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BOOK REVIEWS 337 Quodlibetal Questions. By WILLIAM OF OcKHAM. Vol. 1 trans. Alfred J. Freddoso and Francis E. Kelley; vol. 2 trans. Alfred J. Freddoso ; pref. Norman Kretzmann. Vol. l of the Yale Library of Medieval Philosophy. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1991. Pp. 391 and 305. $100.00 for both (cloth). In these handsome volumes, Professor Alfred J. Freddoso and the late Professor Frank E. Kelley have provided the scholarly community with an English translation of William of Ockham's Quodlibeta septem (hereafter QS). The volumes constitute the first volume in the new Yale Library of Medieval Philosophy, and both the new series and this first contribution within it will add generously to the growing numĀ· her of medieval philosophical texts available in English. Using the critical edition of Ockham's Latin text established by the Rev. Joseph C. Wey (Opera theologica, vol. 9, Franciscan Institute: St. Bonaventure , NY, 1980) as the basis for their work, the translators offer to readers of English an accurate translation of one of Ockham's mature theological works, treating a wide variety of philosophical and theological topics. Indeed, thanks to their efforts, the broad range of Ockham's thought in natural and revealed theology, ontology, epistemology, and ethics becomes available in English for the first time. The purpose of the Yale series is to translate into English " complete works of philosophical and historical importance". In deciding which work of Ockham to translate for the series, the translators faced two potential hazards: the danger of translating one of Ockham's earlier works that might contain ideas which he subsequently reconsidered; and the danger of translating a work that focused upon a narrow range of topics, something which would give readers the false impression that Ockham's philosophy was concerned only with those topics. The translators have adroitly managed to avoid both of these potential hazards. The translators certainly steered clear of the first hazard by deciding to translate Ockham's QS. These quodlibetal questions are believed to represent the substance of disputations Ockham held at the Franciscan studium in London during the years 1322-1324, although the final written form of the work probably was not established until 1325 or shortly thereafter at Avignon. Hence the QS represent to a large extent Ockham's final word on the topics discussed, since in the period after 1325 up until the time of his death in 1347 Ockham was too heavily embroiled in ecclesiological and political controversies in Avignon and Munich to give much consideration to more speculative concerns. Yet the translators also avoided the second hazard by choos- 338 BOOK REVIEWS ing to translate the QS. True, the QS is akin to numerous other medieval quodlibetal questions in that it treats an array of questions; hut, in the case of Ockham's work, the range of topics is so broad and the issues broached therein so fundamental to his personal thought that one has, in effect, a compendium of Ockham's major philosophical and theological ideas. A brief glance at the table of questions indicates the breadth of the questions and their relevance to perennial philosophical discussions. In the area of philosophical theology, Ockham asks whether it can be proved by natural reason that there is only one God; whether it can be proved by natural reason that God's power is infinite; whether God could have made the world from eternity. In regard to ethical theory, Ockham asks whether the exterior act has its own proper moral goodness , and whether there can be a demonstrative science about morals. In fields of epistemology and the philosophy of mind, Ockham asks whether the human intellect knows its own acts intuitively in this life; whether it knows sensible things intuitively; and whether there can be an intuitive cognition of a non-existent object. Closer to the area of logic and semantics, Ockham raises several questions about the status of propositions and their components: whether a mental proposition is composed of things or concepts; whether mental names are divided into concrete and abstract names in the manner of spoken names; whether the object of a definition is an extra-mental reality or a concept . Finally, readers...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 337-341
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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