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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Members

The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact: admin.imems@durham.ac.uk

Publication details for Dr Sara L. Uckelman

Uckelman, Sara L. (2015). The Logic of Categorematic and Syncategorematic Infinity. Synthese 192(8): 2361-2377.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

The medieval distinction between categorematic and syncategorematic words is usually given as the distinction between words which have signification or meaning in isolation from other words (such as nouns, pronouns, verbs) and those which have signification only when combined with other words (such as conjunctions, quantifiers, and articles). Some words, however, are classified as both categorematic and syncategorematic. One such word is Latin infinita ‘infinite’. Because infinita can be either categorematic or syncategorematic, it is possible to form sophisms (logical puzzles or paradoxes) using infinita whose solutions turn on the distinction between categorematic and syncategorematic uses of infinita. As a result, medieval logicians were interested in identifying correct logical rules governing the categorematic and syncategorematic uses of the term. In this paper, we look at 13th–15th-century logical discussions of infinita used syncategorematically and categorematically. We also relate the distinction to other medieval distinctions with which it has often been conflated in modern times, and show how and where these conflations go wrong.