Medieval Philosophy Network, 21st Meeting 30 April 2019 The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
11:30 - 12:30 Tom Pink (King’s College London) “Final causation in early modern Jesuit thought: finality in nature and normative power”
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch break
14:00 - 15:00 Stephen Read (University of St Andrews) “The Rule of Contradictory Pairs, Insolubles and Validity”
15:00 - 16:00 Lily King (University of South Florida) “Reevaluating the Kantian Appraisal of Abelard’s Ethics”
16:00 – 16:30 Coffee/Tea break
16:30 – 17:30 Simon Hewitt (University of Leeds) “Unravelling Stump's Non-Apophatic Aquinas”
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“Final causation in early modern Jesuit thought: finality in nature and normative power”
By Thomas Pink (King’s College London)
In early modern Jesuit thought we find a restriction of final causation to the goal-directed agency of minds, and a denial that it is to be found in end-directed processes in wider nature. There is indeed some denial that ends operate as causes at all, even within the mind. The paper examines this development and distinguishes it from scepticism about final causation in early modern writers hostile to scholasticism. This Jesuit tradition is not sceptical of power exercised by ends, and the paper examines the continuing importance of this conception of power to their ethical and political theory, and especially to their theory of rationality and reason.
“The Rule of Contradictory Pairs, Insolubles and Validity”
Stephen Read (University of St Andrews)
The Oxford Calculator Roger Swyneshed put forward three provocative theses in his treatise on insolubles, written in the early 1330s, of which the second claims that there is a formally valid inference with true premise and false conclusion. His example deployed the Liar paradox as the conclusion of the inference: 'This is false, so this is false'. His account of insolubles supported his claim that the conclusion is false, and so the premise, referring to the conclusion, would seem to be true. But what is his account of validity, that can allow true premises to lead to a false conclusion? We consider Roger's own account, as well as that of Paul of Venice, writing some sixty years later, whose account of the truth and falsehood of insolubles followed Roger's closely. Paul endorsed Roger's three theses. But their accounts of validity were different. The question is whether these accounts are coherent and support Paul's claim in his Logica Magna that he endorsed all the normal rules of formal validity.
“Reevaluating the Kantian Appraisal of Abelard’s Ethics” By Lyly King (University of Florida)
Though there has been much debate about whether Abelard’s ethics are dangerously subjective or surprisingly absolutist, one thing is unanimous: they are intentionalist. The goal of this article is to parse out what, exactly, should be meant by this claim. Though much of the secondary literature on Abelard suggests that he has a “proto-Kantian” account of moral praiseworthiness, I argue that this is mistaken. As far as Abelard is concerned, one’s intention in acting is not the reason they supply for acting. Instead, intention is the desire motivating the action. This becomes clear when seeking to understand Abelard’s use of intentio with a view to his Commentary on Romans. Using the account of intentio I argue for—one nuanced by Abelard’s own theological commitments and biblical exegesis—Abelard’s ethics is not a case for the “moral neutrality of the passions.” Nor is it an ethic of “pure reason.” Instead, Abelard’s ethics is an affective intentionalism.
“Unravelling Stump's Non-Apophatic Aquinas”
By Simon Hewitt (University of Leeds)
Prefacing q3 of the Prima Pars of the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas - who takes himself to have established by this point that God exists - tells his reader that 'we cannot know what God is, but only what he is not. So to study him, we study what he has not'. The doctrine of divine simplicity which he then goes on to develop fits naturally with a reading of Aquinas as a mystical theologian, who thinks that God's nature is hidden from us, and that we are united with God 'as to one unknown' . This reading is commonplace amongst theologians and has found recent advocates in Davies, Turner and McCabe. Within analytic philosophy of religion, however, there has been a tendency to play down Aquinas' apophaticism. In this talk I take Elenore Stump's treatment of divine simplicity in her Aquinas as a case study, and argue against her reasons for thinking that Aquinas is not the apophaticist others have taken him to be.
Medieval Philosophy Network, 20th Meeting 21 November 2018 The Bing room | The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
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11:30 - 12:30 Christophe Erismann (University of Vienna) “Aristotle, the Perpetuation of Species and some Byzantine Views on Providence”
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch break
14:00 - 15:00 Micky Engel (University of Hamburg) “Averroes' Paraphrase of the De anima and the Problem of Universals in the Works of Medieval Jewish Aristotelians”
15:00 - 16:00 Dragos Calma (University College Dublin) “Metaphysics as a Way of Life: A 15th-Century Model”
16:00 – 16:30 Coffee/Tea break
16:30 – 17:30 Damiano Costa (University of Italian Switzerland, Lugano) ““Was Bonaventure a Four-dimensionalist?”
