come to be when A’s are present and not otherwise, because A’s have productive power to produce B’s. It is not only that cows and flowers and chemical compounds regularly come to be. They are produced, because something has and exercises the power to produce them.

Already, in describing the datum from which his cosmological argument rises as production, Scotus shifts attention from particulars to natures. That N’s are producible by Nk’s, that Nk’s have N-productive power, that Nk’s are or are not independently productive, are–for Scotus–features that pertain to natures essentially and of themselves. A nature Nk’s productive power is dependent, if Nk’s depend for the exercise of their productive power on things of some other and higher kind Nm: in Scotus’ words, if Nk’s depend on Nm’s in causing. Conversely, Nk’s productive power is independent, if Nk’s do not depend for the exercise of their productive powers on anything else. Scotus’ explanatory model in philosophy–nothing comes from nothing (ex nihilo nihil fit), no circle of causes, no infinite regress– underwrites his inference from ‘some nature is essentially producible and/or dependently productive’ to ‘some nature is essentially unproducible and independently productive’.3

Once again, Scotus takes ‘nothing comes from nothing’ to be self-evident and axiomatic. Likewise self-evident is the real distinction of producer and product: nothing can produce itself.4 But causal circles would make each member of the circle indirectly productive of itself. Scotus defends the ‘no infinite regress’ principle with several arguments to the effect that series of causes themselves require an explanation, either in a first member whose existence and activity does not require to be explained in terms of the existence and activity of anything of a different kind, or in the existence and activity of something outside the series.5 But Scotus exposes his bedrock metaphysical intuition in a concluding persuasio: productive power is a pure perfection.6 A pure perfection is a good-making feature that entails no bad-making features. All creatable natures are finite goods and so entail good-making features. But creatable natures are finite goods and often also entail bad-making features. For example, lion-nature entails physical strength but also animal mortality and lack of intelligence.7 Scotus maintains that productive power of itself is a good-making feature that entails no bad-making features, an excellence that of itself involves no defects. If so, Scotus infers, a version of productive power that exists apart from any bad-making features is possible. Perfect productive power is possible; it essentially pertains to some nature. But dependence on things of other kinds in causing is a bad-making feature. So perfect productive power would be independent–both in being and in causing–of productive causes of other kinds.8

Thus, Scotus’ Aristotelianism allows him to move from patterns of coming to be to the conviction that something and therefore some nature is “externally” producible (i.e., its instances are producible by something else of another nature), and that something else and some nature is essentially productive. Scotus’ model of explanation takes him from a nature that is essentially externally producible and dependently productive, to a nature that is essentially independently productive (i.e., doesn’t depend for its exercize of power on anything else) and not externally producible (i.e., not producible by anything else of another nature). Scotus reasons: the former is possible because it is actual, and the former is possible only if the latter is possible. So a nature that is independently productive and not externally producible, is possible. But where a nature does not actually exist, its possibility depends on the actual existence of something of some other nature with power to produce it. In other words, the only non-existent natures that are possible are ones that are externally producible. Scotus concludes: since perfect productive power is possible but not externally producible, it must be actual and indeed necessarily actual.9

1.2. Triple Primacy: The nature that is perfect productive power is suited to be the first efficient cause of external producibles of whatever sort. Actually and necessarily extant perfect productive power is the first efficient cause of the external producibles that actually exist. In all four versions of his cosmological argument, Scotus goes further. In a chain of efficient causes in which the posterior depends on the prior in causing, the posterior and dependent is of a different and less excellent nature than that on which it essentially depends. But the first efficient cause is independently productive by nature, and is essentially that on which the other dependently productive efficient causes ultimately depend in causing. Scotus concludes that the nature that is the first efficient cause is also the nature that is pre-eminent in excellence.10

Scotus takes another page from Aristotle when he agrees that the actual universe is teleological: in particular, that genuine efficient causes produce their effects for the sake of an end. Natural agents act for the sake of their own well-being: e.g., elements seek their natural place, animals eat and walk for the sake of health. Scotus declares: if an agent and that for the sake of which it acts are non-identical, then the end for which it acts is of a different and nobler nature than the agent. But perfect productive power is a nature of pre-eminent excellence. Consequently, the first efficient cause which ultimately orders all things to an end, must not act for the sake of an end other than itself. The first efficient cause is also the first final cause, the nature for the sake of which all effects are produced.11 Perfect productive power is thus a nature of pre-eminent excellence, which does what it does and orders other causes to do what they do, for its sake.

1.3. Perfect Productive Power as Intellect and Will: Avicenna agrees that perfect productive power tops the Great Chain of Being. Perfect productive power, the pre-eminent nature, is not externally producible but necessarily actual. All other natures are of themselves externally producible. Avicenna’s philosophical assumption is that perfect productive power acts by natural necessity to emanate a nature that is as perfect as it can be and still be externally producible. Perfect productive power acts immediately only in the production of this perfect effect. The cooperation of other causes–of themselves both externally producible and dependently productive–is required to explain the existence of less perfect effects. All extant natures exist necessarily, because the first efficient cause exists and acts necessarily, whether immediately or mediately, to produce them in existence and to activate their productive powers. Only perfect productive power, the pre-eminent nature, is self-existent and selfactivating. 12

Scotus is instructed by Avicenna’s picture.13 Nevertheless, Scotus counters that perfect productive power acts contingently to produce what is externally producible. Most famously, Scotus argues from our putative experience of contingency here below, every time we exercise our own free choice of will. If the first cause acted necessarily, whether immediately or mediately, to produce what is externally producible and to activate their productive powers, then there would be no contingency here below.

