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John Wyclif and the Theory of Complexly Signifiables

In: Vivarium
Author:
Richard Gaskin University of Liverpool

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Abstract

John Wyclif claims that there are relations of essential identity and formal distinctness connecting universals, complexly signifiables, and individuals. In some respects Wyclif's position on complexly signifiables coincides with what I call the advanced res theory, the view that complexly signifiables are really identical with but formally distinct from worldly individuals. But there is no question in Wyclif's treatment of a reduction of complexly signifiables to individuals. I argue that Wyclif populates his most fundamental ontological level with propositionally structured entities both individual and universal, and that this approach is superior to that of its nominalist rivals. But Wyclif shares with other versions of the advanced res theory an implausible theory of identity, and this affects the coherence of the claimed real identity between individuals and complexly signifiables.

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