17:30 Conference ends
* * * ABSTRACTS “Aristotle, the Perpetuation of Species and some Byzantine Views on Providence” By Christophe Erismann (University of Vienna) Tbc abstract
“Averroes' Paraphrase of the De anima and the Problem of Universals in the Works of Medieval Jewish Aristotelians” By Mickey Engel (University of Hamburg)
Averroes' Epitome of the De anima (EDA) contains two interrelated discussions, one epistemological and the other logical/ontological. The first concerns the manner in which intelligibles are generated from sense data stored in the imaginary faculty. The second discussion concerns the relation between the intelligibles, once generated, and their particular correlatives outside the soul. In my talk I will present Averroes' arguments and their relation to the notion of human immortality, which is the focal point of the EDA. In the second part of my talk, I will illustrate the impact that Averroes' arguments and conclusions in the EDA had on Jewish philosophers during the Middle Ages.
“Metaphysics as a Way of Life : A 15th-Century Model” By Dragos Calma (University College Dublin)
This paper challenges the commonly accepted view that between Late Antiquity and Modernity, philosophy rhymes both with abstract dialectical exercises and subordination to Christian theology. A closer examination of some 15th century overlooked texts, mostly transmitted in untapped manuscripts, provides a fresh understanding of the history of metaphysics. These texts claim that the capacity for providing a correct reading of the ontological structure of the world derives from the ability to both live a spiritual life and to lift the intellect above senses and singulars. They describe this process operating a stimulating and original concord of philosophical (Aristotle, Plotinus, Proclus) and Patristic sources (e.g. Origen, Clement of Alexandria) leading to what some contemporary scholars have called “metaphysics of the inner man”.
“Was Bonaventure a Four-dimensionalist?” By Damiano Costa (University of Italian Switzerland, Lugano)
High scholastic authors usually adhere to a theory about the diachronic identity of substance that is nowadays called three-dimensionalism, according to which substances persist through time by being wholly present at each instant of their persistence. Recently, Richard Cross has argued that there is at least one exception to this rule, and that Bonaventure was a four-dimensionalist ante litteram. I argue that Bonaventure was no four-dimensionalist. Along the way, I explain how high scholastic accounts of persistence may or may not illuminate the contemporary debate on persistence.
Medieval Philosophy Network, 19th Meeting 3 July 2018 The Bing room | The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
* * * 11:30 - 12:30 Antonia Fitzpatrick (University of Oxford) “Proper matter and material causation in the thought of Aquinas and the early ‘Thomists"
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch break
14:00 - 15:00 Sophia Vasalou (University of Birmingham) “Virtue, Value, and the Law in al-Ghazali's Ethics”
15:00 - 16:00 Tianyi Zhang (University of Cambridge) “Suhrawardī on Light Metaphysics”
16:00 – 16:30 Coffee/Tea break
16:30 – 17:30 Kamil Majcherek (University of Cambridge) “Ockham’s Theory of Artifacts and its Critics”
17:30 Conference ends
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ABSTRACTS: "Proper matter and material causation in the thought of Aquinas and the early ‘Thomists’ " By Antonia Fitzpatrick (University of Oxford)
Aristotle makes matter central to his account of the composition of natural substances and his explanation for the ordered succession of substances in natural change (wine, for instance, corrupts only into vinegar, not into any other substance.) In Metaphysics VIII.4, he says that each substance has its ‘proper matter’. In Physics II.9, he explains that the material principle of natural change must necessarily be in a certain condition in order for a certain substance to come into being. This paper looks at the reception of these ideas in the thought of Thomas Aquinas and his early Dominican interpreters. It makes two arguments. The first is that Aquinas made more of these passages, and had a much more complex understanding of matter, than is generally understood. Aquinas is famous for holding that there is one and only one substantial form in each thing, and, as a corollary of this, that matter has no actuality of its own. And yet, Aquinas does appear to distinguish ‘prime matter’, in a state of pure or undifferentiated potency, from the matter that serves as the material principle in substantial generation. Certain prominent early ‘Thomists’, however, including John of Paris and Hervaeus Natalis, rejected this aspect of Aquinas’s thought on matter, and came close to jettisoning any meaningful account of material causation whatsoever. Why was this? The second argument is that these Dominicans had become convinced, with the help of specific arguments advanced by Franciscans in criticism of Aquinas, that such an account was incompatible with the theory of the unicity of form. Ultimately, then, the paper reflects on the Franciscan contribution to early ‘Thomism’.
