Was ist eine menschliche Person? Durch welche besonderen Eigenschaften zeichnet sie sich aus? Und wodurch unterscheidet sie sich von einem blossen Lebewesen? Mittelalterliche Autoren widmeten sich mit viel Scharfsinn diesen Fragen, indem sie sich auf drei Dimensionen einer Person konzentrierten. Sie setzten bei der metaphysischen Dimension an, indem sie eine Person als eine individuelle Substanz mit einer rationalen Natur bestimmten. Dies fuhrte sie dazu, diese Substanz genauer zu untersuchen: ihre wesentlichen Bestandteile, ihre Einheit und ihre Identitat uber die Zeit hinweg. (...) Sie beschaftigten sich aber auch mit der psychologischen Dimension, indem sie die Reflexionsfahigkeit als die entscheidende geistige Fahigkeit einer Person analysierten. Zudem berucksichtigten sie die handlungstheoretische Dimension, indem sie festhielten, dass eine Person im Gegensatz zu einem blossen Lebewesen Handlungen hervorbringen kann. Sie betonten sogar, dass sich eine Person frei fur Handlungen entscheiden kann und daher fur sie verantwortlich ist. Dieses Buch, das sich auf Theorien des 13. und 14. Jahrhunderts konzentriert, rekonstruiert die Debatten zu allen drei Dimensionen im historischen Kontext, wertet sie systematisch aus und schlagt dabei auch einen Bogen zu fruhneuzeitlichen und gegenwartigen Diskussionen. Es verdeutlicht, dass im Mittelalter die Grundlagen fur eine philosophische Anthropologie gelegt wurden. (shrink)
Historians of philosophy often credit Descartes, Locke, and other seventeenth-century authors with having introduced one of the most vexing problems into epistemology: the problem of mental representations. For these authors claimed that our knowledge of the external world is always mediated by mental representations, so that we have immediate access only to these representations, the ideas in our mind. As is well known, this “veil-of-ideas epistemology” gave rise to a number of skeptical questions. How can we be certain that our (...) ideas are accurate representations of the external world? And how can we be sure that there is an external world at all if we never have immediate access to it? In his highly original and provocative study, Robert Pasnau argues that these questions are not distinctively modern. They were already asked and thoroughly discussed by medieval authors: “much of what is often taken to be novel in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was already old news by the fourteenth”. According to Pasnau, it was Thomas Aquinas who introduced some form of representationalism into epistemology by developing the species-theory, and it was first Peter John Olivi and later William Ockham who attacked this theory, insisting that we always have immediate cognitive access to the external world. (shrink)
Many late medieval Aristotelians assumed that a natural substance has several substantial forms in addition to matter as really distinct parts. This assumption gave rise to a unity problem: why is a substance more than a conglomeration of all these parts? This paper discusses Francisco Suárez’s answer. It first shows that he rejected the idea that there is a plurality of forms, emphasizing instead that each substance has a single form and hence a single structuring principle. It then examines his (...) account of the relationship between matter and form. While accepting the thesis that these two parts are really distinct entities, he claimed that there is a special “mode of union” that binds them together. With this account, he defended the essential unity of a natural substance, but he transformed the program of Aristotelian metaphysics: not substances, but entities and modes inside them, are now the basic building blocks of reality. (shrink)
It seems quite natural that we have cognitive access not only to things around us, but also to our own acts of perceiving and thinking. How is this access possible? How is it related to the access we have to external things? And how certain is it? This paper discusses these questions by focusing on Francisco Suárez’s theory, which gives an account of various forms of access to oneself and thereby presents an elaborate theory of consciousness. It argues that Suárez (...) clearly distinguishes between first-order sensory consciousness and second-order intellectual consciousness. Moreover, Suárez attempts to explain the unity of consciousness by referring to a single soul with hierarchically ordered faculties that is responsible both for first-order and for second-order consciousness. (shrink)
It has often been said that we should enter into a dialogue with thinkers of the past because they discussed they same problems we still have today and presented sophisticated solutions to them. I argue that this “dialogue model” ignores the specific context in which many problems were created and defined. A closer look at various contexts enables us to see that philosophical problems are not as natural as they might seem. When we contextualize them, we experience a healthy alienation (...) effect: we realise that problems discussed in the past depend on assumptions that are far from being self-evident. When we then compare these assumptions to our own, we reflect on our own theoretical framework that is not self-evident either. This leads to a denaturalisation of philosophical problems – in the past as well as in the present. I argue for this thesis by examining late medieval discussions on mental language. (shrink)
Does the soul have parts? What kind of parts? And how do all the parts make together a whole? Many ancient, medieval and early modern philosophers discussed these questions, thus providing a mereological analysis of the soul. The eleven chapters reconstruct and critically examine radically different theories. They make clear that the question of how a single soul can have an internal complexity was a crucial issue for many classical thinkers.
