History of Medieval Logic: A General Overview

"The role of logic in the Middle Ages. Regarding the role of logic within the framework of arts and sciences during the Middle Ages, we have to distinguish two related aspects, one institutional and the other scientific. As to the first aspect, we have to remember that the medieval educational system was based on the seven liberal arts, which were divided into the trivium, i.e., three arts of language, and the quadrivium, i.e., four mathematical arts. The so-called trivial arts were grammar, rhetoric, and logic, and during a period of several centuries virtually every educated person, at least every university graduate, received a training in these matters, especially in logic. Students in the medieval faculty of arts probably spent more time studying logic than any other discipline. This first -- institutional -- aspect concerning the role of logic is explained by the second -- scientific -- aspect. The trivial disciplines provided techniques of analysis and a technical vocabulary that permeate philosophical, scientific and theological writings. Logic, as mentioned before, was referred to and was generally regarded as the art of arts and the science of sciences. The increasing cultural dominance of the universities with their obligatory disputationes and their hierarchy of examinations on the one hand and the outstanding status of logic on the other were corresponding features of the educational world of the 13th century. The core of the logic curriculum from the 12th century onwards was provided by the logical works of Aristotle. These represented the material for the study of types of predication, the analysis of simple propositions or statements (2) and their relations of inference and equivalence, the analysis of modal propositions, of the structure and the types of the syllogism, dialectical topics, fallacies and scientific reasoning as based on the demonstrative syllogism. Medieval logicians, however, realized that there were other, non-Aristotelian, approaches to logical subjects, questions and methods that could be investigated..
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