“Virtue, Value, and the Law in al-Ghazali's Ethics” By Sophia Vasalou (University of Birmingham)
The idea that law and virtue, far from being antagonistic as modern philosophers sometimes suppose, are deeply interdependent is as old as the idea that ethics cannot get off the ground without politics. Virtue can only flourish where the right political provisions are made for it. Conveyed from the classical to the Islamic world through a number of textual routes, this idea would assume new forms as the focus shifted from the manmade law of the polis to the revealed law of God. In the work of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, this shift sets the stage for foundational questions about the structure of value. Most simply, his attempt to integrate the virtues into the framework of the religious Law invites a question about evaluative primacy. Are certain character traits virtues—valuable and worth possessing—because they enable us to carry out the acts prescribed by the Law? Or on the contrary, are the acts prescribed by the Law valuable because they enable us to acquire certain character traits? It is the second view that receives the most direct support in al-Ghazālī’s major work, The Revival of the Religious Sciences, where al-Ghazālī takes the Aristotelian maxim “we become by doing” so deeply to heart as to make the value of actions derivative to their character-forming effect. The resulting account forms an important stage in the Islamization of Hellenistic ethics. It is an account not free from tensions; and it is also clear that the road travelled from the manmade laws of the polis to the divine Law has been a long one.
“Suhrawardī on Light Metaphysics” By Tianyi Zhang (University of Cambridge)
Generally speaking, there are two popular approaches in Western scholarship to reconstructing Suhrawardī’s (d. 1191) Illuminationist philosophy: H. Corbin’s Oriental Theosophy approach, focusing on the mystical elements, and D. Gutas’s Illuminationist Avicennism approach, aiming to prove that Suhrawardī’s philosophy is essentially Avicennan. However, when it comes to Suhrawardī’s light metaphysics, both of these two approaches fail to reveal its philosophical significance. Although several scholars have pointed out the similarity between Suhrawardī’s light metaphysics and Mullā Ṣadrā’s (d. 1640) existential metaphysics, they also commit to the idea that Suhrawardī’s ontological position is the primacy of quiddity, as opposed to Mullā Ṣadrā’s primacy of existence. How can one get around this obvious contradiction? By following the Cave-Story approach I develop, I present an original interpretation of Suhrawardī’s light metaphysics, with a focus on interpreting the rich meaning of light. By looking at Book I of the second part of Ḥikmat al-Ishrāq, I first explain why light is an appropriate subject matter of metaphysics. I argue that Suhrawardī’s ontological position must be the primacy of existence, and light is, in fact, the most important sub-section of systematically ambiguous existence. This is followed by an analysis of Suhrawardī’s fourfold division of all things in the real world: immaterial lights, adventitious lights, dusky substances and states attributed to darkness. Lastly, I reconstruct Suhrawardī’s two-page argument for the existence of immaterial lights and another eight-page argument for the equivalence of immaterial lights to self-apprehenders. I conclude that Suhrawardī’s light metaphysics is a unique metaphysics about particulars rather than universals; it deserves serious philosophical study, and it must in no way be Avicennan.
"Ockham's Theory of Artifacts and Its Critics" By Kamil Majcherek (University of Cambridge)
My main aim in this paper is to examine William of Ockham's theory of artifacts. According to a view commonly accepted by scholastic authors before Ockham, artifacts are distinct from natural things in virtue of an artificial-accidental form, produced by an artificer. In contrast, Ockham argues that artifacts are not really distinct from natural things, and that there is no need to posit artificial forms in order to account for the production and existence of artifacts, and that what suffices is only local motion of natural things and their integral parts. After presenting the scholastic background of Ockham's theory (the Aristotelian distinction between nature and art, and the distinction between different kinds of artifacts), I focus of Ockham's three main arguments for his parsimonious theory. I also present what I consider to be Ockham's conventionalism regarding the status of artifacts. In the last part of the paper, I mention briefly some of the objections which were raised against Ockham's theory by later authors defending the realist theory of artifacts: Walter Burley, Nicole Oresme, and Paul of Venice, in whose view Ockham commits the same error regarding artifacts as some of the ancient materialists did with respect to natural things: so that instead of real generation, there is only spatial reconfiguration of pre-existent material components. I shall try to establish how far these and other criticisms of Ockham's theory are justified.
