The logic of categorematic and syncategorematic infinity

Synthese 192 (8):2361-2377 (2015)

Sara L. Uckelman
Durham University
The medieval distinction between categorematic and syncategorematic words is usually given as the distinction between words which have signification or meaning in isolation from other words and those which have signification only when combined with other words . Some words, however, are classified as both categorematic and syncategorematic. One such word is Latin infinita ‘infinite’. Because infinita can be either categorematic or syncategorematic, it is possible to form sophisms using infinita whose solutions turn on the distinction between categorematic and syncategorematic uses of infinita. As a result, medieval logicians were interested in identifying correct logical rules governing the categorematic and syncategorematic uses of the term. In this paper, we look at 13th–15th-century logical discussions of infinita used syncategorematically and categorematically. We also relate the distinction to other medieval distinctions with which it has often been conflated in modern times, and show how and where these conflations go wrong
Keywords Actual/potential distinction  Categorematic term  Infinity   Logic  Syncategorematic term
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-015-0670-z
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References found in this work BETA

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