A Long-Standing Tradition of Transdisciplinarity and the Usual Suspects

A Long-Standing Tradition of Transdisciplinarity and the Usual Suspects

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Hyper-specialisation is a rather recent problem of modern societies. In distinction from traditional philosophical approaches to reality, post-modern thinking has had to face the change in the academic and public world it is speaking about and talking with. While metaphysical approaches to reality from antiquity up to the 20th century contrived to maintain all reality to be essentially one, post-modern thinking gave up exactly this claim that had been the pride of metaphysics understood as first philosophy or scientia transcendens. Yet – aside from freeing itself from the traditional concept of transdisciplinarity – it appears to have been nothing but a resigned philosophical stoicism concerning the philosopher’s inability to cope with hyper-specialisation. Some are resolved to declare without any emotion: “anything goes!” – because nobody cares to ask them for direction anymore. However, we shall argue, that hyper-specialisation is not the original problem. It has been philosophy itself, which enabled the dissolution of traditional transdisciplinarity: by bringing about the explicit separation of thinking a world and knowing the world, the separation of philosophy and science has sunk philosophy into self-created oblivion.

Following the line of our own expertise we will tackle the problem in three great leaps: firstly starting from theology’s problem to state a link between heaven and earth in modern times, we will trace its roots philosophically and will then secondly pertain that the usual suspects are innocent: neither Kant nor Scotus have destroyed the classical unity of our world; thirdly we might be ready to appreciate the discovery of contingency that has taken place in medieval metaphysics as a way to gain a wider picture of our world that will invite to transdisciplinarity in scientific and educational efforts in spite of hyper-specialisation.

But before we follow the line of our own expertise we are – in an introduction – bound to distinguish our perspective of the problem from other possible angles that might be promising to lead to some understanding, too.

Specialisation in ‘knowing the world’ vs. ‘thinking a world’

Generally hyper-specialisation is considered to have been brought about by the evolution of techniques in different areas of research and in the effort to structure our everyday lives. However, this is only one part of the truth, since all specialised actions in this world are but a part of the life the acting person is living. In order to survive as a human being this person has to be able to regain a broader perspective “after work”. It does not suffice to be highly educated in just one area of public or personal interest. Specialisation in itself does not rule out transdisciplinary thinking, as every researcher, every technician always (in case he does not block out great parts of his human abilities) is a member of a society that (ideally) thrives to become a peaceful community in this world furthering the pursuit of happiness of all its inhabitants.

In addition to this argumentum ad hominem, there can hardly be named a positive reason why the possibility of Transdisciplinarity would have to be ruled out by the mere fact of specialisation. Transdisciplinarity as such, it seems, does not hinder specialisation in any way. This would be a week argument, receiving its force seemingly from the bare fact of non contradiction; there are lot of things, that do not contradict each other, just because the do not pertain to the same level of being: the rules of chess do not interfere with the flying of a bird. Yet you would suppose a transdisciplinary approach towards reality to have some connection with each of the disciplines. Actually, a deeper look at any of the sciences or techniques will lead to the following acknowledgement: all specialised areas of human action rely on certain fundamental principles that cannot be denied to be valid unless the acting person is ready to risk his mental sanity. The principle of identity might be the most obvious. An acting person has to be able to rely on the identity of the things and the people she is acting on and with, even though the possibility of change is likewise necessary. Yet it has to be the change of the same being in order to be comprehensible, i.e. to be a possible object not only of action but of intentions also on the side of the acting subject. Transdisciplinarity’s goal should be to reveal the clandestine, often unacknowledged plausibility behind human action, however specialised it might be. In this respect Transdisciplinarity is what everybody – however specialised his field of action might be – implies in everything he does.

An objection to this argumentum ad hominem might come as a little story that is making its way through German Universities. It illustrates the fact that transdisciplinarity is threatened by hyper-specialisation, even though there might be transcendental implications to be acknowledged in every human act. You might already have heard what the say about that famous German professor of mathematics who returned to his daughter a copy of her dissertation regretting he would not have the time to acquire enough expertise on her subject to be able to read it. The problem was this: he was an expert of topology, his daughter also; yet she had chosen a branch of this sub-subject of mathematics that was so much a sub-sub-subject that he could not relate to its specifics by applying the knowledge of his sub-sub-subject anymore. This might be considered as an example for the unhappy effect of hyper-specialisation where transdisciplinarity is merely required within the same sub-subject and should be a matter of filial love: apparently it hinders communication of ideas even in a family of mathematicians. Does it really? Is this family necessarily unable to communicate about the discoveries of their members or are there ways to cope with this hyper-specialisation of mathematics?

There have been peer reviews of this dissertation – if not, this would be the end of science itself. Can we not trust peers to check errors of their fellow scientists, by following it step by step and controlling the results. The father could avoid the hard way of finding out about his daughters work by trusting his peers and applying his ability to talk about special problems from a more general perspective. His daughter can still get her ideas over the net without diving into a depth of details that would involve months of analytical thinking and evolving insight. Most probably the remark of the father could be taken in a different light: “tell me, my dear, because I do not have the time anymore to find out about it on my own.” Time is the problem, not specialisation. But shortness of time can be overcome by communication, can it not?

Hyper-specialisation even in a tiny fraction of mathematics is evident in this example, but it does not hinder transdisciplinarity as long as we have the possibility to generalise problems in a way that can attract the interest of another discipline. Thus – at first sight – we need a twofold trust to cope with hyper-specialisation: we must trust the experts and this trust involves the conviction that there is always the possibility to communicate something in more general terms. The latter is a question of communication that should be discussed in the philosophy of language, whereas trust in the experts involves a scientific culture that is founded on honesty. Thus we need reflection on the grammar and the ethics of transdisciplinary efforts. If (instead of researchers in purely theoretical fields of knowledge) experienced scientists or technicians who are extremely specialised in knowing the world engage in transdisciplinary efforts they also have to share the trust that there is something reliable to be experienced. Is this trust rational? Could we trust the expert, were we not convinced that the world he has been exploring behaves in a trustworthy way? Is this possible without believing that creation is trustworthy because its creator is? At the least, we can go this far: thinking about the possibility of transdisciplinary efforts implies thinking a world, i.e. a reflection not only on the way the world functions but a theory on what the world really is and what it means.