:According to Spinoza, there is no categorical distinction between human and non-human animals: they all belong to the same nature and all consist of bodies with corresponding ideas. This thesis gives rise to two problems. How is it possible to distinguish different types of animals, in particular nonrational and rational ones, if all of them have the same metaphysical structure? And why does Spinoza nevertheless claim that human beings have a privileged status that gives them the right to use non-rational (...) animals? This paper examines these two problems, arguing that the solution to both of them lies in Spinoza’s all-embracing naturalism. (shrink)
In his Tractatus de secundi intentionibus Hervaeus Natalis claims that an intention, taken in the strict sense, is not a mental entity but a thing qua cognized thing having « objective existence ». Peter Aureol agrees with this thesis, but he denies that one needs to introduce, in addition to this « concrete intention », an « abstract intention ». This article gives a preliminary edition of Aureol’s critique, along with a brief analysis of the controversial issues in the Aureol-Hervaeus (...) debate. (shrink)
Ockham affirms that a human being consists of three really distinct forms that exist in matter, thus defending a «pluralist» position in the debate about the soul. However, he takes a «unitarist» position with regard to the rational soul, claiming that intellect and will are not really distinct. Why does he not admit a plurality of forms in the rational soul as well? And why does he think that the rational soul as a whole is really distinct from the sensory (...) soul? This paper examines these questions, thus analyzing Ockham’s metaphysics of the soul. It pays close attention to his arguments both for a plurality of forms and for the unity of the rational soul. It argues that Ockham carefully distinguishes between forms that are metaphysical parts of a human being, and faculties that are ways of acting of a specific form. This distinction enables him to reject both a radical unitarism that accepts one single form in a human being, and an excessive pluralism that posits as many forms as there are faculties. (shrink)
When we are asked what the term ‘Socrates’ signifies, we answer spontaneously, I suppose: “the man Socrates.” And when we are asked what the term ‘white’ signifies, we tend to answer: “the color white” or “whiteness.” Although our second answer may be less spontaneous than the first, either because we may have some difficulty in explaining what a color is, ontologically speaking, or because we may be reluctant to commit ourselves to such a controversial thing as whiteness, we may nevertheless (...) be willing to grant that ‘white’ signifies something, however this thing is to be explained in detail. But when we are asked what ‘Socrates is white’ signifies, we might hesitate in giving an answer. Some may say: “Well, this sentence signifies nothing other than Socrates and the color white.” Others may respond: “It signifies Socrates insofar as he is white” or “the fact that Socrates is white.” Still others may reply that there is no answer because only terms signify something; a sentence, on the other hand, does not signify but expresses something or brings something to the understanding. (shrink)
Spinozas These „Wer eine wahre Idee hat, weiß zugleich, dass er eine wahre Idee hat“ hat zahlreiche Interpreten dazu bewogen, ihm eine ernsthafte Auseinandersetzung mit dem Skeptizismus abzusprechen. Es scheint, als würde er die zentrale Frage, welche unabhängige Garantie wir für die Wahrheit einer Idee haben, einfach ignorieren. Gegen diese Auffassung wird argumentiert, dass sich Spinoza durchaus der skeptischen Herausforderung stellt, und zwar indem er eine theoretische Diagnose formuliert: Der Skeptiker nimmt irrtümlicherweise an, Ideen seien isolierte, von körperlichen Zuständen getrennte (...) Repräsentationen, für die je einzeln eine Garantie gesucht werden muss. Spinoza versucht diese Annahme zu korrigieren, indem er eine holistische, monistische und externalistische Theorie von Ideen entwirft: Eine Idee lässt sich nur erklären, wenn sie einerseits in ihrer Verkettung mit anderen Ideen und andererseits mit Blick auf die körperliche Grundlage erfasst wird. Dann zeigt sich, dass die Garantie für die Wahrheit einer Idee im körperlich verankerten Ideennetz und nicht in einer übergeordneten Instanz liegt. (shrink)
