Providence and Causality in the Summa Halensis
William of Auvergne’s treatment of providence in his Deuniverso (1230s) selectively employed Avicenna, Aristotle, and the category of efficient causality to mark a distinction between divine foreknowledge and providence. William’s focus on efficiency and affirmation that natural agents work in the mode of servants follows Neoplatonic impulses to instrumentalize nature and thereby risks eviscerating any meaningful secondary causality. Considerations of providence at Paris in the1230s and 1240s engage with or react to William, with the Summa Halensis providing an interesting example. The Summa Halensis counters this risk by framing providence within the larger scope of divine knowledge and will, using reinterpreted versions of Aristotelian formal and final causality.The Summists avoid the danger of reducing providence to predictive knowledge or to a temporal awareness of temporal events by stressing the causality of the divine intellect and will. Further, the Sum-mists counter the danger of magnifying the causal efficacy of providence until God remains the sole agent of every effect by framing the causality of the divine intellect and will in terms of formal and final causality. By this approach, the Summa Halensis harmonizes providential causality with the integrity of secondary causality.
Barnes, Corey. “Providence and Causality in the Summa Halensis.” In The Summa Halensis: Doctrines and Debates, edited by Lydia Schumacher, 89-105. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 2020.
Walter De Gruyter
Alexander of Hales, John of La Rochelle, Early Franciscan, Summa Halensis