John Buridan (Great Medieval Thinkers) by Gyula Klima

By Gyula Klima

John Buridan (ca. 1300-1362) has labored out maybe the main complete account of nominalism within the historical past of Western proposal, the philosophical doctrine based on which the single universals in fact are "names": the typical phrases of our language and the typical ideas of our minds. yet this stuff are common simply of their signification; they're singular entities like every different in fact. This booklet examines what's so much interesting to modern readers in Buridan's medieval philosophical method: his nominalist account of the connection among language, suggestion and truth. the focus of the dialogue is Buridan's deployment of the Ockhamist notion of a "mental language" for mapping the advanced constructions of written and spoken human languages onto a parsimoniously construed fact. pertaining to those linguistic constructions, this publication conscientiously analyzes Buridan's belief of the unconventional conventionality of written and spoken languages, not like the typical semantic positive factors of recommendations. The dialogue will pay distinctive cognizance to Buridan's token-based semantics of phrases and propositions, his belief of existential import, ontological dedication, fact, and logical validity. ultimately, the ebook provides an in depth dialogue of the way those logical units let Buridan to keep up his nominalist place with out giving up Aristotelian essentialism or yielding to skepticism, and can pay targeted awareness to modern issues with those matters.

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So, the proposition ‘Man is a species’ stated by Porphyry is true to me, for I take it according to material supposition, and thus it designates for me something true, since I receive it according to material supposition and thus it designates to me a mental proposition that is not false, but true, in my mind. 31 In view of this discussion, we can summarize Buridan’s position in the following way. Logic, being a science (albeit a practical one insofar as it seeks to know with regard to some practical end), has to demonstrate necessary, universal propositions concerning its primary subject matter, namely, reasoning, and whatever else it considers in relation to this subject matter.

As we can see from the foregoing, Buridan’s answer is that what fixes the correct interpretation of a spoken or written phrase is the mental concept to which the phrase in question is subordinated according to that interpretation. To be sure, the correct interpretation need not be the interpretation expressing the proper or primary sense, because occasionally the correct, intended interpretation is provided by some improper, secondary sense of the phrase in question. In fact, this is precisely why it is the intention1 expressed by the phrase on the given occasion of its use that determines its correct semantic evaluation.

Therefore, it is natural to think of these new concepts as resulting from the combination of categorematic and syncategorematic concepts, and thus, as having some intrinsic structure, that is to say, a certain complexity. Indeed, when Buridan is talking about complex concepts as being the result of combination [complexio], he definitely gives us the impression that the conceptual combination in question strictly parallels the syntactical combination of the corresponding written or spoken phrases.

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