|Life. Henry of Ghent, Doctor Solemnis, was born at or
near Ghent in the first or second decade of the thirteenth century.
Very little is known about his early life. In 1267 he became canon of
Tournai. Later on he taught with distinction at the University of Paris
and took part in the discussion which arose in 1282 concerning the
privileges of the mendicants in regard to hearing confessions. Between
1284 and 1293 he made several journeys from Paris to Tournai. He died in
1293, but whether at Paris or at Tournai is uncertain.|
Sources. The most important of Henry's works are his Summa
Theologica and his Quodlibet. The former was published at
Ghent in 1520 and again at Ferrara in 1646; the latter was published at
Paris in 1518, at Venice in 1608, and again at Venice in 1613.
Monograph: De Wulf, Études sur Henri de Gand, Louvain,
1894, embodied in l'Histoire de la philosophie scolastique dans les
Pays-Bas, etc., Louvain, 1895. Doctrines
Henry's system of philosophy agrees, in its general outlines, with the
philosophy of St. Thomas. There are, however, some points of
1. Relation of Philosophy to Theology. While agreeing with St.
Thomas that philosophy and theology are distinct sciences,
and that each has its proper object, Henry insists that philosophy is
not to be studied for its own sake, but as an aid to theology:
Non licet scientias philosophicas addiscere nisi in usum hujus
scientiae (theologiae). Qui enim philosophicas scientias discunt, finem
statuendo in ipsis propter scire naturas rerum . . . , isti sunt qui
ambulant in vanitate sensus sui. 
 Sum. Theol., Art. VII, Q. X.
2. Principle of Individuation. The principle of individuation is
not matter with its determined dimensions, as St. Thomas taught, but a
negative property of the suppositum, or individual. Henry
teaches that the remote cause of individuation is matter, inasmuch as
matter is the basis of multiplicity, but that the proximate cause is
something which is distinct from matter although it is not a positive
Oportet eas (formas creaturarum) individuari ut habeant rationem
suppositi. . . . Sed quid est in supposito praeter formam quo habet esse
hoc? . . . Dico aliquid praeter materiam et praeter agens quod est quasi
dispositio suppositi in quantum suppositum est. . . . Sic ergo nonnisi
determinatione negationis . . . fit et individuatio et suppositi
 Quodl., V, 8.
3. Distinction between Essence and Existence. Henry denies the
real distinction between essence and existence, thus returning to the
doctrine of Alexander of Hales and the first schoolmen of the
thirteenth century. He maintains the thesis "Esse sunt diversa
quorumcumque essentiae sunt diversae." 
 Op. cit., I, 10.
4. Plurality of Substantial Forms. Henry maintains that besides
the rational soul there is in man another substantial form, the
forma corporeitatis, or forma commixtionis corporalis.
His argument is as follows: "Aliter enim nihil omnino homo in
generatione hominis generaret substantiale, sed tantummodo
corrumperet."  This form is the famous mediator plasticus of
 Op. cit., III, 16
5. Theory of Knowledge. Misunderstanding the Scholastic doctrine
of ideation, Henry, while admitting, in the case of
sense-knowledge, the existence of the species sensibilis as a
substitute for the object, denies the existence of the intelligible
species on the ground that the phantasm, by becoming spiritualized,
determines the intellect to the act of knowledge:
In vi sensitiva apprehensiva requiritur species objecti. . . . In vi
autem apprehensiva intellectus, nulla species requiritur de objecto,
quia ipsum (objectum) existens in phantasmate, factum universale,
praesens est et simul cum intellectu. 
 Quodl., XIII, 11.
6. Augustinianism. In more than one point of doctrine Henry of
Ghent returns to the Augustinian and Platonic tradition of the eleventh
century. For example, he attaches great importance to intellectual
memory, teaches that there is no real distinction between the soul and
its faculties, and adds to the Augustinian doctrine of exemplarism the
theory of a special illumination by which man attains a transcendent
knowledge of the essences of things as they exist in the Divine Mind
and of supernatural truth:
Naturali enim appetitu bene desiderat (homo) scire etiam illa quae sunt
supernaturaliter cognoscenda, quae secundum communem illustrationem a
divino exemplari sine illustratione specialiori non potest
 Sum. Theol, Art. I, Q. II.
7. Superiority of Will to Intellect. Henry is the first of the
mediaeval voluntarists. He maintains the superiority of will with
respect to intellect. Intellect, indeed, precedes will; nevertheless,
will is the more perfect faculty, intellect being merely its servant:
Omnino habitus et actus et objectum voluntatis praeeminet actui, habitui
et objecto intellectus: idcirco absolute dicendum quod voluntas
praeeminet intellectui et est altior potentia illo. 
 Quoted by Gonzalez, op. cit., II, 317; cf.
Quodl., I, 14.
Historical Position. Henry of Ghent contributed to Scholastic
philosophy a very able refutation of scepticism. His renewal of the
Augustinian tradition, which had been so important in
the schools of the centuries preceding the thirteenth, was in keeping
with the teachings of the Franciscan masters, and helped to prepare the
way for the era of greater Franciscan influence inaugurated by Duns