SCOTUS ON UNIVERSALS

SCOTUS ON UNIVERSALS - Macquarie University PHIL360 Later...

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Macquarie University PHIL360 Later Medieval Philosophy Week 6: SCOTUS ON UNIVERSALS Copyright © 1996 R.J. Kilcullen (To follow this lecture you will need to have before you A. Hyman and J.J. Walsh (eds.), Philosophy in the Middle Ages (Hackett, Indianapolis, 1973), pp. 582-9, and a printout of Duns Scotus, Ordinatio , II, dist. 3, pars 1, q. 5 and q. 6 .) We come now to Scotus's theory of universals or of individuation. This is the subject of Opus Oxoniense , book 2, distinction 3, extracts from which are in Hyman and Walsh. The first question is, in effect, whether any theory of individuation is needed. Aren't real things individual "from themselves", just by being real? The Latin says: ex se , sive ex natura sua , "from (or out of) itself, or from its nature". Elsewhere he uses as equivalent per se and de se . Se means itself, ex means from or out of, per means through, de means of or by or from. So the question is whether an individual thing gets it singularity or individuality from itself, not from anything else. Remember from Boethius and Abelard in PHIL252 the contrast between individuality and universality, a contrast that goes back to Plato's theme of "one and many". There are many individual human beings, and we can say of each of them "This is a human being", "That is a human being", "This other is a human being", and so on - the same predicate, "a human being", occurring in each proposition. Something thus predicable of many individuals is a universal. Let us now read first the preliminary pro and con arguments. Read p.582, first three paragraphs. Pause the tape while you read this. The two arguments "on the contrary" require some comment: they suppose that there are in nature, in the real world, species of things, all the members of which share the same nature; e.g. there are many individual human beings, all of which share in the same real nature, being human, and there are many stones, all of which share the nature of stone. If such a nature were intrinsically, from itself, singular then there would be only one instance of that one nature, human being or stone. Whatever that nature was in, would be this human being or stone - there would not be many instances, only one. The opinion that no theory of individuation is needed After the preliminary exchange of short arguments, Scotus presents the opinions of others followed by criticisms. Beside the next paragraph, "Here it is said", (i.e. by someone else), write "another opinion" and on p.583, near the bottom, at the paragraph that begins "In reply to the question", write "His own opinion". At the bottom of p.584, beside "But against this" write "objections". On p.584, three quarters of the way down, beside "And through this" write "Answer to arguments at the beginning". Now go back to p.582 and read the paragraph beginning "Here it is said". I don't know whose opinion this was; perhaps Scotus invented it.
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