12:30 pm Tommaso Alpina
The Status of Psychology between Natural Philosophy and Metaphysics. Place, Scope and Boundaries of Avicenna’s Enquiry on the Soul
The aim of this paper is to provide a clarification about the place and the epistemological status of Avicenna’s science of the soul, namely of his psychology. To someone this enquiry could seem quite pointless, since Avicenna himself puts this science within the horizon of natural philosophy and, if we look at his most famous encyclopedia, namely the Book of the Cure, we will find that his Book of the Soul is the sixth section of the second part, which is entirely devoted to natural philosophy. Furthermore, as regards its epistemological status, as well as that of all the other sciences, someone could be content with what Avicenna says at the beginning of the IlÁhiyyÁt with regard to the role of metaphysics, namely that the science of divine things provides the foundation of the other sciences since it has the function of establishing their principles. In other words, the system of science, as displayed in the ÉifÁÿ, is strongly hierarchical with the metaphysics at the top. These considerations are all true, but still that of psychology is a special case of a science which receives its foundation in metaphysics in two ways, directly and indirectly, i.e. through natural philosophy. Those psychological doctrines are indirectly founded in metaphysics which exploit concepts and notions introduced in natural philosophy but whose foundation is found in metaphysics, whereas those doctrines are directly founded in metaphysics which fall completely outside the boundaries of physics and are properly dealt with in metaphysics.
1:15 pm LUNCH
2:00 pm Nate Bulthuis
Walter Burley on Mental Language
During the last forty years, scholars of late medieval philosophy have devoted a great deal of attention to theories of mental language developed by nominalist philosophers in the fourteenth century. That attention is well deserved. But, because that scholarly attention has focused almost exclusively on nominalist philosophical programs, scholars of late medieval philosophy have failed to appreciate that principled and sophisticated theories of mental language were also developed by some realist contemporaries of those nominalists. I hope to begin to rectify this deficit in the scholarship today by briefly highlighting some key features of the theory of mental language developed by Walter Burley [c. 1275 - c. 1345], a realist opponent of William Ockham. What makes Burley’s theory of mental language particularly interesting is the fundamental ways in which it differs from the mental language programs developed within fourteenth-century nominalist circles. It differs from anything we find articulated by those nominalists in its motivations, its role within Burley’s larger theory of language and mind, and the cognitive mechanics of that theory itself. These differences reflect more fundamental disagreements between Burley and his nominalist adversaries about the nature of meaning, cognition and reality. What we find, then, is a theory of mental language that is, like its nominalist counterparts, highly sophisticated, and yet very different from them, providing Burley a powerful tool in his analyses of language and cognition.
2:50 pm Sumeyye Parildar
Mulla Ṣadrā and His defence of the “Mental”
17th century philosopher Mulla Ṣadrā is famous for his synthesis of different schools of Islamic thought: Illuminationist school of Suhrawardi, Peripatetic School especially through its Avicennan interpretation and theoretical mysticism of Ibn al-Arabī. His idea of substantial motion combined with his monist ontology results in an ambiguous understanding of existence in which each existent is manifestation of the same reality, but at different levels and priorities. In this paper I will try to describe how mental existence occurs at the crossroads of ontology and psychology in philosophy of Mulla Ṣadrā. Mental existence is essential to prove for our philosopher mainly because he believes that every level of knowledge -be it sense perception or intellection, has an ontological importance. Despite its essentiality, Ṣadrā`s proofs in his magnum opus Asfār are not as innovative as one would expect. I think he can be defended to be original though. Ṣadrā`s originality in this matter can be found firstly in his understanding of tashkik. Secondly his theory of soul in which soul is explained in constant change and with creative capacity. Thus, Ṣadrā`s main proofs are built on these two principles, one taken from his ontology and the other from his psychology.
3:40 pm BREAK
4:05 pm Wilfrid Hodges
Syntax and meaning in Sirafi and Ibn Sina
The talk will report on the first stage of a joint project with Manuela E. B. Giolfo, an Arabic linguist at the University of Genoa. The project compares the views of the linguist Abu Sa'id al-Sirafi (10th c.) and the logician Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 11th c.) on some questions in the overlap of logic and grammar. The title of the talk is that of a paper we recently submitted, in which we identify some assumptions which Sirafi and Ibn Sina seem to have shared with each other, but which are rarely made today. We did not consider how far these same assumptions were made by the Latin Scholastics; I will add some material from Ibn Sina which may be helpful for comparison with the Latins.
4:55 pm Nicolas Faucher
A parcimonious faith : distinguishing between acquired and infused faith according to Scotus
Ockham's razor, according to which Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate, is well-known. But this principle is also present in Scotus' works : superfluit ponere plura quando unum sufficit. He employs this formula in his treatment of the question whether it is necessary to posit a faith infused by God beyond the faith we can naturally acquire by going to church and trusting the Church (III d. 23). His idea is that if, through a natural habitus, a proper act of faith (i. e. leading to salvation) can be elicited, then we shouldn't posit any divine intervention to explain this act. The question, then, is what can God do for us that is both necessary for our salvation and impossible for us through our natural means concerning such an act. Reviewing every aspect of the act (the knowledge of the object of faith, the firmness of our adhesion, the fallibility of our act and of human authorities as opposed to God, the merit and the intensity of the act) Scotus methodically rejects any divine intervention except regarding merit and intensity ; and even then the believer will never know whether God intervened or not. We wish to examine here how Scotus comes to such a rejection and refutes the idea that we might be conscious of any divine intervention in the elicitation of our own acts of faith. In doing so, we hope to show how absent God is in this conception of things, in an unprecedented way if we compare it to Henry of Ghent, Godfrey of Fontaines or Peter John Olivi.
5:45 pm CLOSING REMARKS