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Semantic and Ontological Aspects of Wyclif ’s Theory of Supposition

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Chapter Summary

The relationship between thought and reality was a focal point of Wyclif's reflection. Characteristically, his theory of supposition provides an account not only of the truth-values of a sentence, but also of its meaning. This chapter considers the most important aspects of Wyclif's theory of supposition, trying to set it in relation to the medieval tradition of treatises on signification and supposition and particularly to its main source, the theory expounded by Walter Burley in his De puritate artis logicae tractatus longior, which contains an original and intelligent defence of the older view of signification and suppositio simplex against Ockham's attacks. The chapter presents a short outline of Wyclif's definition and divisions of supposition. Some applications of the supposition-theory to the discussion of some fallacies and sophisms are analyzed. The chapter draws some conclusions about the general significance of Wyclif's doctrine in the light of his philosophical programme.

Keywords: medieval tradition; philosophical programme; Walter Burley; Wyclif's theory of supposition



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