By Leonard Kennedy
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Additional resources for The Universal Treatise of Nicholas of Autrecourt (Mediaeval Philosophical Texts in Translation)
Page 9 Objection 10 Nicholas raises an objection against his doctrine of the good. If a person makes a mistake, his act is not good. But Nicholas has taught that whatever exists is good. Now, how can the act be both good and not good? Nicholas' answer to this objection is that the act is good, absolutely speaking; that is, it is better for it to exist than not exist. Nicholas holds that the existence of whatever is is better than its non-existence, since otherwise everything in the universe would happen by chance.
Moreover, since Nicholas is not demon- Page 3 strating his own position but simply establishing its probability, he uses arguments which are not demonstrations and even defends positions which he believes to be false. He takes a set of propositions, which he need not necessarily accept as true, and defends them as more probable than their opposites. 5 First Prologue, Part One Nicholas thinks that the so-called "conclusions" of Aristotle and Averroes are not really demonstrated and that opposite conclusions can just as easily be drawn from the evidence.
For, if a point touches a point, it coincides with it. And, if the points in the magnitude do not touch each other, there is no continuum. Nicholas' answer is baffling. He thinks that it is possible for points to touch each other without coinciding because two points can touch with each retaining its own different position. Yet he does not really explain how this is possible. Objection 3 Another difficulty is raised by Algazel. If two circles of different radii move together around a common centre, when the large circumference has moved one point, the small circumference has moved through a fraction of a point.