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A DEFENSE OF A BURLEAN DILEMMA Professor Fitzgerald's interesting paper "An Interpretative Dilemma in Burlean Semantics" argues against certain claims made in my "Some Epistemological Implications of the Burley-Ockham Dispute." He rightly calls attention to a number of texts of Burley—notably in the De Formis—that make it abundantly clear that Burley did indeed accept a theory of direct intellectual cognition of particulars, and so did not accept the exclusive dichotomy suggested in the old slogan "Understanding is of universals, but sensation is of particulars." I by no means meant to deny this in my earlier paper; on the contrary, at that time I was very unsure about Burley's epistemological views. I certainly had not then yet taken account of the passages Fitzgerald cites from the De formis. Rather, I intended to say only that, whatever Burley's epistemological theory in fact turned out to be (a question Fitzgerald has now helped to clarify), his semantic theory was most at home in the context ofthe dichotomy suggested just above, and had epistemological consequences, whether or not those consequences conformed to what Burley might elsewhere say about epistemological matters. I still hold all this to be true. Thus, the passages Fitzgerald cites from the De formis do not resolve the conflict I see in Burley; from my point of view, they only sharpen the conflict. Fitzgerald and I remain in disagreement about the correct interpretation of Burley's semantics. I hold (1) that for Burley a common term (discrete terms are another matter1) signifies a species or common nature , not individuals, and (2) that for Burley it is only in simple suppo1 Burley's denial of any difference between simple and personal supposition for simple discrete terms may be taken as implying a denial of a dis- 194PAUL VINCENT SPADE sition that a common term supposits for its signifícate. Since (3) a term signifies just what it makes one think of, I conclude (4) that it is only when a common term is used in simple supposition for species or common natures that we are made to think of what the term supposits for, and so what we are talking about. If I understand him correctly, Fitzgerald and I disagree about (4) because we disagree about both (1) and (2). In one of the passages Fitzgerald cites,2 Burley argues that the term 'man' does not signify me or a certain now-present John, because neither John nor I were known to the one who originally gave the term 'man' its signification. "Hence", as Fitzgerald interprets it, it is not because the common term 'man' in Burley's argument is simply supposing for a species that it does not indicate3 John nor me to the intellect of the Great Prime Impositor; it does not indicate John nor me because we are not present!4 So interpreted, the passage provides no support for (1), and indeed Fitzgerald interprets it as supporting the denial of (1). The original impositor is not only imposing common terms to indicate species to his intellect, but he is also imposing common terms to indicate particular individuals to his intellect.5 In the absence of other evidence, the point could perhaps be made. But there are other passages to consider. Burley says, for instance Again, the name 'man' signifies something first,6 and it does not first signify Socrates or Plato. For if that were so, someone who tinction between individuals and their individual natures, between for example Socrates and his Socrateity. 2 Fitzgerald 188-189. 3 Fitzgerald appears, here and throughout his paper, to be using 'indicate ' in the sense of "signify." 4 Fitzgerald 186. 5 Fitzgerald 185-186. 6 "First" signification appears to be the opposite of mere "connotation." See the discussion of this terminology in Ockham, in Paul Vincent Spade, A Defense of a Burlean Dilemma195 hears the word and who knows what is signified by the word would determinately and distinctly understand Socrates, which is false. Therefore , the name 'man' does not first signify any singular. Therefore, it first signifies something common. And that something common is a species. Therefore, that which is first signified by the name 'man...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 193-196
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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