A Companion to Henry of Ghent


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The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review

Information about his career is also scarce. He was in Paris in ; from he begins to appear in the documents as magister , as well as canon of Tournai, though nothing is known of his presumed teaching activity at the Faculty of Arts. From , the year in which he disputed his first Quodlibet , until his death, Henry was Regent Master at the Faculty of Theology. Manuscript copies of his second Quodlibet , datable to , indicate that he was archdeacon of Brugge Bruges. From he was archdeacon of Tournai Doornik. His name was recorded in the death register of Tournai cathedral on 23 June During his university career in Paris Henry was personally involved in almost all of the most important events in university and ecclesiastical life.

In he was a member of the commission of theologians set up by Bishop Tempier in order to censure propositions considered erroneous that were being taught at the Faculty of Arts and that would be condemned on 7 March of the same year Wielockx However, his not strictly theological production is of uncertain attribution: probably authentic are a treatise on the Syncategoremata ms. Brugge, Stadsbibl.

Erfurt, Amplon. Escorial, h. Rather unusual in scholastic production, the Summa by Henry does not open with a direct treatment of God, but with a lengthy analysis of the problem of human knowledge, beginning with the sceptic's question par excellence : can man know anything at all art. Henry refuses to pursue in depth Augustine's radical theory in q. As generally agreed after the rediscovery of Aristotle's works by the Latin West, since all knowledge originates in the senses, denying any value whatsoever to sensation would mean denying all possibility of knowledge in general.

Taking knowledge scire : to know in its most generic sense, for Henry it is undeniable that man knows something; Augustine's reservations should be taken to refer to those who claim that judgment is co-extensive with sensation. If we distinguish sensorial apprehension from the intellect's judgment of it, then it is perfectly legitimate to expect truth or a certain kind of truth from the senses. The next question of the same article q.

Along traditional Augustinian lines, the reply should be negative, since all true knowledge can only come from divine illumination. But a unilateral solution of this type represents for Henry a serious attack on the dignity of the rational soul. The essential operation of the soul is constituted by knowledge; therefore if knowledge were not already included, at least partially, in its natural possibilities, the soul would paradoxically find itself constituted for an aim that it could never achieve.

Wilson, p. However, the above concerns knowledge in general, scire in the broadest sense. Moving on to knowledge in the strict sense, proprie scire or certitudinaliter scire , things get more complicated. As in Augustine's Soliloquia , it is important to distinguish between what is true and truth itself. Here it is important to distinguish further, since the exemplar is a double one. In the first place, the exemplar is the universal species of the object that the mind obtains by abstraction, on the basis of sensible data.

In this case, the truth of the res is the conformity between the really existing thing and its mental representation; this conformity can only be grasped by the dividing and composing intellect, in the classic Aristotelian and Thomist formula, and not by the simplex intelligentia. In the second place, the exemplar is the ideal form present in the divine mind that acts as the formal cause of creatural essences, and from this perspective the veritas of the res is its ontological conformity Anselm's rectitudo to its eternal model.

This double relation res-mens , res-exemplar aeternum thereby produces a double truth, or two different levels of truth: on the one hand, the veritas of Aristotelian science, deriving from the purely natural faculties, through an abstracting process, and on the other, the sincera veritas , obtained only through divine illumination — in other words, by an act of God, not as obiectum cognitum known object but as ratio cognoscendi cause or reason of knowledge.

Indeed, it is a form that is absolutely necessary for the fulfilment of the second: the action of the divine exemplar can only work on a concept already obtained by the intellect through abstraction. For Henry, divine illumination does not directly provide the mind with any content, but rather certifies definitively with the typical Augustinian image of the seal the representation of a thing present in the human intellect, as coinciding with the representation existing ab aeterno in the divine intellect. In this way, Henry creates a unique blend of Aristotle's theory of abstraction and Augustine's doctrine of divine illumination.

Truth is the result of the comparison between two exemplars: the Aristotelian universal obtained by abstraction from sensible data, and the archetype present in the divine mind, which is not only the cause of the existence of things, but also their epistemic guarantee, so to speak. The action of divine illumination is therefore neither a direct donation of intelligible contents, independent of the conditions of sensible knowledge, nor is it a simple purification, preparation or refinement of the mind in order to predispose it to intellectual knowledge. Rather, it is the certification of our created exemplar by the uncreated one; in other words, by divine art ars.

