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Philosophy of Religion categorize this paper. Applied ethics. For clarity, square brackets have been inserted into the proof and disproof above, in order to indicate the ambiguity of the sophisma.
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In accordance with step 2 above, Albert of Saxony, who discusses this sophisma , solves it by just saying that it is either true or false depending on which interpretation we choose. He then takes the opportunity to review the basic principles governing the truth-value of copulative and disjunctive sentences. In accordance with step 3 , we would normally be required to refute the opposite answer. In this case, however, there is nothing to refute, since Albert's solution accepts both the pro and the contra arguments for different readings of the sophisma.
In general, a sophisma was a good occasion to discuss all the problems related to a specific issue. This is why Pinborg p. It is important to recognize that many sophismata involve syncategorematic terms that are responsible for their odd, ambiguous or puzzling character. Just as the scholastic method can be applied to any subject, the use of sophismata is to be found in logic, grammar and physics as well as in theology.
Let us concentrate here on the first three. As seen above, logical sophismata are closely linked to the discussions of syncategoremata. The aim is either to determine the truth-value of a sentence including sentences involving self-reference or to discuss subjects such as:.
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The aim here is to discuss physical concepts motion, change, velocity, intension and remission of forms, maxima and minima, etc. This logico-semantical approach to physical problems is quite characteristic of medieval physics and should be kept in mind when we wonder the extent to which medieval physics can be considered a precursor to modern physics. Based on the theological dogma of the absolute power of God, the distinction between what is physically possible and what is logically possible where non-contradiction is the only limit allowed these authors to make use of imaginary thought experiments.
Richard Kilvington, Sophismata, sophisma 27, in Kretzmann , p. For example, does a change of word order change the meaning of a proposition? Can a participle be a subject? At times Aquinas seems to go further. But what he seems to mean here is that the principles we employ in forming our beliefs are implicit in the structure of the mind and its operations Allers 58 see sect.
Other writers approach the tabula rasa idea from the other direction, beginning with a clear commitment to innate knowledge. Roger Bacon — , for instance, suggests that the human soul is created with the species aspects or forms of all things within it, which seems a strongly Augustinian conception of knowledge.
A similar view is found in the work of Robert Grosseteste ca. While these look like puzzling combinations of empiricist and non-empiricist views, their rationale will become clear shortly sect. But alongside this qualified genetic empiricism, we also find expressions of a justificatory empiricism. In particular, the work of Roger Bacon sets out two forms of justificatory empiricism, both of which fall under the heading of what he calls scientia experimentalis. Bacon OM 6.
A second form of justificatory empiricism holds that some beliefs can be defended only by reference to experience, there being no arguments from prior principles that can be adduced in their support. These include, first of all, matters within the domain of the other sciences which mere reasoning could never have revealed, such as the practical discoveries made by alchemists Bacon OM 6, 2a prae.
Ancient and Medieval Empiricism
To appreciate what this kind of investigation entailed, we need to understand the class of phenomena to which it applied: that of the secrets of nature. But there existed phenomena that fell outside this domain, namely miracles and marvels. Miracles, in the strict sense, were supernatural occurrences, which fell in the domain of theology. Such powers included the influence exercised by the heavenly bodies on earthly affairs, as well as mysterious properties of sublunary entities, such as the lodestone.
These powers were occult in the sense of being hidden. But they were also mysterious in that their workings were not explicable in terms of what Aristotelians believed to be the four simple substances earth, air, fire, and water and their associated primary qualities the hot and the cold, the moist and the dry Pasnau It is for this reason that they could not be proved to exist by demonstrative arguments, but could be known only by experience.
An example can be found in the work of an author already mentioned: Nicholas of Poland, the radical medical empiricist of Montpellier. In this respect Nicholas seems to have been influenced by another work more closely associated with magic, the De mirabilibus mundi. The marvellous powers of natural objects belong to the former category, which are known by way of practical experience per experientiam Ps-Albertus PA-DM para.
While this work was falsely attributed to Albert the Great ca. When medieval writers speak of knowing matters per experientiam by experience , they are understanding the term experientia very broadly.
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In only a few fields, such as astronomy, are the procedures employed by natural philosophers associated with careful measurement. Crombie But while such developments mark a break with the Aristotelian tradition of a purely qualitative physics, they remain largely theoretical.
While the discussions giving rise to the mean speed theorem emerged from everyday observations of falling bodies, the theorem itself was proven arithmetically and geometrically Clagett , — This broad understanding of experience is evident, too, in medieval conceptions of the origin and scope of perceptual knowledge. Aquinas reduces these to four: the common sense, the imagination, the vis aestimativa or cogitativa , and the sense memory Aquinas ST 1a The work of these interior senses involves an active role in shaping our perceptions, even those of our physical environment.
The mind, in other words, is not entirely passive, even at its basic levels of operation. The vis aestimativa , for instance, refers to the power that even non-rational creatures have of making judgements about what is dangerous or useful: it shapes our perceptions by adding an evaluative component. With regard to the scope of experience, this was generally thought to include knowledge of our own interior acts. These are experiences brought about by the grace of God, rather than any purely natural process of cognition. For the most part these did not invoke unobservable entities, such as atoms, but manifest powers of the entities we can perceive sect.
Medieval thinkers did not deny that we could know about unobservable entities.
William of Ockham [ca. But there were limits to what we could know about the unobservable features of the natural world Hutchison — One could regard this as a modest kind of explanatory empiricism. But the focus here will be on a different question, namely whether any medievals were cognitive empiricists, denying that we have intellectual powers or capacities giving access to factual knowledge independently of experience. Such knowledge, they held, did not arise from sense perception alone; it required a further input, provided by God himself: a divine illumination.
This can be a difficult idea for a modern reader to grasp, since it is easily confused with another belief, which has to do with a supernatural source of knowledge accessed by faith. The two are analogous, insofar as they both involve a divine initiative. The doctrine of divine illumination also speaks of a divine initiative, but that initiative is directly cognitive rather than volitional Pasnau sect.
It holds that divine illumination is required for a number of apparently ordinary cognitive activities, which are engaged in by believers and non-believers alike. While this doctrine has theological roots, it was also motivated by two features of human knowledge. The first has to do with those principles of thought that appear to be necessarily, not contingently, true.
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These include mathematical truths and principles such as that of non-contradiction or sufficient reason. While such principles are essential to thought, it is difficult to see how they could be derived from sense perception.
Aristotle had provided an empiricist account of the origin of mathematical ideas [ sect. A second motivation was related to the Aristotelian ideal of science.
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Scientia , as we have seen, involved a grasp of the essential properties of perceived objects. But this, too, involves a kind of insight that can seem to lie beyond the capacity of the senses sect. Advocates of divine illumination argued that these kinds of knowledge were possible only because the human mind has access to the mind of God. More precisely, it was possible only because God bathed the human mind in his own, uncreated light.
This allowed it not only to grasp necessary truths, but to understand the essences of created beings by reference to their exemplars in the divine mind. The development of medieval empiricism involved a rejection of this doctrine. It is already opposed by Aquinas, who holds that that the human mind requires a special divine illumination only for those matters that entirely exceed its natural powers, which are known by divine revelation Aquinas ST 1a 2ae But the most vigorous rejection of the doctrine is to be found in the work of Duns Scotus, who opposes the modified illuminationist teaching found in the work of Henry of Ghent ca.