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Abelard in Four Dimensions

A Twelfth-Century Philosopher in His Context and Ours

John Marenbon

Publication Year: 2013

Abelard in Four Dimensions: A Twelfth-Century Philosopher in His Context and Ours by John Marenbon, one of the leading scholars of medieval philosophy and a specialist on Abelard's thought, originated from a set of lectures in the distinguished Conway Lectures in Medieval Studies series and provides new interpretations of central areas of Peter Abelard's philosophy and its influence. The four dimensions of Abelard to which the title refers are that of the past (Abelard's predecessors), present (his works in context), future (the influence of his thinking up to the seventeenth century), and the present-day philosophical culture in which Abelard's works are still discussed and his arguments debated. For readers new to Abelard, this book provides an introduction to his life and works along with discussion of his central ideas in semantics, ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. For specialists, the book contains new arguments about the authenticity and chronology of his logical work, fresh evidence about Abelard’s relations with Anselm and Hugh of St. Victor, a new understanding of how he combines the necessity of divine action with human freedom, and reinterpretations of important passages in which he discusses semantics and metaphysics. For all historians of philosophy, it sets out and illustrates a new methodological approach, which can be used for any thinker in any period and will help to overcome the divisions between "historians" based in philosophy departments and scholars with historical or philological training.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book originated in the three Conway Lectures I gave at the Me-dieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame in 2009. My first debt of gratitude is to the Medieval Institute and its director, Remie Con-stable, not only for the invitation, but also for the wonderful nine days I spent there, fully provided with both a house and a bicycle, regally en-...

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pp. 1-5

For historians of philosophy, time should have four dimensions. Three of them relate just to the philosophers who are being studied. The first dimension is their present. Whether, as here, the subject is someone who lived nine hundred years ago, or whether it is a more recent thinker, this present is not our present, and understanding it requires special ...

I. Abelard's Present

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Introduction to Part I

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pp. 8-10

To study a philosopher?s present means doing many things. They in-clude, for example, looking at the social and the intellectual assump-tions of the time, the literary forms then current for philosophical writing; in the case of a twelfth-century thinker, such Abelard, they would also involve exploring the links between his work and both the ...

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1. Abelard’s Developing Thought

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pp. 11-44

...sophical career which may span many decades. Few thinkers, even the steadiest and most consistent ones, retain entirely the same ideas and interests throughout their lives, and many change their views radically. Is it, then, one of the tasks of historians of phi-losophy to trace how their chosen thinkers developed philosophi-...

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2. An Unpopular Argument (I)

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pp. 45-87

There are few problems Abelard considered so important or difficult as whether God can do otherwise than he does.1 In his first exposi-tion of it, in the Theologia Christiana, he even pauses, after having given the case for both sides, remarking (5.41) that he cannot easily see a way out of the net of arguments, and then adding a beautiful ...

II. Abelard's Past and Abelard's Future

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Introduction to Part I I

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pp. 90-92

The last two chapters examined aspects of Abelard?s own present. As well as giving some of the information needed for studying his works, and considering the problems of interpreting it, they suggest a more general moral about methodology. Historians of philosophy should certainly attend to the fourth dimension (to be discussed in ...

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3. Abelard and Anselm

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pp. 93-116

...the eleventh century and the only one to rival, and very possibly excel, Abelard in both logical acuity and profundity of thought. But the connections between the two men?s thought are fewer and less direct than might be expected. The following pages attempt to dis-cern, chart and analyse them. They begin by considering the extent ...

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4. An Unpopular Argument (II)

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pp. 117-143

...ability to do other than he does (NAG) and the reactions to it during or just after his lifetime were examined. Although it has different versions and comprises different arguments, the central reasoning, 2. God cannot do anything at any time which is not good to do at 3. If it is good for x to be done at t, it is not good that x be de-...

III. Abelard and our Present

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Introduction to Part III

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pp. 146-148

Slowly, the period examined in the last chapter, when Abelard?s scholars tried, with more historical detachment, to understand his thinking. It was not, though, until well into the second half of the twentieth century that his complete known works were all available in print. By this time, there existed an extensive secondary literature ...

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5. Abelard and the ‘New’ Theory of Meaning

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pp. 149-166

...published. Peter King submitted his doctoral dissertation ?Peter Abailard and the Problem of Universals? to Princeton in 1982; it has never been printed, although it is available in microfilm and is widely cited.1 King?s seven-hundred-page study is complex and wide- ranging, but its most striking claim is about Abelard and the phi-...

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6. Abelard and Contemporary

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pp. 167-199

This chapter is about one side of Abelard?s metaphysics: his on-tology, that is to say, his account of how objects in the world are made up. It looks, especially, at how Abelard?s ideas in this field have been linked by interpreters to discussions by contemporary meta-physicians. Is he some kind of trope theorist?1 Does he give Aristote-...

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pp. 200-206

The preceding chapters have raised questions, developed arguments and suggested conclusions on three levels. First, they aim to help readers understand better than before what Abelard thought and the place of his work in the history of philosophy. They also consider the second-order question of how philosophers and historians should ...

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List of Abbreviations

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pp. 207-208

For full citations on editions of works by Abelard, given by editor?s name in the Notes, see the first section of the Bibliography, ?Editions of Works by Comm. Cant. Abelard?s Commentarius Cantabrigiensis in Epistolas Pauli...

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pp. 209-253

...1. See the essays now collected in Mews 2001, especially Mews 1985b, 2. In addition to the works cited in note 3 below, cf. Jolivet 1969, Tweedale 1976 and the various articles by Peter King and Chris Martin 3. The Stanford Encyclopedia article is by Peter King (2010). The only exceptions in the Cambridge Companion (Brower and Guilfoy 2004) are the ...

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pp. 254-269

The following list of Abelard?s works is arranged alphabetically by title. It includes reports of Abelard?s teaching and aims to be complete, including even texts not discussed in this book. Only the best edition and, where it ex-ists, English translation are usually cited. Below, ?Opera theologica? refers to Petri Abaelardi opera theologica, CCCM 11?14 (Turnhout: Brepols) (vols. 1 ...

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Index of Passages in Abelard

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pp. 270-274

The Index of Passages in Abelard gives the pages on which each passage of texts by Abelard (including those reporting on his work, or of doubtful authenticity) ...

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General Index

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pp. 275-284

All authors who died before 1500 are indexed under their Christian names (e.g., ...

About the Author, Back Cover

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pp. 296-297

E-ISBN-13: 9780268086725
E-ISBN-10: 0268086729
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268035303
Print-ISBN-10: 026803530X

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013