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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2 comments on “State of the Art: Rega Wood

  1. Luke DeWeese says:

    Dear all,

    I am a research assistant at the Catholic University of America in need of a little inspiration. I have been tasked with assembling a bibliography on the following topics:

    1. Humanist twelfth century versus scholastic thirteenth;
    2. Sharp break between twelfth and thirteenth centuries;
    3. On the medieval university in general and the University of Paris in particular;
    4. On the decline of logic after Abelard in the twelfth century.

    I must confess that despite my best efforts, I am having the most difficult time fulfilling this assignment. If anyone who reads this blog can point me in the right direction, please do so.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Luke DeWeese
    54deweese@cua.edu

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