John of Jandun on Relations and Cambridge Changes†

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (3):490-511 (2016)
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Abstract

The paradigmatic examples of what we call nowadays ‘mere Cambridge changes’ are relational properties. If someone is on the left of a table at t − 1 and on the right of this table at t, the table does not undergo a physical change, but it has nonetheless new relational properties. What kind of relation lies behind this kind of change? Should we abandon the definition of identity as a set of permanent properties through time? This concern with identity and change was already present in Aristotle's Physics 5 and 7 and medieval commentators tackled the problem with some important refinements due to their metaphysical discussions about the nature of relations. John of Jandun's discussion of this topic, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, is particularly interesting. First, he defines self-identity as a relation of reason, which means for him that it is not a real relation. Second, he distinguishes two kinds of relational changes: those involving real relations and the acquisition a qualitative propert...

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Aurélien Robert
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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