Medieval Philosophy Network, 18th Meeting 12 March 2018 The Bing room | The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
11:45 - 12:45 Barbara Bartocci (University of St Andrews) “Should we, or should we not, trust Socrates? Theories of Paradox in Fourteenth-Century Logic”
12:45 - 14:15 Lunch break
14:15 - 15:15 Lydia Schumacher(King’s College London) “The Early Franciscan Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union: A Key Intervention in Medieval Debates about the Metaphysics of the Incarnation”
15:15 - 16:15 Brian Embry(University of Groningen) “Carving the Beast of Reality. Francisco Suárez on Categorizing Modes and Other Substances”
16:15 Conference ends
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“Should we, or should we not, trust Socrates? Theories of Paradox in Fourteenth-Century Logic”
By Barbara Bartocci (University of St Andrews)
If we suppose that Socrates utters ‘Socrates utters a falsehood’ and nothing else, should we trust Socrates or not? In my paper, I will briefly deal with 14th-century theories of paradox, with a special emphasis on Paul of Venice’s treatise on insolubilia, which is one of the main foci of the project “Theories of Paradox in Fourteenth-Century Logic: Edition and Translation of Key Texts”, led by Professor Stephen Read and financed by the Leverhulme Trust. One of the main aims of this project, indeed, is the publishing of a critical edition and English translation of Paul of Venice’s treatise on Insolubilia, which will be based on the 1499 Venice edition and on the only known manuscript preserving Paul’s text (Vat. Lat. 2132, ff. 236ra-245vb). In his Tractatus de insolubilibus, which closes his massive Logica Magna (written in the 1390s), in addition to his own view, Paul summarised and scrutinized 14 unattributed opinions about insolubles which were held by authors preceding or contemporary to him. Unfortunately, no modern editions of this work exist. Thus, scholars who want to read Paul’s text have to leaf through the folios of the early printed edition (1499). This, however, is not completely reliable, as will be shown by analysing some baffling passages in it. The establishment of a reliable text of Paul’s treatise will constitute a milestone for shedding more light on the medieval tradition of the insolubilia. Moreover, Paul’s taxonomy will be even more valuable when more of the work of the authors of the various opinions has been examined. This will be possible by studying authors who have not so far been taken into account by scholars. I will consider particularly the case of Blasius of Parma, specifically his treatment of the ‘Liar Paradox’ in comparison with Roger Swyneshed’s and in light of Paul’s list.
“The Early Franciscan Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union: A Key Intervention in Medieval Debates about the Metaphysics of the Incarnation”
By Lydia Schumacher (King’s College London)
In the second half of the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus championed very different accounts of the hypostatic union, which have been closely associated with their respective intellectual legacies ever since. Scholars past and present have tended to treat these accounts as mutually exclusive alternatives, only one of which can claim to be doctrinally sound. My purpose in this paper is to demonstrate that both models of the hypostatic union prove plausible when interpreted in relation to their respective intellectual contexts. The key to offering this interpretation, I will argue, is the study of the treatise on the Incarnation in the Summa Halensis, a text that was collaboratively authored by first-generation Franciscan scholars between 1236-45/56—twenty years before Thomas Aquinas even set his hand to the task of composing his magisterial Summa Theologiae. This long-neglected Summa was the first to formulate the theory of the hypostatic union which is generally credited to Scotus, and it did so on the basis of metaphysical assumptions that differ quite significantly from the ones that prevailed at the time of Aquinas. For this reason, I will demonstrate, the study of this text in its context highlights particularly effectively the varying terms on which the Franciscan and Dominican accounts must be interpreted and the tenability of each account within its own frame of reference.
“Carving the Beast of Reality. Francisco Suárez on Categorizing Modes and Other Substances”
By Brian Embry(University of Groningen)
Medieval Aristotelians typically divide the world into substances and accidents. Descartes replaces Aristotelian accidents with modes, and he divides the world into substances and modes. But Descartes borrows the notion of a mode from his scholastic near-contemporaries. Francisco Suárez, for example, endorses a conception of modes very similar to Descartes’s. The presence of modes in an Aristotelian ontology raises a question about where to place them in the categories. Do modes constitute a new category of accident, next to the other nine? Do they fall under various categories of accident? Or should the substance/accident ontology be replaced entirely with a thing/mode ontology? The purpose of this paper is to explain the place of modes in Suárez’s division of the world into kinds. I first explain what Suárez thinks a category system is, and then I explain the rules according to which Suárez “carves the beast of reality.” What emerges is not only an answer to the question how to categorize modes, but also a detailed theory of the categorical structure of reality.
Medieval Philosophy Network, 17th Meeting 2 November 2017 The Bing room | The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
*** 11:30-13:00 William Simpson (University of Cambridge) ’What’s the matter? Power, entanglement and the dappled world’
Commentator: Daniel De Haan (University of Cambridge)
13:00-14:15 Lunch break
14:15-15:15 Giovanni Catapano(University of Padua) ‘Augustine on the existence of ideas of individuals’
15:15-16:15 Andreea-Maria Carrez(Université Paris-Sorbonne ) ‘From immaterial essences to material cosmos: the case of planetary gods in Iamblichus's metaphysics’
16:15-16:45 Coffee/Tea break
16:45-17:45 Jonathan Morton(King’s College London) 'Why should philosophers care about allegory? The Romance of the Rose as philosophical poetry'
17:45 Conference ends
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What's the matter? Power, entanglement and the dappled world.
By William Simpson
In this paper I am seeking to provide an empirically adequate neo-Aristotelian ontology of powers that is compatible with quantum mechanics, whilst challenging two assumptions commonly held by contemporary philosophers.
