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Quasi-Aristotelians and Proto-Scotists

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In a seminal article, Simo Knuuttila and Anja Inkeri Lehtinen drew attention to a “curious doctrine” holding that contradictories can be true at the same temporal instant, and identified the major defenders of the doctrine as John Baconthorpe, Landolfo Caracciolo, and Hugh of Novocastro. Normann Kretzmann later asserted as fact the suggestion by Knuuttila and Inkeri Lehtinen that the doctrine comes from a misreading of a passage from Aristotle’s Physics. In fact, a study of the relevant texts reveals that Hugh of Novocastro first elaborated the doctrine by building on the Scotist doctrines of synchronic contingency and simultaneous causation. As these doctrines require at the same instant of time an order of priority and posteriority between possibility and actuality, cause and effect, so, Hugh says, there must be prior and posterior different states of affairs. Landolfo Caracciolo made this doctrine notorious outside the Franciscan convent by using it in his principia debates, directly engaging the circle of Cardinal Iacopo Stefaneschi (Thomas Wylton, John of Jandun, and Annibaldo di Ceccano). John Baconthorpe, the first to (mis)cite the Physics passage, did not have any noticeable effect on the development of the doctrine.

Affiliations: 1: Institut des Etudes Médiévales, Université de FribourgSwitzerland


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