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MOMENTS OF THE ARS OBLIGATORIA ACCORDING TO JOHN DUNS i. Introduction We feel very grateful to Jerry Etzkorn for many important contributions to Franciscan thought in particular and philosophia christiana in general. We might even suggest that he is there in the best possible philosophical and theological company, because we might also suggest that the theology and philosophy of Duns Scotus constituted the summit of both movements. At any rate, Duns' theoretical work elicited a paradigmatic breakthrough in philosophy and theology and the center of this scientific revolution was his ramified logic and ontology of synchronic possibility and synchronic contingency. However, how could he have done so and how could the Oxonian universe of thought have been so fruitful at the turn of those centuries, seven hundred years ago? To my mind, from the formal point of view logic and semantics in general, the ars obligatoria in particular have contributed very much. Understanding Duns means also digging into the development of the ars obligatoria. About halfway through the fourteenth century, Robert Fland distinguishes two traditions in the theory of dialogue and disputation (obligationes):1 1) the old and new way of ideas; the old and the new logic of obligations — by Fland characterized as the antiqua responsio and the nova responsio.2 The new line of the theory of disputation 'Robert Fland wrote between 1335 and 1370 and was probably associated with the University of Oxford. See Paul Vincent Spade (ed.), "Robert Fland's Insolubilia (RFI). An edition, with comments on die dating of Fland's works," Mediaeval Studies 40 (1978): 56-80. 2See paragraphs 14 and 20 of Paul Vincent Spade (ed.), "Robert Fland's Obligationes. An edition," Mediaeval Studies 42 (1980): 41-60, and Paul Vincent Spade, "Obligations: B. Developments in the fourteenth century," in The Cambridge history of hter medieval philosophy (CHLMP), eds. Norman Kretzmann, Anthony Kenny and Jan Pinborg (Cambridge, 1982) 335-336,335-341. 383 Franciscan Studies, Vol. 56 (1998) 384ANTONIE VOS and argumentation appears to have originated with Roger Swineshead,3 who certainly appears to have been part of the intellectual circle with which Kilvington and Bradwardine are associated, and he may well have studied with them. Probably sometime after 1330 and before 1335, Swineshead wrote his pair of treatises on obligations and insolubles.4 If this new line of the theory of obligations has entered a new phase in the 30s of the fourteenth century and has to be associated with the innovative scholars of Merton College, the so-called Calculatores, in what way has the old tradition to be identified? According to Spade this tradition "conforms to the views of Burley, to those of the treatise attributed to William of Sherwood, and to those found in most if not all the other early treatises."5 This seemingly clear answer refers to rather different periods and places. On the one hand, we have four short treatises from the thirteenth century edited by De Rijk; on the other hand, we have a Tractatus de Obligationibus, attributed to William of Sherwood (Oxford, ca. 1200/1210 - ca. 1270) and Walter Burley's Tractatus de Obligationibus from 1302 (Oxford). Because of the intimate theoretical relationship between the treatise attributed to William Sherwood and Burley's tract we have to discern two kinds of puzzles; the systematics of both groups of treatises and the problem of the historical phases of the different contributions to the theory of obligationes. The contents of the treatises edited by De Rijk are much less advanced than that of the putative Tractatus de Obligationibus of William of Sherwood. Moreover, there is the historical connection between the two traditions of the responsio antiqua and the responsio nova specifically linked with Oxford. How then is the old way of ideas in the theory of disputational dialogue (obligationes) to be identified? Is there a 3Swineshead died about 1365, a Benedictine monk of Glastonbury and master of theology. See James Weisheipl, "Roger Swyneshed O.S.B. Logician, natural philosopher, and theologian," in Oxford Studies presented to Daniel Callus, (Oxford, 1964). 4Paul Vincent Spade, "Obligations: B. Developments in the fourteenth century," CHLMP, 335. ''Ibidem . THE ARS OBLIGATORIA3 8 5 continuous tradition during the second half of the thirteenth...


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