Grammar and ethics are implied in any transdisciplinary endeavour because it is always a person that draws connections between different disciplines, states some combined knowledge as relevant to man’s understanding of himself, concludes that something is to be regarded as ethical or not. Nevertheless, Transdisciplinarity involves more than grammar and ethics: in formulating the basic assertion behind all specialised human acts Transdisciplinarity reaches at the reason of everything on which can be acted in the in the first place and it investigates the reason of the existence of the actor. Transdisciplinarity is the field on which a battle is fought about the transcendental requirements for the possibility of the connections drawn, the relevance stated and the ethical advise concluded. This kind of Transdisciplinarity is our subject matter here and our main thesis is this: in the long run the motivation for transdisciplinary efforts in knowing the world will be extinguished if there is not any convincing philosophical and religious approach to thinking a world.

Part I
A problem of theology: to link heaven and earth

Rudolf Bultmann has been probably the most famous German theologian of the 20th century. His work has been cited in various forms over and over again because it seemed to be the peak of modernity – finally reached in theology, too. Under his name Klaus Berger, another expert in the interpretation of the Bible, has coined a phrase that intends to summaries the crucial point of Bultmann’s approach. Instead of labouring to do justice to a very prolific writer’s authentic doctrine, let us focus on Berger’s ‘Bultmann-sentence’ for it is a very gripping formula in distinguishing two types of realities – the real and the merely imagined reality (myth). In these or similar words it has been the initial argument of many theological papers following its main idea in spite of its apparent lack of philosophical or theological argumentation. Berger has put it this way:

“I cannot at the same time use an electric switch and believe in the ascension of Christ.”1

American theology might be situated in a totally different set of categories. But you will hopefully believe this: A student studying German theology in the eighties of the last century, had to understand that this sentence was regarded to be an universal, undoubted and self-evident truth not to be questioned. As a beginner you would hear this sentence quoted often and never without wondering what kind of logic there might be hidden in it because it was not easy to make it out – you would be forced to accept it from your teachers like some revealed truth of religion of which the new apostles are “witnesses [..] and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”2 There is no polemical derision intended since Bultmann had not himself produced the spirit that had dictated the ‘Bultmann-sentence’ in accord with the hidden logic in it. He even knew people who denied its truth, but he warned them, that they could not possibly proclaim the gospel in our times without subscribing to the truth of his sentence. In the first decades of the 20th century Bultmann had only given a expression to the common sense logic of his time that was called “modern” back then. In the meantime things have changed and so did the common sense that was converted to “post-modern” logic.

Exactly for this reason the ‘Bultmann-sentence’ remains important. We pertain that if the hidden logic behind Bultmann’s assertion is not detected and dealt with properly, post-modern thinking is a necessary response to it. Then it is necessary to think of the world as a house with as many rooms as there are realities to be visited.3 How many rooms you will be speaking of depends on your own experience and your knowledge of other approaches to reality. Some will think of rooms for the experience of mysticism, values, art and precise sciences. Others might have noticed decisive differences between the sciences and call for a biology room where you might think and speak about live, next to physics and chemistry, but what you experience in one room does not necessarily correspond to anything going on in the other rooms of the house. In the entrance hall you might meet people who have frequented the physical or the theological rooms very often, they will appear to be (hyper-)specialised in something really interesting but unfortunately pertaining to a reality differing from your own. If you are a post-modern thinker with some love for consistency you might even think of as many rooms in the house as there are subjects to consider their own special way of experiencing their existence consistently; and if you are a post-modern thinker with no love for consistency at all you will speak of as many rooms of reality as there are moments in time held together by the momentous experience of somebody considering this stretch of ‘his’ existence as something worth considering although it is not regarded as being connected with earlier or later experiences to be made by the same body.

The post-modern response to the hidden logic behind the ‘Bultmann-sentence’ guarantees a right to be uttered to all utterances, even the theological one, but it will inevitably ensue the improbability of transdisciplinarity in scientific and educational efforts; this improbability may appear under the disguise of hyper-specialisation excusing us from further efforts of communication. Now, what does the ‘Bultmann-sentence’ mean, what is the hidden logic behind it and how could be avoided that it leads to post-modern thinking?

“I cannot at the same time use an electric switch and believe in the ascension of Christ.”

Remarkable, but very obvious is the effort to do away with a second reality commonly assumed to be necessary for faith in Christ. Why should it be true that a Christian cannot at the same time make use of the amenities of modern life and hold on to those historical events and facts of revelation which traditionally where thought to be the backbone of Christian faith? Why would one reality (the divine reality acting in this world) have to disappear? The ‘Bultmann-sentence’ expresses not only a methodical atheism, but a metaphysical one: there is no “meta” above, apart, within or in relation to the “physical”. This world is all there is in reality, you cannot believe in anything else becoming physically real in it. However, we can distinguish function and meaning. Real, physically existing things have a determined way of functioning, whereas meaning would be a characteristic, which somebody might believe to exist for him, too. If you want to be a believer, a Christian in the only possible modern way, you have to resort to the meaning, which is ascribed to your life in this world by faith, whereas the functioning of the world is a reality of its own.

But – you may ask – why is the existence and the action of the divine reduced to being a state of the Christian mind instead of remaining a fact of divine life taking place in this world?

Well this exactly is the crucial point that can only be understood by detecting the hidden logic behind it. We cannot understand the reason for this mental reducing policy without a look into the history of European philosophy. The examples of the electric switch and the ascension are carefully chosen. They already give an idea of the reason behind it. The reality of electricity – although being invisible – is accepted easily, because it can be made visible in its effects on a regular basis: the switch is a connection between the world and my own existence, a connection that is proven to be at work every time I turn the switch. The predictability of the change and the possibility to repeat the experiment are characteristic of a world that does not change without reason. “No change without reason” – this seems to be a reasonable assertion when the function of a machine is analysed. If a clock runs too fast there is a reason to be found and a part of the machine to be altered if you want it to run in accord with other clocks again. Thus a functional analysis of our world is necessary to take advantage of its mechanisms. Knowing the world is a necessary condition of modern techniques of survival. However, the rule “No change without reason” has its origin in a philosophical movement that culminated in Leibniz’ assertion that we live in the best of all possible worlds. It was thinking a world that brought about the maxim “No change without reason.” According to Leibniz, who was at the same time a great mathematician and a philosopher, God had already calculated the necessary development of all possible worlds before being obliged in his Goodness to create – if he wanted to create at all – the one world that would be the best. In his letters against Newton and Clarke he points out that any influence of the creator on his world could only be due to a mistake in the making of the world and this would be a blasphemous thought considering the perfection of the Christian God. According to Newton and Clarke you could agree with the sentence “No change without reason” and at the same time allow God’s action in his creation to be one possible reason of change. Newton’s Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1686/Scholium Generale 1713) where originally aimed against Descartes’ materialistic theory of the movement of the heavens. Newton insisted, that the regularity of these movements could not possibly have its origin in mechanistic causes4 and God’s dominium over everything could not be reduced to the influence of a “Weltseele”, the soul of the world (anima mundi). What we are used to call the “Newtonian mechanistic world view” is in fact Leibniz’ philosophical interpretation of Newtonian physics.5 While Newton had no problem with divine action accompanying his world, Leibniz ruled this out categorically. Why?

