Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (4):pp. 623-624 (2009)

The thirteenth-century treatises on syncategorematic words still form a gold mine for studying the development of logic after Aristotle and Boethius. Generally speaking, the class of words labelled syncategoremata included expressions that, more than their categorematic counterparts, require the context of an expression in order to be meaningful. Nouns and verbs, such as ‘man’ and ‘to run’, were considered as having a more determined meaning than expressions such as ‘every’ or ‘not’. In the early days of the syncategoremata literature, the criteria for distinguishing categorematic from syncategorematic words were not entirely clear; authors used both syntactic and semantic criteria to separate the two classes from each other. The different ways of describing the two classes of words sometimes led to alternative lists of syncategoremata. Eventually the list came to include: the verb ‘is’; the negation ‘not’; the modal adverbs ‘necessarily’ and ‘contingently’; the exclusives ‘only’ and ‘alone’; the exceptives ‘except’ and ‘unless’ ; the distributive signs ‘every’ , ‘whole’ (‘ totum
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0157
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