restricted access 8. What Is Logic About?
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159 chapter eight What Is Logic About? I n the second quarter of the thirteenth century, a writer named Henry of Andeli, writing in French, described in colorful allegory a “battle of the seven arts” dividing the intellectual milieu of his time. In it, we see Grammar and his troops valiantly defend training in language and the love of Belles-Lettres against the merciless invasion conducted by Logic and his associates , Elenchus, Topics, Physics, and company—led, appropriately, by Aristotle: Aristotle, who went on foot, caused grammar to topple. To the poet’s despair, it was the barbarian who triumphed. The youth of the arts faculty henceforth dedicated the better part of their studies to logic. Among many other documents, a “student’s guide” preserved in the Ripoll 109 manuscript confirms the allegorist’s analysis: offering a kind of overview of an arts program c. 1240, it assigns more space to logic alone than to all of the other disciplines combined, including metaphysics, mathematics, physics, morals, rhetoric . . . and grammar. Logic had become the spearhead of the medieval university, increasingly so in the second half of the thirteenth century and the beginning of the fourteenth. But what, precisely, was logic about? Where can we locate whatever repeatable unity logic requires in order to be a theory of something? Is it words, concepts , or some other entities of a special nature? What sort of thing, after all, could be predicated of another? What are the ultimate bearers of truth-value? And what, in the last analysis, are syllogisms composed of? These questions about the philosophy of logic, often debated with finesse and perspicacity, were occasion for sophisticated deployment of the theme of interior discourse. I will recount first, in a very general way, how the problem of the status of the discipline was posed around the middle of the thirteenth century, in order next to examine more closely a selection of texts taken from logic treatises by important authors (Roger Bacon, John Duns Scotus, and Walter Burley, among others ), which give explicit attention to mental discourse (oratio intelligibilis, enunciatio in mente, voces in mente). We will see gradually sketched, in the specific context of reflection on logic, various rival conceptions of interior language. At 1. L. J. Paetow, ed., The Battle of the Seven Arts, verses 205–6 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1914), 50. 2. Claude Lafleur and Joanne Carrier, Le “Guide de l’étudiant” d’un maître anonyme de la faculté des arts de Paris au XIIIe siècle (Quebec: Publications du laboratoire de philosophie ancienne et médiévale de la Faculté de philosophie de l’Université Laval), 1992. On the place of logic in this compendium, see also Lafleur 1990. F6925.indb 159 F6925.indb 159 10/24/16 12:52:28 PM 10/24/16 12:52:28 PM 160 Thirteenth-Century Controversies the heart of these disagreements will be the relevant distinction, with which we are now familiar, between a purely conceptual discourse, independent of communication , and the mental representation of spoken words, itself ordered to the production of exterior speech. Logic, composition, and truth The domain of logic in the Middle Ages is circumscribed by Aristotle’s Organon. The accidents of history had divided the treatises into two groups. On the one hand, the Categories and Perihermeneias—together with Porphyry’s Isagoge or Treatise on the Predicables, which served to introduce them—constituted the core of the “old logic,” the logica vetus, taught in the schools of the Latin world since Boethius provided his translations and commentaries in the sixth century . On the other hand, the remainder of the Organon, rediscovered in the twelfth century, thanks to contact with Arabs, supplied the constituents of the logica nova (“new logic”): the Prior Analytics, or theory of syllogism; Posterior Analytics, or theory of scientific demonstration; Topics, or theory of probable argumentation; and the Sophistical Refutations, or theory of paralogisms. To these were added, beginning in the second half of the twelfth century, an entire range of new, specifically medieval, developments, which are known as the logica modernorum (“logic of the moderns”), including, especially, the theory of consequentiae—the logical relations between antecedents and consequences in necessary conditionals—and, above all, the theory of the “properties of terms,” or proprietates terminorum, articulated around the key notions of signification (significatio) and reference or “supposition” (suppositio). What accounts for the doctrinal unity of this mosaic? It was traditional in the medieval university to ask for each discipline—and each...


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