Electronic Texts: Scotus and Ockham

If it’s as cold where you are as it is here in Boulder, then you’re probably huddled in front of a glowing computer screen, warming your innards in the gentle light of medieval texts. So this seems like a good time to mention a few electronic resources that may have escaped your notice.

What has surely has not escaped your notice is the long-standing and superb Corpus Thomisticum edited by Enrique Alarcón. In addition to the searchable Latin texts, there’s a very helpful guide to the best published edition of each work, as well as Schütz‘s old but still very useful Thomas-Lexicon, a frequently updated Thomistic bibliography, links to pdfs of many of the Leonine editions, and more.

The point of this post, however, is to spread the word that the work of Scotus and Ockham is also now available electronically, in searchable form. I know of two sources for this material. Unfortunately, neither is free, but both are well worth going to some trouble to get access to.

First, there is Past Masters. You probably know about Past Masters because it has long offered searchable access to quite a few medieval texts: Abelard (Latin), Anselm (English and Latin), Aquinas (English), and Augustine (English and Latin). Recently, Past Masters has reached an agreement with the Franciscan Institute that allows it to offer several new medieval items:

  • the whole of Ockham’s Opera philosophica et theologica;
  • all five volumes of Scotus’s Opera philosophica
  • various other Latin-English Scotus volumes published by the Franciscan institute, including the two Wolter-Bychkov volumes of Reportatio 1-A, and the Etzkorn-Wolter translation of the Metaphysics questions.
  • various works of Bonaventure

A notable feature of these offerings is that what they give you is an image of the printed page, which is appealing, though it has the drawback of making it impossible (so far as I can find) to cut and paste long stretches of text into another document.

Alas, even if your library already subscribes to Past Masters, it will have to pay extra to acquire this new material.

Second, there is the Library of Latin Texts offered through Brepols. I have dim memories of using, back in the dark ages of computing, something on a disk called Cetedoc. That’s now given way to an online version.The amount of material available here is quite overwhelming. It is mainly not philosophical, although even so there is quite a lot of philosophy here, though mainly classical and early medieval. Still, for later medieval, there is some Bonaventure, some Francis of Marchia, some John Pecham, quite a bit of Peter Abelard, all of Thomas Aquinas, and now all of Ockham’s Opera philosophica et theologica.

The Ockham text is formatted quite differently here. You don’t see the original printed page at all – you just get a rather small window of text, which I found awkward to navigate around in, and which also doesn’t allow for cutting and pasting l0ng stretches of text. Indeed, the more I tried to use the Brepols search engine, the more frustrating I found it. It is certainly much better than nothing, but it is not nearly as user friendly as it ought to be, and not nearly as good as Past Masters. (Except in the number of texts it provides access to.)

What I’ve been describing is all found on what’s now known as LLT-A. That’s distinguished from something new, called LLT-B, which my wonderful librarian has promised to get me, but which I don’t have access to yet. I’m looking forward to getting it, because it promises (I quote):

the Vatican editions of the Ordinatio and the Lectura of John Duns Scotus, letters of Erasmus, the Opus maius of Roger Bacon…

And presumably still more beyond that. I suppose some readers will be way ahead of me on this; I’d welcome further information.

Holiday Reading

Here are some links I’ve been collecting for a few months:

More Conferences

Also, congratulations to Josef Stern (Chicago), who was just announced as the winner of the 2014 Journal of the History of Philosophy Book Prize, for his The Matter and Form of Maimonides’ Guide (Harvard, 2013).

A Few Prizes and Scholarships

Except for the first, these are all for younger scholars:

  • Fondazione Giorgio Cini: Funding for the study of topics related to the Italian Renaissance. In Venice!
  • Charles Schmitt Prize 2015, for a paper “in any area of intellectual history, broadly construed, 1500 to the present.” Eligibility limited to graduate students and recent PhDs. Deadline December 31, 2014.
  • Earhart Scholarships: Funding for graduate students to attend Aquinas Institute events at Blackfriars (Oxford) from March 3-8, 2015.  See here.
  • Chateaubriand Fellowships: Funding for graduate students seeking to do research in France for 4 to 9 months. Deadline January 20, 2015.

Routledge Major Works

The following query is from Christina Van Dyke (Calvin College):

I’m currently working on a Major Works in Medieval Philosophy four-volume series for Routledge. The main purpose of the Major Works series is to provide libraries that can’t necessarily afford access to relevant journals and books with a resource that will include central/influential/important papers in medieval philosophical scholarship from the past century. The volumes will be divided by topic into Metaphysics and Epistemology, Logic and Language, Moral and Political, and Philosophical Theology.

I’m thinking of the project as essentially a set of ‘mixtapes’ (or MP3 playlist, for the younguns). I’ve already combed through various resources and compiled a long list of potential articles… but I am only one person with personal prejudices and predilections, and I’d love some input from you guys. What article (or articles) would be on your ‘MUST INCLUDE’ list for your area of specialization? What pieces have been most influential in your own development? Which articles do you find yourself recommending to students again and again?

Please send any suggestions to majorworksmedieval@gmail.com. And thanks in advance for any input! I’m looking for broad representation across the field and have roughly 400 pages per volume to work with.

Best wishes,


Master Class

Peter King is running a master class this summer on the History of the Will in the Middle Ages (Toronto, June 22-26). It’s sponsored by the Journal of the History of Philosophy, and comes with funding. It’s open only to recent finished PhDs, recent being “no earlier than 2010.”

The deadline for applications was November 15, but I am told that anyone able to get their application in right away could still be considered. The application is not at all burdensome. See here for details.