Actually he has had theological reasons for this: as long as we pertain that there could really be a temporal connection of the divine and the physical reality causing a change in the latter, the question arises why this connection is not activated when it is needed most. Leibniz’ theory that we live in the best of all possible worlds has its origin in a tract concerned with the justification of God, in his Theodicy. Leibniz intended to vindicate God’s goodness in spite of the obvious evil in this world: if there was to be a world at all, it could not be better in any regard than the one we are living in; would there be any interference of God this would signify that he did not manage to create the best of all possible worlds and he would not be justified in creating it.

“I cannot at the same time use an electric switch and believe in the ascension of Christ.”

Bultmann’s sentence uses Leibniz’ thinking a world to interpret the New Testament. The ascension of Christ is not possible as a reality in this world, but the words related to it “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”6 are the real meaning of the gospel. As to reducing the existence and the action of the divine to being a state of the Christian mind instead of remaining a fact of divine life taking place in this world this is quite in accordance with Leibniz’ theory of the monads. Everything that is not physical but spiritual, i.e. our free mind, is totally removed from any contact with the physical world; it exists in a state of purely mental existence and does not really act upon the world at the same time physically and free; it does not interact, neither with other monads nor with the world: monads do not have any windows. Yet there is a pre-stabilised harmony of our own free willed thought-acts and those of other monads that has been pre-calculated and created (according to his fore-sight) by God. Thus – although it does not interact with anything else and everything in the world is developing necessarily – individual freedom is responsible for change in relation to other beings because God has created the developing world according to his foreknowledge of free decisions of the monads.

To modern or post-modern contemporaries this kind of thinking might seem a bit complicated and remote, because Leibniz has not been successful in his attempt to overcome and replace the philosophical system that ruled in his days: Spinozism. 300 years later Bultmann tried to get the better of it. Compared with Leibniz, his precursor Baruch Spinoza had taken a decisive step in the direction of necessity. The maxim “No change without reason” does not only account for God’s foreknowledge and the created pre-stabilised harmony; it also applies to the deterministic change of God’s development also: nature being the reason for all change. God’s nature dictates what it is becoming itself (natura naturans) and what is becoming to become by it (natura naturata). In thinking a world we do not face two realities, the determined world and the free monads, united in God’s foreknowledge and creative will, but only one reality that is functioning according to its nature. Thus nature and reality are one, thinking a world is only the general perspective of knowing the world in its details; meaning and function are the same, as there is only one deterministic principle governing nature: nature.

Spinozism had been more successful than Leibniz’ theory and had become the common sense of modern times when Bultmann undertook it to describe a modern point of view for Christian faith. This was not an easy task as might be seen if we consider Albert Einstein’s worldview. Einstein has been the most prominent and the most express spinozist of the 20th century. Max Jammer7 has written a whole book about this, but Einstein himself was very outspoken about it, too.

Einstein has not only been an eminent physicist who widened the scope of our knowing the world, but he took great interest in thinking a world, i.e. he was inclined towards a metaphysical perspective, i.e. a general perspective integrating all there is. Yet he has also been a master of clear language who despised to hide any difficulties in his thinking by nebulous speach. With his help therefore, we are able to point out three major problems the spinozist’s worldview had to face in the last century encouraging eventually post-modern thinking and thereby leading to the abolition of transdisciplinary thinking a world which results in those difficulties for transdisciplinary knowing a world that could have been misinterpreted as problems with hyper-specialisation.

Three main problems arise for a Spinozist’s worldview and lead either to a new transdisciplinary thinking a world, a renewed metaphysical approach, or to post-modernism. These problems are: Gödel’s proof, indeterminism in quantum mechanics and the problem of personhood. Gödel’s proof of the inevitable incompleteness of sufficiently complex mathematical systems is not disturbing to those who regard mathematical ideas as a purely human invention. However, a spinozist would start thinking under the premise that all reality is structured by the same principles which – were they completely known to us – would lead to a “Weltformel”, a Theory of Everything (TOE) wherewith all past, present and future development could be calculated. The famous physisist Hawking has just recently expressed his regret that – taking Gödel’s proof for serious – we could no longer think a TOE to be possible.8 Einstein resolved this problem (and other mathematical problems e.g. Poincaré’s) by loosening the bond between mathematics and reality: “In so far as mathematical sentences refer to reality they are not certain, and in so far they are certain they do not refer to reality.” 9 Einstein knew the sciences too well to insist on a necessary universal structure of reality that would be known as certain to mankind. Nevertheless he was convinced of the existence of a “superior intelligence” 10 behind everything that would govern everything in a totally necessary way. His famous sentence “God does not play at dice” is not in favour of a divine person governing everything. Instead it is aimed at the second problem of spinozism in modern times: indeterminism in quantum theory. Einstein has never been willing to accept Bohr’s and Heisenberg’s interpretation of quantum mechanics although in the meanwhile it seems to have been proven to be right.11 These two problems of spinozism arise within the endeavours of knowing the world, but they gain their importance only with those who are into thinking a world. Somebody who knew all about string-theory could perchance give us more than a guided guess if it will ever be able to solve these problems and restore spinozism to its former scientific glory.

There is, however, one problem left, and this is the main problem having several facets: How are we supposed to think a “superior intelligence revealing itself” in this world without thinking of a mind that has designed it according to its knowledge, since Einstein warns us that the idea of a personal God has always been destructive of the peace12 between science and religion; how can we accept Einstein’s beautiful evocations of altruistic responsibility and moral value as authentic marks of religion13, if he tries to convince us at the same time to regard everything that is traditionally related with personhood as being an “illusion”14?

We have to distinguish philosophy and theology from science that regards the functional analysis of our world, i.e. it try to get to know how the various relations of things and beings are functioning; but science does not ask whether this world does mean anything, this is the task of philosophy and theology. Albert Einstein made this point very clear when explaining what he thought of religion. Instead of making out a theoretical difference he speaks of the practical attitude towards reality that marks the difference to science: a person that is religious has ridded himself of self-centeredness and gained a deep conviction of the ‘overwhelming meaning’ of the world surrounding him, whereas science is only concerned with facts and does not tell what we should do with our world.

