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A NEW PRESENTATION OF OCKHAM'S THEORY OF SUPPOSITION WITH AN EVALUATION OF SOME CONTEMPORARY CRITICISMS1 We wiU not recount here the external facts of WiUiam Ockham's biography . These are readily available in numerous rehable secondary sources . Our concern here is to discuss the corpus of Ockham's logical works upon which we wiU draw in our attempt to elucidate his theory of supposition. Our main source wiU of course be Ockham's Summa logicae. The authenticity of this work is weU established, and the patient scholarly labor of Phüotheus Boehner has provided us with a reUable working edition of the entire first part plus the first section of the second part.2 This is the work upon which most previous scholars have based their understanding of Ockham's theory of supposition. In addition to this major work, however, contemporary scholars have uncovered two additional shorter works on logic which also appear to be authentic works of Ockham. The longer of these two works has come to be retened to as the Elementarium logicae, and the shorter is merely caUed the Tractatus minor.3 EUgius M. Buytaert has provided us with exceUent editions of both of these works. In addition the combined scholarship of Boehner and Buytaert has provided us with historical and textual evidence which strongly indicates that both of these works are in fact authentic works of Ockham.4 This is not to say, however, that the authenticity of these two shorter logic texts is as firmly estabUshed as that of the major work, the Summa logicae. It is conceivable that future research might miUtate against our 1 This article is an excerpt from a doctoral dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of State University of New York at Buffalo in May, 1970. Latin translations not followed by any citation are by the author. 2 Ockham, William, Summa logicae, pars prima and Summa logicae, pars secunda et tertia prima. Ed. Philotheus Boehner, Franciscan Institute. 8 Buytaert, Eligius, "The Elementarium logicae of Ockham," Franciscan Studies. Vol. XXV, Annual III (1965) and Buytaert, EUgius, "Ockham: Tractatus minor." Franciscan Studies. Vol. XXIV, Annual II (1964). 4 Cf. Boehner, Philotheus, Collected Articles on Ockham, Ed. Eligius Buytaert, Franciscan Institute (1958), 70—96; and Buytaert, Eligius, "Ockham : Tractatus minor, Franciscan Studies, Vol. XXIV, Annual II (1964), 43—53- 182JOHN SWINIARSKI firm acceptance of the authenticity of the lesser works. We, however, shaU proceed on the working hypothesis that these works are in fact authentic. Concerning the relative dating of the three logic texts we accept the conclusions of Buytaert which are based on a careful réévaluation of the results of Boehner's research.5 According to Buytaert the foUowing are probable dates of composition of the texts with which we are now concerned : i. Summa logicae. between 1324 and 1327. 2.Tractatus minor between 1342 and 1345. 3.Elementarium logicae between 1342 and 1347, but after the Tractatus minor. That the shorter texts were composed some time after the major text is rather firmly estabUshed. That the Elementarium logicae was composed after the Tractatus minor is probable. AU three of the above logic texts do have sections devoted expücitly to the theory of supposition. The amount of space given over to this concern varies, however, from one text to another: i. In the Summa, Part One, there are 39 pages.6 2.In the Tractatus minor, Tract three, there are only three pages.7 3.In the Elementarium, Book Three, there are 19 pages.8 Even in terms of number of pages devoted to the topic it can be seen that Ockham's most complete treatment of supposition is that which he presented in the Summa. This is not to say that the passages which concern supposition in the other two texts are merely condensations or abbreviations of issues treated more fuUy in the Summa. In each of the minor texts the topic is as it were taken up anew and the material is presented in a relatively fresh manner. Moreover, each of the minor texts does contain some material which can serve as a supplement and elucidation of topics and issues treated in the major...


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