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L'errore di Aristotele. La polemica contro l'eternita del mondo nel XIII secolo (review)

From: Journal of the History of Philosophy
Volume 25, Number 2, April 1987
pp. 291-293 | 10.1353/hph.1987.0018

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BOOK REVIEWS 291 of Forms and particulars, the former of which is ontologically and epistemically prior to the latter, "was then, and still is for many readers, a radically counterintuitive philosophy. TM These two books, but especially Patterson's, are important attempts to show that such a position is not only a coherent one, but is one to which Plato subscribed. While I find the detailed discussions of such topics as participation and application of the same name (ambiguously) to Forms and things intriguing, I cannot say that I am completely convinced. First, I am not persuaded by their treatment of Plato's using sameness, being, and difference as constituents of soul in the Timaeus. Both authors quote the crucial passage at 35 a, but do not appear to appreciate the fact that the "intermediate" sameness, being, and difference described there under- cuts their sharp distinction of the two realms. 5 Secondly, while there is something obviously accurate in the central insight on which their position rests: "a reflection of a horse is not a real horse at all, ''6 to conclude on this basis that a real horse and its reflection are not alike in both being horses seems unwarranted. Of course they are not both real horses (nor are they both images of horses). But to insist that shared properties must be of the same existential status strikes me more as the avoidance of a problem than it does a solution to that problem. A few minor points: I miss an Index Locorum in Patterson's work and urge that one be provided in a much deserved reissue. Also useful would be: an indication of chapter and page references in the headers of the Notes section, an inclusion of references to all the works cited in the Notes in the List of Works Cited, and a provision for notes for Appendix 2 in the Notes section. The Prior work is sprinkled with misprints, including pp. 36, 53, 7 ~ 95, 96, lOO, 111, 115, 117, 119, 123, 128, 130, 131, 138, 139, 14o, 142, 143, 144, 145, 148, 178, 186, 188. For the most part the sense is clear (and I particularly enjoyed the "interna- tional" ["intentional"(?)] of p. 142 ), but the overall effect is unfortunate. JEROME P. SCHILLER Washington University Luca Bianchi. L'errore di Aristotele. La polemica contro l'eternita del mondo nel XIII secolo. Pubblicazioni della Facolta di Lettere e Filosofia dell'universita di Milano, lO4. Sezione a cura del dipartimento di Filosofia, 2. Florence: La Nuova Italia Edi- trice, 1984. Pp. xviii + 21o. Paper, L 17,ooo. Although in the thirteenth century the works of Aristotle were widely received as a godsend (perhaps even literally) for the education of Christendom, they presented many problems arising from the fact, which was even more obvious than in the case of Plato, that Aristotle had not been a Christian, and held some opinions that were in direct conflict with Christian teaching. One such was his view that, rather than having 4 Patterson, 164. 5 Prior, 98; Patterson, 75. s Patterson, 3. 292 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 25:2 APRIL ~987 been created a finite number of years ago, the world had always existed. Discussion of this apparently simple issue rumbled on throughout the thirteenth century, with a crescendo leading up to 1277 when occurred the Bishop of Paris's condemnation of ~x 9 propositions, and the flight from France of the "radical Aristotelians" (often called "Averroists") Siger of Brabant and Boethius of Dacia. During the controversy a bewildering variety of opinions was thrown up, and this, together with the partialities of subsequent historians, has produced much historiographical confusion. In this welcome, carefully researched and lucidly presented volume Luca Bianchi paints a picture, which, although subtly toned, seems to make a great deal of sense. No one in the controversy publicly maintained the eternity of the world, but instead the general view was that Aristotle's arguments had been insufficient, and that the world had been created with (not in) time as a result of an eternal ordering of temporal matters. Bianchi also plausibly denies that such figures as Siger of Bra- bant and Boethius of Dacia...

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