Modalities in medieval philosophy


Modalities in medieval philosophy

Simo Knuuttila

(Topics in medieval philosophy)

Routledge, 1993

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Bibliography: p. [197]-223

Includes indexes



Studies in modal notions, such as necessity, possibility or impossibility, have always played an important role in philosophical analysis. The history of these conceptions is the story of a variety of assumptions which have given shape to one part of rational discourse. A typical modern approach to modality is codified in what is generally known as "possible worlds" semantics. According to this, necessity refers to what is actual in any alternative state of affairs, possibility to what is actual in some, and impossibility to what is not actual in any alternative domain. The idea of spelling out the meaning of modal terms with the synchronic alternatives hardly occurred at all in ancient thinkers. They did not draw any sharp distinction between conceptual and real modalities and they were inclined to think that all generic possibilities must prove their mettle through actualization. Why and when did ancient modal conceptions and the modes of thought based on them lose their dominance?


Part I. Modalities in Aristotle and Other Ancient Authors: 1. Statistical Interpretation of Modality 3. Possibility as a Potency 3. Other Ancient Modal Paradigms 4. Modal Logic and Modal Syllogistic. Part II. Philosophical and Theological Modalities in Early Medieval Thought: 1. Boethius's Modal Conceptions 2. New Theological Modalities - From Augustine to Anselm of Canterbury 3. Gilbert of Poitiers, Peter Abelard, and Thierry of Chartres. Part III. Varieties of Necessity and Possibility in the Thirteenth Century: 1. Natural and Divine Possibilities 2. Models for Modalities in Logical Treatises 3. Necessity and Possibility in Parisian Aristotelianism - Siger of Brabant and Thomas Aquinas. Part IV. Fourteenth Century Approaches to Modality: 1. Duns Scotus's Theory of Modality 2. Fourteenth Century Discussions of Obligational Rules 3. New Theories of Natural Necessity 4. Modal Logic and Modal Syllogistic. Part V Medieval Discussions of Applied Modal Logic: 1. Elements of Epistemic Logic 2. Logic of Norms and Logic of the Will 3. Roger Roseth and the Principles of Deontic Logic.

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