The surprising thing about Einstein is, that he has never been prone to ideology although he has been tried to be a consistent spinozist. He has never denied the difficulties arising from quantum mechanic, he has always tried to overcome them. He did not try to reduce the meaning of ethical reflection and moral values to being merely a function in this world. He seems to have made a step apart from Spinozism towards post-modernity, when he distinguished them as being ‘religious’ as opposed to ‘scientific’.

On the other side, function and meaning cannot be separated because they must be characteristics of the being to begin with; otherwise one or both aspects of ‘being’ would have to be regarded as imaginations of our mind. Function and meaning have to be distinguished and at the same time we do not know how meaning and function came to be characteristics of the same being, because we are not capable to see all objects from the point of view an intelligence would have had in its superior mind while creating creation. We are only talking of the ‘God’s eye view’ we cannot possibly posses – we are not proving anything concerning the real existence of a creator thereby.

Albert Einstein very conscientiously tried to avoid even the thought of this ‘God’s eye view’. He confessed to have reached a conviction – accompanied by deep feeling – that a ‘superior intelligence’ stands behind the reality we experience. But he refused to think this reality as a person. To him all things were connected because of the ‘superior intelligence’ that could be appreciated in their being. Transdisciplinarity could always profit from this connection of really existing things (as opposed to merely theoretical occupations) because ‘God’ in a manner of speaking ‘would never play at dice’.

Einstein’s position seems to import some difficulties, because it is hard to see how an intelligence could be behind everything without having a mind or being the intelligent output of a mind; even more we admire his consciousness of moral obligation where no personal freedom is thought to exist, neither in God nor in mankind. Yet his clearly pronounced conviction might sharpen our awareness that in stepping up from a mere knowing the world to thinking a world it would be a grave mistake if the big difference between function and meaning is not regarded properly, although we have to be conscious of our incapacity of perceiving things in ‘God’s eye view’.

Transdisciplinarity ought to keep both aspects in minds: the big difference of function and meaning as well as our limits in explaining it. Nevertheless, in order to be more than a post-modern et-et, there is this and there is that, Transdisciplinarity has at least to give a reason for the possibility of the unison of function and meaning when it transcends pure knowing the world towards thinking a world.

This abstract assertion is easily shown to be of fundamental importance by an example involving a pre-religious idea. Granted the possibility of a valid transdisciplinary proof for the existence of an intelligent designer of the universe who is acting on a basis of free will, there still remains the question, whether this designer has acted towards a world to please himself or to the benefit of his creation also. A researcher being trained in Transdisciplinarity and maintaining that the intelligent structure we can recognise in the world and especially in mankind could still insists that this fact does not have in itself any linkage at all to any value the world or man could possibly have because there is no such value ascribed to it by its designer; for, he could argue, in order to be of any value a being has to be of value to a person, that is worth to receive this value from it; otherwise it would just be useful. In other words the researcher would distinguish between functional and ethical value, the former being a universal characteristic of any system and its (intelligently designed) parts, the latter being reserved to beings capable of ethical choice.

Now, there can be no ethical choice where there are no possible object of ethical value. Of course, Immanuel Kant had admonished his reader never to use a human being merely as a means of reaching a goal differing from him: because man is a goal in himself and he should therefore always and everywhere treated as such. Why, is that the snake biting its tail? Are we supposed to assign an ethical value to man as the possible object of ethical choice because he is capable of an ethical choice, i.e. because he is possibly the subject acting according to an ethical choice?

Our researcher might have taken his study of Transdisciplinarity serious, thus remembering at this point to discern intelligence and goodness, the one pertaining to the order of principles that help to understand why the world is moving this way, whereas the other is an answer to the question why the world is willed to move this way. It could, in fact, not be willed to move out of goodness. Yet the study of Transdisciplinarity should, if it comes this far, not only teach that. It should also enable to discern the necessity of the appropriate way of estimating specific objects under investigation: intelligence is to be perceived in another way than goodness; one can be the end of an analysis of a well functioning world, the other is to be discovered as meaning well for this world.

Intelligence might be detected behind the display of sufficiently complex structures that cannot be the result of random movements of a subject under investigation: you will always try to get the gorilla to act in patterns according to your own understanding if you want to prove that he is able to use signs intelligently. His goodness on the other side is not sufficiently known as long as he is not able to communicate the reason for his will to act this way. But what should a reason look like that could be given by a human being for acting this way and thereby qualifying as an ethical choice? The study of Transdisciplinarity could sharpen the awareness for the undeniable fact that the required ethical value of the object of an ethical choice – in case it really exists – has to be assigned to it either by the acting human subject or by the subject responsible for the existence of the universe.

Now there is an unhappy alternative before our researcher: if there is to be an ethical character to his action it is determined at will. How can voluntarism be avoided at this point?

Apparently we have travelled back to the beginning, where the development of metaphysics was thought to have forced philosophy into a separation from theology, thereby destroying the traditional concept of Transdisciplinarity in metaphysics and inaugurating the breach to come between philosophy and science. It seems that certain problems cannot be avoided if man is willing to question his own actions and the world he is acting upon. The usual suspects who are charged with initiating the separation of philosophy and science seem to be innocent.

Part II
The usual suspects

Some attribute the beginning of this development to Kant. His endeavours to check epistemological mistakes in dogmatic metaphysics are thought to have destroyed this traditional stronghold of Transdisciplinarity. The opposite is true: his philosophy is aimed at destroying Spinozism and freeing Leibniz’s attempts in that direction from its major faults. Few philosophers have been following Kant’s constant research in this very field. His search for a metaphysical fundament of physics as well as ethics is hardly ever recognised as an aim to reach at Transdisciplinarity. This lack of understanding is due to the immense difficulties of his books, being the work of an eminent physicist, who has been a brilliant philosopher at the same time. We will avoid these difficulties in our paper by looking back at the origins of Transdisciplinarity that had not yet been flawed by a dogmatic, i.e. a rationalist approach to metaphysics which had been the pride of Kant’s adversaries Leibniz and Wolff. However, there had been a longstanding tradition of non-dogmatic metaphysics before the philosophical tides turned towards the rationalistic conception of philosophy at the end of the so called Middle Ages.

