BATE Henry—philosopher, encyclopedist, b. 1246 in Malines, d. around 1310.
From 1266 to 1272, he studied philosophy in the faculty of arts of the University of Paris where he received the title of master of philosophy. He probably never studied in the faculty of theology. Both the teaching of Thomas Aquinas, who in this period was fighting Averroism in the faculty of arts and whom Henry Bate criticized in the Speculum for his radical “empiricism”, and his countryman, Siger de Brabant, then a master in the faculty, influenced Bate’s original views. Bate received a Church benefice and returned in 1273 to Malines. In 1274 he was present at the Council of Lyons where he met with his countryman, William of Moerbecke. He remained friend with William and drew extensively on his new translations of Proclus, Themistius, Simplicius, and Philoponus. From 1281 he lived permanently in Liège as a canon and cantor of the chapter of St. Lambert. Most probably shortly after 1281 he began preparations for his encyclopedia Speculum divinorum et quorundam naturalium, which he dedicated to his protector, Guy de Hainaut.
Bate’s scientific interests also extended to astronomy and astrology. He translated some astrological works from Hebrew and Arabic, constructed astronomical tables, called Tabulae Mechlinienses, and was the author of the treatises Magistralis expositio astrolabii and Liber servi Dei de Machlinia super inquisitione et verificatione nativitatis propriae (1274).
Henry Bate’s Speculum divinorum et quorundam naturalium is an extensive encyclopedia (with 23 parts, divided into 558 chapters) and is strictly philosophical and scientific. Bate’s explained that the object of philosophy consists not only in natural things (naturalia), i.e., beings that are subject to motion, generation, and corruption, but primarily divine things (divina). These are divine substances separate from motion and matter: souls, intelligences, and God. A knowledge of these “divine substances”, which are “the principles of knowledge, being, and truth” of all later things, perfects the human intellect in the highest degree, gives it the greatest pleasure, and leads to union with God. The rather chaotic and compiled work (much of it consists in citations from other authors) has a “scientific structure” intended by the author, a series of “quaestiones disputatae de intellectu where he first investigates the nature of the intellect and its relation to the body, then later examines the various divisions of the intellect, both cognitive and volitional. He made long digressions on “natural things” to shed light on the main object of discussion. These digressions were often separate scientific treatises. They concerned the nature of matter, time, motion, physiology, biology, meteorology, the nature of light, astronomy, astrology, and magical phenomena. In his introduction to the Speculum, Henry Bate writes that one of the aims of this work is to show the real harmony of the texts of Plato and Aristotle, which appear to be in disagreement upon a superficial reading. The world is subordinated to this end, in particular part 7 and 11–12.
Henry Bate’s contribution to the discussion on the plurality of intellects was original. In the third part of the Speculum he drew upon the argumentation of Thomas Aquinas to reject Siger de Brabant’s opinion on this question, yet he was critical of Thomas’ theory of the intellect as the forma corporis. According to Henry Bate, the differences in the intellectual activities and the corporeal condition of man constitutes an argument for his theory of real substantial differences between human intellects, even though they belong to the same species. According to Bate, these differences escape our human conceptual knowledge. To explain the substantial gradation of beings in the order of perfection with one species, Bate introduces the principle of participation in transcendent forms. On the basis of this principle every substance can be “more or less what it is” depending on its degree of proximity to the higher formal cause in which it participates. The difference between human souls, because of a certain gradation of formal perfections and properties, guarantees their plurality also after they are separated from bodies. Henry Bate, however, emphasizes the indivisible unity of numerically different separated souls because of their participation in the divine intellect.
The edition of the Speculum started by G. Wallerand (p. 1–2, Lv 1931, the series: Les Philosophes Belges II) was interrupted by his death. Two volumes of the critical edition of E. van de Vyver, Henricus B. Speculum divinorum et quorundam naturalium have been published (I Lv 1961, II Lv 1967, series: Centre De Wulf-Mansion: Philosophes médiévaux IV, X), containing parts 1–3. In the new series “Ancient and Medieval Philosophy” published by De Wulf-Mansion-Centrum, parts 4–5 of been published as volume 4 (ed. C. Steel, Lv 1993), v. X contains parts 6–7 (ed. C. Steel, E. van de Vyver, Lv 1994), v. XII— parts 11–12 (ed. H. Boese, Lv 1990), and v. XXIII—parts 20–23 (ed. C. Steel, G. Guldentops, Lv 1996).
G. Wallerand, Henry Bate de Malines et Saint Thomas d’Aquin, RNSP 6 (1934), 387–411; B. Nardi, Sigieri di Brabante nel pensiero del Rinascimento italiano, R 1945; T. Gregory, Platone e Aristotele nello “Speculum” di Enrico B. di Malines, Studii Medievali 3 (1961), 302–319; A. Birkenmajer, Henry B. de Malines, astronome et philosophe du XIII3 siècle, in: Études d’histoire des sciences et de la philosophie du Moyen Âge, Wwa 1970; C. Stell, The Individuation of the Human Intellect. Henry Bate’s Platonic-Nominalistic Position, MM 24, B 1996, 230–248.