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Avicenna’s Theory of Supposition

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Chapter Summary

Avicenna does not have an explicit theory of supposition as is found in the works of Latin medieval philosophers, yet he has two doctrines giving something equivalent: the threefold distinction of quiddity (triplex status naturae), corresponding to a division of simple, personal and material supposition, and his analyses of truth conditions for categorical propositions, where sentential context determines in part the reference of their terms. While he does address which individuals are being referred to by the universal terms used there, Avicenna concentrates more on the varied temporal durations of the predications being made. In Western terms, he has incorporated ampliation and restriction into the theory of supposition itself. Avicenna's theory differs from the Latin medieval theories. Supposition theory has its versions. Avicenna has a famous doctrine that quiddities or essences have three respects: in themselves, in individuals, and in the mind. Quiddities in individuals are individual material objects.

Keywords: Avicenna; Latin medieval theories; quiddities; theory of supposition; triplex status naturae



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