In the first part of the discussion, I pose a 'problem of nonlocal powers', which is raised by quantum phenomena like superpositions and entanglement. I claim that this problem can be overcome by abandoning the assumption of *primitive physicalism*, which reifies physical properties like mass, spin and charge, and by adopting an ontology of power-atoms with primitive powers of motion, in which the wave function used to predict nonlocal phenomena is grounded in a global structural power. This structural power determines the motions of the power-atoms and is encoded within the network of ontological dependencies that exists between their primitive powers.
In the second part of this paper, I pose a 'problem of perceptual holism', which is raised by the holistic character of quantum physics. By dissolving local connections between the perceptual beliefs of scientists and the behaviours of their measuring devices, quantum holism undermines any empirical reasons for believing that quantum mechanics describes reality. I suggest that this problem may be averted by abandoning the assumption of *physical fundamentalism* and upgrading the ontology to include a variety of local structural powers.
I consider some problems that arise for an ontology seeking to hold together both local and global structural powers, and suggest solutions that appeal to the nature of causal powers.
Augustine on the Existence of Ideas of Individuals
By Giovanni Catapano
Abstract: The Letter 14 to his friend Nebridius is the only place in all his writings where Augustine tackles the problem of the existence of ideas of individuals. In the divine Word, he argues, there is just one idea of the human being as such, but at the same time there are the ideas of many human individuals, insofar as these individuals are parts of a whole. Likewise, in the human mind there is one idea of the angle as such, but at the same time there are the ideas of the four angles that make up a square.
From immaterial essences to material cosmos: the case of planetary gods in Iamblichus's metaphysics
By Andreea-Maria Carrez
Iamblichus, the head of the Neoplatonician school of Apamea, faces the questions of Porphyry about the divinity of planets as corporeal beings in his De Mysteriis. In opposition to the plotinian dualistic paradigm of matter and bodies as threats to the unity of the soul, Iamblichus (and Proclos after him) intends to rehabilitate the notion of corporeality in a way that would both assert immateriality's superiority over materiality and offer a relevant theory to theurgy. This dispute of the uttermost importance takes place in a critical philosophical, theological and historical context (the christianization of the IIIth and IVth centuries' Empire) to which Iamblichus responds with a concordist attitude, insisting on symphonia between all philosophical traditions and pagan cults. As a result, the questioning of the limits between the divine and the non-divine and the definition of their respective characteristics appear as a demanding task for « the savior of the entire Greek world », as Julian the Emperor called him. Facing Porphyry's interrogations and doubts, emphasizing what he considers as an internal contradiction, Iamblichus intends to demonstrate in his De Mysteriis that the concept of divine body is no oxymoron.
But how can the planets be gods, if gods are supposed to be strictly incorporeal? How does it affect Iamblichus's concept of divinity? Are celestial bodies actualized potencies, results of ousiai and noemata according to him? To what extent can they be both gods and living beings, if all divine beings are immortal, eternal, invisible and immune to corruption and pathos, and if bodies are necessarily bound to a beginning and an end, corruptible and visible? Do immaterial gods and the cosmos share the same nature according to Iamblichus? Are they considered as the One's germinative ennoiai, but if so, how can he avoid to identify the One with the Intellect? Does the gods' immateriality involve their transcendance of the material world, or are they considered to be immanent, which would suggest a monist turnover in Iambichus's thought? Can the influence of these planetary gods be both benevolent and malevolent, and if so, does it imply that evil would be part of divinity?
'Why should philosophers care about allegory? The Romance of the Rose as philosophical poetry'
By Jonathan Morton
The Romance of the Rose is one of the great literary monuments of thirteenth-century Europe. While its affinities to medieval philosophy, especially which of the University of Paris, have long been noted, that recently scholars have been paying closer attention to the specifics of the French poem's philosophy. But how can a work of allegory, by definition polysemous, be philosophical? Looking at the poem's style in relation to medieval dialectic and thinking about the intellectual context of the 1270s when Jean de Meun wrote his vast section of the Rose, this paper will suggest ways in which the work can convey meaning and consider the question of whether and how it makes sense to talk of poetry as philosophical.
Medieval Philosophy Network, 16th Meeting 14 July 2017 Cornwall Room | British Academy |10-11 Carlton House Terrace |SW1Y 5AH | London
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13:30 - 14:30 Giovanni Ventimiglia (University of Lucerne ) ‘Aquinas on Being: two or three Senses of Being?’
14:30 - 15:00 Stephen Read (University of St Andrews) Thomas Maloney's translation of Lambert of Auxerre's Logica (Notre Dame UP 2015) – a critical discussion.
15:00 – 15:30 Coffee break
15:30 - 16:30 Anna Marmodoro (University of Oxford) ‘Plotinus on Perception’
16:30 - 17:00 John Marenbon (University of Cambridge) Alain de Libera, L’Archéologie philosophique (Paris : Vrin, 2016) – a critical discussion.
