What Should I Read? Recommendations for getting started in medieval logic

Two weeks ago I was at a workshop and someone asked me what books they should read if they wanted to get started in medieval logic — not secondary sources, but which primary texts. I told him I’d write up a blogpost for him on that very topic. Jon, this post is for you. 🙂

The 13th Century

I’m going to start off with recommending my favorite 13th-century quartet:

  • William of Sherwood, Introduction to Logic
  • Roger Bacon, The Art and Science of Logic
  • Peter of Spain, Summulae Logicales
  • Lambert of Auxerre, Summa Lamberti

Why these four? First, because they are our first witnesses to the university textbook tradition in logic, and as such provide equal parts Aristotle and novel. Second, because all four are now available in English translation — two of them (Auxerre and Spain) are in bilingual editions, and one of them (Sherwood) has both Latin and English edition easily available. These are a great way for a non-expert to dive into the details of medieval developments in logic in a linguistically-accessible way. Something I recommend doing with these four is picking a single topic, and then seeing what each of the four have to say about the same topic — the answers are often quite divergent!

The Early 14th Century

  • Walter Burley:
    • De Puritate Artis Logicae, Tractatius brevior
    • De Puritate Artis Logicae, Tractatius longior
    • De consequentiis
    • De obligationibus
  • Richard Kilvington:
    • The Sophismata of Richard Kilvington (available in both Latin edition and English translation)
  • Thomas Bradwardine:
    • Insolubilia (available in bilingual edition)
  • William of Ockham:
    • Summa Logicae (portions available in translation)
  • John Buridan:
    • Summulae de dialecticae (available in English translation)

These give you an idea of the breadth of the developments in the early part of the fourteenth century — from the great compendia to the treatises on specialised topics.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor even a very coherent, but nonexhaustive one. It is just a list of the books that I recommend people get started with if they want to become familiar with the standard topics and techniques in late medieval logical developments.

Fellow medieval logicians, which is your favorite primary source (in easily accessible format) that you like to recommend to people? Please share in the comments!

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1 Response to What Should I Read? Recommendations for getting started in medieval logic

  1. Pingback: Blinkered approaches and narrow-minded European-centrism: an apology | Medieval Logic & Semantics

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