At this point we meet another suspect: John Duns Scotus who is considered to be the father of voluntarism. The said turn towards rationalism is sometimes regarded as a necessary philosophical reaction against late medieval voluntarism, which is suspected to have been irrational by perverting human understanding of his own and of the divine action in this world. Reformation then, is regarded as a necessary religious reaction either against the voluntarist’s or the rationalist’s approach to philosophy in order to safeguard what is left of the divine responsibility for his own action. Of course, there are those who interpret the historical causes the other way round: philosophy, beginning with Descartes, sought its independence of religion ever since the religious world had been divided into different denominations, ridiculing the claim to unite mankind in wisdom of one – religious – truth and thereby inviting to look out for one – indisputable – philosophical truth.

However this might be, ever since the first breach had been introduced into traditional Transdisciplinarity. This first breach has been the gap between religion and philosophy: there had been one perspective from which everything could be regarded as united in one knowledge; now it was to be cut through in two. The birth of modernity thus brought about the conflict that was thought to be dealt with by perspectivism of post-modern styling. The separation between philosophy and science could not be avoided after the first breach between religion and philosophy had been introduced, a further division would take place eventually. What had happened before, when philosophy emancipated itself from religion, would happen again, when scientists would claim to be formally independent of a varying and growing multitude of philosophical theories contending for the prize of supreme insight into man and his world, whereas scientific knowledge grew indisputably on the basis of trial and error, i.e. by proofs capable of reproduction.

Now what is John Duns Scotus supposed to have done? What is meant by voluntarism?

According to some, there has been a time when Greek thinking and biblical believing had merged in metaphysics. The synthesis of the Hellenistic axiom “Not to act rationally is against God’s essence!” and the biblical account of God culminated in the work of S. Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas. Then John Duns Scotus came along and introduced an idea that – in the long run – proved to be fatal to this harmony. ‘Voluntarism’ opposing the formerly ruling ‘intellectualism’ of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas eventually, i.e. not in John Duns Scotus but in the late Middle Ages, destroyed the harmony between reason and faith and commenced individualism and relativism in regard to morals as well as truth by launching the idea of the potentia ordinata. This idea comprises all we can possibly know about God from his actual willing it as opposed to his potentia absoluta comprising all God could have wanted to do or to be for somebody, had he wanted it or should he want it in future. A privatisation of religion is a very probable consequence: if not a universal concept of God’s essence is decisive for his action towards man, I am forced to ask, what he might want to be to me in particular. This distinction brought about secularisation, the emancipation of this world from God. Knowing the world and thinking a world were to be freed from the idea of a personal God, because the division of potentia ordinataand potentia absoluta had introduced to the mind of mankind an unbearable uncertainty about God, surpassing by far the uncertainty implied by the classical principle of analogy. According to the principle of analogy all our concepts of God would bear not only a likeness but yet a greater unlikeness of him, due to our finite intellect and the transcendence of his infinite essence. Yet by the new concept of transcendence, by ‘voluntarism’ God’s infinity is distorted into unaccountability, provoking the emancipation of human reason from such a God. God’s transcendence would – in classical theology – be his way of being that surpasses our finite knowledge of it; now it became his way of acting that surpasses our capacity of calculating it.

In the last part of this paper we will try to show that the distinction of potentia ordinata and potentia absoluta was only the consequence of the discovery of synchronic contingency. There is reason to think that this discovery of John Duns Scotus has saved European philosophy from plunging into Spinozism even earlier. Nowadays his concept of first philosophy as scienta transcendens, the transcending science, might be rediscovered as a fundamental step towards Transdisciplinarity as it is apt to integrate the scientific perspective as well as the ethical and religious view of the world into one way of thinking a world according to the conditions of is possibility.

Part III
The Discovery of contingency

During the 12th century a new concept of science was developed in the cathedral schools of the now evolving cities, at the same time bringing about the first alteration to the traditional feudal system and a shift in the location of the centres of learning. These schools have been the seeds from which in the following century sprang forth the first universities of Europe, a unique gift of Christendom to the world that has replaced the monasteries as traditional strongholds of education. The change did not only affect the structure of the schools; it was a change of the formal and material subject of learning, too. The ancient philosophies of Aristotle and Plato were rediscovered as they were handed down and commented on by muslim philosophers. Thus the teachers and their students faced the task of transdisciplinary study evaluating the truth and the error of different religions as well as the connection of different subject matters – ethics, natural sciences, logic – all present in the newly translated books. They coped with this immense challenge by reinterpreting Aristotle’s metaphysics as first philosophy, prima philosophia that would integrate the knowledge of all other sciences by establishing the principal character of every possible being and our knowledge of it. It did not matter, if somebody would study law or medicine or theology afterwards – all students had to follow the philosophical courses, studying the artes liberales, and within it metaphysics, in order to be allowed to move an to more specific fields of interest. The 13th century has seen a great development of metaphysical thinking in the universities, tending to be very critical of arabic fatalism and bending towards a philosophical reconstruction of the transcendental requirements of knowledge and goodness.

How did John Duns Scotus discover synchronic contingency and what is meant by this concept?

During the Middle Ages every student who aspired at the higher faculties (law, medicine, theology) had to begin with studying the liberal arts, the artes liberales. For eight years Scotus had to read and comment the literature of antiquity, mostly Aristotle’s works which had been subject to many university debates during the 13th century. Many theologians, e.g. Bonaventure and Aegidius Romanus, tried to limit the influence of Aristotle’s work and their traditional interpretation by muslim thinkers like Avicenna and Averroes, while Thomas Aquinas tried to give a Christian interpretation of Aristotle and purify him from Averroes. The theologians critical of Aristotle were steadily loosing ground in this battle. Their last resort seemed to be an institutional condemnation of wrong philosophical propositions. In 1277 bishop Etienne Tempier condemned 219 errors of the philosophers by editing a list that had been compiled by 16 professors of theology under the lead of Henry of Ghent. To our luck these 219 theses have survived to give us an idea of the intellectual climate among the undergraduate students as far as philosophy is concerned.

We will cite only a few theses about God, world and Soul that will demonstrate how far they were influenced by the necessetarism of a determinist cosmology and anthropology. Joachim Söder has called this compound of opinions the ‘onto-kosmologische Weltanschaung’, an onto-cosmological philosophy.

Thesis 21:
Nothing happens contingently, but everything out of necessity. And all future things that will be, will be out of necessity. All things that will not be cannot possibly be. Observing all causes, nothing happens contingently. – This is an error, because the concurring of causes makes up randomness, as Boethius says in the book On the consolation of Philosophy.