Over the years, however, Henry seems gradually to abandon this theory of the double exemplar in order to make room, on the one hand, for a reworking of the defining process of essences through their progressive determination, as described by Aristotle in the Posterior Analytics Marrone , and , and on the other, for a reinterpretation of illumination as the constant presence in act, albeit in a recess of the mind abditum mentis , of the image of God Quodl.

IX, q. Concerning the first aspect, it is worth noting that in the Summa articles dedicated to the knowableness of God, an exact epistemological process is described, according to the scheme of the Posterior Analytics , that begins with the pure acquisition of the name of a thing, proceeds to the ascertainment of its essential being the fact that a given thing is possible and not a mere figment , and arrives at knowledge of a res in itself through its definition and the successive determination of its other essential features and properties by means of an operation of the composing and dividing intellect.

Concerning the second aspect, this theme would find an indirect echo in the doctrine of the ground of the soul elaborated by Dietrich of Freiberg and Meister Eckhart. This presence, to which the mind is constantly directed without any mediation, albeit through an operation of which we are almost always unaware intelligere abditum , is for Henry what directs the mind itself to all authentic knowledge Emery In this evolution, particularly important is the partial rejection of the function of intelligible species for example, in Quodl.

III, q. IV, q.

John Duns Scotus

More precisely, for Henry, the phantasm itself is made immaterial by the abstraction of the agent intellect and imprints itself on the possible intellect, without the mediation of the intelligible species. The particular phantasm is made a universal phantasm by means of abstraction, and just as the universal cannot really be distinguished from particular things, so the universal phantasm cannot really be distinguished from the particular.

The phantasm is therefore the efficient cause of intellectual knowledge, or better, of the first operation of the intellect that of simple understanding. Henry does not eliminate sensible species, however, nor does he eliminate all types of representation in the sphere of intellectual activity. Indeed, after the phantasms are impressed on the possible or potential intellect, making simple understanding possible, the intellect then forms complex judgments and produces its own species, or verbum mental word , as a result of this activity.

Even when Henry expounds the theory of the double exemplar , he always maintains that the divine exemplar acts on the verbum already formed by the intellect at the first level of knowledge, refining and transforming it into a second, more perfect, verbum that can represent the truth at the level of sincera veritas Goehring This clearly differentiates Henry from anti-representationalists like Olivi and Ockham in his later phase, even though Henry remains one of the first authoritative masters to eliminate the mediation of intelligible species explicitly on the basis of the principle of economy as is made further evident by the reactions of his contemporaries and the masters of the next generation.

A Companion to Henry James, dir. G. W. Zacharias

Certitudo here means stability, consistency, and ontological self-identity: a triangle is a triangle and nothing else, white is white and nothing else. This content can be considered in itself, as independent from its physical or mental existence. In an absolute sense, every essence possesses a double indifference: with regard to actual existence or non-existence essence in itself is simply possible , and with regard to universality and particularity. These last two aspects are really conjoined.

Essence is particular in that it receives its subsistence in a given suppositum concrete individual entity from something-other-than-itself, while it is universal in that it is abstracted by the intellect from these singular supposita , in which it exists as one in many, in order to become predicable by many. Even though for both Avicenna and Henry thing res and being ens are primary notions or rather intentions — intentiones — the sense of which we shall soon clarify , intentio de re seems to have a certain precedence over intentio de esse , at least logically, in virtue of its double indifference.

Nevertheless, the latter is concomitant with the former, since every res only exists in physical reality or in the mind. More simply, through such a concept, a thing can be considered, leaving aside all that does not form part of its essential content and that therefore constitutes an additional determination. That which possesses an absolute concept can exist in act only through one of its additional dispositions, with respect to which it is nevertheless indifferent Porro , b.

Indifference only concerns the way in which a thing can be considered. In reality, no essence is indifferent to the point of being equally disposed toward being and non-being. The effective indifference of essences must therefore be taken in a narrower sense than in Avicenna too : every creatural essence tends naturally toward non-being in Avicennian terms, no possible essence, in the absence of a cause for its existence, could exist , though this inclination can be reversed by an external cause.

