John Buridan

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ISBNs
  • 9780195176223
  • 9780199721078
John Buridan (ca. 1300-1362) has worked out perhaps the most comprehensive account of nominalism in the history of Western thought, the philosophical doctrine according to which the only universals in reality are "names": the common terms of our language and the common concepts of our minds. But these items are universal only in their signification; they are singular entities like any other in reality. This book examines what is most intriguing to contemporary readers in Buridan's medieval philosophical system: his nominalist account of the relationship between language, thought and reality. The main focus of the discussion is Buridan's deployment of the Ockhamist conception of a "mental language" for mapping the complex structures of written and spoken human languages onto a parsimoniously construed reality. Concerning these linguistic structures, this book carefully analyzes Buridan's conception of the radical conventionality of written and spoken languages, in contrast to the natural semantic features of concepts. The discussion pays special attention to Buridan's token-based semantics of terms and propositions, his conception of existential import, ontological commitment, truth, and logical validity. Finally, the book presents a detailed discussion of how these logical devices allow Buridan to maintain his nominalist position without giving up Aristotelian essentialism or yielding to skepticism, and pays special attention to contemporary concerns with these issues.
  • Oxford University Press; December 2008
  • ISBN 9780199721078
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: John Buridan
  • Author: Gyula Klima
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780195176223
  • 9780199721078

In The Press

"It is difficult at the best of times to render texts in the history of philosophy so that they speak to present-day philosophical concerns; even more so when one is working with materials produced in the Middle Ages. But this book achieves it. Klima is as comfortable in the world of contemporary philosophical logic and metaphysics as he is among fourteenth-century practitioners of the logica moderna, with the result that he is able to present Buridanian nominalism to modern readers in a way that loses very little in translation. The Buridan who emerges in these pages one could easily imagine having as a discussion-partner -- and a formidable one at that." --Jack Zupko, author of John Buridan: Portrait of a Fourteenth-Century Arts Master
"An admirable book that takes on an immensely difficult subject matter. What is more, it proceeds with the kind of precision and clarity that allows any serious reader the opportunity to learn from it and reach a high level of understanding." --The Heythrop Journal
"This is a marvelous book, a 'must read' for anyone interested in understanding the philosophical debates of the later Middle Ages and a useful book for contemporary philosophers who will find in it a sophisticated articulation of a philosophical position well able to provide perspective on a number of contemporary debates. It is exceptionally well-written, clear, and insightful." --Journal of the History of Philosophy

About The Author

Gyula Klima, having taught previously at Yale and the University of Notre Dame, is Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. He is the author of Readings in Medieval Philosophy, John Buridan: Summulae de Dialectica, an annotated translation with a philosophical introduction, and ARS ARTIUM: Essays in Philosophical Semantics, Medieval and Modern.

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780195176223
  • 9780199721078