Next week’s Virtual Medieval Colloquium features Irène Rosier-Catach (CNRS/EPHE-Paris).
When: Thursday, April 16, 2020, at what has become the usual time: 18h Paris, 10am Boulder.
Title: The ‘linguistic turn’ of medieval logic in the early 12th century
Abstract: This paper aims at discussing two claims of a general nature, based on recent studies, which brought to light new texts hitherto unedited, on logic and grammar at the turn of the 11th/12th century. The first one is what I call the “linguistic turn” of medieval logic. The origin of this “linguistic turn” can be explained by systematic interactions between grammar and logic, more precisely between Priscian and the Boethian Aristotle, achieved by William of Champeaux and his school. They give rise to new analyses that will play a central role in logic (the distinction between signification and reference, inherence and identity theory of predication, syncategoremata, substantive verb etc.), and to a focus on language that will from then on be a characteristic feature of medieval logic. To be clear: I do not want to restrict medieval logic to the analysis of language. I shall here only consider this part of logic, which will be given a very wide attention throughout the Middle Ages, both in the development of terminist logic, with its analysis of the semantic properties of terms and propositions, and in the development of speculative grammar. This focus on language will also be present in theology – giving rise to sophisticated logico-linguistic analyses of various theological problems, with the addition of other sources (Augustine and Boethius’ Opuscula sacra in particular). The second claim, which follows, is the reassessment of some of Abelard’s conceptions in the light of these interactions. The constant and numerous discussions Abelard has with his master can no longer be considered only as “sources” or as an incentive for the elaboration of his own conceptions. These discussions, now that we can read them for themselves and not rely on Abelard’s own limited reports, should be considered to reevaluate their stakes, purposes and consequences, as much as their evolution.