Scotus takes the divide between natural and voluntary productive power to be metaphysically fundamental. Natural productive power functions deterministically: in any given set of circumstances, it is determined to one type of effect. Voluntary power includes self-determining power for opposite objects without succession: where finite goods are concerned, voluntary power is the power to will them, the power to nill them, and the power not to act at all. Will-power alone is capable of acting contingently. Contingency here below means that perfect productive power includes will-power. But will-power cannot act unless objects are presented to it by the intellect. Contingency here below means that perfect productive power includes both intellect and will. Cognitive powers are natural powers: where the proper object is present to the power, there is–by natural necessity–a cognitive act. Scotus’ conclusion is that perfect productive power spans the divide to include both natural and voluntary powers.14

Significantly, Scotus also defends this conclusion–that perfect productive power includes intellect and will–with a pair of arguments from teleology based on a trio of Aristotelian assumptions. The first is that all genuine agents act for the sake of an end. Scotus has already reasoned that perfect productive power would do whatever it does for its own sake. So either that pre-eminent nature would love itself naturally, or perfect productive power would love itself voluntarily. On Scotus’ reading of Aristotle, natural appetite aims at the being and well-being of the nature, and does or desires other things that promote that end. Thus, natural appetite drives earthen things to move downward to reach their natural place. By contrast, the pre-eminent nature is self-sufficient: it exists necessarily and needs nothing else for its own continued existence and well-being. So if its self-love were merely Aristoteliannatural, it would not produce anything else for its sake. The result would be that nothing else existed– which is contrary to experience.15

Again, Scotus notes with Aristotle how natural agents always-or-for-the-most-part act to the limit of their powers to produce their effects. Here below they can be obstructed, but–given Aristotelian optimism–obstructions are rare. The behavior of natural agents of itself is end-blind. Therefore, Aristotle concludes, if natural agents act for the sake of an end–as they do here below, by the first Aristotelian assumption–it is because some voluntary agent orders them to an end. But the first efficient cause is what ultimately orders things to an end. Therefore, perfect productive power must–in producing the universe–act by intellect and will.16

1.4. Perfect Productive Power as Infinite: Human beings have intellect and will-power. But human beings are not always actually understanding and willing. If intellect and will-power perfect human nature, human beings are further perfected by actual acts of understanding and willing, and indeed most perfected when human beings understand and will the best object that they can. Intellect and will are what Aristotle calls functional powers, because their acts remain within the agent that has them, by contrast with the carpenter’s building-power whose exercise results in the production of something outside the carpenter–e.g., a house. Scotus argues that–in human beings–these functional powers are also productive powers, insofar as they are active causes of those acts of understanding and will that– while they remain within the human being who is their subject–are really distinct from the powers themselves.

By contrast, perfect productive power is ever-ready: it eternally actually understands whatever is externally producible: not only natures in general, but each and every one of the infinitely many producible individuals. Because perfect productive power is altogether uncausable, there is no real distinction between nature, power, and act, as if some efficient cause had to produce the latter in the former as in a receiving subject. Likewise, perfect productive power eternally wills whatever it wills, so that there is no real distinction between nature, will-power, and will-act either. Perfect productive power is really the same as its eternal act of understanding and its eternal act of will. But–Scotus reasons–an act of understanding is the more perfect, the more objects it can take in all at once. Since perfect productive power understands infinitely many producibles in the now of eternity, that act of understanding must be intensively infinite.17 Perfect productive power is itself infinite being!

Scotus has difficulties with philosophical arguments for the infinity of perfect productive power from the alleged infinity of actually produced effects.18 Because the philosophers do not admit infinitely many species, Scotus reckons, they will have to be assuming a numerical infinity of effects. Because all agree that a simultaneously existing actual infinity is impossible, they will be presupposing a numerical infinity that come into and go out of existence successively. Leave aside the fact that they can get infinitely many in succession only if–contrary to Christian theological consensus–the world exists without beginning. Scotus doubts that power to keep on producing finite beings successively, one at a time, would require infinite power.

Scotus concedes: if an agent can do many things at once, where each thing needs some perfection proper to itself, then the more it can produce at once the greater the productive power required. It follows that if the first efficient cause had power to produce infinitely many simultaneously, then its power would have to be intensively infinite. The trouble is that, for better and worse, philosophers have agreed on the metaphysical impossibility of a simultaneously existing actual infinity. Surely, there is no power in the universe to do what is metaphysically impossible!

Scotus’ final attempt to “fix” the argument from efficient causal power, is to describe the power counter-factually. Perfect productive power is ever-ready. It includes all of the causal power it would take to make infinitely many exist at once, if they were simultaneously producible. Scotus clarifies his suggestion: the impossibility does not arise from the side of the pre-eminent nature that has–in the now of eternity–enough power to produce each and all, but from the side of the effects, infinitely many of which are incompossible with one another.19

When all is said and done, Scotus concludes that perfect productive power can be shown to be infinite by unaided natural reason. But Scotus thinks there is more to perfect productive power than unaided natural reason can prove. He arrives at infinite productive power via cosmological reasoning, by positing a first efficient cause at the originating end of a series of dependently productive causes. But what is thus shown to be productive power to produce whatever is externally producible, is not thereby proved to be power to produce any and all of them immediately, but rather immediately or mediately, via the cooperation of others. Theologians go further to insist that perfect productive power is power to produce whatever is externally producible immediately, without the cooperation of any other efficient cause.20 If perfect productive power acted by natural necessity–as Avicenna assumes–and were omnipotent in the theologian’s sense, then it would act to the limit of its power to produce whatever is externally producible immediately. Nothing else in the universe would get to exercise any productive power. For his part, Scotus insists that perfect productive power is omnipotent in the theologians’ sense. Dependently productive causes are also at work, because perfect productive power acts voluntarily and contingently in producing what is externally producible. In producing what is externally producible, omnipotence definitely does not act to the limit of its power. 21

II. Perfect Productive Power Ad Intra:

Scotus’ cosmological reasoning moves from the assertion that some nature is essentially externally producible and dependently productive to the conclusion that some nature is essentially independently productive and not externally producible. Scotus takes himself to have demonstrated that perfect productive power is necessarily actual, that it is the most excellent of natures, that it is the end to which all products are ultimately ordered as well as the power that orders them to that end. Moreover, Scotus contends, not only that perfect productive power is found in only one nature, but also that the nature is of itself numerically unmultipliable. It can be demonstrated not only that perfect productive power is infinite being, but also that the nature is essentially numerically one–in Scotus’ language, “of itself this.”22

By contrast, Scotus takes it on ecclesial authority (some otherwise unidentifiable Canturbury articles) that Trinity cannot be demonstrated by evident inferences grounded in uniformly evident premisses.23 Unaided natural reason could not persuade Avicenna and Averroes that God is three in One, because arguments advanced for the conclusion inevitably rest on contentious philosophical assertions. Where the Trinity is concerned, the theologian’s task is not so much proof as philosophical formulation, analysis, explanation, and systematic coherence. Nevertheless, arguments are the venue through which, perfect productive power is the rubric under which, Scotus articulates his understanding of these doctrinal claims.24

