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Irene Binini


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.

Jörn Müller


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.

Dominik Perler


Medieval Aristotelians assumed that we cannot assimilate forms unless our soul abstracts them from sensory images. But what about the disembodied soul that has no senses and hence no sensory images? How can it assimilate forms? This article discusses this problem, focusing on two thirteenth-century models. It first looks at Thomas Aquinas’ model, which invokes divine intervention: the separated soul receives forms directly from God. The article examines the problems this explanatory model poses and then turns to a second model, defended by Matthew of Aquasparta: the separated soul actively apprehends forms that are present to it. It will be argued that this model explains assimilation in terms of appropriation, rather than reception, of forms and thereby radically changes the traditional account of cognition. Finally, the article draws some methodological conclusions, arguing that the focus on the ‘limit case’ of separated souls made theoretical change possible.

José Filipe Silva and Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist


The articles in this issue are a selection of the papers presented at the conference Knowledge as Assimilation, held at the University of Helsinki on 9-11 June 2017. The conference was the result of a collaboration between two research groups that have been established in Finland and Sweden from 2013 onwards: the research project Rationality in Perception: Transformations of Mind and Cognition 1250-1550, funded by the European Research Council (2015-2020) and hosted by the University of Helsinki, and the research programme Representation and Reality: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Aristotelian Tradition, funded by the Riksbankens jubileumsfond (2013-2019) and located at the University of Gothenburg.

Mohan Matthen


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.

Ana María Mora-Márquez


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.

Cecilia Trifogli


In a passage of De Anima II, 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.

William Duba


Based on the comments of Giovanni Boccaccio and Giovanni Villani, a theory holds that Dante Alighieri may have studied philosophy and theology at Paris in 1309-1310. That same academic year, the Dominican bachelor of the Sentences at Paris, Giovanni Regina di Napoli (John of Naples), delivered a speech thanking a ‘Benefactor’. This Benefactor, neither a Dominican nor a theologian, gave the sole benefit of honoring Giovanni, the convent of Saint-Jacques, and the Dominican Order with his presence, attending Giovanni’s lectures on theology. This paper explores the likelihood that the Benefactor was Dante. An edition and an English translation of Giovanni’s speech are included in appendices.

Nicolas Faucher


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.