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Later Medieval Metaphysics

Ontology, Language, and Logic

Charles Bolyard

Publication Year: 2013

This book begins with standard ontological topics--such as the nature of existence--and of metaphysics generally, such as the status of universals, form, and accidents. What is the proper subject matter of metaphysical speculation? Are essence and existence really distinct in bodies? Does the body lose its unifying form at death? Can an accident of a substance exist in separation from that substance? Are universals real, and, if so, are they anything more than general concepts? Among the figures it examines are Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Walter Chatton, John Buridan, Dietrich of Freiburg, Robert Holcot, Walter Burley, and the 11th-century Islamic philosopher Ibn-Sina (Avicenna).There is also an emphasis on metaphysics broadly conceived. Thus, additional discussions of connected topics in medieval logic, epistemology, and language provide a fuller account of the range of ideas included in the later medieval worldview.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Series: Medieval Philosophy: Texts and Studies

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-8


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-12

The contributors wish to acknowledge their debt to the work of Paul Vincent Spade, whose lucid, entertaining, and pioneering scholarship in medieval metaphysics was the inspiration for the plan of this volume. Each essay owes some portion of its range, ideas, and insights to the fact that we have had his work...

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pp. 1-7

Medieval metaphysics and modern- day metaphysics share much common ground; many issues of concern to medieval metaphysicians would be quite familiar to those who find themselves in a present- day metaphysics seminar. These earlier philosophers worried about the nature of change, the fundamental structure of reality...

I. Essence, Existence, and The Nature of Metaphysics

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pp. 9-44

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1. Duns Scotus on Metaphysics as the Science of First Entity

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pp. 11-29

Among Paul Vincent Spade’s many distinguished contributions to research in the history of philosophy is a study of “The Unity of Science according to Peter Auriol.” As Spade notes, Aureol considers nine previous opinions, including “two (!) of Duns Scotus.” Moreover, Aureol may be mistaken in his evaluation...

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2. Aquinas vs. Buridan on Essence and Existence

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pp. 30-44

In this essay I will argue that although Anthony Kenny’s objections to Aquinas’s intellectus essentiae argument for the real distinction of essence and existence in creatures are quite easily answerable in terms of a proper reconstruction of the argument, the argument thus reconstructed is still open to an objection...

II. Form and Matter

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pp. 45-99

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3. The Form of Corporeity and Potential and Aptitudinal Being in Dietrich von Freiberg’s Defense of the Doctrine of the Unity of Substantial Form

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pp. 47-83

Dietrich von Freiberg, O.P., was active in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.1 He is probably best known for his work on the optics of the rainbow,2 one of the most remarkable achievements of late medieval empirical science.3 He has also gained some attention for his distinctive...

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4. Accidents in Scotus’s Metaphysics Commentary

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pp. 84-99

Despite a historical bias toward considering primarily the substance of things, accidental features play an important and often ignored role in medieval philosophy. First, and most obviously, in typical cases a complete description of an item requires not only that one specify its substance— for example, its humanity...

III. Universals

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pp. 101-158

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5. Avicenna Latinus on the Ontology of Types and Tokens

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pp. 103-136

Let me begin this essay with a little sophism, familiar to anyone who has tried to explain what types and tokens are:
This flag (i.e., this particular piece of cloth) is a token of a type.
This flag is the Union Jack.
The Union Jack is a type.
Therefore, this flag is a type...

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6. Universal Thinking as Process: The Metaphysics of Change and Identity in John Buridan’s Intellectio Theory

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pp. 137-158

In his magisterial Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on William of Ockham, Paul Vincent Spade writes that:
Over the course of his career, Ockham changed his view of what universal concepts are. To begin with, he adopted what is known as the fictum-theory, a theory according...

IV. Language, Logic, and Metaphysics

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pp. 159-248

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7. Can God Know More? A Case Study in Later Medieval Discussions of Propositions

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pp. 161-187

In this essay, I trace the development of a peculiar debate between William of Ockham (d. 1347) and some of his immediate successors at Oxford over the question of whether “God can know more than he knows.” Discussion of this question (which begins well before the fourteenth century) has its origin in specific theological concerns...

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8. The Power of Medieval Logic

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pp. 188-205

Aristotelian logic has been very well studied. By “Aristotelian logic” I mean the system of logic that appeared in logic texts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries under that name. It consists primarily of conversion principles and principles for judging the validity of syllogisms. The theorems of this system are theorems...

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9. Iteration and Infinite Regress in Walter Chatton’s Metaphysics

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pp. 206-222

Under the pressure of a foreign military campaign, soldiers will sometimes improvise weapons and armor for themselves with an alacrity unmatched by military engineers back home whose motivational level is affected by their more peaceful surroundings. So too for the soldier in medieval theological battles; sometimes...

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10. Analogy and Metaphor from Thomas Aquinasto Duns Scotus and Walter Burley

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pp. 223-248

In the history of Aristotelianism and Thomism people often speak about analogia entis, the analogy of being,1 or what, following Giorgio Pini and Silvia Donati, I shall call metaphysical analogy.2 In fact, this notion was foreign to Aristotle, and for Thomas Aquinas analogy, under that name, was semantic...


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pp. 249-299


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pp. 301-302


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pp. 303-314

E-ISBN-13: 9780823250233
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823244720
Print-ISBN-10: 0823244725

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Text
Series Title: Medieval Philosophy: Texts and Studies