No essence of a thing is so rigidly oriented toward nothing that it cannot receive being-in-act through a divine action. Similarly, even when placed, in act no thing ever possesses its being in an ultimate way: if God were to withdraw His support, it would fall into non-being. Indifference as absolute neutrality is therefore only the result of an intentional analysis. In reality, every thing is always either in non-being or in being, and not in the same way, since the first of these conditions is co-extensive with the thing itself, the second depends on God.

We still need to clarify in what sense existence can be said to be concomitant with essence. Being has access to essence from the outside, in the sense that it does not strictly belong to the essential nature of a res , except in the case of God. If this were not the case, a thing every thing would not simply be possible in itself, but necesse esse necessary being on a par with God. Instead, being seems to be an accident, or rather it has almost the mode of an accident Quodl.

Nevertheless, it is not an accident in the real sense, since it is not added to something pre-existing, but is rather that by virtue of which a thing exists. II, q. Wielockx, p. In this sense an accident is anything that is external to the intentio of a res as absolute essence, without ever being really distinct from it.


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With regard to essence, actual being that is, ratio suppositi represents an accident of this type. Being is therefore an intentio that occurs to essence without adding anything real, and so it differs from essence only intentionally. The term intentio must not be taken in the narrow sense with which, for example, one speaks of intentiones secundae as nomina nominum individual, genus, species, difference, property, accident, etc. It can also be said that intentions really exist in a res , but only potentially, whereas their distinction is an operation of the intellect alone.

In an intentional distinction, in other words, the very same thing is expressed by different concepts in different ways. As Henry explicitly states, this means that everything that differs in intention differs in reason too, but not vice versa. Unlike a purely logical distinction, an intentional distinction always implies a form of composition, even though this is minor with regard to that implied by a real difference.

The clearest examples of this are found in Quodl. Therefore we can only appeal to an intermediate distinction, which is precisely that which Henry defines as intentional. For Henry there are two levels of intentional distinction: a major and a minor. In the major none of the intentions includes the other or others, even though they are all part of the same thing, and it has two modes: the distinction between the differences in man rational, sensible, vegetative and so on and the distinction between genus and specific difference animal and rational.

In the minor the concept of one intention includes the other but not vice versa. And here Henry lists four modes: the distinction between species and genus; the distinction between living and being in creatures; the distinction between a suppositum and its nature or essence; and the distinction between a respectus relation and the essence on which it is founded Macken The distinction between being and essence belongs to the last mode. Since being is not a real accident inhering in a subject, it makes no sense to speak of a real distinction. Instead, the distinction depends on the fact that the intellect uses different concepts to indicate the being of a thing, on the one hand, and that which a thing is, on the other.

Nevertheless, since essence can be thought of independently from its being, and being is not part of its content, we cannot refer here to a distinction based on reason alone. In other words, whereas the concept of actual existence always includes the concept of essence, the contrary is not true, since essence can be thought of without its being as affirmed by Avicenna. Being and essence are therefore different intentions, not different things as instead was maintained by Giles of Rome in his long dispute with Henry.

This intentional distinction is in itself sufficient to refute the conclusion that every essence is its being. How does this conclusion accord with Avicenna's theory that intentio de re precedes intentio de esse? Essence exists in the measure in which it participates in divine being. There are nevertheless two possible interpretations of the concept of participation. In the first, essence is a kind of potential substratum that is filled by existence at the moment of its actualization. In this sense, essence would be in potency to being as matter is to form.

In generation, form is not educed from nothing, but from pre-existing matter. Similarly, if essence were a potential substratum, being would not be created from nothing, but from essence itself. The second interpretation makes essence the object that is, the term or result , not the subject of creation: essence is constituted as such in virtue of its relation of participation with the Creator. Something can be in potency with regard to a given act, either as the subject subiectum from which something else can or must be produced as in the case of matter with regard to form , or as the object obiectum that constitutes the result itself of production as in the case of generation, the form, or more precisely, the combination of matter and form.

In the first case, the agent intervenes, impressing itself, or something else as form , on the already available potential substratum. In the second case, there is no effective potency with regard to the acquisition of another form, but only with regard to the agent. Hence, essence is placed in act through creation, not because a form educed from its potency is impressed on it, but because it constitutes the result itself of the agent's action. Essence is not in potency in relation to being, but in relation to itself, as a totality constituted in being.

