Towards a Reassessment of British Aristotelianism

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  • 1 Università di Verona

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The aim of the paper is to reassess the role of British Aristotelianism within the history of early modern logic between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as a crucial moment of cultural transition from the model of humanistic rhetoric and dialectic to that of facultative logic, that is, a logic which concerns the study of the cognitive powers of the mind. The paper shows that there is a special connection between Paduan Aristotelianism and British empiricism, through the mediation of British Aristotelianism. British Aristotelians took the ideas of the Paduan Aristotelian tradition and carried them to an extreme, gradually removing them from the original Aristotelian context in which they were grounded and developing what would later become the fundamental ideas of British empiricism.

  • 1)

    See John H. Randall, ‘The Development of Scientific Method in the School of Padua’, Journal of the History of Ideas 1 (1940): 177-206.

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  • 8)

    On humanistic logic see Lisa Jardine, ‘Humanistic Logic’, in The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, ed. by Charles B. Schmitt, Quentin Skinner and Eckhard Kessler (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 173-198; Peter Mack, ‘Humanistic Rhetoric and Dialectic’, in The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism, ed by. Jill Kraye (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 82-99. On ‘facultative logic’ see James G. Buickerood, ‘The Natural History of the Understanding: Locke and the Rise of Facultative Logic in the Eighteenth Century’, History and Philosophy of Logic 6 (1985): 157-190.

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  • 9)

    Neal W. Gilbert, ‘Galileo and the School of Padua’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 1-2 (1963): 227.

  • 12)

    Jacopo Zabarella, Opera logica (Köln: Zetzner, 1597), 21 A.

  • 14)

    Ibid., 502 E-F. See Riccardo Pozzo, ‘Res considerata and modus considerandi rem: Averroes, Aquinas, Jacopo Zabarella and Cornelius Martini on Reduplication’, Medioevo 24 (1998): 151-176.

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  • 32)

    Mordechai Feingold, ‘The Humanities’, in The History of the University of Oxford. Seventeenth-Century Oxford, ed. by Nicholas Tycke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 276-277.

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  • 33)

    Schmitt, John Case and Aristotelianism in Renaissance England, 6.

  • 37)

    William A. Wright (ed.), English Works of Roger Ascham (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1904), 277-278.

  • 38)

    See Richard Stanyhurst, Harmonia seu catena dialectica in Porphyrianas institutiones (London: Wolf, 1570), table of authors.

  • 39)

    See Everard Digby, Theoria analytica (London: Bynneman, 1579); Everard Digby, De duplici methodo libri duo (London: Bynneman, 1580).

  • 47)

    William Temple, Admonitio de unica P. Rami methodo reiectis caeteris retinenda (London: Mann, 1580), 70: ‘statuendum quae natura notiora sunt, eadem ipsa esse nobis notiora’.

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  • 49)

    Schmitt, John Case and Aristotelianism in Renaissance England, 35.

  • 50)

    Charles B. Schmitt, ‘John Case on Art and Nature’, Annals of Science 33 (1976): 543.

  • 51)

    See John Case, Summa veterum interpretum in universam dialecticam Aristotelis (London: Vautrollier, 1584). The book was printed in 1584, in 1592 and in 1598.

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  • 62)

    John Case, Lapis philosophicus (Oxford: Barnes, 1599), 36.

  • 66)

    Giulio Pace, In Porphyrii Isagogen et Aristotelis Organum commentarius analyticus (Frankfurt: Wechel, 1597).

  • 67)

    Giulio Pace, Institutiones logicae (Cambridge: Legat, 1597). The first edition was published in Sedan in 1595.

  • 68)

    Giulio Pace, Logicae rudimenta (London: Stansby, 1612). The first edition was published in Spira in 1610.

  • 69)

    Griffith Powell, Analysis Analyticorum posteriorum sive librorum Aristotelis de demonstratione (Oxford: Barnes, 1594), front-matter. The commentary was republished in 1631.

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  • 74)

    See Samuel Smith, Aditus ad logicam (London: Stansby, 1613). This handbook went through eleven editions in eighty years in London and in Oxford (1613, 1615, 1617, 1618, 1621, 1627, 1633, 1634, 1639, 1649, 1656, 1684).

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  • 76)

    See John P. McCaskey, Regula Socratis. The Rediscovery of Ancient Induction in Early Modern England (Stanford: PhD, 2006), 145-178. I agree with McCaskey’s argument that induction must not be confused with the resolutive method. I do not believe, however, that it plays an unimportant role in the regressive method, just because its two constituent parts are the demonstration ab effectu and the demonstration propter quid: in fact, induction is the only way to discover the principles of any demonstration, including the demonstration ab effectu, which constituted the resolutive part of the regressus.

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  • 80)

    See Robert Sanderson, Logicae artis compendium (Oxford: Lichfield, 1618 2ed.). The companion was particularly widespread and it went through fourteen editions (1615, 1618, 1631, 1640, 1657, 1664, 1668, 1672, 1680, 1700, 1705, 1707, 1741, 1841).

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  • 84)

    John Flavell, Tractatus de demonstratione methodicus et polemicus (Oxford: Lichfield-Short, 1619). The treatise was reprinted at least three times in 1619, 1624, and 1651. The 1651 edition may have had some impact on the last draft of the Thomas Hobbes’s sixth chapter on method in his Logica, since this part was completely modified from the earlier version of the 1640s.

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  • 94)

    See Schmitt, John Case and Aristotelianism in Renaissance England, 36.

  • 98)

    William Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1651), 19.

  • 112)

    See Edwards, Paduan Aristotelianism and the Origins of Modern Theories of Methods, 205-220.

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