Thesis 42:
The first cause does not have any knowledge of future contingents.
First reason: Future contingents do not exist.
Second reason: Future contingents are singularities. Yet God knows by an intellectual force that does not perceive singularities. Thus the intellect would not distinguish between Socrates and Plato if there were no sensual perception, even though a distinction would be made between a human and an ass.
The third reason ist he relationship of the cause and the thing being caused. For the divine foreknowledge is the necessary cause of all things that are known before.
The fourth reason is the relationship of knowledge and the thing known. Even if knowledge is not the cause of the thing known, it would be fixed by this object on two contradictory proposition, and this is valid even more regarding God’s knowledge.

Thesis 48:
God cannot be the cause of a new event and he cannot produce anything new.

Thesis 74:
The intelligence moving the heavens influences the rational soul, like the bodies of the heavens the human body.15

When Scotus began his studies in 1280 this onto-cosmological interpretation of God, world and soul had not been overcome neither by the sermons of Bonaventure, nor by the correctory of Aegidius Romanus nor by the institutional condemnations in Paris and Oxford. He himself had to undergo a fundamental change of opinion in these matters. In his early commentaries on Aristotle’s logical works we meet the traditional approach to propositions about future events. But when studying theology he realised that traditional logic had made assumptions about possibility and time that would not suffice to gain a rational concept of divine action or free human action in time. The traditional logical concept allowed only for diachronic contingency: 2 contradictory propositions about the possibility of an event in the future could not be true at the same time. The underlying metaphysical assumption was this: in non-eternal surroundings things can mutate in time because they are already in potency to be in a different act or state of being, but the movement from ‘act 1 now’ to ‘act 2 in the future’ is determined necessarily by the essence of the thing and the action of all agents involved in this movement. It is important to see that traditionally contingency and necessity of the same act are compatible at once, for this contingency is thought to be diachronic. ‘Diachronic contingency’ basically means that we cannot know now, in which of two possible acts a potency will be tomorrow, because we do not know which of many different agents will cause its next mutation. Even though all of these different agents are causing necessarily the effect is called contingent to mark our ignorance or the incapacity of the potency to reach its own perfection necessarily and without essential disturbance. Tomorrow by coincidence an elephant might trample on a daisy which would have opened her blossom to the morning sun necessarily. Yet this necessity is not strong enough in our non-eternal sphere; it can be corrupted because the essential development of this being involves matter, opening it at the same time to mutation and the battle of agents influencing its course of existence. Till today most dictionaries will define contingency as something that occurs to a being that did not have the power to oversee, avoid or initiate it. John Duns Scotus would call this non-eternal, i.e. subject to mutation, or not-necessary, meaning only that there could be co-incidental occurrence like the elephant not pertaining necessarily to the nature of the daisy. But the predications of being ‘non-eternal’ and ‘not-necessary’ do suffice to express the full content of ‘contingency’. As a theologian he would have to ask the question if and how God could know future contingent acts. Think of God as knowing everything, all potencies and all necessarily causing agents in all their acts at a certain point of time; then to God there would be only necessary acts since he could calculate the complexity of all possible future acts; indeed there would be no possible future acts since all these acts will necessarily exist at each point of time being determined already to be in act in this way when that moment will have arrived; thus this moment has arrived already in the determination of the whole. The difference between past, present and future would solely be an illusion of the finite intellect (as Albert Einstein had thought) or it could be interpreted as the movement of a mutable soul caused necessarily by onto-cosmological influences.

To Scotus the consequence was obvious. If there is to be any free action in time we need a rational concept of contingency that differs from diachronic contingency. He formulated it thus:

“Kontingent nenne ich nicht etwas, was nicht-notwendig und nicht-ewig ist, sondern das, dessen Gegenteil geschehen könnte, wenn es eintritt.”16

This is the discovery of synchronic contingency, i.e. a concept devised to criticize and transform the traditional logic and metaphysic of action theory. Scotus had detected the inability of classical theories to give an account of human freedom as well as of God’s free will. His definition of free will corresponds his definition of radical contingency and is the Franciscan answer to the onto-cosmological Weltanschauung threatening Christianity in the Middle Ages. Free will, according to Scotus is this:

“In respect to its cause something can be called contingent in two ways. E.g. my act of will has a twofold cause of contingency: first it is contingent stemming from divine will as its first cause, secondly from my own will as second cause.”17


“Our will wills in the moment, when it is evoking respectively causing its willing, contingently, and it could in the same moment, when being the cause of its willing, will the opposite.”18

Actually Scotus agreed with Petrus Olivi that in spite of his intellect man still would be an animal were he not endowed with free will. Thus we meet with a new philosophy of God, world and soul. If God is not ignorant of the world but its creator by an act of free will causing time to flow from this act, and if man is gifted with free will in the likeness of his creator but exercising it in the time given, then every single existing moment of every single particle of the universe is to be regarded as synchronically contingent, yet either evolving in time according to the parameters God has assigned to his creation continua, or reacting to it as a finite free agent. This is, of course only a mirror of his potentia ordinata because it could have been otherwise or not at all. But the distinction of his potentia absoluta does not deny love to be God’s essence and the motive of his free act of creation. It simply denies the necessity of anything apart from God.

We are back at the beginning and coming to our conclusion about synchronic contingency as a critical notion of action theory first and consequently as the fundamental notion of all Transdisciplinarity aiming at an integration of scientific, ethical and religious perspectives.

You might call synchronic contingency a temptation towards voluntarism and thereby towards the emancipation of the modern subject, trying to evade the uncertainty of its existence and its world by plunging either into spinozism or post-modernism – both (if perceived consistently) tending to do away with Transdisciplinarity.

I am not competent to judge historically if voluntarism could have been avoided without leaving the 14th century entangled in the onto-cosmological Weltanschauung.

Yet systematically I am quite convinced that a strong concept of the human will in correspondence with a radical concept of contingency will further the spiritual climate we need to deal with secularisation and its immediate consequences: seemingly insurmountable hyper-specialisation instead of Transdisciplinarity. Let me cite Jürgen Habermas concerning the question how far we have to set aside God in these matters, because he is superbly above suspicion in these things. He is not confessing his own faith but considering the need of coherence in theology, when he reminds us: „God will remain a ‘God of free human beings’ only as long as we do not make even the difference between creator and creation.”19 Everybody who comes to realise himself as being gifted with free will and relying in every moment of his existence on the free gift of time in this world will have to decide whether he would rather not trust such a gift or if he can find rational grounds to trust. He might find them in his mind and heart or maybe he will find proof of God revealing his personality in time, being the love he is, willing freely to show himself.



