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  • The Aristotelian Tradition: Aristotle’s Works on Logic and Metaphysics and Their Reception in the Middle Ages ed. by Börje Bydén, Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist
  • Luca Gili
Börje Bydén, and Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist, editors. The Aristotelian Tradition: Aristotle’s Works on Logic and Metaphysics and Their Reception in the Middle Ages. Papers in Mediaeval Studies 28. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 2017. Pp. viii + 395. Cloth, $95.00

In today’s academia, scholars are compelled to be productive. The result is an overabundance of publications that often are formulaic follow-ups to the debates du jour. The essays included in this collection are a fortunate exception to this rule—they are original and make refreshingly bold claims. The articles are devoted to the reception of Aristotle’s logic and metaphysics in the Middle Ages and show the vitality of the cluster of scholars known as the “Copenhagen School of Medieval Philosophy.” Even though the school does not identify as [End Page 364] “neo-scholastic” (14), many of its members accept the idea that scholastic interpretations are relevant to our understanding of Aristotle’s thought. Undoubtedly, this is a bold claim.

Jakob Leth Fink, for example, prefers Francisco Suárez’s reading of Aristotle’s Metaphysics A, 1–2 to the interpretations developed after Hermann Bonitz. According to Bonitz, the first two chapters of Aristotle’s Metaphysics present two different conceptions of ‘wisdom’: in the first chapter, wisdom seems to be identified with philosophy, whilst in the second, only metaphysics, that is, a part of philosophy, may be called ‘wisdom’ in a proper sense. Suárez instead maintains that wisdom is a habitus that has an embryonal stage (outlined in Metaphysics A 1) and a full-fledged version (Metaphysics A 2). Fink, however, is artificially polarizing Suárez’s and Bonitz’s interpretations that differ more in the presentation of the problem than in the solution to it.

Michail Peramatzis does not adopt the traditional approach of the Copenhagen School and explains Aristotelem ex Aristotele. He analyses the expression λογικῶς (Metaphysics Z 4 1029b13) and proposes to identify a “predicational explanation” that would be different from causal or explanatory dependency. In his view, the essence can be grasped λογικῶς, that is, “on the basis of premises about what is (truly) predicated of what, and in what way” (85). As Sten Ebbesen observed (86n16), Peramatzis endorses a view similar to Thomas Aquinas’s (as he inadvertently did in his 2011 book on Aristotle’s notion of priority).

Heine Hansen studies the sufficientiae praedicamentorum before Albert the Great. Unlike Immanuel Kant, medieval philosophers did not think of the ten categories as “rhapsodic.” Both Albert and Aquinas derived the ten categories from the modi praedicandi. The history of the sufficientiae praedicamentorum before Aquinas and Albert has never been studied. Hansen focuses on Kilwardby (and shows that he might derive some themes from pseudo-Augustine’s Categoriae decem), Nicholas of Paris, and the anonymous author of the Ripoll Compendium. Remarkably, Hansen did not find any full-fledged sufficientia in the logical texts written before 1150.

Fabrizio Amerini compares Averroes’s and Aquinas’s opinions on the substantiality of form. Amerini criticizes the interpretation of Gabriele Galluzzo, according to whom Aquinas believes that ‘substance’ primarily implies “independent existence” and that the sensible substance is the composite, whereas for Averroes ‘substance’ has an explanatory role, and the sensible substance is the form of the composite. Amerini shows that medieval readers of Averroes tended to attribute to him the Thomistic idea that the definition of the sensible substance should include a reference to matter.

Ebbesen observes that the anonymous author of a commentary on the Sophistical Refutations, dubbed Anonymus Cantabrigiensis, asked several questions on Sophistical Refutations 2 that are not addressed by contemporary commentators. Julie Brumberg-Chaumont shows that the Anonymus Cantabrigiensis had a notion of “syllogistic form” that enabled him to count as “syllogisms” most of the fallacies discussed in the Sophistical Refutations. Simo Knuuttila observes that analogies between Robert Kilwardby’s interpretation of Prior Analytics A 15 and the sketchy remarks in the commentary by the Anonymus Aurelianensis III suggest that these commentaries had common sources (or even that Kilwardby...


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