Browse results

Irene Binini

Abstract

This article investigates Abelard’s defence of the compatibility between universal bivalence and the existence of future contingent events. It first considers the standard strategy put forward by twelfth-century commentators to solve Aristotle’s dilemma in De Interpretatione 9, which fundamentally relies on Boethius’ distinction between definite and indefinite truth values. Abelard’s own position on the dilemma is then introduced, focusing on a specific deterministic argument considered in his logical works that aims to demonstrate that, given the determinacy of present-tense propositions such as ‘“that Socrates will eat tomorrow” is true’, future contingent events such as that Socrates will eat tomorrow are determinate in advance. In addition to presenting Abelard’s reply to the argument, the article offers an analysis of his notions of contingency, determinacy, and future events, and a comparison between Abelard’s position and other twelfth-century discussions on future contingents.

Bruce S. Bennett and Moletlanyi Tshipa

Abstract

The Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) is a theory in physics which proposes that, rather than quantum-level events being resolved randomly as according to the Copenhagen Interpretation, the universe constantly divides into different versions or worlds. All physically possible worlds occur, though some outcomes are more likely than others, and therefore all possible histories exist. This paper explores some implications of this for history, especially concerning causation. Unlike counterfactuals, which concern different starting conditions, MWI concerns different outcomes of the same starting conditions. It is argued that analysis of causation needs to take into account the divergence of outcomes and the possibility that we inhabit a less probable world. Another implication of MWI is convergent history: for any given world there will be similar worlds which are the result of different pasts which are, however, more or less probable. MWI can assist in thinking about historical causation and indicates the importance of probabilistic causation.

Georg Gangl

Abstract

In this paper I argue that historiography employs causal narrative explanations just as other historical sciences such as evolutionary biology or paleontology do. There is a logic of explanation common to all these sciences that centers on causal explanation of unique and unrepeatable events. The explanandum of historiography can further be understood as mechanism in the sense developed by Stuart Glennan and others in recent years. However, causal explanation is not the only way historiography relates to the past. Arthur Danto has given us the theoretical tools to differentiate between causal narratives and conceptual colligations, with both playing a pivotal role in historiography even though Danto himself has not expressed that thought clearly.

Alison M. Downham Moore

Abstract

This paper reflects on the challenges of writing long conceptual histories of sexual medicine, drawing on the approaches of Michel Foucault and of Reinhart Koselleck. Foucault’s statements about nineteenth-century rupture considered alongside his later-life emphasis on long conceptual continuities implied something similar to Koselleck’s own accommodation of different kinds of historical inheritances expressed as multiple ‘temporal layers.’ The layering model in the history of concepts may be useful for complicating the historical periodizations commonly invoked by historians of sexuality, overcoming historiographic temptations to reduce complex cultural and intellectual phenomena to a unified Zeitgeist. The paper also shows that a haunting reference to ‘concepts’ among scholars of the long history of sexual medicine indicates the emergence of a de facto methodology of conceptual history, albeit one in need of further refinement. It is proposed that reading Koselleck alongside Foucault provides a useful starting-point for precisely this kind of theoretical development.

Shlomo Sela

Abstract

Abraham Ibn Ezra (ca. 1089–ca. 1161) was born in Muslim Spain, but his extensive scientific corpus, dealing mainly with astrology and astronomy, was composed in Latin Europe and written almost exclusively in Hebrew. Recent work on Reshit Ḥokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom), an introduction to astrology that is considered to be the zenith of Ibn Ezra’s astrological work, revealed that at least one-fourth of this text consists of translations or close paraphrases from identifiable and available Arabic astrological and astronomical texts. Relying on these findings, this paper identifies the Arabic texts Ibn Ezra drew on, shows where their Hebrew translations were incorporated into Reshit Ḥokhmah, and then scrutinizes his translation methods.

Constanza Cavallero

Abstract

From a comparative perspective, I will study two anti-Islamic Castilian writings produced during the period of the transition between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era: Alonso de Espina’s Fortalitium fidei (1460) and Gonzalo de Arredondo’s Castillo inexpugnable defensorio de la fe (1528). This study compares the terms in which each of these works addresses (a) the confrontation with Islam, (b) dissensions within Christianity, and (c) the king’s role in the midst of those conflicts. The contrastive approach to these analogous works, which were written almost seven decades apart, will allow an analysis of two different articulations of anti-Saracen Christian discourse in Spain, both before and after some key milestones in European history. These different perceptions of Islam had an impact on the conception of Christianity and Europe itself at the very beginning of the early modern period.

Cecilia Palombo

Abstract

This paper analyzes a group of homilies composed in Middle Egypt around the early ninth century CE by monastic leaders who had to cope with unsettling changes in local politics and society. The corpus deals with issues of taxation, economic distress and conversion to Islam in subtle and indirect ways, showing the inside perspective of Christian leaders on developments on which we are informed primarily from documentary papyri and historical works. It highlights the view of a certain segment of Egyptian Christianity on Islam and ongoing processes of Islamization, adding to the better-known literary sources from the area of Alexandria, and revealing the existence of internal tensions within the monastic world.

Jörn Müller

Abstract

This article explores the epistemological ramifications of understanding Thomas Aquinas’ conception of truth (famously defined as adaequatio rei et intellectus) in terms of a dynamic process of cognitive assimilation within the human psyche. In particular, the author addresses two potential pitfalls for his theory, namely (i) ‘failed assimilation’ as the basis of false judgments and (ii) ‘negative assimilation’, i.e., correspondence to non-being: how is the human mind capable of assimilation to ‘nothing’ (in the sense of ‘no thing’) at all? Aquinas addresses these two problems in various passages throughout his works; the author connects and reviews their arguments with regard to their philosophical cogency and attempts to answer the question of whether Aquinas ultimately succeeds in solving the several puzzles that ‘failed’ as well as ‘negative assimilation’ seem to create in his conception of truth.