1 Conf. Klaus Berger (Jesus. München 2004, p. 24) who himself tends to subscribe to the post-modernist escape from transdisciplinarity. For an origional wording, conf. Rudolf Bultmann: Neues Testament und Mythologie. Das Problem der Entmythologisierung der ntl. Verkündigung (1941). Hrsg. von Eberhard Jüngel. München: Kaiser, 31988 (Beiträge zur evgl. Theologie Bd. 96), S. 16: „Man kann nicht elektrisches Licht und Radioapparat benutzen, in Krankheitsfällen moderne medizinische und klinische Mittel in Anspruch nehmen und gleichzeitig an die Geister- und Wunderwelt des Neuen Testaments glauben. [….] Und wer meint, es für seine Person tun zu können, muß sich klar machen, daß er, wenn er das für die Haltung christlichen Glaubens erklärt, damit die christliche Verkündigung in der Gegenwart unverständlich und unmöglich macht.“

2 Acts 5,32.

3 Conf. Berger op. cit., p. 23.

4 Originem non habent ex causis mechanicis.

5 Dellion…..

6 Mt 28,20

7 Max Jammer: Einstein und die Religion. Konstanz: Universitätsverlag 1995 – der dritten Stufe in Einsteins Denken an, welche die erste Phase der intensiven Erfahrung kindlicher Religiösität mit der zweiten aufgeklärter Distanz gegenüber allen (religiösen) Autoritäten zu einer „mystischen“ Aneignung Spinozas verbindet.

8 Cf. Kurt Gödel: Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia Mathe­matica und verwandter Systeme I. In: Monatshefte f. Math. und Physik 38 (1931) 173 ­ 198. Conf. Hawking’s unexpected lecture with the title ‚Gödel and the end of phy­sics‘. Hawking closes with this: ‚Some people will be very disappointed if there is not an ultimate theory, that can be formulated as a finite number of principles. I used to belong to that camp, but I have changed my mind. I’m now glad that our search for understanding will never come to an end, and that we will always have the challenge of new discovery. Without it, we would stagnate. Goedels theorem ensured there would always be a job for mathematicians. I think M-Theory will do the same for physicists. I’m sure Dirac would have approved.‘ Conf. http://www.damtp.cam.­ac.uk/strtst/dirac/hawking (October 19, 2005).

9 „Insofern sich die Sätze der Mathematik auf die Wirklichkeit beziehen, sind sie nicht sicher, und insofern sie sicher sind, beziehen sie sich nicht auf die Wirklichkeit. [… Die] von der modernen Axiomatik vertretene Auf­fassung der Axiome säubert die Mathematik von allen nicht zu ihr gehörigen Elementen und beseitigt so das mystische Dunkel, das der Grundlage der Mathematik vorher anhaftete. Eine solche gereinigte Darstellung macht es aber auch evident, daß die Mathematik als sol­che weder über Gegenstände der anschaulichen Vorstellung noch über Gegenstände der Wirklichkeit etwas auszusagen vermag.“ Albert Einstein: Mein Weltbild (erster Druck 1934). Hrsg. von Carl Seelig. Frankfurt u.a. 1970, S. 119-120.

10 Albert Einstein: Mein Weltbild (erster Druck 1934). Hrsg. von Carl Seelig, Frankfurt u.a. 1970, S. 171: „Jene mit tiefem Gefühl verbundene Überzeugung von einer überlegenen Ver­nunft, die sich in der erfahrbaren Welt offenbart, bildet meinen Gottesbegriff; man kann ihn also in der üblichen Ausdrucksweise als pantheistisch‘ (Spinoza) bezeichnen.”

11 Stephen Hawking stated recently: ‚Thus it seems Einstein was doubly wrong when he said, God does not play dice. Not only does God definitely play dice, but He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can‘t be seen. … Thus, the future of the universe is not completely determined by the laws of science, and its present state, as Laplace though­t. God still has a few tricks up his sleeve.‘ Conf. http://www.hawking.org/uk/lectures/dice.html (March 7th, 2006)

12Albert Einstein: Mein Weltbild (erster Druck 1934). Hrsg. von Carl Seelig. Frankfurt u.a. 1970, S. 119-120: „In dieser persönlichen Gottesidee liegt nun die Hauptursache des gegenwärtigen Konflikts zwischen der religiö­sen und der wissenschaftlichen Sphäre. Die Wissenschaft sucht, allgemeine Regeln aufzu­stellen, die den gegen­seitigen Zusammenhang der Dinge und Er­eignisse in Raum und Zeit bestimmen. Für diese Re­geln, bezie­hungsweise Naturgesetze wird allgemeine und ausnahmslose Gültigkeit gefor­dert – nicht bewie­sen. Es ist zu­nächst nur ein Programm, und der Glaube in seine prinzipielle Durch­führbarkeit ist nur durch Teil­erfolge be­gründet.”

13 „Statt zu fragen, was Religion sei, will ich lieber zunächst fragen, wie das Streben eines Menschen be­schaffen ist, der auf mich den Eindruck eines religiösen Menschen macht: einer, der sich nach seinem besten Vermögen von den Fesseln seiner selbstischen Wünsche befreit hat und erfüllt ist von Ge­dan­ken, Gefühlen und Bestrebungen, an denen er hängt um deren außerpersönlichen Wertes willen, der er­scheint mir als ein religiös erleuchteter Mensch. Auf die Stärke dieser außerpersönlichen Inhalte und auf die Tiefe der Überzeugung von deren überwältigender Bedeutung scheint es mir dabei anzukom­men, unabhängig davon, ob der Versuch gemacht wird, diese Inhalte mit einer göttlichen Person in Verbindung zu bringen; denn sonst dürfte man Buddha und Spinoza nicht zu den religiösen Persönlich­keiten zählen. Ein religiöser Mensch ist demnach in dem Sinne gläubig, daß er nicht zweifelt an der Bedeutung und Erhabenheit jener außerpersönlichen Inhalte und Ziele, die einer verstandesmäßigen Begründung weder fähig sind noch bedürfen. Sie sind da mit derselben Notwendigkeit und Selbstver­ständlichkeit wie er selbst. Religion in diesem Sinne ist das durch die Jahrhunderte fortgesetzte Streben der Menschen, sich dieser Werte und Ziele vollständig klar und bewußt zu werden und sie zu stets ver­stärkter und vertiefter Wirkung zu bringen. Faßt man Religion und Wissenschaft im Sinne dieser Defi­nitionen auf, so erscheint ein Konflikt zwischen beiden unmöglich. Denn die Wissenschaft kann nur feststellen, was ist, nicht aber, was sein soll; Werturteile jeder Art bleiben notwendig außerhalb ihres Bereiches. Die Religion aber hat nur mit Wertungen menschlichen Denkens und Tuns zu schaffen; sie kann mit Recht nichts aussagen über Tatsachen und Relationen zwischen Tatsachen.“ Albert Einstein: Aus meinen späten Jahren, Frankfurt u.a. 1993, (hier aus 1941), S. 41-42. Albert Einstein: Lettres à Maurice Solovine. Paris: Gauthier-Villars 1956, S. 102: Brief aus dem Jahr 1951 an Maurice Solovine: „Ich habe keinen besseren Ausdruck als den Ausdruck religiös für dieses Vertrauen in die vernünftige und der menschlichen Vernunft wenigstens einigermaßen zugängliche Beschaffenheit der Realität. Wo dieses Gefühl fehlt, da artet Wissenschaft in geistlose Empirie aus. Es schert mich einen Teufel, wenn die Pfaffen daraus Kapital schlagen. Dagegen ist kein Kraut gewachsen“

