How it played in the Rue de Fouarre: The Reception of Adam Wodeham's Theory of the Complexe Significable in the Arts Faculty at Paris in the Mid-Fourteenth Century
- Franciscan Studies
- Franciscan Institute Publications
- Volume 54, 1994-1997
- pp. 211-225
- Additional Information
How it played in the RUE DE FOUARRE: The Reception of Adam Wodeham's Theory of the COMPLEXE SIGNIFICABLE in the Arts Faculty at Paris in the Mid-Fourteenth Century One of the many great contributions made by Fr. Gedeon Gal to medieval philosophical scholarship was his discovery that the theory that the immediate object of scientific knowledge is the complexe significabile (i.e., a state of affairs capable of being signified by a proposition), a view traditionally attributed to the Parisian Augustinian, Gregory of Rimini,1 was in fact authored by the English Franciscan Adam Wodeham, who conceived of it ". . . as a via media between the positions of Walter Chatton and William of Ockham."2 As with virtually all of Fr. Gedeon's work (and that of his colleagues at Franciscan Institute, where he has spent most of his later academic career), the consequence of this particular finding is not simply a matter of revising the appropriate chapters in our medieval intellectual biographies. Rather, it introduces at least two new and highly promising avenues of research. First, it shows that the early 14th-century Franciscan debate on the object of scientific 'For the modern source of the misattribution, see Hubert EHe, Le complexe significabile (Paris: Vrin, 1936), 9. Elie's assessment was adopted early and often in subsequent literature on the problem. See, e.g., Julius Weinberg, Nicolaus of Autrecourt: A Study in 14th-Century Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948), 236-237; Mario Dal Pra, "La teoria del 'significato totale' della proposizione nel pensiero di Gregorio di Rimini," Rivista critica di storia della filosofía 11 (1956), 287; Ruprecht Paqué, Das Pariser Nominalistenstatut. Zur Enstehung des Realitätsbegriffs der neuzeitlichen Naturwissenschaft (Berlin: 1970), 198-223; and Gabriel Nuchelmans, Theories of the Proposition. Ancient and Medieval Conceptions of the Bearers of Truth and Falsity (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1973), 227-272. 2Gedeon Gal, O.F.M., "Adam of Wodeham's Question on the 'Complexe Significabile' as the Immediate Object of Scientific Knowledge," Franciscan Studies 37 (1977), 66-102. The text of this Question has since re-appeared as Dist. 1, Quaest. 1 in the critical edition of Wodeham's Lectura Secunda, the work from which it was first edited: Adam de Wodeham, Lectura Secunda in Librum Primum Sententiarum, ed. Rega Wood and Gedeon Gal, O.F.M. (St. Bonaventure, NY: St. Bonaventure University, 1990), 180-208. All further references to the text of Wodeham's Question will be to the latter edition. 211 Franciscan Studies (54) 1994-1997 212JACKZUPKO knowledge is more sophisticated than has hitherto been imagined, with Wodeham consciously advancing the complexe significabile in response to alternatives defended by Ockham and Chatton.3 Second, it provides further, decisive, evidence for the influence exerted by English thought upon Parisian philosophy and theology in the second quarter of the 14th-century.4 Thus, through a comparative study of texts, Fr. Gedeon concludes not only that "Gregory of Rimini was strongly and directly influenced by Wodeham," but also that although Gregory "made some contribution to the solution of the problem [of scientific knowledge], he gave a mutilated presentation of the great debate between Ockham, Chatton, and Wodeham."5 In the present study I shall be concerned with the second avenue suggested by Fr. Gedeon's research, and specifically with the question of how Wodeham's theory of the complexe significabile was transmitted to Arts Masters at the University of Paris in the middle decades of the 14th century. Why should what happened in the Faculty of Arts be of interest here? Well, one of the more interesting measures of doctrinal fallout is the influence a given theory has on spheres of inquiry outside that in which it is first proposed—which, in the case of the complexe significabile, would be outside the Faculty of Theology, in places where the primary philosophical artifacts are not Sentences commentaries but commentaries on the works of Aristotle. I will be able to give only a tiny sample of this fallout here, however, and only by way of conclusion. Most of this study will be devoted to a ground-clearing exercise, i.e., to showing that something absolutely crucial for understanding the epistemological implications of Wodeham...