Names that can be said of everything: Porphyrian tradition and 'transcendental' terms in twelfth-century logic

Vivarium 45 (s 2-3):298-310 (2007)
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Abstract

In an article published in 2003, Klaus Jacobi—using texts partially edited in De Rijk's _Logica Modernorum_—demonstrated that twelfth-century logic contains a tradition of reflecting about some of the transcendental names. In addition to reinforcing Jacobi's thesis with other texts, this contribution aims to demonstrate two points: 1) That twelfth-century logical reflection about transcendental terms has its origin in the _logica vetus_, and especially in a passage from Porphyry _Isagoge_ and in Boethius's commentary on it. In spite of the loss of the major part of the Aristotelian corpus, the twelfth-century masters in logic still received some Aristotelian theses concerning the notions of one and being via Porphyry and Boethius; on the basis of such theses, they were able to elaborate a sort of proto-theory of the transcendentals as trans-categorical terms. 2) That this theory is centred on the idea that there exists a particular group of names which have the property that they can be said of everything; this group includes "being", "one", "thing" and "something". Twelfth-century masters in logic try to question the thesis that these terms are equivocal, although they do not deny it completely.

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Luisa Valente
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza

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