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Publication details for Dr Sara L. UckelmanUckelman, Sara L. (2016). Book Review: Articulating Medieval Logic by Terence Parsons. Philosophical Quarterly 66(263): 432-435.
- Publication type: Book review
- ISSN/ISBN: 0031-8094, 1467-9213
- DOI: 10.1093/pq/pqv061
- Further publication details on publisher web site
- Durham Research Online (DRO) - may include full text
Author(s) from Durham
Medieval logic can often ‘seem to consist of a variety of unsystematic and disparate remarks, and it is not at all obvious whether or how they fit together’ (p. 1). In this ambitious book, Terence Parsons seeks to demonstrate how ‘medieval logic can […] be seen as a group of theories and practices clustered around a core theory which is a paradigm of logic; this theory consists of a number of widely known principles, all of which can be derived from a very simple core of rules and axioms’ (p. 1). Starting from the beginning—that is, Aristotle—Parsons takes the reader from the semantics of the simplest categorical (subject-predicate) statements through a semi-formal notation called ‘Linguish’ (a mix of Latin and English, plus some symbols), to the modes of personal supposition, and eventually to complex statements involving tenses, relatives, anaphora, and other phenomena; along the way, comparisons with contemporary logic and lingusitic theory are regularly made.
Because the Organon provided the foundation for developments in the Middle Ages, Parsons begins with Aristotelian logic in ch. 1, presenting not so much Aristotle's views per se but rather what the theory of categorical sentences and syllogisms looked like to medieval logicians (p. 6). This approach focuses on the structure of categorical sentences and arguments, and mostly glosses over questions about what makes these sentences true (though see pp. 9 and 10). In ch. 2, the basic building blocks are extended to categorical sentences which have quantified predicates, predicates which are singular terms, and negative terms, all of which require special analyses, and were explicitly dealt with by medieval authors.
The next two chapters are primarily modern in orientation, introducing a new notation, called ‘Linguish’ for representing explicitly the sentence types (‘logical forms’) and proof rules discussed in chs 1 …