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Medieval Mereology


Andrew Arlig


Pages 338 - 345



The ultimate source of many key medieval mereological principles was Aristotle (see especially, Metaphysics V, 25-27, and Historia Animalium I, 1). The proximate sources for most medieval discussions of mereology in the Latin West were the logical handbooks of Boethius, in particular, his De divisione and his textbooks on the “topics” (loci). In the Thirteenth and Fourteenth centuries, Boethius’s framework was supplemented both by the newly recovered writings of Aristotle and by the Latin translations of Arabic philosophical works.




1Department of Philosophy, Brooklyn College, CUNY



1 [Anonymous]n.d., De generibus et speciebus, in P. King, Peter Abailard and the Problem of Universals, 2 volumes, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1982, vol. 2, 143-85 (includes an English translation); and in V. Cousin, ed. Ouvrages inedits d’Abélard, Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1836: 507-550

2 Arlig, A., (2006) (revised 2008), “Medieval Mereology”, in Zalta, E. N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (on-line), http://plato.staford.edu/entries/mereologymedieval/

3 Arlig, A., (2007), “Abelard’s Assault on Everyday Objects”, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 81: 209-27.

4 Boethius, (1998), De Divisione liber, ed. and trans. J. Magee, Leiden: E. J. Brill.

5 Brown, C., (2005), Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus: Solving Puzzles About Material Objects, London and New York: Continuum.

6 Buridan, J., (2001), Summulae de Dialectica, trans. G. Klima, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

7 Cross, R., (1995), “Duns Scotus’s Anti-Reductionistic Account of Material Substance”, Vivarium 33: 137-70.

8 Cross, R., (1999), “Ockham on Part and Whole”, Vivarium 37: 143-67.

9 Freddoso, A., (1978), “Abailard on Collective Realism”, Journal of Philosophy 75: 527-38.

10 Henry, D. P., (1984), That Most Subtle Question (Quaestio subtilissima): The Metaphysical Bearing of Medieval and Contemporary Linguistic Disciplines, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

11 Henry, D. P., (1991), Medieval Mereology, Amsterdam: B. R. Grüner.

12 King, P., (2004), “Metaphysics”, in Brower, J. E.; Guilfoy, K. (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Abelard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 65-125.

13 Lambert, of Auxerre, (1971), Logica (Summa Lamberti), ed. F. Alessio, Florence: La Nuova Italia Editrice.

14 Martin, C. J., (1998), “The Logic of Growth: Twelfth-Century Nominalists and the Development of Theories of the Incarnation”, Medieval Philosophy and Theology 7: 1-15.

15 Normore, C., (2006), “Ockham’s Metaphysics of Parts”, Journal of Philosophy 103: 737-54.

16 Peter, Abelard, (1969), Theologia Christiana, ed. E. M. Buytaert, Turnhout: Brepols.

17 Pasnau, R., (2002), Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature: A Philosophical Study of Summa theologiae Ia 75-89, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

18 Pluta, O., (2001), “Buridan’s Theory of Identity”, in Thijssen, J. M. M. H.; Zupko, J. (eds.), Metaphysics and natural philosophy of John Buridan, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 49-64.

19 Radulphus, Brito, (1978), Quaestiones super libro Topicorum, ed. N. J. Green-Pedersen, Cahiers de l’Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin 26, 1-92.

20 Tweedale, M., (1976), Abailard on Universals, Amsterdam: North-Holland.

21 Walter, Burley, (1966), De toto et parte, Shapiro, H.; Scott, F. (eds.), Archives d’Histoire doctrinale et Litteraire du Moyen Age 33: 299-303.

22 Zupko, J., (2003), John Buridan: Portrait of a Fourteenth-Century Arts Master, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

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