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BOOK REVIEWS327 Fragments of Ockham Hermeneutics. By George Knysh. (Winnipeg: WCU CouncU of Learned Societies. 1997. Pp. 165) George Knysh's 1968 Ph.D. thesis on WUUam of Ockham's poUtical theory was a valuable source for Ockham speciaUsts even before it was belatedly published as Political Ockhamism Ln 1996. The author has now printed some anc ├╝lary material that he prepared at the same time as the thesis. It deals with Ockham's most enigmatic work, the vast, sprawUng Dialogus. This treatise is organized Ln the form of a dialogue between a Master and a Disciple. At the outset , the Disciple asks the Master to explore every possible answer to the questions that wiU be raised without ever revealing his own opinion. The problem , therefore, is to identify (U possible) Ockham's personal views in the mass of material that is subsequently presented. Knysh's book opens with a long, carefuUy annotated bibUography ofprevious approaches to this question. Some authors cited the most radical views expressed in the Dialogus in order to support an interpretation of Ockham as a "revolutionary." Others thought it impossible to ascertain Ockham's personal opinions in such an impersonal work. Perhaps, some argued, Ockham was "certain of nothing but his doubts." The most promising approach suggested that we evaluate the Dialogus by comparing the views expressed there with those that Ockham stated more clearly in his other writings. Knysh accepts the last approach but goes beyond it. He argues that the Dialogus was not at all an impersonal work but rather that it reflects Ockham's very personal engagement with the cause of the dissident Franciscans who rejected Pope John XXII's teaching on apostoUc poverty. Knysh also maintains that we can nearly always ascertain Ockham's personal opinions by considering the structure of the Dialogus itself, while looking to Ockham's known stance Ui the poverty controversy to confirm our readings. Sometimes only one answer to a question is presented. Some answers are dismissed summarily, others lovingly elaborated. Here I can give only one rather simple example. At Dialogus 1.6.16 the Disciple asks whether Catholics should support an appeal against a pope accused of heresy. The negative answer is stated briefly and refuted in a later chapter. The positive answer is developed in detail in three conclusions. Arguments against them are presented but dismissed. The argument in favor of the appeal is never directly refuted. And we know that Ockham did in fact join Ln such an appeal againstJohn XXII. So here the internal structure ofthe argument and the external "clue" combine to give us a clear understanding of Ockham's real intention . Knysh takes us through many difficult passages of the Dialogus in a simUar fashion. The argumentation is often intricate, but reasonable and persuasive 328BOOK REVIEWS throughout. Future students of the Dialogus wiU find much helpful guidance in these "fragments of hermeneutics." Brian Tierney Cornell University Church and Society in the Medieval North ofEngland. By R. B. Dobson. (Rio Grande, Ohio: Hambledon Press. 1996. Pp. xvi, 323. $60.00.) This volume contains thirteen articles previously appearing from 1965 to 1992 and aU concerned with the history ofthe Church in northern England; the focus of all but two articles is the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In his introduction Dobson observes that the records of the northern church are uneven, Uttle surviving from the diocese of CarUsle, a rich repository from the prior and chapter at Durham, and a complete set of archi├ępiscopal registers fromYork. In the first article he appropriately compares the cathedral cities and their chapters (secular canons in New York, Benedictines at Durham, and Augustinian canons at Carlisle). Dobson notes that it is often dUficult to discover in medieval documents the individual monk or bishop; nevertheless, he is able to shed considerable Ught on the IUe of Richard Bell, prior of Durham and later bishop of Carlisle, and he presents an incisive analysis of the reasons for the failure ofArchbishop Alexander NeviUe of York (removed in 1388). In discussing the c. 1070 origins of Selby, the first Norman abbey in northern England, Dobson also shows his ability to sift fact from legend. The articles complement and intersect...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 327-328
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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