State of the Art: Rega Wood

Here’s another of my occasional series of guest posts from prominent folk in the field, describing what they’ve been up to of late. This post is from Rega Wood (Indiana University):

I’m currently in the final stages of editing Richard Rufus’ Sententia cum quaestiones in libros de anima Aristotelis, which will be about 650 pages in length. I say “I” despite the fact that my name appears second in the list of editors (Ottman, Wood, Lewis, & Martin), because mine is the last job, preparing camera-ready copy. Jennifer Ottman’s name appears first because she is responsible for most of the apparatus of notes which provides a wealth of information about the philosophers whose commentaries show an awareness of Rufus. Her work allows our edition to introduce not only Rufus but the early Latin commentary tradition on De anima. My name comes second because I’m also responsible for most of the 200-page introduction.

Neil Lewis’ philosophical astuteness and constant attention to argumentative structure as well his great knowledge of Rufus’ hero, Robert Grosseteste, make an enormous contribution.  The brilliant Christopher J. Martin not only reads over and comments on the whole work and offers great insight into Rufus’ text of Aristotle, but also provides me with the LaTeX tools I use in typesetting.  Finally the comments of Olga Weijers, Alan Code, and his student Santiago Melo Arias also improve the edition, especially when we grapple with problem passages.  We’ve also had help from Dorothea Frede, Michael Smith, and Max Etchemendy, whose remarkable recreation of Rufus’ outline of the work can be viewed online.

The introduction has five sections. I begin by introducing some of the exciting topics Richard Rufus discusses.  In the second section I establish the genre of the commentary, its date, and its influence (the last with lots of help from Jennifer).  Not surprisingly, the third section establishing the authenticity of the work is the longest.  Next, I provide an account of Rufus’ views on sensation with particular attention to his understanding of ‘spirituality’.  The introduction closes with a statement of the editorial method we follow.

A summary of the fourth section of the introduction will appear as an article entitled, “Spirituality and Perception in Medieval Aristotelian Natural Philosophy.”  Yes, I know the title is too long. But nonetheless, it will appear in good company in a volume edited by Elena Baltuta: Theories of Sense-Perception in the 13th and 14th Centuries.

Other contributors to the volume are Dominik Perler, Juhana Toivanen, Filipe Silva, Paolo Rubini, Daniel de Haan, Andrew LaZella, Lukas Licka, Andre Martin, Martin Klein, and Mattia Mantovani. Their papers cover not only Rufus, but also Thomas Aquinas, Peter Olivi, Duns Scotus, the Perspectivists, Robert Kilwardby, John Buridan and Jean of Jandun; its “themes range from the singularity of perception to accidental perception, immateriality and spirituality in perception and causation.”

Supposing I ever finish numbering variants that extend to more than one line and sundry other such exciting chores, I will make a push this summer to finish Richard Rufus of Cornwall: Metaphysics, Epistemology, & Natural Philosophy. I’ve long had drafts of the first two parts on his life, works, and manuscripts. I also have drafted the sections of part three on metaphysics, epistemology, and natural philosophy. But I’ve only just begun the sections on logic and theology, where I will lean heavily on Rufus’ development of the formal distinction.  Work on the book is my excuse for not giving a mini-seminar on medieval philosophy at Stanford this year, which I usually manage with help from Peter King.  Last summer Peter and I managed not only to introduce Ockham and his razor but also to check out jazz hot spots in San Francisco.

Of course, even skipping out on my Stanford gig, I probably won’t finish the book this summer. And whatever happens I will have to revise the whole thing.  So lots of work to do, but next year I will have some help from graduate students at Indiana University enrolled in “Richard Rufus and the Scholastic Tradition.” Last time I did this, the students had to agree that after reading Duns Scotus, Rufus looks like a model of clarity and simplicity.