Nevertheless, this theory raises a problem. In every transmutation, what changes cannot strictly coincide with the terms themselves of the change. If essence is possibile esse and non esse , and passes from non-being to being through creation, it must be different both from non-being the state before creation as well as from being the state after creation. If, on the other hand, essence were identical to one of the two terms being, in the case in question , then there would be no change, since essence would never be in non-being. To obviate this problem, Henry seeks to refine further, especially in his later Quodlibeta , the distinction between possibile subiective and possibile obiective , so that, within certain limits that is, from a logical rather than from an ontological perspective , essence can figure as the subiectum , and not just the terminus , of creation.

In the first signum , essence loses its non-being; in the second, essence occupies an intermediate position between the non-being it is abandoning and the being it is acquiring, and in this sense it is the subiectum of the transmutation; finally, in the third, essence has acquired its being, and as such it is the terminus of the change Summa , art. The above concerns the acquisition of existence, or actual being.

Yet independently of existence, and preceding it, essence is already constituted as such in its specific being: the esse proprium that Avicenna attributes to a res in virtue of its certitudo. It is well-known that Henry refers to this being as esse essentiae. Indeed, not every res conceivable by the human intellect corresponds to a nature that can be actualized. The being of essence thus coincides with the possibility, or the ability, to receive actual existence that a purely imagined res does not have.

Henry here introduces his well-known distinction between res a reor reris and res a ratitudine cf. In the first case, a thing is considered in its purely nominal conception, to which a reality, outside a purely mental one, need not correspond reor is here synonymous with opinor — to imagine, to suppose. As such, a res a reor reris is in itself indifferent to both being essentiae and existentiae and non-being: to cite the most common example, a res a reor reris can be a mythical animal such as a hircocervus or tragelaphus goat-stag. But whence does the being of an essence come?

Macken, p. A stone is a stone because of its own nature, and the same is true for a triangle. Formally, every essence is therefore what it is, in and of itself, albeit through participation participative , since the very fact of being an essence, content aside, is dependent on God.

More precisely, esse essentiae belongs to essence because of its eternal relation with God as formal cause. It is only in virtue of this relation that essences can also come into actual existence, which signals a new relation between a creature and God, the latter now as efficient cause.

In the first case, essences depend on the divine intellect, in the second, on the divine will. Being therefore always indicates a relation in creatures, which is simple for essences in themselves esse essentiae , and twofold for actualized essences esse essentiae plus esse existentiae. Nevertheless the two types of relation are not perfectly symmetrical.

In the first place, while essence can be conceived independently of its existence in the physical world, it cannot be conceived independently of its being-essence, otherwise it would be a mere figment. Consequently, the relation that forges esse existentiae is in some way accidental, whereas that which forges esse essentiae is essential.

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Peter Eardley

In the second place, since God chooses, from all the essences eternally constituted as such by His intellect, those that He will actualize over time, on the basis of His free will, one respectus is such from eternity, while the other takes place in time. Since that which essence is depends on essence itself, while the fact of being an essence derives from a formal dependence similitudo on God, it follows that within essence itself there is a composition prior to the one so far described between essence and existence. Even in essence, in other words, we can distinguish between an id quod est and a quo est , in the classic Boethian formulation.

Quo est is obviously esse essentiae. It is not so easy, however, to identify id quod est. It is certainly not essence itself, since essence is the result of the composition, not one of its component parts. Yet neither is it strictly speaking a res a reor reris , even though Henry himself had entertained this possibility on one occasion at least Summa , art. In the denomination res a reor reris are included all those essences effectively constituted as such and also figments devoid of any objective content.

Consequently, res ratae are more a subcategory of res a reor reris , rather than the possible result of the composition between the latter and esse essentiae. But what is this objective content? The most explicit answer is to be found again in q. Henry likewise distinguishes between ratio praedicamenti and res praedicamenti Quodl.