2.1. A General Argument for Production Ad Intra: In centering his account on perfect productive power, Scotus takes his cue from Bonaventure.25 Where the cosmological argument asks whether natures are externally productive or externally producible, Scotus now tries to motivate the conclusion that perfect productive power is internally productive as well. Taking a page from Avicenna, Scotus maintains that perfect productive power would produce a perfect product. Since necessary being is more perfect than contingent being, necessity would be a good-making feature in a product. Taking another page from Avicenna, Scotus concludes that perfect productive power would necessarily produce a perfect product. But a perfect product would be one that was adequate to the power. Departing from Avicenna and turning to Bonaventure, Scotus maintains that only an intensively infinite effect would be adequate to infinite productive power.26 So perfect productive power would necessarily produce a product that is both necessary and infinite. But no creature is either necessary or infinite. So the perfect production of perfect productive power would have to be production ad intra.

How can this be possible? Nothing produces itself.27 Products are really distinct from their producers. But perfect productive power is a nature that is of itself numerically unmultipliable,28 and that nature is the one and only one infinite being. Moreover, it is metaphysically impossible for that nature to be a product, because it is essentially not externally producible. How could the product be necessary and infinite and yet really distinct from its producer?

Following Bonaventure29, Scotus’ answer is that natures themselves do not act; rather it is the substance individuals or supposits that exist through the natures that act. Humanity does not drink the hemlock. Not even this humanity does. Rather it is Socrates, the individual who exists and functions through this human nature, who drinks the hemlock. What the cosmological argument ultimately establishes is not the existence of an independently productive and not externally producible nature, but rather the existence of at least one supposit of that nature that acts as first efficient cause of everything else. Likewise, it is not natures, but rather supposits of natures that are produced. If perfect productive power necessarily produces a perfect product, it must be that one supposit acts through that nature to produce another supposit of that very same nature. The product supposit is not only of the same kind (the way Beulah the cow shares the common nature of bovinity with her parents Elsie and Ferdinand), it shares numerically the same nature with its producer.30

Thus, Scotus’ view is that the pre-eminent nature itself is neither externally nor internally producible. Supposits of the pre-eminent nature are essentially not externally producible (i.e., not producible by supposits of other natures). But some supposit of the pre-eminent nature not only is but must be internally producible (i.e., producible and produced by a supposit of numerically the same nature) and some internally productive (i.e., productive and producing a supposit of numerically the same nature), because perfect productive power necessarily produces a perfect product.

2.2. The Internal Productivity of Intellect and Will: Scotus brings these intuitions to bear on the conclusion derived from his cosmological argument: that perfect productive power essentially includes both intellect and will-power. Once again, Scotus insists that there are two fundamentally different ways in which powers operate: natural and voluntary. Intellect is natural, while will-power is voluntary. So perfect productive power is power to act in each and both of these ways. We have already seen how in creatures, it is one thing to have power to understand and power to will; another, actually to exercise those powers. We have already noted how intellect and will are functional powers insofar as acts of understanding and will remain within and perfect the powers’ possessor. But in creatures intellect and will are also productive causes, because acts of understanding and will are really distinct from intellect and will-power and intellect and will-power are efficient causes in the production of those acts.31

Scotus now forwards the thesis that if F-ness is a formal productive principle in something in which it exists, then it is a formal productive principle by nature and so a formal productive principle in anything and everything in which it exists without imperfection.32 Scotus infers that since intellect and will are productive principles in creatures, infinite intellect and infinite will are also formal productive principles in the Godhead. The tag ‘perfect productive power necessarily acts to produce a perfect product’ gets applied to yield the conclusion that some supposit of perfect productive power produces an act of understanding adequate to infinite intellect and some supposit (or supposits) of perfect productive power produce an act of willing adequate to infinite will-power. But the only act of understanding adequate to infinite intellect would be an intensively infinite act of understanding infinite being (= the Divine essence); the only act of will adequate to infinite will-power is an intensively infinite act of loving infinite being (= the Divine essence). So there is at least one producer-supposit, and at least two productsupposits of the Divine essence.33

Scotus considers an objection. Intellect and will are productive in creatures, only because creatures are not always actually understanding and willing. Intellect and will-power are really identical with the soul, but acts of understanding and willing are accidents really distinct from the soul (and/or from intellect and will-power) which is the subject in potentality to receive them. By contrast, Scotus’ own cosmological argument claims to prove that the Divine act of understanding and willing is eternal and really the same as the Divine essence. Why not conclude that intellect and will-power are only functional powers in God, and that they are also productive in creatures only because of creaturely imperfections?34

Scotus replies by distinguishing between the soul’s (angel’s) passive power to receive an act of understanding (willing) and the intellect’s (will’s) productive power. Passive power is an imperfection but productive power is a pure perfection which does not find its reason for being in any imperfection. In conceiving of the Divine intellect and will, Scotus’ rule is to discard the imperfections that accompany intellect and will in creatures and to map up the perfections. Productivity in the created intellect and will alert us to productivity in the Divine intellect and will. Put otherwise, they remind us that intellect and will are dimensions of perfect productive power.35

2.3. Necessary Will-Production? Scotus considers a further objection. Intellect is a natural power. If the cognitive power and its object exist necessarily, and the object is necessarily present to the power, it is not surprising if the power acts necessarily to produce a necessary product. But Scotus has insisted that will-power is power of a fundamentally different kind, a self-determining power for opposites that can act contingently to produce its effects. How can will-power in the Divine essence fund necessary action to produce an infinite act of love for infinite being?

