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 all belonged 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.