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William of Ockham on the Instant of Change

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Ockham’s approach to the problem of the instant of change as it is found in the Summa logicae I, chapter 5, and II, chapter 19, is usually described as “purely logical,” narrowing the treatment of “begins” and “ceases” to simplistic cases. The aim of this paper is to complement our knowledge of Ockham’s position on the problem of the instant of change by analysing the treatment of the problem he gives in his questions on the Physics 98-101. In these passages, Ockham adopts a “physical approach” in order to deal with problems related to the continuity of alteration and the production of the form of the mix from elementary qualities. To solve these problems, he is compelled to give up one of the most important claims at the basis of the logical approach that he adopted in the Summa logicae, namely that the distinction between permanent and successive entities is not relevant in the assignment of truth-conditions to propositions containing the aspectual verbs “beginning” and “ceasing.”

Affiliations: 1: Universität HamburgGermanyLaboratoire d’études sur les Monothéismes, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) ParisFrance


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