Scotus’ answer does not so much explain as rehearse the assumptions that drive his conclusion. Will-power is a pure perfection in an agent. Necessity is a perfection in a production.36 Power to produce a perfect product through a perfect production is a perfection in the producer. Perfect productive will-power will therefore act necessarily to produce a perfect will-act. Since all pure perfections are compatible, will-power and necessary production must be compatible, too.37

For Scotus, reflection on infinite will-power reveals something unexpected about the nature of will-power. Finite will-power is a self-determining power for opposite acts and opposite objects without succession. In Scotus’ estimation, finite will-power is power for contingent action and does not act necessarily with respect to any object. Mapping up the pure perfection, we maximize the good-making features and drop the defects. Evidently, restriction to contingent action is one of those limitations that pertains to will-power in creatures. Infinite will-power includes power to act contingently with respect to finite objects but necessarily with respect to infinite being. If you demand to know how perfect willpower can include both, Scotus replies that it is the nature of will-power to do so. Scotus repeats Aristotle’s uncharitable dodge: only foolish questioners fail to recognize where explanations come to an end!38

2.4. Essential versus Notional Acts: In creatures, there is no distinction between functional acts and produced acts of intellect and will. But there is in the Godhead. There are the functional or–what Scotus calls–the essential acts of understanding and loving the Divine essence. Essential acts of understanding and willing are really the same as the Divine essence. Essential acts perfect each Divine person the way the exercise of functional powers always perfects their subject. But the produced or– what Scotus calls–notional acts of understanding and willing reach beyond the producer-supposit: they do not perfect the producer-supposit, but express the perfect productive power of the producer-supposit in the product-supposit. Nevertheless, Scotus insists, the essential acts do not cause notional acts; rather they are related as prior and posterior effects of the same productive principle.39

Scotus takes it to be a primitive truth about the Divine essence that there is one and only one absolutely unproducible40–producible neither externally by something of another nature nor internally by a supposit or supposits of numerically the same nature–producer-supposit, and that intellectual production is prior to will-production.41 Following tradition, Scotus identifies the absolutely unproducible producer as the Father; the notional act of intellect with the Son; and the notional will-act with the Holy Spirit. Likewise, he labels the production of the intellectual notional act “generation” and the production of the notional act of will “spiration.” Scotus attempts to clarify relations between essential and notional acts, by laying out the following table of natural priorities and posteriorities:

n1: the Divine essence exists per se and includes the formal productive principles of generation (=Divine intellect + immanently present object) and spiration (= Divine will-power)

n2: the Father exists and possesses the formal productive principles of generation (= Divine intellect) and spiration (= Divine will) the Father understands and loves the Divine essence by an essential act and is made happy thereby;

n3: the Father begets the Son (produces a notional act of understanding whose object is the Divine essence); the Son possesses the Divine essence and Its formal productive principles; Father and Son understand and love the Divine essence by an essential act and are thereby made happy;

n4: Father and Son spirate the Holy Spirit (produce a notional love-act whose object is the Divine essence).42

Note: the Divine essence includes the formal productive principles for producing the Son and the Holy Spirit at n2, but the Divine essence does not produce them at n2, because the Divine essence is not a supposit and only supposits act. Because producers are prior to their products, the Father exists and possesses the formal productive principles of generation at n2, but the Son (= the product) does not exist until n3. Likewise, Father and Son possess the formal productive principles of spiration at n3, while the Holy Spirit does not exist until n4. Moreover, like essential acts notional acts (= the produced supposits) are really the same as the Divine essence but unlike essential acts notional acts are really distinct from the producer and from each other.43

     Scotus recognizes that all three Divine persons share numerically the same Divine essence, and so share any and all of the formal productive principles it contains. Scotus finds it important to distinguish between possessing power and having the opportunity to exercise it. The Son does possess generative power, and the Holy Spirit possesses spirative power. But it is metaphysically impossible for the Son to beget anything and metaphysically impossible for the the Holy Spirit to spirate anything, because each formal productive principle has one and only one adequate product: intellect, the Son; and will, the Holy Spirit. Because nothing can produce itself, because producers are prior to their products, each of the Son and Holy Spirit is on the scene “too late” ever to exercise generative power and spirative power, respectively.

III. Perfect Productive Power and the Ends of Creation:

3.1. The Dictates of Right Reason: Perfect productive power is the first efficient cause that ultimately orders all other things to an end as well as the first final cause that is the end to which all other things are ultimately ordered. Just as it pertains to natures of themselves that they are (or are not) externally producible and dependently productive, so it pertains to natures of themselves that they are suitably orderable to ends of another nature or suitably orderable as an end of things of another kind. Scotus locates the criterion of suitability in the dictates of right reason. What right reason looks to in matching means to ends and prioritizing one end over another is natural excellence.

Perfect productive power includes infinite intellect that distinctly conceives of all producibles and infallibly knows all true propositions. Perfect productive power includes will-power, will-power of the most perfect possible kind. When it comes to will-power, Scotus maintains that justice and the affection for justice (affectio iustitiae) are pure perfections. But the affection for justice is an appetite to follow what right reason dictates. Scotus infers, an infinite will is always right.44 Right reason issues what Scotus takes to be a self-evident dictate: that infinite being (= infinite good = the Divine essence) is to be loved above all and for its own sake.45 Divine persons necessarily love the Divine essence above all and for its own sake by an essential act. Likewise, the Father and the Son necessarily activate infinite will-power to produce a notional act of loving the Divine essence above all and for its own sake. Both the functional and the productive acts of infinite will in loving an infinite object, are necessary and necessarily right.46

What else would right reason dictate? Back in the late fifth or early sixth century, Pseudo- Dionysius forwarded the suggestive thesis that Goodness is by nature self-diffusive, that it naturally shares itself out up to the full capacity of the receiver to receive. Neo-Platonists deployed this principle to represent the universe as a hierarchy of necessary emanations resulting in a Great Chain of Being and Goodness in which Goodness necessarily spills Itself out into a series of containers of ever-decreasing size, with each level conferring on the next lower level as much goodness as it can receive. Bonaventure held to the contingency of creation but reapplied Pseudo-Dionysius’ principle: Goodness does necessarily diffuse itself maximally, not in creation, but in the necessary emanation of Divine persons.47 By contrast, twelfth century theologians saw Goodness sharing itself out by conferring on contingent creation the highest good it is able to receive: viz., hypostatic union with a Divine person! Self-diffusing Goodness would become Incarnate whether or not Adam sinned!48 Scotus does not appeal to Pseudo- Dionysius in any of these contexts, but he does count generosity and liberality among the considerations that perfect productive power weighs in deciding what to create and how to organize it.

