- Mediaeval Commentaries on the Sentences of Peter Lombard
The first volume of the Mediaeval Commentaries on the Sentences of Peter Lombard (=MCS1) edited by G. R. Evans in 2002 provided the first comprehensive study of those works that house much Latin medieval philosophy from the middle of the twelfth century to Martin Luther in the sixteenth century. Philipp Rosemann rounded out this project in 2007 with The Story of a Great Medieval Book: Peter Lombard's Sentences (Peterborough, ON: Broadview), which serves as an introduction to the second volume he has now edited of the MCS (=MCS2). These volumes provide much of the context for Latin philosophical work in the later Middle Ages, which is arguably the most understudied period of Western thought. Steven Livesey gives one reason for this neglect. While 893 authors wrote commentaries on the Sentences, the vast majority of these works have never seen print (MCS1 6). For the most part, we have remained bound to a canon of significant authors drawn up in the sixteenth century, from which we are only now beginning to escape. MCS2 brings to light many of these lesser-known authors.
A short review can only hint at what MCS2 has to offer for the study of later Latin medieval philosophy. The chapters on Pseudo-Peter of Poitiers, Stephen Langton, Alexander of Hales, Hugh of St. Cher, and the recently discovered second commentary of Aquinas present emerging methodological shifts that prepared the way for the classical form of disputation, which appeared by the middle of the thirteenth century. For example, Hubert Philipp Weber clarifies Alexander of Hale's contribution to the questio style of argumentation, which involves a more focused presentation of the arguments for each side and a solution (90–93). Since Alexander did this in the first set of lectures on the Sentences given at a university, his method represents change in the treatment of philosophical issues and in higher education.
MCS2 also broadens the picture we have of philosophy in the late thirteenth century. For example, Gerhard Leibold presents the Oxford Dominican Robert Kilwardby on an inner picture of the virtuous life that one must have to acquire virtue (216–17). For Kilwardby, cardinal virtue prepares individuals to receive a higher type of virtue, which is a gift from God. Both are important, but the second is necessary for the completely virtuous life. Leibold presents Kilwardby's views in a theological context, but in order to clarify the philosophical accomplishment—something that is not always done in the literature. As for Franciscan contributions, Hans Kraml highlights William de la Mare's preference for being more reasonable over and against Aristotelian demonstration. In response to Aquinas, who thought the world's beginning in time cannot be demonstrated, William reasons that if we take into account Aristotle's view that it is impossible to pass through an infinite number of things, a finite world is more likely (259). By approaching issues from the vantage point of modalities, William enhances the philosopher-theologian's toolbox decades before Duns Scotus.
In one contribution on the early fourteenth century, Michael Dunne revises Gordon Leff's picture of the importance of Richard FitzRalph as an interlocutor at Oxford (406). For example, FitzRalph was the first academic to write an entire question on whether future events contained in revelation can be contingent (433–35). Whereas Ockham devoted 800 words to the topic, FitzRalph spends 20,000 arguing that free judgment must be central to future contingents. Therefore, even if God were to reveal that someone is ultimately damned, this does not mean that the person's actions in the future are not contingent. Dunne indicates FitzRalph's importance on the issue by describing how Adam Wodeham and Robert Holcot draw extensively upon his work. In addition, Stephen Brown presents the Franciscan Peter of Candia, who was active in the late fourteenth century, as choosing not to take sides on the issue of future contingents. Instead, Peter reasons that six different views each have their own role to play...