New SEP Article
May 20, 2006 — 14:17

Author: Trent Dougherty  Category: Links  Comments: 2

The SEP has a new entry on Medieval Mereology. I’ve only skimmed it and it looks quite good and perhaps of interest to a significant (enough) number of readers of this blog. Here’s an interesting little tidbit.
“For instance, both Abelard and Aquinas think that only substances, such as individual donkeys, palm trees, and human beings, are continuous wholes. Abelard thinks that this is true because only God can fuse parts together into a continuous unity. Humans operations, no matter how finessed, are only capable of placing parts in close proximity to one another.”
Given the recent proclivity for approaching the Trinity with mereology in hand, I hope to read this article thoroughly at some point.

Technorati Tags: palm trees, abelard, human beings, proclivity, tidbit, donkeys, aquinas, fuse, proximity, medieval, unity, trinity, blog, god, hope

  • And we were all supposed to think that van Inwagen was taking up a novel position!

    May 20, 2006 — 14:45
  • Matthew

    Arlig is right when he says that “Many of these concepts and principles may seem strange to the modern student of parts of and wholes…” However, I’m not sure that his entry is entirely successful in dispelling some of this strangeness. How many contemporary philosophers know what the “Topics” are? I’d wager not most. Arlig uses the term a number of times before the section on Topics. Unfortunately that section isn’t particularly illuminating as to what the Topics are. Arlig tells use that

    “Topic��? is the standard translation for the Latin term locus. As Stump (1981 and 1982) and Green-Pedersen (1984) have pointed out, the notion of the Topic evolves over the course of its use in ancient and medieval logic, but in general, the study of the Topics helps one to discover a number of self-evidently true propositions, or “maximal propositions��?, that can serve as warrants for arguments.

    I suspect that knowing that topic translates from locus (place) isn’t really capturing the meaning of the Topics. It’s helpful to know what they are supposed to do, but I still don’t know what they are.
    Of course it could just be that I didn’t grasp the section, or that I have been the recipient of a deficient education and everyone else knows what’s being talked about here. I’m familiar with Aristotle’s Topics and his list of what-it-is, but that doesn’t appear to be what’s at play here, and if it is it certainly could be made clearer.

    May 20, 2006 — 18:49