Medieval Perceptual Puzzles

Theories of Sense Perception in the 13th and 14th Centuries


Volume Editor:
In our daily lives, we are surrounded by all sorts of things – such as trees, cars, persons, or madeleines – and perception allows us access to them. But what does ‘to perceive’ actually mean? What is it that we perceive? How do we perceive? Do we perceive the same way animals do? Does reason play a role in perception? Such questions occur naturally today. But was it the same in the past, centuries ago? The collected volume tackles this issue by turning to the Latin philosophy of the 13th and 14th centuries. Did medieval thinkers raise the same, or similar, questions as we do with respect to perception? What answers did they provide? What arguments did they make for raising the questions they did, and for the answers they gave to them? The philosophers taken into consideration are, among others, Albert the Great, Roger Bacon, William of Auvergne, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, John Pecham, Richard Rufus, Peter Olivi, Robert Kilwardby, John Buridan, and Jean of Jandun.

Contributors are Elena Băltuță, Daniel De Haan, Martin Klein, Andrew LaZella, Lukáš Lička, Mattia Mantovani, André Martin, Dominik Perler, Paolo Rubini, José Filipe Silva, Juhana Toivanen, and Rega Wood.

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Elena Băltuță, Ph.D. (2012), is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania. She has published a monograph on Thomas Aquinas’s theory of intentionality (Humanitas, 2013) and several articles on medieval theories of cognition, intentionality, and causation.
"The present volume continues many current lines of research in an innovative manner. [...] The contributions in the volume exemplify well the position of these discussions in the history of philosophy. They call for refined historical analysis but, in the hands of able scholars, provide innovative impulses even to contemporary discussions on the philosophy of perception". Pekka Kärkkäinen, in Speculum 96/1 (January 2021).

"L’ouvrage forme un beau recueil d’articles mettant en lumière des auteurs ou des oeuvres moins connus, ou renouvelant par leur approche des thèses plus répandues dans l’historiographie. Dans l’ensemble et dans le détail, les contributions, de par leur excellente qualité, apportent une contribution importante à l’état de la recherche sur la perception sensible au Moyen Âge." Véronique Decaix, in Bulletin de philosophie médiévale XXII, 84,3 (2021)
 Notes on Contributors
 1 Introduction
 2 Perceiving As: Non-conceptual Forms of Perception in Medieval Philosophy
Juhana Toivanen
 3 The Chameleonic Mind: The Activity versus the Actuality of Perception
José Filipe Silva
 4 The Visual Process: Immediate or Successive? Approaches to the Extramission Postulate in 13th Century Theories of Vision
Lukáš Lička
 5 Visio per sillogismum: Sensation and Cognition in 13th Century Theories of Vision
Mattia Mantovani
 6 Spirituality and Perception in Medieval Aristotelian Natural Philosophy
Rega Wood
 7 The Escape Artist: Robert Kilwardby on Objects as sine qua non Causes
Elena Băltuță
 8 Rational Seeing: Thomas Aquinas on Human Perception
Dominik Perler
 9 Aquinas on Perceiving, Thinking, Understanding, and Cognizing Individuals
Daniel De Haan
 10 “Accidental Perception” and “Cogitative Power” in Thomas Aquinas and John of Jandun
Paolo Rubini
 11 Peter John Olivi on Perception, Attention, and the Soul’s Orientation towards the Body
André Martin
 12 Caesar in Bronze: Duns Scotus on the Sensation of Singular Accidents
Andrew LaZella
 13 John Buridan on the Singularity of Sense Perception
Martin Klein
 Index of Names
 Index of Concepts
Students, scholars, and historians of philosophy interested in Latin medieval theories of sense-perception.
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