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Ratio praedicamenti is being; it is the reason why every essence generally falls within the predicamental sphere. Res praedicamenti is instead the realitas of every essence; it is what makes essence belong to a given predicament. Without esse essentiae a thing res could never belong to the categories, nor could it ever be the object of meaningful scientific statements; yet it is that which is proper to each essence that places it within a given predicament.

Esse essentiae is before every genus and outside every genus: only in that it is composed does it belong to a given genus. From this perspective, it is not being that is added to what is proper to every thing, but the opposite: what determines being supervenes on the latter. This is Henry's theory in the later Quodlibeta , in concordance with the theory in De causis according to which the first of created things is being Porro The being created first by God is clearly not esse existentiae , but esse essentiae , called esse latissimum , esse communissimum , and esse largissimo modo acceptum in q.

All that follows — that is, the determination of essence with regard to its objective content or to its actualization in the physical or mental world — is none other than a delimitation, or specification, of that being. The radical conclusion of Henry's theory is that the only real term of creation is esse latissimum ; all the rest is not created from nothing, but is constituted through an in-formation process of that essential being in a strict hierarchical order. Hence, esse essentiae is created first; next comes, through information, esse aliquid per essentiam ; finally, the whole essence thus composed is placed in act.

Esse existentiae is the actualization of esse essentiae , just as esse aliquid per existentiam is the actualization of esse aliquid per essentiam , though this is not a matter of things, elements or different parts, but only of different intentions. For Henry even the distinction between esse essentiae and the realitas of an essence is of an intentional type. Such a distinction seems to differ from the distinction between essence and esse existentiae : one of the most salient features of the intentional distinction is that one of the intentions thus distinguished can be conceived even when the other is removed or negated.

Essence can be considered in itself, without actuality, and yet it seems more difficult to conceive of it without its own being, since, from a formal perspective, essence is always its being, and the relation of participation in divine essence that constitutes every essence is eternal and indestructible. Therefore Henry was initially tempted to make a distinction based on reason alone between essence and its essential being; as, for example, in the solution adopted in Quodl. Only later would he abandon this choice to adopt an intentional distinction for this case too. A spectacular example of this change of position is the recasting of q.

In the final version, Henry rejects what he had previously maintained: that essence is really its being in a strict sense. This inversion is probably due to the need to conserve the distance between the absolute simplicity of the divine essence and the simplicity of created essences, as well as to his new understanding of the priority of essential being, as the first created thing, with regard to all subsequent determinations, beginning with the determination of the content of essences themselves.

Yet how are essences constituted in their being? As mentioned above, essences depend on the divine intellect, which is their exemplary cause. More precisely, essences correspond to divine ideas, which represent their eternal exemplars. According to Henry an idea is in God for the fact that divine essence is in some ways imitable by creatural essences.

God's knowledge of what is different from Himself coincides with the knowledge of the different ways in which He considers Himself imitable, since divine knowledge is not determined by the presence of external objects, but rather is itself the formal exemplary cause of its own contents. Here, however, the classic question of the relation between divine simplicity and creatural multiplicity again arises. Were God to know immediately the plurality of creatable objects essences , His simplicity and unity divine knowledge is not really distinct from divine essence would be irremediably compromised.

On the other hand, if God did not have access to the multiplicity of all that is distinct from His essence, He would not know anything. To avoid any excessively brusque passage, the knowledge of this secondary object is then subdivided into two distinct moments: in the first, every creatural essence is coincident with divine essence itself, and expresses a simple respectus imitabilitatis with it; in the second, every such essence is taken as distinct, endowed with a specific modus of being — esse essentiae — which nevertheless always derives from a relation of formal participation in the divine essence.

In Henry's lexicon, these two moments indicate respectively the exemplar , which is the divine idea, and the exemplatum also called ideatum , which is an essence fully constituted in its quidditative content and so able to be placed in act. Exemplata , or essences, are thus secondary objects of divine knowledge, indeed they are doubly so, and as such they seem to have a purely mental being. In other words, they are diminished beings entia diminuta , just like the contents of our mind. But the divine intellect obviously does not have the same characteristics as ours, since in order to know something our intellect needs to be informed per speciem by its contents, and so is passive in a sense, whereas the divine intellect is itself the cause of its own contents.

