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Proofs of Propositions in 14th-Century Logic



  Time: 23 May, 2017 - 24 May, 2017
  Location: Hebdomadar's Room, St Salvator's Quad, St Andrews
Paul Spade famously complained in 2000 that four key components of late medieval logic were mysterious to modern scholars. Since then, much has been done to clarify two of them (obligations and supposition), but the other two (exposition and proofs of propositions) remain just as mysterious. The aim of this workshop is to reach a clearer understanding of the genre of 'proofs of propositions' (probationes propositionum) that came to characterize British logic in the second half of the 14th century. The workshop will also consider the earlier theories of 'exposition' that were subsumed into this new genre.


Registration is free of charge, and includes tea and coffee between the talks but not meals. To register, please email Mark Thakkar ( and Stephen Read.

Tuesday 23 May

10:00 Graziana Ciola (Pisa) 'Expositiones and Consequentiae in Marsilius of Inghen'
11:00 Tea/Coffee
11:30 Mark Thakkar (St Andrews) 'Wyclifs Three Treatises on Proofs of Propositions'
12:30 Lunch
14:00 Ota Pavlcek (Czech Academy of Sciences) 'Alyngton, Tarteys and Wyclif: Two Anonymous Commentaries on Probationes Propositionum in MS Prague NK VIII F 16'
15:00 Tea/Coffee
15:30 Harald Berger (Graz) 'Helmoldus Zoltwedel and his Quaestiones Byligam, Prague 1396'
16:30 Tea/Coffee
17:00 Martin Dekarli (Vienna) 'tepn of Paleczs Notabilia Super Billingham: Another Witness to the Proofs of Propositions Tradition in Late Medieval Bohemia'
18:00 Finish
19:30 Dinner

Wednesday 24 May

10:00 Egbert Bos (Leiden) 'Henry of Coesfeld (?) as a Commentator on Billinghams On the Tests of Terms, and the Expository Syllogism'
11:00 Tea/Coffee
11:30 Joke Spruyt (Maastricht) 'Henry of Coesfeld (?) on Gradation and Change'
12:30 Lunch
14:00 Heresy Tour of St Andrews (Bess Rhodes)
15:30 Riccardo Strobino (Tufts) 'Probatio and Expositio in Peter of Mantuas Logic'
16:30 Tea/Coffee
17:00 Jenny Ashworth (Waterloo) 'The Reception of Probationes in the Late 14th, 15th and Early 16th Centuries'
18:00 Finish
19:30 Dinner

Financial Support

We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the University of St Andrews, the Leverhulme Trust , the Scots Philosophical Association and the British Logic Colloquium.

Expositiones and Consequentiae in Marsilius of Inghen (Graziana Ciola)

I will focus on the second Book of Marsilius of Inghen's Consequentiae (ca. 13691370), which deals with "consequences holding from exponentes to exposita" and offers an overview of "how all sentences in logic should be exposed" (II.1).
I will begin by contextualising Marsilius' Consequentiae. Although his treatise is often listed along with Buridan's and Albert of Saxony's among those emblematic of the so-called Parisian or Continental tradition on consequentiae, it shows several relevant features typical of the contemporary English discussions on the subject. Furthermore, Marsilius' text often happens to be transmitted in collections of mostly British logical works.
One interesting aspect of Marsilius' Consequentiae is the insertion of a second book entirely devoted to expositions. We find a few chapters devoted to expositions within the sections on consequences in earlier systematic summae of logic (e.g. Ockham's, Burley's) and also in some later English authors (e.g. Billingham). However, these analyses of expositiones are neither as systematic nor as articulated as they are in Marsilius' treatise. Furthermore, within the Parisian tradition, such examinations are either absent (e.g. Buridan's Tractatus consequentiarum) or barely sketched (e.g. Albert of Saxony's Perutilis logica IV). I am therefore going to examine the second book of Marsilius' Consequentiae, by outlining its structure, some general features of the theory of expositiones as presented there, and how it connects to Marsilius' theory of consequentiae tout court.

Wyclifs Three Treatises on Proofs of Propositions (Mark Thakkar)

Wyclifs three treatises on proofs of propositions have been obscured for over a century by the deeply confused editio princeps, which buried them under the fictitious title Logice continuacio and gave an inconsistent account of their structure. These problems continue to plague the scholarly literature, so I will begin by clearing them up. The main point of my talk, though, will be to raise the general question of what a probatio actually is. Contrary to the modern tendency to see it as an analysis or as a test, I will argue that a probatio is in fact (surprise!) a proof.

Alyngton, Tarteys and Wyclif: Two Anonymous Commentaries on Probationes Propositionum in MS Prague NK VIII F 16 (Ota Pavlcek)

The unpublished treatise conserved in MS Prague Nrodn knihovna VIII F 16, named by Frantiek mahel Collecta de probatione propositionum, is part of the evidence for the reception of English logic in medieval Bohemia. The text is interesting at least from three points of view. First, it consists of several sub-treatises based largely on Wyclifs and Tarteyss logical tractates, which led to an understanding of the Collecta as an expository commentary to these treatises. At the same time, the Collecta were also a subject to a commentary. Second, the text is interesting for understanding the working method of the medieval author, i.e. what he borrowed from Wyclif and Tarteys, what he decided to omit and what he decided to elaborate. Finally, there is a possibility that the author of the Collecta was Jerome of Prague, the famous propagator of Wyclifs philosophy. In my paper, I will first summarise mahels findings on the structure of the Collecta. Next, based on my transcription of the text, I will show how the author works with Wyclifs treatises, how he expands or limits Wyclifs theories and what his other sources are. In particular, I will focus on the Collectas chapters related to the problematics of chapters 13 of the first treatise of Wyclifs so-called Logicae continuatio in which Wyclif laid the foundations of his view on probationes propositionum. One of the reasons for this selection is that the commentary (which I will analyse) to the Collecta is related to the first of these chapters, i.e. the one relating to the primary and secondary significations of propositions. Finally, I will show the textual and doctrinal parallels between the Collecta and Jerome of Pragues opus, and will try to discern if there are convincing proofs for ascribing the Collecta to Jerome.

