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BOOK REVIEWS 315 The wealth of metaphysical analysis in Brown's study establishes that the positions he attacks are inaccurate. What the work shows is that we need as complete an analysis of the inesse of accident in substance as we have of the roles of matter and form in substance. Brown goes beyond mere verbal formulations that assert that there are two kinds of being which are united in some way, but more is needed if we are to understand the role ofesse in the metaphysics ofens and of causality. JOHN V. WAGNER Gonzaga University Susan M. Babbitt. Oresme's "Livre de Politiques" and the France of Charles V. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 75, Part 1, 1985. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 1985. Pp. vii + 158. Paper, $15.oo. "By me [wisdom] kings reign" (Proverbs 8:15). The text was commonly used by medieval hierocrats to defend the authority of the church, especially the unbounded power of the pope. Lay rulers understood it in other ways. In dedicating his translation and more than thorough exposition of Aristotle's Politics to Charles V sometime in the 137os, Nicole Oresme applied this dictum to the architectonic science of politique, to which Aristotle's work was the most renowned contribution. Oresme was himself the leading intellectual of his time. Best known today as a scientific thinker who either did or did not anticipate Galileo, he was also the author of a treatise on money, a translator and interpreter of the Nicomachean Ethics, an occasional diplomat, and a theologian and ecclesiastic who preached church reform to Urban V at Avignon and was eventually bishop of Lisieux. His version of the Politics was one of several translation projects sponsored by the king, apparently for the purpose of guiding his government rather than for cultural ornament. The present study, a welcome complement to Albert Douglas Menut's edition of the Livre de Politiques (Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 6o, part 6, 197o), intelligently discusses Oresme's work in relation to this admirable practical aim. Susan Babbitt begins with an academic appraisal of Oresme's book: by current standards it is not a perfect work of scholarship, but considering the previous commentaries and exclusively Latin versions of the Politics Oresme had to work from we should still be impressed, especially by his invention of much of the enduring political vocabulary of the French language. Babbitt's main concern, however, is to assess the Livre de Politiques in relation to some dominant interests of the most successful of late-medieval monarchies. In a series of chapters on National Sovereignty and the Hierarchy of Communities, The Public State and the Common Good, the Church, and Gallicanism, she begins with a survey of governmental problems and policies in the France of Charles V and then presents relevant material from Oresme. Babbitt does an excellent job of eliciting such responses to these concerns as her text affords. She shows that in some cases Oresme does indeed use Aristotle as a source, or at least an occasion--as in his long negative gloss on world monarchy, a topic notably unexplored in the Politics--for arguments congenial to Valois nation-building policy. Yet Oresme is not a perfect ideologue either. One can only "piece together" a 316 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 26:2 APRIL 1988 conception of sovereignty from his glosses; he seems "curiously blind" to the need of national governments to develop strong citizen allegiance to an impersonal, eternal state or crown. He is at best implicitly Gallican (in defending an ecclesiasticaljurisdiction independent of the secular prince he is a throwback to John of Paris rather than a successor to Philip the Fair's henchman, Nogaret). Babbitt calls attention to many good points in Oresme, and she does not suggest that he was obligated to make Aristotle into a nationalist at all costs. Yet her agreement with the prevailingjudgment (contested by Menut), that Oresme "gave his best to science," may depend on a not quite explicit assumption that the best guidance Oresme could have given his patron and friend would have been more directly in line with the king's own inclinations and the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 315-316
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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