The Problem of Universals from Boethius to John of Salisbury


The problem of universals is one of the main philosophical issues. In this book the author reconstructs the history of the problem considering a selection of medieval representative texts and authors. The source of medieval and postmedieval debate is identified in the Socratic-Platonic survey on the definition of concepts.
In the Categories, Aristotle discusses important topics concerning the relations that exist between logical terms. In particular he establishes a kind of predication principle: categorial terms have a certain predication relation if (and only if) some facts expressed by ordinary sentences hold. The Categories also because of their particular disciplinary status, halfway between logic and metaphysics, leave a number of questions open. Among these questions, a particularly intriguing one is Porphyry’s riddle: are there genera and species? And, if there are such things, what are they like?

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Roberto Pinzani, Ph.D., University of Parma, Associate Professor - disciplinary sector Logic and Philosophy of Science. He has published monographs and many articles in the field of history of logic, including The Logical Grammar of Abelard, Kluwer ("Synthese Historical Library"), Dordrecht 2005.

1 The Problem
 1.1 Abstract Entities
 1.2 Predicates
 1.3 The Relation of Predication in Aristotle
 1.4 How Many Questions?
2 Boethius on General Terms
 2.1 Browsing through Logical Texts
 2.2 Meaning and Truth
 2.3 Genera and Species
 2.4 The Problem of Universals (In Isag. I)  2.5 The Problem of Universals (In Isag. II)
3 The Metaphysical System of Scotus Eriugena
 3.1 Preliminary Remarks
 3.2 Nature
 3.3 Objects of Thought
 3.4 Essences and Forms
 3.5 Universal Entities

4 Realist Theories in the 11th–12th Centuries
 4.1 Justification and Realism
 4.2 The First Realist Thesis (antiqua sententia)  4.3 A Variant of TR1?  4.4 Other Realist Theses
 4.5 The Missing Thesis

5 The ‘Nominal’ Stance: Garland the Computist and Abelard’s Literal Glosses
 5.1 The Heretics of Dialectics
 5.2 Garland on the Five Predicables
 5.3 The Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories
 5.4 The Literal Glosses

6 Walter of Mortagne and the Identity Theory
 6.1 The Text of BN 17813, 1–16
 6.2 Walter’s Criticism of Realism
 6.3 The Identity Theory
 6.4 Objections and Answers

7 The De Generibus et Speciebus and the Theory of Collectio
 7.1 Some Historical Questions
 7.2 Criticism of Contemporary Theories of Universals
 7.3 The Collectio Theory  7.4 On Meaning
 7.5 Objections and Answers

8 The Position of Abelard on Porphyry
 8.1 Texts and Contexts
 8.2 The Problem of Universals in the Logica Ingredientibus
 8.3 The Resumption of the Theme in the Logica Nostrorum
 8.4 Universal Predicates

9 Gilbert of Poitiers
 9.1 The Distinction between id quod est and esse
 9.2 Matter, Form, Nature
 9.3 Categorization
 9.4 Particulars
 9.5 Mathematical Entities and Universals

10 John of Salisbury on Universals
 10.1 Background
 10.2 Theses on Universals
 10.3 John’s Point of View
 10.4 The Value of Pronouns
 10.5 The quale quid
All those interested in the history of logic and philosophy, and anyone concerned with the problem of universals (departments of humanities, academic libraries, specialists, post-graduate students, readers trained in philosophical studies).
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