Alas, quite often the Rufus book has had to take a back seat to my duties as Rufus’ general editor. And this year we were fortunate enough to receive another three-year NEH grant for this purpose, owing in part to Rufus’ program officer, Ann Meyer. With a little help from Lydia, Ann answers all my questions about budget and bureaucracy. The 2017-2020 grant will fund work on publishing the edition of Rufus’ 1000-page metaphysics commentary, Scriptum in Metaphysicam Aristotelis. Fortunately, since this work’s authenticity isn’t controversial, it won’t need such a long introduction. At the same time we will begin establishing the text of his Oxford theology lectures.  Medievalists interested in Richard Rufus are always welcome to request PDFs of our preliminary and provisional editions.

The Richard Rufus Project (RRP) website hosts the project’s critical editions of the works of Richard Rufus of Cornwall.  Though we are still hard at work on the project, much is already available either on our website or in print via the British Academy’s Auctores Britannici Medii Aevi series directed by John Marenbon. Our website hosts our edition of Rufus’ Memoriale in Metaphysicam Aristotelis as well as the Redactio brevior of the De anima commentary and much of the Scriptum in Metaph, mostly the Redactio brevior but also a snipet from the Redactio longior.

The site also provides aids such as a search engine of the editions on the site, a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, a biography of Rufus, translations of selected works, and a list of the known manuscripts that contain Rufus’ works, along with the works’ incipits. RRP’s site also provides an overview of the process of creating a critical edition, including brief biographies of the editors.

Another highly useful resource is the list of works that RRP cites in its editions. For those works which previously existed only in manuscript form RRP provides transcriptions. Found there are complete transcriptions of Adam Buckfield’s influential De anima commentary and a transcription of Roger Bacon’s unedited, but almost certainly authentic commentary on Aristotle’s De generatione et corruptione.  Not to be forgotten is Robert Andrews’ indispensable compilation of sententiae attributed to Boethius, but not actually found in his works, Boethius dicit.

RRP’s outreach project, Bartholomew’s World, is an introduction to the world of scholasticism aimed at students of Latin in 6th through 12th grades. It offers a brief overview of some scholastic authors along with Latin lessons based on their works, divided into three sections – topics in Human Science, Divine Science, and Natural Science. Other useful resources include extensive indices relating to etymology, grammar, paleography, chronology, and medieval imagery.  Neither website would be possible without RRP’s webmaster, Eva St. Clair, for whose good sense, wit, and love of all things medieval I give thanks daily — or at least as often as unintelligible directives from computer authorities on high force me to call on her assistance.

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Conferences and More

Here’s the latest news about what’s happening around the medieval community:

  • Twin workshops are being organized in Morocco for March 2018. On March 12-13, there will be a conference on Averroes in Rabat. On March 15-16, the action will move south to Marrakech, for a workshop on “Human Knowing in the Medieval Arabic and Latin Traditions.” Applications are still being accepted; see details here.
  • L’Institut d’Études Médiévales has organized a conference in Paris on the subject “Existe-t-il une mystique médiévale?” (Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2017)
  • St. Andrews is sponsoring a conference on Medieval Logic and Its Contemporary Relevance (April 30-May 2, 2018). CfP deadline February 1.
  • There’s a conference on Anselm at the University of Houston next spring, extending to all aspects of his career (May 4-5, 2018). CfP deadline February 1. [There doesn’t seem to be anything on the web yet, but anyone interested should contact Sally Vaughn.]
  • Speaking of Anselm, the Institute for Saint Anselm Studies (Manchester, NH) is advertising a summer research grant for graduate students and recent PhDs who are interested in spending a week doing research at the Institute. Application deadline February 1, 2018. Details here.
  • The thirteenth annual Marquette Summer Seminar on Aristotle and the Aristotelian Tradition will run on June 2 5-27, 2018, on the topic “Principles, Cosmology, and First Philosophy in Aristotle and the Aristotelian Tradition.” Details here.
  • Jonathan Jacobs is directing an NEH Seminar on Will, Commandment, and Human Perfection in Medieval Jewish Philosophy (Colgate University, July 8-Aug. 4, 2018). [If this looks familiar, it’s because he regularly offers this topic as an NEH summer seminar.] Application deadline: March 7.
  • There’s an interesting interview with Calvin Normore at the Medieval Logic and Semantics blog. It’s mainly devoted to the place of logic in philosophy and in the history of philosophy.
  • The 2017 Rising Scholar Award, sponsored by the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, has been awarded to Daniel Shields (Pontifical College Josephinum) for his paper “Everything in Motion is Put in Motion by Another: A Principle in Aquinas’ First Way.”
  • Through the end of February, Quaracchi is holding one of its occasional 50% off sales. That offer covers a whole lot of important Franciscan philosophical texts. You can find the catalog here.

