IS IT FOR CANONISTS, OR FOR THEOLOGIANS,TO DECIDE WHO IS A HERETIC? WILLIAM OF OCKHAM BOOK 1 CHAPTER 13
Student: RELATE the opposing assertion with its arguments.
Master: Others say that it pertains chiefly to theologians to know who should be considered pertinacious.
Their first reason is the following. It pertains chiefly to theologians to treat of those crimes that are directly committed against God because, since theology has God as its principal subject, it has the function to reflect on those crimes which are committed against him. The pertinacity of heretical wickedness, however, is committed directly against God. Therefore it pertains chiefly to theologians to investigate pertinacity.
The second reason is as follows. "The science of [each of two] contraries is the same", for "the same [straight edge] is the judge of itself and of the oblique" [Aristotle Metaphysics 1046 b7-12, De Anima 411 a5; see below, book 7, chapter 48]. Now faith and heretical wickedness are contraries. But it pertains chiefly to theologians to reflect on faith. Therefore it pertains to the same people to reflect on heretical wickedness, and, as a consequence, on pertinacity, without which heretical wickedness is not found.
The third reason is this. When a superior and an inferior science reflect on the same thing, knowledge of that thing pertains more chiefly to the superior science than to the inferior, because the superior knows through superior causes and prior principles. But both theology and the science of the jurists reflect on the pertinacity of heresy, and theology as superior science and the science of the canonists as inferior science; therefore it more chiefly pertains to theology to consider pertinacity. It seems that the major [premise] is certain; the minor is shown. For it is known, and they grant, that the science of the canonists reflects on pertinacity. But that theology reflects on the same subject is quite clear, since the Apostle teaches in Titus 3[:10] that a heretic should be avoided, and in the gospel Truth himself rebukes the pertinacity of the Jews who refuse to believe in Christ.
Student: In the whole of the gospels there is no mention found of pertinacity. So how do they say that Christ rebuked the pertinacity of the Jews in the gospel?
Master: They reply to this that although in the gospel no mention is made of this word "pertinacity" or of "pertinacious", yet Christ often spoke about what is signified [by them].
Master: At John 15[:22] where he says about the Jews, "If I had not come and had not spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin." Here Christ makes it clear that the Jews were pertinacious in their error because they refused to believe him. For that reason he adds below [v.24], "If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my father." He shows here that they are pertinacious because they refused to believe in his works. He indicates the evil and pertinacity of the Jews clearly when he reprimands the cities which refused to believe him, as we find in Matthew 11[:21-24].
WILLIAM OF OCKHAM, DIALOGUS
part 1, prologue and book 1
Text and translation by John Kilcullen and John Scott
as at december, 2003