17:00 Conference ends
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Aquinas on Being: Two or Three Senses of Being? By Giovanni Ventimiglia (University of Lucerne)
Since the pioneering work by Peter Geach, Form and Existence (1955) it has become customary among some interpreters of Aquinas's writings (e.g. Anthony Kenny) or philosophers who refer to Aquinas in their own theories of existence (e.g. Barry Miller) to distinguish between two senses of being or existence: the "there is" sense and the "present actuality" sense. The first sense occurs in sentences such as "Elephants exist, but mermaids do not", where "exist" is a second order predicate. The second sense occurs in sentences such as "Elephants exist, but dinosaurs do not", where "exist" is interpreted as a first order predicate, which is a predicate of individuals.
Medieval Philosophy Network, 15th Meeting 24 March 2017 The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
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4:00-15:00 John Marenbon (University of Cambridge): ‘Abelard, dicta and suigenerism’
15:00-16:00 Laurent Cesalli (University of Geneva): ‘Nec res, nec complexum: 14th century 'suigenerist' propositional semantics’
16:00-16:30 Coffee break
16:30-17:30 Daniel Maslov (Moscow State University): ‘Hoc significat hoc, ergo hoc est hoc in the English Question-Commentaries on Aristotle's Metaphysics, ca. 1283 – ca. 1300
17:30 Conference ends
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John Marenbon, "Abelard, dicta, and suigenerism" My paper is the prequel to Laurent Cesalli’s. Both are drafts for a chapter we are writing together for a volume on states of affairs in a series on medieval metaphysics. The volume is arranged according to types of theories, as classified by Laurent Cesalli. Suigenerists are those who say that states of affairs are sui generis entities. My attention is therefore on Abelard’s view of the ontological status of dicta, i.e. what propositions say. Unfortunately, what this status is remains far from clear (and, despite the placing of Abelard in this chapter, it should not be assumed that he considers dicta to be sui generis entities). In my paper I shall set out the problems, and I look to my listeners to help find a solution. Laurent Cesalli, "Nec res, nec complexum: 14th century 'suigenerist' propositional semantics" In the 14th century, the issue of the significant of the proposition (significatum propositionis) gives rise to a lively debate. A propositio is a declarative sentence, a linguistic truth bearer. Do propositions have proper significant, or do they signify just what their constituents--subject and predicate--signify? Among the logicians who claim that propositions do have special significant, some insist that this significant is sui generis, i.e.: they are neither things (or complexes of things), nor concepts (or complexes of concepts), but... something else. But what exactly? In my talk, I shall compare three "suigenerist" theories--the complexe significabile (Adam Wodeham, Gregory of Rimini), the ens tertium adiacens (Giraldus Odonis) and the modus rei (possibly Richard Billingham)--with respect to their ontological import. Daniel Maslov, "Hoc significant hoc, ergo hoc est hoc in the English Question--Commentaries on Aristotle's Metaphysics, ca. 1283-ca. 1300" In his Quaestiones in primum librum Perihermeneias Duns Scotus, when he reasons in oppositum against the statement that Caesar is not a man and an animal if Caesar does not exist, refers to Aristotle's authority: according to Scotus, “Aristotle says in Metaphysics IV: “This is that, because this signifies that” (“hoc est hoc, quia hoc significat hoc”). Remarkably, Aristotle never said anything of the kind, so should we regard “hoc est hoc, quia hoc significat hoc” as a "misquotation"? The authors of Duns Scotus critical edition link this somewhat puzzling statement to Aristotle's words in Metaph. 4, 1006a 33–34 in the anonymous translation: “Dico autem et unum significare hoc; si hoc est, si quidem homo, hoc erit homini esse”. If we look at the passage 1006a 29 – 34 in the medieval translations of Aristotle's Metaphysics, we can see that none of them encourages the kind of reading we find in Scotus. The source of “this is that, because this signifies that” in Aristotle becomes clear if we consider four question–commentaries on Aristotle's Metaphysics - those by John of Dinsdale (circa 1283; Ms Durham, Cathedral Library C.IV.20, fols 1rA - 196vA), William of Bonkes (circa 1292; Ms Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College 344(540), fols 28rA - 91vB), and by two English anonymous authors of the 1290s (Ms Oxford, Oriel College 33, fols 199rA - 261rA; Ms Cambridge, Peterhouse 192, fols 189rA - 240vB). These English masters devote a separate quaestio to the puzzling consequentia “this signifies that, therefore, this is that”. The starting point, however, was the quaestio by Siger of Brabant, against whom John of Dinsdale argued in his Quaestiones in Metaphysicam, where he rejected the truth of the consequentia, while William of Bonkes, Anonymus Orielensis, and Anonymus Domus Petri accepted the truth of the implication. All these masters quote Metaph. Γ 4, 1006b 28-30 as the auctoritas. It looks probable that the setting of the debate was geographically limited to Oxford, and that William of Bonkes, Anonymus Orielensis, and Anonymus Domus Petri allbelonged to the same “conversational community”, to use the expression applied by H.G. Gelber to the 14th century Oxford Dominicans. And it is within this intellectual milieu that Scotus's “Aristoteles dicit: hoc est hoc, quia hoc significat hoc” could be read as a recongizable and commonly accepted interpretation of Aristotle. The discussion of the consequentia was focused on several notions and "argumentative common places", including esse secundum significationem or esse significabile vs esse simpliciter. The difference of opinion on the truth of the consequentia between John of Dinsdale and William of Bonkes does not reflect any fundamental disagreement on the nature of the signification of names, and yet certain difference in emphasis may be traced in their treatment of the issues related to the consequentia.
