published on December 18, 2019
Timothy B. Noone
St. John Henry Newman, Cardinal Matthew of Aquasparta, and Bl. John Duns Scotus on Knowledge, Assent, Faith, and Non-Evident Truths
While working on various medieval philosophers, I have noticed an affinity between their remarks on the reasonableness of accepting propositions that are not matters of proof and strict deduction and St. John Henry Newman’s remarks that we accept unconditionally and rightly everyday ordinary propositions without calibrating them to demonstrable arguments. In particular, Cardinal Matthew of Aquasparta and Blessed John Duns Scotus both claim there is a sense in which assent to everyday propositions is tantamount to knowledge (scientia), even though there is no adequate argumentation or demonstrative reasoning compelling us to assent to such propositions. Newman’s distinction between notional and real apprehension of propositions, notional and real assents, and his insistence on the existence of real assents to propositions that are not necessarily proved, or in some cases provable, seem, at first glance, a case parallel to that of the medieval philosophers we have mentioned.