Semantics and OntologyAn Assessment of Medieval Terminism

in Vivarium
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This paper aims to assess medieval terminism, particularly supposition theory, in the development of Aristotelian thought in the Latin West. The focus is on what the present author considers the gist of Aristotle’s strategy of argument, to wit conceptual focalization and categorization. This argumentative strategy is more interesting as it can be compared to the modern tool known as ‘scope distinction’.

Semantics and OntologyAn Assessment of Medieval Terminism

in Vivarium



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Guthrie (1981) 212 ff.


See De Rijk (2002) I 69-72; 162; 252; II 154; 413.


See De Rijk (2002) II 148-288.


Kahn (1973) 366.


See De Rijk (2002) II 188 ff. and also the sections 1.2 and 2.4.1 below.


For the general theme see Vendler (1967) 131 ff. and De Rijk (1985) 36-47.


For this procedure see De Rijk (2002) I 167-189 and II 34-36.


Cf. De Rijk (2002) I 167-189; II 34-36; 357 ff.; 388 ff.; 406 ff.


Guthrie (1981) 216.


As I have tried to do in De Rijk (2002) by pointing out Aristotle’s skilful use of the four semantic main rules.


Kahn (1973) 232 ff. 403. The ambivalence vs. ambiguity topic is discussed in De Rijk (2002) I 69-72.


Kahn (1973) 461 f.


De Rijk (1992) 1-34.


De Rijk (1992) 1 f.


De Rijk (1992) 16-17.


De Rijk (1992) 26-29.


De Rijk (2002) I 75-255.


De Rijk (2002) I 87-93. One need only consider a purely linguistic feature: the putative copula (our assertoric functor) is said to be ‘adiacens’ as in the Greek texts there is also always talk of passive ‘prostithesthai’ and the like never of the active notion of suntithenai’. In addition the key text in De interpretatione III 16 b 24-25 reads: ‘is is a sign of some combination’ rather than ‘is combines . . .’.


Moody (1935). However Moody is entirely wrong in ascribing the former method to Aristotle.


De Rijk (1981) 48-52; (2000) 215-221; (2002) I 74; II 124; 199; 310; 409.


See De Rijk (2002) I 235-41. As late as in Boethius’s monograph De syllogismis categoricis the author speaks of the verb ‘est’ which is ‘accommodated’ to make up an assertion (as ‘non est’ is added to produce a denial). This manner of expression has nothing to do with the copula idea and comes close to considering the ‘est’ and ‘non est’ assertoric operators to be added to an assertible as is the case in Aristotelian statement-making.


For the general theme see Bakker (2001) 249 ff. and Tabarroni (2003). Buridan’s rephrasing Aristotle’s expression was rightly given special attention by Tabarroni who from the viewpoint of semantics has extensively discussed Buridan’s and Marsilius of Inghen’s comments on Metaphysica VII 3-5. Note that in ipsum and esse ipsum the word ‘ipsum’ is a dummy word used like our ‘x’ ‘y’ etc. just as ‘unumquodque’ (Greek hekaston) is in the Aristotelian formula.


See the extensive discussion in De Rijk (2002) II 244-301.


De Rijk (2005) 251-301; 350.


Spruyt (2008) 24-58. Her discussion of the above type of problematic sentences is found ibid. 32 ff.

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