This paper investigates Abelard’s first argument against the ‘material essence’ realist view on universals in the Logica ‘Ingredientibus’. It analyses three different interpretations of the argument, those of Alain de Libera, Peter King and Martin Tweedale. Much depends on the (for this section, single) manuscript reading ‘iam corpus’ in a crucial passage. The paper argues against the manuscript reading (endorsed by some scholars) and in favour of the emendation ‘non corpus’ suggested by the editor, Bernhard Geyer. The emended reading is supported by comparison with similar arguments of Abelard and his school found in published and unpublished sources.
Cf. de LiberaL’Art des généralités321-323; also adopted by Brumberg ‘Le problème’ 73-74. De Libera quotes Jolivet Abélard ou la philosophie 128-129 in his support (Jolivet’s translation however also admits the standard interpretation). De Libera notes that his subdivision of the text is different from Spade’s (which as we shall see follows King’s interpretation) but he does not specifically discuss the point. The standard interpretation is not discussed by Brumberg either.
Cf. the very beginning of the passageLI11.25-28 (Lafleur-Carrier ‘Abélard et les universaux’ 154 § 27): “Sed fortassis dicetur secundum illam sententiam quia non inde rationalitas et irrationalitas minus sunt contraria quod taliter reperiuntur in eodem scilicet eodem genere uel in eadem specie nisi scilicet in eodem indiuiduo fundentur. Quod etiam sic ostenditur. Vere rationalitas et irrationalitas in eodem indiuiduo sunt quia in Socrate. Sed quod in Socrate simul sint inde conuincitur quod . . .” If de Libera’s interpretation is followed it is not entirely clear why merealists should be saying that “rationality and irrationality are no less contraries because they are found in this way in the same thing—that is in the same genus or in the same species—unless they are based in the same individual” (trans. Spade 31 my italics).