Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ockham's arguments against universals

I am reading, and having a stab at translating, chapters 15-17 of Ockham's Summa Logicae.  This is one of a number of places where Ockham argues against the view that a universal is something really existing outside the mind (one of the important others being questions 4-6 of Dist. 2, Book I of his commentary on the Sentences**).  I have copied one of his arguments is below, in the original Latin, with the translations by Loux*** and Boehner****.

Neither of the translations exactly reflects the Latin - perhaps because of the difficulty in making sense of the Latin.


Latin*LouxBoehner
Item, sequeretur quod aliquid de essentia Christi esset miserum et damnatum, quia illa natura communis exsistens realiter in Christo et in damnato esset damnata, quia in Iuda. Hoc autem absurdum est.Again, it follows that something of the essence of Christ would be miserable and damned, since that common nature really existing in Christ would be damned in the damned individual; for surely that essence is also in Judas. But this is absurd.Furthermore, it follows that something of the essence of Christ would be miserable and damned; since that common nature which really exists in Christ, really exists in Judas also and is damned.Therefore, something is both in Christ and in one who is damned, namely in Judas. That, however, is absurd.

* Opera Philosophica I - Summa Logicae, St. Bonaventure, N.Y. : Editiones Instituti Franciscani Universitatis S. Bonaventurae, 1974. 899 p., eds Boehner, Philotheus, Gál, Gedeon, 1915- Brown, Stephen.
** Opera Theologica II - Scriptum in librum primum sententiarum, Franciscan Institute, 1967-79, pp. 99-224.
*** Loux, Michael J. 1974. Ockham's Theory of Terms: Part I of the Summa Logicae. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
**** In Ockham: Philosophical Writings, a selectionPhilotheus Boehner, Stephen F. Brown, 1990.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it really the essence of man to be miserable or damned? Or is it, rather, a property? And if it is an essence, I think it could be argued that since Christ is predicated by essences by which all men are predicated, then Christ isn't man in the same sense as is Judas, you or me. So, I don't really think Ocham's reasoning is valid.

7:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That should read, "...since Christ is NOT predicated by..."

7:28 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Is it really the essence of man to be miserable or damned? Or is it, rather, a property?

If an 'accident' ('property' means something different in medieval usage), then it does not follow that anything having the essence of man has such an 'accident'.

>>And if it is an essence, I think it could be argued that since Christ is predicated by essences by which all men are predicated, then Christ isn't man in the same sense as is Judas, you or me.

An essence, for medievals, is 'univocal', i.e. everything that has the essence, has it in the same sense, so to speak, and not in different senses.

7:11 am  

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