Spinoza's metaphysical thesis that there is only one substance in the universe but a plurality of modes, each of them falling under an attribute, raises a crucial question. How are modes of thinking, i.e. ideas, related to modes of extension? This paper intends to show that there are at least two answers, depending on an understanding of the equivocal term ‘idea’. If ideas are taken to be mental acts, they are identical with modes of extension. If, however, they are understood (...) in the “objective” way, namely as the conceptual content of mental acts, they correspond to modes of extension. It is argued that this method of disambiguating the term ‘idea’ not only helps to understand Spinoza's famous doctrine of parallelism but that it also provides a solution to two puzzling problems: the possibility of “active affects” and the existence of an eternal mind. (shrink)
Early modern philosophers took the phenomena of causation and cognition to be closely related. United in their opposition to Aristotelian accounts of cognition, they developed a wide range of competing theories to explain which causal processes lead to cognitions. Somewhat surprisingly, some early modern authors also made cognition a requirement for causation, on the assumption that every cause needs to cognize its effect. This introductory chapter explores both directions of explanation—from causation to cognition and vice versa—and surveys the various early (...) modern approaches to causation and cognition. (shrink)
Kann die menschliche Vernunft theologische Wahrheiten mit Evidenz erkennen? Diese Thematik ist Kern der Briefe, die Nicolaus von Autrecourt in den dreißiger Jahren des 14. Jahrhunderts schrieb und in denen er die Möglichkeit theologischen Wissens wie auch die Bedingungen evidenter Erkenntnis überhaupt untersuchte.
This book re-examines the roles of causation and cognition in early modern philosophy. The standard historical narrative suggests that early modern thinkers abandoned Aristotelian models of formal causation in favor of doctrines that appealed to relations of efficient causation between material objects and cognizers. This narrative has been criticized in recent scholarship from at least two directions. Scholars have emphasized that we should not think of the Aristotelian tradition in such monolithic terms, and that many early modern thinkers did not (...) unequivocally reduce all causation to efficient causation. -/- In line with this general approach, this book features original essays written by leading experts in early modern philosophy. It is organized around five guiding questions: -/- What are the entities involved in causal processes leading to cognition? What type(s) or kind(s) of causality are at stake? Are early modern thinkers confined to efficient causation or do other types of causation play a role? What is God's role in causal processes leading to cognition? How do cognitive causal processes relate to other, non-cognitive causal processes? Is the causal process in the case of human cognition in any way special? How does it relate to processes involved in the case of non-human cognition? -/- The essays explore how fifteen early modern thinkers answered these questions: Francisco Suárez, René Descartes, Louis de la Forge, Géraud de Cordemoy, Nicolas Malebranche, Thomas Hobbes, Baruch de Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Ralph Cudworth, Margaret Cavendish, John Locke, John Sergeant, George Berkeley, David Hume, and Thomas Reid. The volume is unique in that it explores both well-known and understudied historical figures, and in that it emphasizes the intimate relationship between causation and cognition to open up new perspectives on early modern philosophy of mind and metaphysics. (shrink)
Medieval Aristotelians assumed that we cannot assimilate forms unless our soul abstracts them from sensory images. But what about the disembodied soul that has no senses and hence no sensory images? How can it assimilate forms? This article discusses this problem, focusing on two thirteenth-century models. It first looks at Thomas Aquinas’ model, which invokes divine intervention: the separated soul receives forms directly from God. The article examines the problems this explanatory model poses and then turns to a second model, (...) defended by Matthew of Aquasparta: the separated soul actively apprehends forms that are present to it. It will be argued that this model explains assimilation in terms of appropriation, rather than reception, of forms and thereby radically changes the traditional account of cognition. Finally, the article draws some methodological conclusions, arguing that the focus on the ‘limit case’ of separated souls made theoretical change possible. (shrink)