Volume 15, Issue 1, 2018
Claus A. Andersen
Comprehension at the Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology
The Case of Mastri and Belluto’s Disputationes in De anima (1643)
Duns Scotus and Aquinas agree that whereas God comprehends Himself or even is his own comprehension, no creature can ever comprehend God. In the 17th century, the two Scotists Bartolomeo Mastri and Bonaventura Belluto discuss comprehension in their manual of philosophical psychology. Although they attempt to articulate a genuine Scotist doctrine on the subject, this article shows that they in fact defend a stance close to the one endorsed by contemporary scholastics outside the Scotist school. The article situates their discussion within 17th-century scholasticism (authors cited include, among others, the Scotists Theodor Smising and Claude Frassen, the Jesuit philosopher-theologians Pedro Hurtado de Mendoza, Luis de Molina, Rodrigo de Arriaga, and Diego Ruiz de Montoya, as well as the eclecticist Jean Lalemandet). The article furthermore highlights the theological motifs in Mastri and Belluto’s discussion of comprehension. Although they claim that their discussion does not transgress the limits of Aristotelian psychology, all of their arguments are theological in nature. From this I conclude that in this particular context (within their Cursus philosophicus) our two Scotists clearly start out with a set of theological convictions, rather than with any particular philosophico-epistemological beliefs.