A history of philosophy by Frederick C Copleston

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By Frederick C Copleston

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That is to say, his tendency was to split up the world into distinct entities, each of which depends on God but between which there is no necessary connection: the order of the world is not logically prior to the divine choice, but it is logically posterior to the divine choice of individual contingent entities. And the same tendency is reflected in his treatment of relations. Once granted that there exists only individual distinct entities and that the only kind of distinction whkh is independent of the mind is a real distinction in the sense of a distinction between separate or separable entities, it follows that if a relation is 2.

Genus', 'species' and 'difference' are examples of terms of second intention. 1 (v) Ockham's answer to the problem of universals has been already indicated in effect: universals are terms (termini concepti) which signify individual things and which stand for them in propositions. Only individual things exist; and by the very fact that a thing exists it is individual. There are not and cannot be existent universals. To assert the extramental existence of universals is to commit the folly of asserting a contradiction; for if the universal exists, it must be individual.

This position is intimately associated, of course, with Ockham's concern for the divine omnipotence and liberty; and it may appear out of place to speak of it as in any way reflecting the 'empiricist' aspect of his philosophy, since it is the position of a theologian. 66 1 Quodlibet, 5. 5. , 6. 6. I I Sent .. 41, I, E. THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY 68 But what I meant was this. If the order of the world is entirely contingent on the divine choice, it is obviously impossible to deduce it a priori. If we want to know what it is, one must examine what it is in fact.

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