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Supposition Theory and Porretan Theology: Summa Zwettlensis and Dialogus Ratii et Everardi *

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Abstract The article investigates how the problem of (linguistic) reference is treated in the theology of two pupils of Gilbert of Poitiers by means of suppo* terms (supponere; suppositus,-a,-um; suppositio). Supposition is for Gilbert an action performed by a speaker, not a property of terms, and he considers language as a system for communication between human beings: key notions are the ‘sense in the author’s mind’ and the ‘interpreter’s understanding’. In contrast, the two Porretans tend to objectify language as a formal system of terms. Suppositio becomes in the Summa Zwettlensis the name itself as subject term in a proposition, and is divided into many kinds; formal rules are described which govern the influence of the predicate on the subject term’s denotation. In Everard of Ypres’ Dialogus Ratii et Everardi, supponere is a function (officium) of the name, and ‘human is a species of individuals’ is, as in some logical treatises and differently from Gilbert, a case of rhetorical transfer.

Affiliations: 1: University of Rome


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