Formalizations après la lettre : studies in Medieval logic and semantics

Dissertation, Leiden University (2006)
Abstract
This thesis is on the history and philosophy of logic and semantics. Logic can be described as the ‘science of reasoning’, as it deals primarily with correct patterns of reasoning. However, logic as a discipline has undergone dramatic changes in the last two centuries: while for ancient and medieval philosophers it belonged essentially to the realm of language studies, it has currently become a sub-branch of mathematics. This thesis attempts to establish a dialogue between the modern and the medieval traditions in logic, by means of ‘translations’ of the medieval logical theories into the modern framework of symbolic logic, i.e. formalizations. One of its conclusions is that, when properly understood within their own framework, the interest of medieval logical theories for modern investigations go beyond mere historical interest, but that a thorough conceptual analysis of such theories must be undertaken in order to avoid conceptual misprojections. While such translations of medieval into modern logic have been attempted before, the approach presented here is innovative in that attention is paid to the similarities as well as to the dissimilarities between the two traditions, and to what can be learned from the medieval masters for modern investigations in logic and semantics.
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