Aristotle held that perception consists in the reception of external sensory qualities (or sensible forms) in the sensorium. This idea is repeated in many forms in contemporary philosophy, including, with regard to vision, in the idea (still not firmly rejected) that the retinal image consists of points of colour. In fact, this is false. Colour is a quality that is constructed by the visual system, and though it is possible to be a realist about colour, it is completely misleading to think of it as received by the retina. Moreover, such supposedly “charitable” interpretations of Aristotle’s doctrines, based on misconceptions of perception-science, distort our understanding of his historical context.
Discussions about singular cognition, and its linguistic counterpart, are by no means exclusive to contemporary philosophy. In fact, a strikingly similar discussion, to which several medieval texts bear witness, took place in the late Middle Ages. The aim of this article is to partly reconstruct this medieval discussion, as it took place in Parisian question-commentaries on Aristotle’s De anima, so as to show the progression from the rejection of singular intellection in Siger of Brabant (†ca.1283) to the descriptivist positions of John Duns Scotus (†1308) and John of Jandun (†1328), and finally to the singularism of John Buridan (†ca.1360). All these authors accept some kind of intellectual access to individuals. Therefore, the conundrum is not whether we have some kind of intellectual knowledge of individuals, but rather whether we can know them singularly. This article begins by presenting the crucial obstacle to singular intellection in Siger. Thereafter, the author shows that Jandun and Scotus depart in fundamental ways from Siger’s account, but that for them the intellection of individuals is of a general character. Finally, she proposes that Buridan is a genuine singularist.
In a passage of De AnimaII, chapter 12 (424a17-24), Aristotle makes a general claim about the senses, which is condensed in the formula that the senses are receptive of the sensible forms without the matter. While it is clear that this formula must play an important theoretical role in Aristotle’s account, it is far from clear what it exactly means. Its interpretation is still a focus of controversy among contemporary scholars. In this article the author presents the exegeses of this formula proposed by the two most authoritative commentators on De anima from the second half of the thirteenth century, namely, Thomas Aquinas and Giles of Rome. Both commentators assume that with this formula and in particular with the qualification “without the matter” Aristotle intends to characterize an “intentional” reception of a form, and to contrast it with a “natural” reception, but they give different accounts of intentionality.
In his book
Generations of Sufis, Abū ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (died 1021), the Sufi master of Nishapur and Shafiʿi traditionist and historian, collected the teachings of 105 Sufi masters who lived between the 2nd/8th and the 4th/10th centuries. Sulami gives a short biography of each master with representative quotations from his teachings. He thereby illustrates the numerous approaches to the spiritual path and the unity of its principles. One of the oldest works of the sort, it assembles the doctrinal foundations from which medieval Sufism developed. It is a key reference which influenced all Sufi literature and even historiography. This is the first translation of a work of this type to be published in a European language.
Les générations des Soufis Abū ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (m. 1021), maître soufi de Nishapur, traditionniste šāfiʿite et historien, collecte l’enseignement de cent cinq maîtres soufis qui vécurent entre le 2e/8e et le 4e/10e siècles. Pour chacun d’eux, Sulamī propose une courte notice biographique et un ensemble de citations représentatives de son enseignement. Il rend ainsi compte de la diversité des approches de la voie spirituelle et de l’unité de ses principes. Cet ouvrage, l’un des plus anciens de ce type, rassemble le socle doctrinal sur lequel s’élabora le soufisme médiéval. Référence incontournable, il eut une influence considérable sur toute la littérature du soufisme et même l’historiographie. Cette traduction est la première en langue européenne d’un ouvrage de ce type.
This book offers the first complete overview of Byzantine poetry from the 4th to the 15th century. By bringing together 22 scholars, it explores the development of poetic trends and the interaction between poetry and society throughout the Byzantine millennium; it addresses a wide range of issues concerning the writing and reading of poetry (such as style, language, metrics, function, and circulation); and it surveys a large number of texts by looking closely at their place within the social and cultural milieus of their authors. Overall, the volume aims to enhance our understanding of Byzantine poetry and shed light on its important place in Byzantine literary culture.
Contributors are Eirini Afentoulidou, Gianfranco Agosti, Roderick Beaton, Floris Bernard, Carolina Cupane, Kristoffel Demoen, Ivan Drpic, Jürgen Fuchsbauer, Antonia Giannouli, Martin Hinterberger, Wolfram Hörandner, Elizabeth Jeffreys, Michael Jeffreys, Marc Lauxtermann, Ingela Nilsson, Emilie van Opstall, Andreas Rhoby, Kurt Smolak, Foteini Spingou, Maria Tomadaki, Ioannis Vassis, Nikos Zagklas.
Giles of Rome’s view of faith in the reportatio of his questions on book III of the Sentences (q. 38, d. 23) is founded on a likening of faith to rhetoric. The firm intellectual assent that characterizes them both is caused by the will, motivated by emotion, or affective bias. This paper argues that this is made possible by Giles’ move away from Aquinas’ position on the assent produced by rhetorical discourse, which Aquinas thought to be of little certainty, while Giles affirms that, based on the will’s natural control over the intellect, it can be as certain as faithful assent, and that the psychological process that produces it can serve as a model for that which produces faithful assent. The new function Giles gives to rhetoric underlines the evolution of thirteenth-century views on faith, as shown through a comparison of Giles’ view with two other doctrines of faith that use examples similar to the one Giles employs: those of Philip the Chancellor and Peter John Olivi. For the former, faith founded on affective bias is a typical example of non-virtuous faith, while for the latter, just as for Giles, it is the very model of virtuous faith.
This article edits and examines a little-known epistolary treatise datable to 1322, which survives in a fifteenth-century manuscript in the Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel. The author of this work was engaged in a heated argument with the Parisian philosopher Jean de Jandun over the status and rationality of astrology. Jean’s pro-astrological stance is documented in a letter dated 28 October 1321, which survives for having been appended to the main treatise. In responding to Jean de Jandun’s letter, the author delivered a trenchant critique of astrology grounded almost entirely in philosophical, as opposed to theological, ideas, addressing issues such as empirical evidence, causality, and contingency. The author’s way of pointing out ruptures between astrology and Aristotelian natural philosophy marks him out as an intellectual precursor to the much better-known anti-astrological polemics written later in the same century by Parisian thinkers such as Nicole Oresme and Heinrich von Langenstein.
Giles of Rome’s On Ecclesiastical Power (De ecclesiastica potestate), a polemical work arguing for the political supremacy of the pope, claims that the papacy holds a ‘plenitude of power’ and has direct or indirect authority over all aspects of human life. This paper shows how Giles uses themes from natural philosophy in developing his argument. He compares cosmic and human ordering and draws an analogy between the relations of soul to body and of Church to state. He also understands the pope’s power to be ‘universal’ in nature, another idea taken from Aristotelian physics. Further, Giles views the pope’s right to intervene arbitrarily in the affairs of the Christian community as mirroring God’s ability to work miracles. We thus see that Giles, no less than intellectuals on the other side of this debate such as Dante and Marsilius of Padua, believed that Aristotelian natural philosophy could be enlisted in the service of political thought.
This article provides the first edition of a series of eight Quaestiones de secretis mulierum by (or ascribed to) John Buridan († ca. 1360). The introduction discusses the manuscript tradition and the relationship between Buridan’s quaestiones and pseudo-Albertus Magnus’ treatise De secretis mulierum, concluding that Buridan’s questions constitute a genuine commentary on pseudo-Albert’s text. Specifically, the eight questions by (or ascribed to) Buridan seem to be an extensive elaboration on the preface (prologus) and on the first chapter of pseudo-Albert’s text.