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The Problem of Universals in the XIIIth Century

International Conference

The Problem of Universals in the XIIIth Century
5th-7th September 2011

Scuola Normale Superiore, Sala Azzurra


The importance of Medieval philosophy for our understanding of the problem of universals can hardly be overestimated.

The very categories by which we are still used to framing the problem and classifying the different answers to it – realism, nominalism, conceptualism and so on – come down to us directly from the Medieval debate and, not surprisingly, Medieval philosophers are often invoked by contemporary metaphysicians in support of their metaphysical views.

The conference will focus in particular on 13th-century discussions of the problem of universals by assembling some of the most oustanding experts in Late Medieval philosophy.

Two main aspects of the debate will be taken into consideration. On the one hand, importance will be accorded to the Medieval treatment of the notions that still shape the contemporary ontological controversies: instantiation, sharability, individuality, abstraction, etc. On the other, the contributions will try to reconstruct the specific historical and theoretical context in which  13th-century debates originated and unfolded.


Monday 5th

h 9.30 Introduction

h 9.45 Simo Knuuttila (Helsinki)
Thirteenth-century Discussions of the Psychology of Universals

h. 11.00 Coffee Break

h. 11.30 Wouter Goris (Amsterdam)
Genesis and Order. Thomas Aquinas and the Medieval Debate on the First Known

h. 12.45 Lunch Break

h. 15.00 Marilyn McCord-Adams (Chapel Hill)
Authorized Innovations: Universals, Sharable Individuals, and Supposits

h. 16.45 Coffee Break

h. 17.15 David Piché (Montréal)
Le problème des universaux dans le Commentaire de Jean la Page à l’Isagoge de Porphyre


Tuesday 6th

h. 9.30 Martin Pickavé (Toronto),
Arguments for Realism in the Second Half of the XIIIth Century

h. 10.45 Coffee Break

h. 11.15 Gabriele Galluzzo (Scuola Normale Superiore)
Aquinas on the Metaphysics of Abstraction

h. 12.30 Lunch Break

h. 15.00 Amos Bertolacci (Scuola Normale Superiore)
The Reception of Avicenna’s Doctrine of Essence in the First Half of the 13th Century

h. 16.15 Coffee Break

h. 16.45 Richard Cross (Notre Dame)
Scotus on Universals, Identity, and Sameness


Wednesday 7th

h. 9.00 Silvia Donati (Albertus Magnus Institut, Bonn),
The Unity of the Genus in the Commentaries on the Physics

h. 10.15 Marta Borgo (Commissio Leonina, Paris)
The Universals and the Trinity: Notes on Some 13th-Century Commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Sentences

h. 11.30 Coffee Break

h. 12.00 Bernd Goehring (Notre Dame), 
Henry of Ghent on Cognizing Universals


Scientific committee:
Francesco Del Punta (SNS), Gabriele Galluzzo (SNS)

Gabriele Galluzzo (SNS)

For further information please contact:
Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa
Piazza dei Cavalieri, 7

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