Demonstration and Scientific Knowledge in William of Ockham: A Translation of Summa Logicae III-II: De Syllogismo Demonstrativo, and Selections from the Prologue to the Ordinatio

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This book makes available for the first time an English translation of William of Ockham's work on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, which contains his theory of scientific demonstration and philosophy of science. John Lee Longeway also includes an extensive commentary and a detailed history of the intellectual background to Ockham's work. He puts Ockham into context by providing a scholarly account of the reception and study of the Posterior Analytics in the Latin Middle Ages, with a detailed discussion of Robert Grosseteste, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and Giles of Rome. In a series of appendices, Longeway includes shorter translations of some important related work by Giles of Rome and John of Cornwall.
In his introductory discussion, Longeway examines the exact character of the highest sort of demonstration (demonstratio potissima), the relations of the empirical sciences to mathematics, natural causation and the manner in which natural laws come to be known, the possibility of natural knowledge, our knowledge of God, and the relation of theology to the other sciences. Longeway discusses the way in which scientific epistemology and theory of demonstration corresponds to the metaphysical position of its interpreter, in particular to the Neoplatonism of Grosseteste, the radical Aristotelianism of Giles of Rome and Albert the Great, the more moderate Aristotelianism of Aquinas, and the nominalistic empiricism of Ockham. Throughout the book, Longeway makes a case for Ockham's importance as the founder of empiricism in the West.

“The present work is the result of decades of study of Ockham's philosophy of science. The translation and commentary are introduced by a chapter in which Longeway presents an overview of Ockham's thought in this area and highlights its philosophical significance. This introduction is in its own right a significant contribution to the history of philosophy.” —Owen Goldin, Marquette University
"Like much else in medieval philosophy, medieval theories of demonstrative knowledge are historically important, philosophically interesting, and little understood. There are a few extensive studies into medieval discussions of demonstration and even fewer translations of these important discussions. Longeway's Demonstration and Scientific Knowledge in William of Ockham is, therefore, an important contribution to the field. This work contains not only an extensive set of translations of Ockham's work on the theory of demonstration, but also a book-length introduction in which Longeway surveys the development of medieval theories of demonstration prior to Ockham and situates Ockham's discussion (historically and philosophically) within that development. The book will be of value to any scholar interested in Ockham's thought as well as to anyone interested more generally in medieval discussions of demonstration, science, and epistemology." —Susan Brower-Toland, Saint Louis University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Longeway's claims are well-considered, and Ockham's influence on early modern philosophy is never far from his mind. His careful translation, compilation of relevant documents, and impressive history of medieval empiricism should interest any scholar studying the history of philosophy of science.” —Journal of the History of Philosophy, 46:1, January 2008

“Longeway provides not only a very accessible translation but also extensive commentary of his own, including a book-length detailed history of the intellectual contexts of Ockham's Latin Middle Ages. . . . The result is an effective translation of Ockham's seminal work but also what may become a foundational text in intellectual and science history.” —Research Book News, November 2007

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780268033781
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2007
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

John Lee Longeway is associate professor at University of Wisconsin, Parkside. He is the author of William Heytesbury: On Maxima and Minima.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents in Detail     ix
Acknowledgments     xvii
Note to the Reader     xix
Introduction     1
Tables     141
William of Ockham, Summa Logicae, Part III, Tractate II: On Demonstrative Syllogism     153
William of Ockham, Selections Concerning Demonstration from Scriptum in Librum Sententiarum (Ordinatio), Book I, Prologue     215
Appendices     275
Glossary     324
Notes     341
Bibliography     416
Indexes     425
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