In expounding the doctrine of the Trinity, Richard of St. Victor49 draws on a different paradigm, that of Ciceronian friendship. Benevolence and charity drive a lover to share with the beloved as much of his/her substance as possible. Benevolence and charity urge lovers to produce a common love object to whom they can jointly give as much as they can. Scotus rejects this strategy for explaining the Trinity, because it accounts for both internal Divine productions in terms of acts of love. Scotus insists, on the contrary, that the only way to secure two distinct internal productions is by recognizing intellect and will as fundamentally distinct kinds of production, each of which necessarily produces its own adequate act.50 Scotus does, however, see friendship as a factor in the creative aims of perfect productive power.

3.2. Creative Policies: Scotus’ own view is that right reason under-determines Divine policies in creation, because creatable natures are only finite goods. Finite goodness furnishes God with a reason to love it, but it is always a defeasible reason. There are also reasons not to love finite goods enough to create them, or not to love them enough to create them instead of creating something else. Creatable natural excellence is motivating, but not compelling.51 Perfect productive power takes it into consideration, because the infinite will is always right. Perfect productive power is the most organized of lovers. But Divine priorities do not merely reproduce the excellence hierarchy, because perfect productive power is free in relation to creation. If perfect productive power always loved creatables in proportion to their natural excellence and always treated like cases alike, it would look as if God acted by natural necessity in creation, as if God necessarily loves things in proportion to the excellence of their natures. Scotus concludes that in forging creative policies, perfect productive power strikes a balance between advertising contingency and respecting excellence.52

In Scotus’ estimation, the key to God’s reasons for creating anything at all are to be found neither in Pseudo-Dionysius nor in Cicero, but in Augustine’s conception of friendship love (amor amicitiae). Not only does friendship-love love the beloved for his/her own sake. Friendship love is not jealous, but desires that the beloved should be loved by others as well.53 Each Divine person friendship-loves the Divine essence immeasurably and without jealousy. Each Divine person is happy for the Divine essence also to be loved by the other two. God’s principal reason for creating anything at all is the contingent but congruent desire for more co-lovers. Since there cannot be more than three Divine persons, the desire for more than three lovers is a desire for created co-lovers, pre-eminently the desire for some creature to love the Divine essence as perfectly as it is possible for a creature to do. To fill this role, perfect productive power elects the soul of Christ rather than an angel, to show that–where finite goods are concerned–God does not have to love greater natural excellence more. But perfect productive power fits the soul of Christ for this role by willing its hypostatic union with God the Son, so that an angel will not have to be subordinate to a merely human being.54 Perfect productive power also wills for the soul of Christ graces and virtues that both enable its knowledge and love-acts and make them acceptable to God.

Christ has two natures.55 In His Divine nature, Christ joins the Father and the Holy Spirit in willing created co-lovers. But God the Son is hypostatically united to the human soul of Christ, so that some created will can love Godhead as perfectly as any creature can. The soul of Christ is thus destined to have friendship-love for the Divine essence, and so to love It without jealousy. The soul of Christ will be glad that the Divine essence is also loved by the Divine persons. But human non-jealous love of the most perfect type would also express itself in a desire not to be the only creature, not even the only human being, that friendship-loves the Divine essence. The Trinity that created and elected the soul of Christ to be the most perfect of created co-lovers, would anticipate and support its non-jealous love by desiring more created co-lovers as well.

Because the infinite will is always right,56 because the Trinity is the most well-organized of lovers, the Trinity could not be true to itself in desiring a mob of created co-lovers any more than it could be in willing into existence a mere heap of things. Just as the universe must be ordered by relations of essential dependence and excellence, so rational creatures loving God above all and for God’s own sake must be organized into a body politic. Just as creation must be unified by being ordered to one source and end, so the community of co-lovers is suitably organized monarchically, with Christ as head. Perfect productive power fits those co-lovers for their destiny by willing for them suitable complements of grace and virtues.

Moreover, because human souls as parts of hylomorphic composites are metaphysical fragments, right reason recommends, and perfect productive power sees fit to provide for their metaphysical completion. Because human beings are rational animals, perfect productive power wills to create the material world, so that human souls can lead a natural and embodied human life. Already Aristotle taught that the material world is made for the sake of humankind. What Aristotle did not foresee is that the whole of creation exists for Christ’s sake, twiceover: because Christ is God, and everything else exists for God’s sake; and because Christ’s is the human soul that Godhead destined to friendship-love the Divine essence as much as any creature can. Other co-lovers and what it takes to enable them, exist to satisfy Christ’s Divine and human desires.57

This scenario–which Scotus provisionally embraces (sine praeiudicio)–has a startling consequence: that perfect productive power acts out of liberality and friendship-love for the Divine essence to purpose Incarnation and indeed to predestine the entire community of co-lovers to grace and glory, prior in the order of explanation to any consideration of sin. Surely, Incarnation is the most remarkable of God’s moves in creation. Surely, it would be contrary to right reason for the best thing that God did for creation, most especially for the human race, to find its motivation in the worst that creatures have done. The notion that Incarnation is motivated by Divine desire for created co-lovers provides an alternative rationale for the twelfth century speculation that God would have become Incarnate anyway, even apart from Adam’s fall!58

Scotus’ scenario also stipulates that perfect productive power predestines the elect prior in the order of explanation to Divine permission of human free choice and its exercise. This means that perfect productive power does not take foreseen (or middle-known) moral track-records into account in predestination. In considering Peter and Judas, Scotus makes clear, the Trinity regards two that are exactly alike in human nature. That perfect productive power is maximally well-organized, would suggest waste-avoidance and tell in favor of universalism. Wouldn’t right reason counsel Divine creation only of those humans and angels the Trinity elects to grace and glory? Wouldn’t right reason dictate Divine predestination of any and all of the humans and angels the Trinity chooses to create?59

For Scotus, balancing considerations explain why this did not happen. Treating like cases alike would advertize perfect productive power as an agent that acts by natural necessity to respond the same way to all situations of like value. Generosity is already shown in the Divine decision to include some human souls and angels in the Trinitarian friendship circle. Divine freedom is reasserted when God elects Peter to grace and glory and simply omits to elect Judas. Hosts have no obligation to invite everyone to their dinner parties. To be sure, omission makes permanent exclusion inevitable.60 Nevertheless, Scotus insists, perfect productive power is not cruel, because God is not a punisher before creatures are sinners. Right reason dictates that Divine damnation of Judas come later in the order of explanation and be based on Judas’ lamentable but freely chosen career.61

