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Scotus on Supposition

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Chapter Summary

In his commentaries on Porphyry and Aristotle's Organon (Categories, Peri hermeneias, Sophistici elenchi, and Topics) and in his other works, John Duns Scotus shows his knowledge of both the modistic theory of language and the theory of supposition. This chapter sheds some light on the relationship between Scotus' philosophy of language and the theory of supposition. It takes into special account the almost unknown commentary on the Topics, which is preserved in a Vatican manuscript. The chapter reviews all the passages in Scotus' philosophical and theological works that are relevant for drawing any conclusion about Scotus' logico-semantic sources and about his actual use of supposition theory. Special attention is devoted to the relationship between terminist theory and the Modists' semantic views in Scotus' philosophy of language. Scotus distinguishes between signification and supposition, and defines signification as 'repraesentatio alicuius ex impositione' in his commentary on the Categorie.

Keywords: John Duns Scotus; philosophy of language; terminist theory; theory of supposition; Vatican manuscript



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