14 conf.: Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker: Wahrnehmung der Neuzeit, München-Wien 1983, S. 131. Die französische Ausgabe der Korrespondenz bestätigt die Wiedergabe; vgl. Pierre Speziali: Correspondance 1903‑1955: Trad. notes et introd. de Pierre Speziali / Albert Einstein ; Michele Besso. ‑ Paris 1979, S. 312, Brief vom 21 März 1955 an Vero, den Sohn von Michele Besso, und Madame Bice. : „Nun ist er mir auch im Abschied von dieser sonderbaren Welt ein wenig vorausgegangen. Dies be­deutet nichts. Für uns gläubige Physiker hat die Scheidung zwischen Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft nur die Bedeutung einer wenn auch hartnäckigen Illusion.“ Comp. Banesh Hoffmann: Albert Einstein. Schöpfer und Rebell. Unter Mitarbeit von Helen Dukas. Zürich: Belser, 1976, S. 298: Einstein writing Max Brod: „Ich bin fasziniert von Ihrem Vergil und wehre mich be­­stän­dig gegen ihn. Es zeigt mir das Buch deutlich, vor was ich ge­flohen bin, als ich mich mit Haut und Haar der Wissenschaft ver­schrieb: Flucht vom Ich und vom Wir in das Es…“.

15 These 21: Nichts geschieht zufällig, sondern alles aus Notwendigkeit. Und alles Zukünftige, das sein wird, wird aus Notwendigkeit sein. Alles, was nicht sein wird, kann unmöglich sein. Blickt man auf alle Ursachen, geschieht nichts kontingenterweise. – Dies ist ein Irrtum, weil das Zusammenspiel der Ursachen den Zufall ausmacht, wie Boethius im Buch Über den Trost der Philosophie sagt.
(21) Quod nichil fit a casu sed omnia de necessitate eveniunt, et quod omnia futura, que erunt, de necessitate erunt, et que non erunt, impossibile est esse, et quod nichil fit contingenter, considerando omnes causas. – Error, quia concursus causarum est de diffinitione casualis, ut dicit Boetius libro de consolatione.
These 42: Die erste Ursache hat kein Wissen von zukünftigen nicht-notwendigen Dingen.
Erster Grund: Die zukünftigen nicht-notwendigen Dinge existieren nicht.
Zweiter Grund: Die zukünftigen nicht-notwendingen Dinge sind Einzelheiten. Gott erkennt aber mit einer geistigen Kraft, die die Einzelheiten nicht erkennen kann. Daher würde ja wohl, wenn es keine Sinne gäbe, der Intellekt nicht unterscheiden zwischen Sokrates und Platon, wenn er auch unterschiede zwischen einem Menschen und einem Esel.
Der dritte Grund ist das Verhältnis der Ursache zum Verursachten. Das göttliche Wissen ist nämlich die notwendige Ursache der vorhergewußten Dinge.
Der vierte Grund ist das Verhältnis des Wissens zum Gewussten. Wenngleich das Wissen nicht die Ursache des Gewußten ist, so wird es doch von seinem Gegenstand auf eine von zwei widersprechenden Aussagen festgelegt, und dies gilt vom göttlichen Wissen weit mehr als für unseres.
Quod causa prima non habet scientiam futurorum contingentium. Prima ratio, quia future contingentia sunt non entia. Secunda, quia futura contingentia sunt particularia; Deus autem cognoscit virtute intellective, que non potest particulare cognoscere.
Unde, si non esset sensus, forte intellectus non distingueret inter Socratem et Platonem, licet distingueret inter hominem et asinum. Tertia est ordo cause ad causatum; prescientia enim divina est causa necessaria prescitorum. Quarta est ordo scientia ad scitum; quamvis enim scientia non sit causa sciti, ex quo tamen scitur determinatur ad alteram partem contradictionis; et hoc multo magis in scientia divina, quam nostra.
These 48: Gott kann nicht die Ursache eines neuen Ereignisses sein und kann nichts Neues hervorbringen.
(48) Quod Deus non potest esse causa novi facti, nec potest aliquid de novo producere.
These 74: Die himmelbewegende Intelligenz beeinflußt so die vernunftbegabte Seele, wie der Himmelskörper den menschlichen Körper.
(74) Quod intelligentia motrix celi influit in animam rationalem, sicut corpus celi influit in corpus humanum.
Kurt Flasch: Aufklärung im Mittelalter? Die Verurteilung von 1277. Das Dokument des Bischofs von Paris, übersetzt und erklärt, Mainz 1989.

16 De primo principio IV, 4 n.56: Non dico hic contingens quodcumque non est necessarium nec sempiternum, sed cuius oppositum posset fieri quando istud fit.

17 »Es kann nun etwas seitens seiner Ursache doppelt kontingent heißen. Zum Beispiel hat mein Willens­akt eine doppelte Kontingenzursache: zum einen ist er kontingent von Seiten des göttlichen Willens her als der Erstursache, zum andern von meinem eigenen Willen her als der Zweitursache.« Reportatio I A d. 39-40 n. 36

18 „Unser Wille will in dem Augen­blick, in dem er sein Wollen hervorruft bzw. verursacht, auf kontin­gente Weise, und er könnte in demselben Augenblick, da er Ursache seines Wollens ist, das Gegenteil wollen«.67 Dies hat zur Folge, dass es »in allen Dingen bzw. Wirkungen, die von uns gewollt sind, als solche keine Notwendigkeit gibt, sondern nur Kontingenz.«. Reportatio I Α d. 39-40 n. 43.

19 „Gott bleibt nur so lange ein >Gott freier Menschen<, wie wir die absolute Differenz zwischen Schöpfer und Geschöpf nicht einebnen.“ Glaube und Wissen, 30.