For Scotus, it is not the Incarnation but the passion of Christ that depends on Adam’s fall. Posterior in the order of explanation to predestination, perfect productive power permits rational creatures to exercise their free will, and perfect productive power sees Adam’s fall and human sin. The Trinity eternally agree to accept Christ’s suffering and death as the meritorious cause of saving grace for sinners. Not that the passion of the God-man was metaphysically necessary to solve the sin-problem! Pace Anselm, Scotus denies that Divine Justice is bound to demand something of infinite intrinsic worth by way of compensation, for the simple reason that such compensation is metaphysically impossible. Nothing that a creature could be or do is intrinsically of infinite worth. The doings and sufferings involved in Christ’s passion occur in His human nature, which is just as finite as any other human nature is. The Trinity had many options for dealing with the problem of sin in the elect. Why, then, choose the suffering and death of Christ, the best beloved? Wouldn’t right reason tell against it? On the contrary, Christ’s self-offering expresses the steadfastness (firmitas) of His non-jealous love for the Divine essence, of His human desire not to be the only human co-lover of the Divine essence.62

3.3. The Great Chain of Sanctification: Christ’s passion opens heaven’s doors by meriting saving grace for the elect. But Scripture and tradition reveal, reason and experience suggest: God does not give grace to the elect in equal measure. Instead, Trinitarian grace-distribution among Adam’s descendants results in an excellence hierarchy, a great chain of sanctification in which some individuals anticipate our post-mortem destiny more than others. Where Christology and Mariology are concerned, Scotus’ methodological maxim is “better to praise too much rather than to little.” The correlative hypothesis is that perfect productive power would perfect the human natures of Christ and Mary as much as possible, compatible with the Trinity’s agreed soteriological plans.

The human soul of Christ comes tops. Besides the grace of hypostatic union, Christ receives maximal infused grace and the gift of impeccability–freedom from original sin and perpetual freedom from actual sin–from the first moment of foetal animation. Christ’s human nature receives as much perfection as human nature can possibly hold and still suffer and die on the cross. The last qualification means that, not only in His Divine but also in His human nature, Christ wills to take on mortality and passible flesh to make His passion and death possible.

Then-current theological consensus63 had it that Mary, along with Jeremiah and John the Baptist, were cleansed from original sin in the womb. But Bernard of Clairvaux and others had argued that only sinners need a savior. If Mary did not begin her intra-uterine existence in original sin, she would not need a savior–which would detract from Christ’s excellence as Mediator between God and humankind. Bonaventure countered with a distinction: there is a difference between always having a trait (in this case, freedom from original sin) and having that trait independently.64 Mary could be free from original and actual sin from foetal animation onwards, and still owe this to Christ’s saving work. All agree: Christ the Savior is to be praised when He reverses our condition from offending and offensive to acceptable and accepted by God. Scotus joins other Franciscans in contending that if reversal is excellent, prevention would be even more impressive. Maximal excellence would be shown in maximal mediation.65 Christ’s performance as savior would be more to be praised, if He prevented the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary from ever contracting original sin and so from ever being offensive in the first place. Controversy keeps Scotus from giving this conclusion his unqualified support, but he does insist that it is not incompatible with Scripture and tradition.66

When it comes to approximating the state into which the elect will be redeemed, Marian privilege places her below Christ but above the rest of humanity. She is sinless, but not impeccable. If Christ voluntarily assumes a mortal and passible human nature the better to accomplish His saving work, Mary’s mortality and vulnerability is not something she chooses, although her suffering and death are invariably occasions for earning merit.67 Traditional exegesis places John the Baptist a little lower, contracting original sin at the moment of foetal animation but freed from it before birth. Throughout his life, the Baptist is kept from mortal sin and cleansed from habits inclining him to venial sin. Slightly lower, the prophet Jeremiah begins in original sin but is cleansed in the womb and prevented from mortal but not all venial sin throughout his life. At the next level come the great penitents like Mary Magdalene and Francis, who were born in original sin and committed actual sins, in Mary Magdalene’s case even mortal sins, but repented and crucified the flesh with all of its desires. Lower down are hoi polloi struggling against sinful tendencies towards various degrees of virtue.

Once again, unequal grace distribution to members of Adam’s fallen race demonstrates the freedom of perfect productive power. Further inequalities result in part from the response of created free choice. Overall, the great chain of sanctification is not meant to stir resentment in the lower-downs, but to confirm Divine intentions to raise the elect up to their future destiny, not only by show-casing the distant goal (e.g., the human souls of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary) or the shining achievements of heroic discipleship (e.g., Mary Magdalene or St. Francis), but by illustrating more proximate levels that are within an ordinary person’s reach. For their part, real saints will not look down with contempt, but seize the opportunity to demonstrate their non-jealous friendship-love for the Divine essence by advocating for those still struggling on life’s way.

Concluding Coda:

Historical theology is a way of doing theology. Exploring the many and various ways faith has sought understanding, enables us to learn from their discoveries, to avoid their mistakes, and to use more intelligence in our own inquiries into who and what God is.

Full of technicalities as Scotus’ program is and needs to be, it illustrates how wrong it is to dismiss first-cause theology or to protest with Pascal that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the God of the philosophers cannot be the same. Cosmological reasoning does not yield sterile abstractions, because what sort of explainer is called for is a function of what has to be explained. There is method in Scotus’ madness. Scotus begins with production, with his inference from what is externally producible and dependently productive to what is independently productive and not externally producible. Then, having introduced us to perfect productive power, Scotus becomes more specific: what needs to be explained here below includes contingency and teleology. Freedom and purpose require an ultimate explainer that functions by intellect and will. It is the fact that perfect productive power is intelligent voluntary agency that makes it easiest to prove its infinity. But the infinity of intellect and will is what enables Scotus to argue that–because each power is internally productive of an infinite adequate object– God is a Trinity.

Right reason bases itself on natural excellence. Perfect voluntary agency can’t help following what right reason self-evidently dictates: that the Divine essence is to be loved above all and for its own sake. But the “size-gap” between infinite Godhead and finite creatables means that right reason does not require the Trinity to be externally productive. What motivates the Trinity to create is not the intrinsic worth of finite creatable natures but non-jealous love of the infinite Divine essence, non-jealous love issuing in a desire for created co-lovers. For Scotus, the remaining surprises–of Incarnation-anyway, of the God-man’s passion and death, of the election of some but not others, of the immaculate animation of the Blessed Virgin Mary–result from a Divine balancing act that teeter-toters between respecting natural excellence and manifesting Divine freedom and sovereignty over it all. In Scotus’ philosophical theology, perfect productive power is no sterile abstraction, but systematically fruitful. It is remarkable how much he gets out of it. Deo gratias!


