William of Ockham and St. Augustine on Proper and Improper Statements

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 84:57-64 (2010)
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Abstract

William of Ockham discussed the fallacy of amphiboly twice in his writings. The first treatment was in his Expositio super libros Elenchorum, where he simply presents Aristotle’s treatment, updates it with some Latin examples, and tells us it is not too important, since we do not often run into cases of ambiguity of thiskind. Later, in his Summa logicae, however, he extends his treatment appreciably. He here includes under ambiguous statements philosophical and theological sentences which are improperly stated. Led by Aristotle, Augustine and Anselm, Ockham finds that in their writings they give us instances of improper statements which need to be restated properly before they can be evaluated as true or false. These leads provide for Ockham a key to unlocking the teaching treasures of the Ancients.

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