Saturday, November 27, 2010

A philosophical scandal

Freddoso writes:

It is something of a philosophical scandal that most of the major works of
William of Ockham, himself an Englishman, have yet to be translated into
English. The Summa Logicae, which contains Ockham's most
extensive treatment of logic and philosophy of language, is a case in point.
Even given the translation of part II found here and Michael Loux's recent
translation of part I, more than half of the Summa Logicae remains
untranslated [Ockham's Theory of Propositions, Indiana 1998] .

Freddoso was writing in 1998, and since then the second part of Part III has been translated by John Longeway (and discussed here in a number of posts). But still (as far as I know) there is no translation of the first part of III (on syllogisms, which covers Aristotle's Prior Analytics) and the third part (on consequences, which broadly cover the Topics). There is also much of the Ordinatio that remains.

This is partly explained by the fact that Ockham has had no 'champions'. Aquinas' work has received attention since the nineteenth century because of his role in the intellectual history of the Catholic church. Scotus has always received the support of the Franciscans (although there is less of Scotus in English than Aquinas). Because of Ockham's perceived apostasy, and perhaps because he was perceived as a 'Catholic philosopher' by the early moderns, has received no such attention.

But it is still a scandal that the works of one of England's greatest philosophers have never been completely translated into English.

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