1Note: the Opera Omnia of Scotus are found in two editions: the 1639 Lyons edition by Lucas Wadding in twelve volumes (hereafter: Wadding, followed by the volume number and page number) and the as yet incomplete 1950-2008 Vatican edition under the direction of Carl Balic (hereafter: Vaticana followed by volume number and page number). Allan B. Wolter has also issued several volumes of Latin text with English translations, sometimes basing his text on independent consultation of manuscripts. Of these, I will refer to the following: Duns Scotus on Will and Morality (Washington D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1986) (hereafter Wolter Will and Morality followed by the page number); and his Christology question in Franciscan Christology, ed. Damian McElrath (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute Publications, 1980) (hereafter McElrath followed by the page numbers). Wolter also collaborated with Oleg V. Bychov to issue Latin text and translation of a distinctive version of Scotus’ Paris lectures: The Examined Report of the Paris Lecture, Reportatio I-A (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 2004, 2008) (hereafter: Wolter and Bychov followed by the volume and page number). Scotus’ commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Sentences (now called his Lectura, Ordinatio in the Vatican edition and Opus Oxoniense in the Wadding edition, and Reportatio) are divided into books, distinctions, parts, questions, and number paragraphs as in the present reference: Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2 n.43; Vaticana II.151-152; De Primo Principio, c.3, nn.1-4; Wadding III.229-231; Reportatio I-A, d.1, p.1, q.1-3, n.12; Wolter- Bychkov I.118.

2Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, n.55; Vaticana II.161.

3Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.43-58; Vaticana II.151-165; De Primo Principio, c.3, nn.1-5; Wadding III.229-231; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.1, q.1-3, nn. 27-29; Wolter-Bychkov I.121- 122.

4Scotus, De Primo Principio, c.3, n.1; Wadding III.229; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.4, n.204; Wolter-Bychkov I.179-180.

5Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, n.53; Vaticana II.157-158; De Primo Principio, c.3, n.3; Wadding III.230; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.1, q.1-3, nn.15-23; Wolter-Bychkov I.119-20.

6Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, n.53; Vaticana II.158-9; Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, nn.224, 239; Vaticana II.262, 271-272; Ordinatio I, d.10, q.7, n.8; Vaticana IV.341; De Primo Principio, c.3, n.3; Wadding III.230; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.1, q.1-3, n.25; Wolter-Bychkov I.120-121; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.4, n.220; Wolter-Bychkov I.184.

7Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p2, q.1-4, n.387; Vaticana II.348-349; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.1, q.1-3, n.11; Wolter-Bychkov I.117.

8Scotus, Ordinatio I,d.2,p.1,qq.1-2, n.53; Vat II.158-159.

9Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.57-58; Vaticana II.163-165; De Primo Principio, c.3, nn.5-6; Wadding III.231.

10Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.64-66; Vaticana II.167-168; De Primo Principio, c.3, nn.9-10; Wadding III.233; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.1, q.1-3, n.30; Wolter-Bychkov I.123.

11Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.60-61, 68-69; Vaticana II.166, 168-169; De Primo Principio, c.2, nn.2-3, 11; Wadding III.215-216, 219; De Primo Principio, c.3, n.9; Wadding III.233.

12Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.42, q.u, nn.10-11; Vat VI.344-345.

13Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, n.121; Vaticana II.198-199.

14Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.79-88; Vaticna II.176-180.

15Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, n.77; Vaticana II.175-176.

16Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.76, 78; Vaticana II.175-176.

17Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.125-129; Vaticana II.201-205; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.1, q.1-3, n.69; Wolter-Bychkov I.135-136.

18Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.111-116; Vaticana II.189-192.

19Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, nn.117-118; Vaticana II.192-194; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.1, q.1-3, nn.63-68; Wolter-Bychkov I.133-135.

20Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.1, q.1-2, n.119; Vaticana II.194; cf. Reportatio IA, d.2, p.2, q.u, nn.100-102; Wolter-Bychkov I.145-146.

21Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.42, q.u, nn.8-15; Vat VI.342-346.

22Scotus, Reportatio IA, d.2, p.2, q.u, nn.92-98; Wolter-Bychkov I.142-144.

23Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, nn.242-243, 252; Vaticana II.274, 277.

24For a detailed examination of Scotus’ analysis of the Trinity, see Richard Cross, Duns Scotus on God (Hants, Aldershott: Ashgate, 2005), Part II, chs.9-18, 127-248. See also the fine study by J.T. Paasch, Divine Production in Late Medieval Trinitarian Theology: Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

25Note: Bonaventure’s Opera Omnia are edited in ten volumes by the friars of St. Bonaveture College: Opera Omnia (Florence: Quaracchi, 1882-1902) (hereafter: Quaracchi followed by the volume number followed by the page number). Bonaventure, Sent. I, d.2, a.un, q.2, arg.1; Quaracchi I.53; Quaestiones Disputatae de Mysterio Trinitatis, q.8; Quaracchi V.112-115.

26Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, n.239; Vaticana II.271-272; Ordinatio I, d.10, q.u, n.39; Vaticana IV.355-356.

27Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, n.202; Vaticana II.252; Ordinatio I, d.10, q.u, n.9; Vaticana IV.341-342; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.4, n.204; Wolter-Bychkov I.179-180.

28Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.5, p.2, q.u, n.113; Vaticana IV.67-68; Ordinatio II, d.3, p.1, q.1, n.39; Vaticana VII.408; Ordinatio II, d.3, p.1, q.6, n.158; Vaticana VII.469.

29Bonaventure, De Mysterio Trinitatis, q.2, a.2; Quaracchi V.65-67; cf. Sent. I, d.9, q.2; Quaracchi I.182-183; Sent. I, d.19, p.2, a.u, q.2; Quaracchi I.358-359; Sent. I, d.34, p.1, q.1; Quaracchi I.188.

30Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.2, n.367; Vaticana II.339-340; Ordinatio I, d.10, q.u, n.9; Vaticana IV.341-342; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.4, n.214; Wolter-Bychkov I.102; Reportatio IA, d.5, p.1, q.1, nn.12-21; Wolter-Bychkov I.262-264.