Conferences, Fellowships, CfPs, etc.

Here’s a fairly random collection of information I’ve collected over recent weeks:

  • The Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin – Madison is advertising fellowships for 2018-19. Particularly notable are the Solmsen Fellowships on pre-1700 Europe and the Kingdon Fellowship on Judeo-Christian religious traditions. Applications are due Nov. 2, 2017. Details here.
  • The a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne is advertising a large number of doctoral fellowships. The deadline is November 3, 2017. Details here.
  • The Journée thomiste 2017 is scheduled for November 25 (Paris).
  • The annual Charles Schmitt Prize is on again, in any area of intellectual history after 1500. Deadline is December 31.
  • Martin Klein, Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum, and Oliver Istvan Toth have put out a call for papers on consciousness in medieval and early modern philosophy of mind, to be published in a special issue of the Romanian journal Society and Politics. The deadline is March 31, 2018. Details here.
  • There’s a conference on the Calculatores tradition in Munich next spring (May 23-25, 2018). Details here.
  • Leuven is hosting a conference on Theories of Causal Powers in the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth Century (June 1-2, 2018). CfP deadline February 15, 2018.
  • Leuven is also hosting a conference next summer on Marsilius of Padua (July 6-7, 2018). Details here. CfP deadline December 31, 2017.
  • Groningen is hosting a conference on Substance in Early Modern Scholasticism (June 4-5, 2018).
  • The third Symposium Thomisticum will be held in Athens next summer on the theme Aquinas and the Greeks (June 7-9, 2018). CfP deadline December 1, 2017.
  • The Thomas Institute in Utrecht has announced a conference on Initiation and Mystagogy in Thomas Aquinas: Theological, Philosophical, Liturgical, and Pedagogical Perspectives (December 13-15, 2018). CfP deadline March 1, 2018.
  • The Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy has a handsome new web page with much information about the Society.
  • There’s a wonderful interview with James South (Marquette) at the APA blog.

Various Resources (Fall 2017)

Whenever I find something useful on the web, I tend to suppose that I’m the last person in the world (that is, our little world) to know about it. So apologies in advance if you’ve heard about these before.

  • If you’re reading this, then you’re most likely a regular user of the online Corpus Thomisticum. But did you know that if you’re using the full-text feature of the site (e.g., here), you can double-click on any word and it will take you to the Perseus entry for that word, giving you not just a dictionary definition but an exact account of the part of speech etc. of that particular inflection of the word? This makes reading Aquinas in this format a great resource for anyone working to improve their Latin.
  • Playing around with this feature led me to discover a great new(er) resource from the Perseus people: an online Latin/Greek search tool that ranges over various dictionaries. It’s called Logeion. This has a notably elegant and powerful user interface, and is a particularly useful tool for medievalists, because in addition to indexing Lewis and Short, it gives you Du Cange and also the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources. It’s worth taking a minute to read the About page, which explains some functionality that you would not discover on your own from the austere Start page.
  • There is also – of course! – a corresponding Logeion app for your phone. My quick impression is that it does not do everything the web-based version does, but it’s still pretty cool.
  • And speaking of apps, the Corpus Thomisticum itself now has an app, currently for Android only, that has the functions of the Index Thomisticus. (I have to report, though, that I couldn’t get it to work on my Android tablet.)
  • Finally, the Aquinas Institute continues to release bilingual volumes of Aquinas’s works, and they are starting to enter into territory that goes beyond looking nice on a shelf — they are producing new translations. Here is the announcement of the first volume of their translation of the Sentences commentary (Bk. IV dd. 1-13). Notice that they’ve kindly made it available for free on the web.