Medieval Philosophy Network, 14th meeting 28 October 2016
The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
12:00-13:00 Christopher J. Martin (Auckland University) 'But only God can make a tree': Abaelard on Increase on Growth.
13:00-14:15 Lunch break
14:15-15:15 Cyrlle Michon (l’Université de Nantes) Aquinas’s account of self- defence and the doctrine of double effect
15:15-16:15 Ben Page (University of Oxford) Per Se Causal Chains?–A possible revival in contemporary metaphysics?
16:15-16:45 Coffee break
16:45-17:45 John Marenbon (University of Cambridge) Non-Accidental Relations in earlier Medieval Latin Philosophy
17.45 Conference ends* * *
Abstracts Christopher Martin, "“But only God can make a tree”: Abaelard on Increase on Growth."
Abstract: In this paper I return to a topic which I first discussed in my paper ‘The Logic of Growth”* on the claim that nothing grows, one the theses which defined the mid-twelfth century school of followers of Peter Abaelard known as the Nominales. Since I wrote on the subject Andy Arlig has explored Abaelard’s mereology further, arguing that it grounds a theory of objects, both natural and artificial quite at odds with our folk intuitions about them, and that Abaelard thus regards such quotidian beliefs as false and only to be retained as useful fictions. I take rather the opposite view and hold that while Abaelard does indeed present an account of wholes and parts which supports the thesis that nothing is increased, or grows, this is a philosophical truth which he seeks to reconcile with our ordinary intuitions about living creatures. In this paper I will attempt to defend my reading of Abaelard and introduce some further evidence for his position from the work of the followers of perhaps his greatest opponent, Alberic of Paris.* ‘The logic of growth: twelfth-century Nominalists and the development of theories of the Incarnation’, Medieval Philosophy and Theology 7, 1998, 1-15.
Ben Page, "Per Se Causal Chains? - A possible revival in contemporary metaphysics?"
Abstract: Per Se causal chains, for the Medievals, are everywhere. Yet look as you might in a contemporary introduction to causation, you are unlikely to find any discussion or explication of them. In fact what's more likely is that you find comments to the effect that causes which possess elements of the per se type are atypical and as such they warrant no further discussion. For the Medievalist this is frustrating since these causal chains are often thought of as primary and some interesting arguments, such as arguments for God’s existence, rely upon them and as such they seem worthy of contemporary discussion.The aim of my talk is to lay the groundwork for allowing Medieval discussions relating to per se causal chains to once again become relevant for the contemporary debate. I will do this by suggesting that contemporary metaphysics has smuggled in many aspects of per se causation under a new guise - grounding. I will discuss the similarities and differences between the two notions, and also show how contemporary worries over infinite grounding chains mirror Aquinas’s worries over infinite per se causal chains. If I am correct in thinking that grounding and per se causes are very similar, then it seems to me the time is right for a revival of per se causality within contemporary metaphysics, where debates and uses of these chains in Medieval philosophy will once again become of much broader interest. Medievalists should therefore be ready to lend there expertise to those metaphysicians rediscovering this previously explored notion, that is … assuming I’m correct regarding this similarity! I will leave that for you, the experts, to judge.
Cyrille Michon, "Aquinas’s account of self-defense and the doctrine of double effect"
Abstract:Aquinas’s brief treatment of self-defense (Summa Theologiae II-II.64.7) is rightly held for the source of both the notion and the theory of ‘double effect’. But whether Aquinas in this text, or elsewhere, defends what is nowadays called thus is controversial. I propose an interpretation.