31Scotus, Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.2, nn.166-168; Wolter-Bychkov I.166-167; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.4, n.202; Wolter-Bychkov I.179.

32Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, n.221; Vaticana II.259.

33Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, n.302; Vaticana II.307-309; Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.2, nn.355-358; Vaticana II.336-337; Ordinatio I, d.10, q.u, n.3; Vaticana IV.341.

34Scotus, Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.1, n.128; Wolter-Bychkov I.153; Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.1, n.174; Wolter-Bychkov I.169.

35Scotus, Reportatio IA, d.2, p.3, q.1, nn.130-131; Wolter-Bychkov II.154-155.

36Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, n.239; Vaticana II.271-272; Ordinatio I, d.10, q.u, nn.39, 56-58; Vaticana IV.355-356, 363.

37Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.10, q.u, nn.56-58; Vaticana IV.363; Reportatio IA, d.10, q.2, nn.39-44; Wolter-Bychkov I.398-399.

38Scotus, Reportatio IA, d.10, q.3, nn.51-54; Wolter-Bychkov I.402-404.

39Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, nn.324, 326; Vaticana II.320-321.

40Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.2, n.370; Vaticana II.341.

41Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.11, q.1-2, nn.13-18; Vaticana V.4-7.

42Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.6, q.7, nn.11-21; Vaticana IV.92-99; Ordinatio I, d.11, q.1-2, n.18; Vaticana V.6.

43Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.2, p.2, q.1-4, n.311; Vaticana II.314.

44Scotus, Reportatio IA, d.2, p.2, q.u, n.95; Wolter-Bychkov I.143. Allan B. Wolter emphasizes how Scotus’ characterization of the Divine will starts with the human will, abstracts from the imperfections, and maps up the perfections. See Wolter, “The Native Freedom of the Will as a Key to the Ethics of Scotus,” in The Philosophical Theology of John Duns Scotus, ed. by Marilyn McCord Adams (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1990), ch.7, 148-162, and “The Unshredded Scotus: A Response to Thomas Williams,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 77, no.3, 315-356.

45Scotus, Ordinatio III, suppl. d.37; in Allan B. Wolter, Duns Scotus on Will and Morality (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1986), 276, 282.

46Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.10, q.u, nn.48, 56-58; Vaticana IV.359, 363.

47Bonaventure, Itinerarium Mentis in Deum,; Quaracchi V.310-312.

48These positions are rehearsed by Robert Grosseteste and Bonaventure, neither of whom endorses the position: Grosseteste, De cessatione legalium, ed. by Richard Dales and Edward B.

King (London: Oxford for the British Academy, 1986), Part III, secs. I.1-II.4, 119-135; Bonaventure, Sent. III, d.1, a.2, q.2; Quaracchi III.20-26.

49Richard of St. Victor, De Trinitate, latin text and french translation by Gaston Salet SJ (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1959), Book III, 160-223.

50Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.6, q.u, nn.21, 30; Vaticana IV.99, 104; Ordinatio I, d.12, q.1, nn.37-41;

Wadding V.44-48.

51Scotus, Opus Oxoniense IV, d.46, q.1, nn.8-9; Wadding X.252.

52Scotus, Opus Oxoniense III, d.7, q.3, n.5; Wadding VII.1.204.

53Allan B. Wolter emphasized that–on Scotus’ understanding–friendship love is not only altruistic but non-jealous in his “Introduction” (1-23; esp. 18-19) and in “The Native Freedom of the Will as a Key to the Ethics of Scotus” (148-162; esp. 151), both reprinted in The Philosophical Theology of John Duns Scotus.

54Scotus, Opus Oxoniensis III, d.7, q.3, n.5; Wadding VII.204. See also Opus Oxoniense III, d.4, q.4, in Ioannis Duns Scoti Doctoris Mariani Theologiae Marianae Elementa, ed. Carolo Balic OFM (Sibenik, Jugoslavia, 1933), 14-15; Op. Par. III, d.7, q.4, 14-15; Rep. Barcin. III, d.2, q.3, 182-184.

55Scotus works out his metaphysics of the Incarnation in detail in Opus Oxoniense III, d.1, qq.1-5, and d.5, qq.1-2; Wadding VII.1.3-56, 122-132. For a detailed discussion of medieval treatments of this subject, see Richard Cross, The Metaphysics of the Incarnation: Thomas Aquinas to Duns Scotus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). See also my Christ and Horrors: The Coherence of Christology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), ch.5, 108-143.

56Scotus, Reportatio IA, d.2, p.2, q.u, n.5; Wolter-Bychkov I.143.

57Scotus, Ordinatio III (suppl.), d.32 (Assisi com.137, fol. 174ra-va), ed. and trans. Allan B. Wolter, in Franciscan Christology, ed. by Damian McElrath (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute Publications, 1980), 154-157.

58Scotus, Opus Oxoniense III, d.7, q.3, nn.3-4; Wadding VII.1.202; Opus Oxoniense IV, d.19, q.u, n.6; Wad VII.1.415.

59Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.41, q.u, nn.45-46; Vaticana VI.332-333; Opus Oxoniense III, d.7, q.3 (Balic, 5); Rep.Barcin. III, d.2, q.3 (Balic, 183).

60Scotus, Opus Oxoniense III, d.7, q.3, nn.3-4; Wadding VII.1.202; Opus Oxoniense IV, d.19, q.u, n.6; Wadding VII.1.415.

61Scotus, Ordinatio I, d.41, q.u, n.42; Vaticana VI.333.

62Scotus, Opus Oxoniense III, d.19, q.u, n.7; Wad VII.1.417.

63For an examination of medieval views from Anselm to Aureol, see my “The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: A Thought-Experiment in Medieval Philosophical Theology,” The Harvard Theological Review 103:2 (2010), 133-59.

64Bonaventure, Sent. III, d.3, p.1, a.1, q.2; Quaracchi III.67.

65Scotus, Opus Oxoniense III, d.3, q.1, nn.4-8; Wadding VII.1.192-193.

66Scotus, Opus Oxoniense III, d.3, q.1, n.9; Wadding VII.1.95.

67Scotus, Opus Oxoniense III, d.3, q.1, n.8; Wadding VII.1.93.