Hence the level of existence that contents have in the divine intellect is not in any way comparable to that which they have in our intellect. Essences are therefore entia diminuta , though not so diminished that they cannot be something in themselves Quodl. One might ask whether God possesses this same freedom in bestowing esse essentiae on possible essences, that is, on doubly secondary objects of His knowledge.

Unlike what happens for the being of existence, the reply would seem to be negative in this case.

As mentioned above, there is an asymmetry between the relation of efficient causality and the relation of formal dependence that conjoin creatures and Creator: while the former is in time, the latter is eternal. This means that the distinction between what is possible and what is not possible is necessarily such from eternity. Moreover, since essences can never cease to be in their essential being that is, in their being eternally thought by God , they are absolutely necessary.

As such, not only can they not be destroyed, but they cannot even be modified. In actual existence, all essences are equally indifferent with regard to the Creator's power, so that God can place in act one res before another as He chooses, without any mediation, whereas in their own being essences are arranged in a hierarchical order that God himself, on whom that order depends, cannot modify. In order to grasp this difference, we need only consider the first two questions of Quodlibet VIII, in which Henry distinguishes between the purely speculative knowledge that God has of essences and His practical consideration of their possible actualization.

The difference between these two forms of knowledge does not lie in the diversity of the object, but rather in the diversity of the aim; that is, in the fact that God can consider a thing as the result of a possible operation of His will. In this sense, God knows what will effectively be placed in act, not by considering an essence in itself every essence is indeed indifferent to actual existence , but by considering the determination of His will in this regard.

God's will is as immutable and eternal as His knowledge; yet it is not constrained by the essential relation that binds ideas together. God has always known the individual entities that he will actualize in the various species, as well as those that he will not, yet His decision in this regard is absolutely free and does not correspond to any essential order. God constructs the essential framework of the world through ideas and speculative knowledge, while it is through their practical extension that He freely brings into being some of the creatures eternally constituted as possible.

Yet there is no correspondence, strictly speaking, between one order and another. To illustrate this divergence Henry uses a particularly striking image: possible existences are arranged in a circle around God, so that they are all equidistant, while essences are arranged in a straight line, beginning with the noblest creature the highest angel and ending with the lowest form of being prime matter.

This means that while the second term depends directly and exclusively on the first, the third depends on the first and the second, the forth on the first three, and so on. A series of this type is clearly neither open nor infinite, since if it were there would no longer be an ordered relation between the terms. Concerning the case in question, this fact has at least two consequences. In the first place, according to Henry, God cannot now introduce ex novo a new essence in any part of the series without irremediably destroying the world order.

Even if it were possible to add something at the beginning or at the end of the series — above the highest angel or below prime matter — then other infinite terms would be possible, too, and infinity in itself destroys any ordered relation. The articles in this volume dedicated to Hans Daiber, one of the pioneering scholars in the history This book aims at beginning the rewriting of the history of skepticism by highlightening the medieval sources of the modern skeptical discussions.

It shows through seven newly written essays how epistemological and external-world skepticism was developed and discussed particularly in the fourteenth century up to sixteenth century Paris. This book aims at beginning the rewriting of the history of skepticism by highlightening the Drawing on social movement theory, this book presents a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of The twelfth-century Iranian mystic 'Ayn al-Qudat al-Hamadhani d.

This state and his visions of Doomsday and the innumerable non-corporeal worlds that lie past the world of matter confront him with paradoxical realities that upset the Stretching from Late Antiquity to the 18th century and including figures such as Leibniz as well as his Jesuit contemporaries, this book offers a survey of the extensive discussion devoted to the language of angels, one of the most lively and long lasting controversies in Medieval and Early Modern philosophy of language. Stretching from Late Antiquity to the 18th century and including figures such as Leibniz as well as This book offers the first critical edition of the Questions on Aristotle's De generatione et corruptione by John Buridan d.

The text originated out of Buridan's teaching and was widely used at universities in Eastern Europe. This book offers the first critical edition of the Questions on Aristotle's De generatione et GersonidesRabbi Levi ben Gershom Provence, was a multifaceted thinker. Endowed with his original and critical mind, he did not accept the authority of his predecessors but investigated every matter for himself.

His extraordinary attention to methodboth of inquiry and of writingstands out clearly in his own work and in his reading of Endowed with his Toggle navigation. New to eBooks.

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