John Marenbon, "Non-Accidental Relations in earlier Medieval Latin Philosophy"
Abstract: Historians of philosophy have long recognised that medieval conceptions of relations are radically different from contemporary ones. Contemporary logic represents relations as functions with more than one place, so that, for example, the function ‘— is father of — ’ describes the relationship between John (whose name fills the first gap) and Maximus (whose name fills the second). Similarly, the relations themselves described by such functions are conceived, not as belonging to only one of the things related, but as somehow being common to them. By contrast, throughout the Medieval Latin tradition, relation was considered, following Aristotle’s Categories, as one of the nine types of accident. But a given particular accident, according to Aristotle and the medieval tradition, can belong to only one substance. For medieval philosophers, therefore, my being father of Maximus is an accident that belongs to me, in much the way that the accident of being grey-haired does. For his part, Maximus has a different accident, of being the son of John. Yet, from Augustine onwards, Latin thinkers recognized a non-accidental type of relation. The persons of the Trinity are related: God the Father is the father of God the Son, and the Son the son of the Father, and the Holy Spirit is related to Father and Son as their spiration. These relations are not accidental, because God has no accidental properties. Moreover, although the relation of being-the-son-of is different from that of being-the-father-of, they do not, in the case of the Father and the Son (as they would do in that of John and Maximus) belong to two different substances. My paper will explore the extent to which thinking about the Trinity allowed philosophers in the period up to 1200 to forge a way of considering relations distinct from Aristotle’s, although the Categories remains its point of departure.
Medieval Philosophy Network, 12th Meeting 1 April 2016
The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
[12.30 Meet outside the Warburg for those who would like to attend lunch.]
13.45-14.05 Dragos Calma (University of Cambridge) An anniversary today: the object of philosophy
14.05-15.05 Ian Logan (Blackfriars, Oxford) Per rationalem mentem: Anselm’s ‘turn to the subject’
15.05-16.05 Anna-Katharina Strohschneider (Würzburg University/Warburg Institute) Agostino Nifo on Averroes and the Relationship between Physics and Metaphysics
16.05-16.35 Coffee Break
16.35-17.45 Wilfrid Hodges (Queen Mary College, London) Buridan and the Avicenna-Johnston semantics (with response by Spencer Johnston (University of York)
17.45 End of Meeting
'Per rationalem mentem: Anselm’s ‘turn to the subject' Ian Logan - Blackfriars Hall, Oxford
In the Monologion and Proslogion, Anselm addresses the existence and nature of God and how it is that rational investigation of the ineffable is possible. Prima facie the treatment of these questions appears very different in the two works. However, there is commonality in their use of the imagery of sight and light. By investigating this common imagery and the epistemological function of the imago dei in Anselm’s anthropology, I uncover an important aspect of the methodological relationship between the Monologion and Proslogion: the logical dependence of the argument of the earlier work (Monologion) on the later (Proslogion). I contend that the argument of the Proslogion represents the application of, and provides or is intended to provide the justification for, the philosophical ‘turn to the subject’, which Anselm articulates in Monologion 66 - that it is through reflecting on itself that the rational mind comes to knowledge of the supreme being. Though articulated there this approach is not systematically employed nor grounded in the Monologion. I suggest that it is the argument of the Proslogion that grounds the epistemological role that Anselm gives to the imago dei in the Monologion. Anselm does not need to rehearse the trinitarian argument of the Monologion in the Proslogion, precisely because, having established God’s existence and attributes by his unum argumentum, which constitutes the reflection on the thinking self that he had proposed in the Monologion, he has provided the foundation for the trinitarian argument based on the notion of the imago dei that is articulated in the Monologion.
'Agostino Nifo on Averroes and the Relationship between Physics and Metaphysics' Anna-Katharina Strohschneider, Universität Würzburg
The Renaissance Averroist Agostino Nifo was not only interested in Averroes' theory of the intellect, but also in his metaphysics – so much, in fact, that he wrote a super commentary on the twelfth book of Averroes' Long Commentary on the Metaphysics. In his work Averroes writes at length about the relationship between physics and metaphysics, defending his own theory against both Alexander of Aphrodisias and Avicenna. That means that Nifo, too, must take a stand on the division of labour between the two sciences. I argue that Nifo actually introduces a slightly different take on the respective responsibilities of physics and metaphysics by paraphrasing and explaining Averroes' theory. Nifo puts more emphasis than Averroes himself on the type of demonstration the two sciences employ, while the latter is more concerned with the things that each science studies.
'Buridan and the Avicenna-Johnston Semantics' Wilfrid Hodges (Queen Mary College, London)
In his recent PhD thesis (St Andrews 2015) Spencer Johnston gave a Kripke semantics for Buridan's divided modal logic and showed that it upholds all Buridan's claims of validity and invalidity in this logic. It turns out that Johnston's semantics is formally equivalent to (i.e. a notational variant of) a translation of Buridan's modal logic into the dtz fragment of Avicenna's two-dimensional logic. Since the relationship between Avicenna's alethic modal logic and his 2D logic is one of the major questions about his logic, one naturally asks whether his 2D logic does the same for his modal logic as Johnston's semantics does for Buridan's logic. I think this is dead right. It explains many things, for example why Avicenna keeps emphasising that his 2D logic doesn't involve possible entities. But some puzzles remain.