Helmoldus Zoltwedel and his Quaestiones Byligam, Prague 1396 (Harald Berger)

[abstract TBC]

tepn of Paleczs Notabilia Super Billingham: Another Witness to the Proofs of Propositions Tradition in Late Medieval Bohemia (Martin Dekarli)

[abstract TBC]

Henry of Coesfeld (?) as a Commentator on Billinghams On the Tests of Terms, and the Expository Syllogism (Egbert Bos)

In this paper I would like to announce an edition prepared by Joke Spruyt and myself of a commentary on Richard Billinghams handbook De probationibus terminorum (On the tests of terms). The commentary is ascribed to a certain Henry of Coesfeld, probably living in the second half of the fourteenth century in the eastern part of Holland. Which are the manuscripts, how are they related? To give an impression of the nature of this commentary I have selected Henrys comments on Richards remarks on the expository syllogism, both affirmative and negative.
Following Richards text, Henry starts with a discussion of the affirmative expository syllogism. This kind of syllogism is one of the main points of interest in both Billinghams and Henrys work. According to them it is the basis of all syllogistic reasoning. It is in the context of this kind of syllogism that 1) the part played by singular terms is investigated, and, 2) in logical connection on occasion of the Trinitarian syllogism Iste Deus est pater, et iste Deus est filius, ergo filius est pater, the question is considered in how far syllogistic reasoning is universally formal. Henry elaborates and clarifies Richards view on both points and solves the problem of the Trinitarian syllogism by introducing the formula omne quod est, thus reducing it to the dici de omni et nullo principle. Henry says: Ergo non sequitur Iste Deus est pater, iste Deus est filius, ergo filius est pater, quia non sequitur Iste Deus est pater, ergo omne quod est iste Deus est pater, quia antecedens est verum et consequens falsum. So, in his opinion, singular theological propositions should in this case be universalized.
As to the negative expository syllogism, Henry corrects Billinghams account on the topic of its foundation. He notes that to test the truth of a negative expository syllogism, three more conditions are required than the ones listed by Billingham with regard to the affirmative one.

Henry of Coesfeld (?) on Gradation and Change (Joke Spruyt)

The commentary on Richard Billinghams De probationibus terminorum presumably written by Henry of Coesfeld pays ample attention to propositions with expressions indicating comparison and change. While Billinghams explanations of some of those expressions are quite brief and not always clear, Coesfeld makes distinctions and goes more deeply into the complications that arise when several expressions come together in one sentence.
In that regard, Coesfelds comments on expressions featuring the superlatives primum and ultimum are interesting to look at. He starts off with Billinghams exposition of the sentence hoc erit primum istorum. Billingham pronounces that this expression should be analysed as follows: hoc erit pridem istorum, vel pridem inter istos, et nullus istorum erit prior isto, sed aliqui istorum erunt posteriores eo, igitur hoc erit primum istorum. Coesfeld adds that the master also says that this exposition applies whether or not something is added to primum, so that we should analyse a sentence like Sortes erit primus istorum qui venient in the same way.
But Henry is not altogether satisfied with Billinghams analysis, and comes up with a list of dubia to illustrate his point that matters are somewhat more complex than the auctor makes them out to be. What to say of propositions featuring the combinations primum instans and ultimum instans, for example? Coesfeld takes this opportunity to embark on a more elaborate conceptual analysis of physical phenomena.

Probatio and Expositio in Peter of Mantuas Logic (Riccardo Strobino)

Peter of Mantuas (d. 1399) Logica has attracted attention over the past few years for its original way of combining elements and views borrowed from the two main logical traditions of the 14th century, the English and the Continental, which reflects a high sophisticated level of reception and interpretation of materials in the logica moderna roughly a generation before Paul of Venice, whom orthodox scholarship used to regard until recently as the first and main representative of this Italian tradition of assimilation and appropriation.
An unexplored area of Peter of Mantuas vast and advanced logic textbook includes a number of treatises on probatio, in particular one on the proof of the universal proposition, one on the proof of the propositio exclusiva and one on proof of the propositio exceptiva. The purpose of this paper is to offer a first account of the text and doctrine of these treatises and their role in Peters logic alongside other chapters on the expositio of canonical types of propositions such as the reduplicative and of standard syncategorematic terms.

The Reception of Probationes in the Late 14th, 15th and Early 16th Centuries (Jenny Ashworth)

Treatises on proofs of terms seem to have developed from texts on syncategoremata, abstractiones, and sophismata, and they seem to have been replaced by texts on exponibilia, which themselves disappeared during the sixteenth century. In this paper I will look at some English texts on proofs of terms, especially those that were printed in England, and I shall consider their relationship with some Italian logicians. I shall focus on resoluble propositions and the distinction beween immediate and mediate terms, since the treatment of these notions seems to have been peculiar to texts on the proofs of terms.

Leverhulme Trust
Scots Philosophical Association