See the Preliminary comment to Part 1, Book 6, chapters 1-15.
The following sources have been universally collated for the reconstruction of 1 Dial. 6.36-50:
Tradition A: Bb An Fi
Tradition B: Va Vg
Tradition D: Es
Tradition E: Vc We
The “reliability rate” of the witnesses in this segment is fairly similar to
what was recorded for the earlier portions of Book 6. The best source for our
critical text is We (88% variants convergence), followed by An
and Vc (both at 85%), Fi (84%), Bb
(82%), Vg (76%), Va (72%), and the Trechsel
edition (Ly) at 68%. Es, which represents
tradition D, is in some small measure removed from the common text of ABCE
with a 43% variants convergence index. This is not entirely due to the internal
idiosyncrasies of Es, which is a good early exemplar of its
group. With the partial exception of Ba, a manuscript that
seems to have been repaired by reference to tradition E, all tradition
D texts show a similar, more or less noticeable (depending on the focus
fragment of the Dialogus) deviation from ABCE. Furthermore,
the interesting similarities of tradition D to tradition E
noted elsewhere with regard to 1 Dial. 1-5 were not, it would appear,
subsequently maintained with equally noticeable intensity. In the current
segment (as in earlier portions of 1 Dial. 6) tradition D has far more
numerous “deviant convergences” in common with tradition B (here
over 50) than with any other. This, coupled with the clearly
demonstrated use of similarly “deviant” tradition B textual options (67
noted instances) by tradition E exemplars of the “
The chapters of segment 6.36-50 were clustered around two issues of the early 1330's which were of prime concern to the Franciscan dissidents led by Michael of Cesena: recognition and security.
Chapters 45 through 50 continue the analysis begun in chapter 16,
underpinning the standard Michaelist demand that a legal case regarding the
orthodoxy of Pope John XXII be opened on the basis of the Appeals against him
Much more urgent, in fact vitally so, was the problem of the dissidents' own fate, given the potentially precarious nature of the support afforded them by their current patrons. It should therefore come as no surprise that chapters 36 through 44 of 1 Dial. 6 are amongst the easiest to interpret in the full range of the Dialogus. Ockham goes out of his way here to underline the fact that the arguments supporting the view that honest opponents of a ruling pope who have impugned his orthodoxy must be protected from any and all administrative countermoves, essentially belong to “brother Michael and his followers” (see 1 Dial. 6. 41, 42, 43), and were designed to protect them in the pursuit of their cause.
It is also symptomatic that chapters 47 and 48, where the issues of recognition and security are actively combined, reflects an early use of Ockham's potent natural law theory (as eventually described in 3 Dial. 3.6). “Natural reason”, so the argument states, does not allow judges (and especially the pope who is the supreme ecclesiastical judge of Christendom) to use their authority so as to prevent legitimate inquiry about their performance in office, particularly with respect to those persons who had formally appealed against this authority. There is no requirement to obey any command from an accused judge which is prejudicial to the case of the accusers, for the judge's authority has been temporarily suspended by natural law as to all matters pertinent to the appeal. If higher positive authority manages to subvert the process of inquiry (perhaps even by the arrest or execution of the appellants), this is only an unhappy consequence of the corruption and weakened situation of human nature after the Fall, and does not establish a moral obligation on anyone in any defensible sense. Ockham's radical analysis has sometimes been deemed self-serving and even “anarchistic” (Lagarde). But it is hard to deny its logic as a creative antecedent to the development of due process in the political theory and practice of future centuries.
Revised February 2008.