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Five Texts on the Mediaeval Problem of Universals: Porphyry, Boethius, Abelard, Duns Scotus, Ockham Paperback – March 15, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0872202498 ISBN-10: 0872202496
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Five Texts on the Mediaeval Problem of Universals: Porphyry, Boethius, Abelard, Duns Scotus, Ockham + Duns Scotus - Philosophical Writings: A Selection + Ockham - Philosophical Writings: A Selection
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Editorial Reviews

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The translations are exceptionally sound philosophically, and they are as readable as is consistent with linguistic accuracy and fidelity to content. --Mathematical Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek, Latin --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (March 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872202496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872202498
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mithridates VI of Pontus VINE VOICE on February 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"It is easy to motivate the problem of universals. Consider these two capital letters: A A. Ignore everything else about them and for now observe only that they are of the same color; they are both black.... Isn't it obvious that you see two colors here, two blacknesses: the blackness of the first A, this blackness, and then the blackness of the second A, that blackness?... But aren't they visually as distinct as the two letters themselves?... The problem of universals is in effect the problem of deciding between these answers" (pg vii).

The reason I included this long quote is to illustrate Paul Vincent Spade's wonderful introduction. He describes in a nutshell the underling problem of Universals in a clear and precise way. This is especially important since the the Late Antique and Medieval philosophers who developed on the theory never manage to explain themselves this precisely. The importance of clarity and concise analysis is vital since the Medieval dialogue about the nature of Universals is complex, sometimes excruciatingly difficult, and an introduction which lays out the basic premises and questions is the first step of comprehension! Also, the introduction briefly summarizes each text EXCERPT and information on each author present in the volume. This volume includes excerpts from from Porhyry's 'Isagoge,' Boethius' 'Second Commentary on Porphyry's Isagoge,' Peter Abelard's Glosses on Porphyry in his 'Logica 'ingredientibus,'' John Duns Scotus 'Ordinatio,' and William of Ockham's 'Ordinatio'. These excerpts trace in chronological order the main philosophers involved with the question of Universals starting with the questions first posed by Porphyry.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ray TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 21, 2011
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That medieval institution we now call "the University" was started somewhere around the early 13th century in western Europe. In Paris, Bologna, and Oxford, the fledgling educational institution established itself against a backdrop of numerous Cathedral Schools, and distinguished itself from such via its enlarged curriculum and concentration of many masters and scholars at a single location in a guild structure.

The University had quite a number of important issues with which it had to deal, including structural, political, and educational, but one of the greatest lay within the philosophical investigation of the subject called "universals" (confusingly, the similarity of the words "University" and "universals" seems to imply these two are closely related, but in actuality, are not). Universals was a concept brought forward from late antiquity via a man named Boethius, a Roman scholar who described various Platonic philosophical concerns in a work called "The Consolations of Philosophy" in the 5th century. (Boethius also translated an important related work, the "Isagoge," written by Porphyry.) The question of Universals concerns wether certain abstract qualities, such as color, shapes, etc., exist as Platonic, metaphysical realities, or are simply man-made naming conventions. Boethius' works were picked up and transmitted to the medieval setting, where scholars working in the early University began wrestling with this issue, important because it had become an essential component of the "quadrivium," the upper curriculum of the University (the lower part being called the "trivium"). The problem proved sufficiently durable to make it become a fundamental component of University education for at least two centuries, and helping establish what was to become known as "Scholastic" theology.
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Five Texts on the Mediaeval Problem of Universals: Porphyry, Boethius, Abelard, Duns Scotus, Ockham
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