- John Pagus on Aristotle’s Categories: A Study and Edition of the Rationes super Praedicamenta Aristotelis by Heine Hansen
This is an excellent edition of a crucial text in medieval logic. The edition is excellent because the text correctly represents the manuscript and because the editor considers the historical context, providing parallel texts from Nicholas of Paris and Robert Kilwardby. Hansen tentatively suggests that the sequence is Nicholas, John, Robert (48*), but the evidence that Robert is last in this sequence is considerably stronger than for Nicholas’s priority.
The text is crucial because John Pagus played an important role at the University of Paris. He was one of only three masters singled out by Gregory IX in a letter to Louis IX—the others being William of Auxerre and Geoffrey of Poitiers, both of whom authored important summae before 1225 and died in 1231. Pagus was likely, as Alain de Libera says, the “principal Parisian logician of the first half of the thirteenth century” (18*), a period about which little is known. Moreover, some of his views were condemned at Paris in 1241 and 1244 (20*–21*). So we have here an author who excited controversy, but also a work that reliably reports the background assumptions of much thirteenth century logic and metaphysics.
The main source for this work is Padua, Bibl. Univ. 1589, and the attribution is based on the incipit and the colophon, both in the original hand: Expliciunt Rationes super Praedicamenta Aristoteles secundum Iohannem Pagum. Regarding attribution the editor is concerned to rebut the claim that other commentaries found in the same manuscript are also by Pagus as Lohr and Gauthier thought. Hansen devotes appendices to showing the differences between Pagus’s commentaries and the rest (145*–58*; 267–75).
Various dates have been proposed for the commentary: 1230–40 by Franceschini, and 1231–35 by Gauthier. Hansen himself proposes 1231–41, based on the authorities cited and the dates of Pagus’s career. Thus Hansen opts for a later terminus ante quem on the grounds that Pagus cites Nicolas of Amiens and Richard of St. Victor, suggesting that Pagus may already have begun studying theology (51*–52*). The principal reason for setting 1231 as the terminus post quem is Pagus’s knowledge of Aristotle. But as Hansen points out, many of Pagus’s citation were commonplaces, frequently phrased in ways that suggest that they come from a florilegium, an antecedent of Hamesse’s Auctoritates Aristotelis, rather than from the works themselves. In fact, all of the translations cited with one possible exception were available in the twelfth century. For dating purposes, what is important are the [End Page 167] citations of Averroes and Michael Scot’s translations of Aristotle, which circulated at Paris for the first time around 1225, as Gauthier established. There are ten of these, most of which also appear to be commonplaces, such as substantia dicitur tribus modis: materia, forma et compositum (35*, 39*); the only reference to Averroes that cannot be a common place is to Metaphysics Lambda, Actus est finis ad quem est (190), which hardly reflects great familiarity with Aristotelian metaphysics. On the whole, then, Pagus’s knowledge of Aristotle and Averroes seemingly does not present a strong case for a date after 1231, but rather 1225. Moreover, like other early masters active before 1235, Pagus pairs Averroes the “Commentator” with Aristotle (10), not with “the Philosopher,” a title that in this early period sometimes refers to Boethius. An earlier post quem date also fits better with the idea that Pagus was already important enough to be mentioned by Gregory IX along with William of Auxerre and Geoffrey of Poitiers.
Dating aside, the commentary is philosophically interesting, not the least for its contribution to the history of mental content theory, found in discussions of the subject of the Categories. It is a treatise on logic, which, however, seems to be about things in the...