John Buridan

John Buridan

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This is a brief, accessible introduction to the thought of the philosopher John Buridan (ca. 1295-1361). Little is known about Buridan's life, most of which was spent studying and then teaching at the University of Paris. Buridan's works are mostly by-products of his teaching. They consist mainly of commentaries on Aristotle, covering the whole extent of Aristotelian philosophy, ranging from logic to metaphysics, to natural science, to ethics and politics. Aside from
these running commentaries on Aristotle's texts, Buridan wrote influential question-commentaries. These were a typical genre of the medieval scholastic output, in which the authors systematically and thoroughly discussed the most problematic issues raised by the text they were lecturing on. The
question-format allowed Buridan to work out in detail his characteristically nominalist take on practically all aspects of Aristotelian philosophy, using the conceptual tools he developed in his works on logic. Buridan's influence in the late Middle Ages can hardly be overestimated. His ideas quickly spread not only through his own works, but to an even larger extent through the work of his students and younger colleagues, such as Nicholas Oresme, Marisilius of Inghen, and Albert of Saxony, who
in turn became very influential themselves, and turned Buridan's ideas into standard textbook material in the curricula of many late medieval European universities. With the waning of scholasticism Buridan's fame quickly faded. Gyula Klima argues, however, that many of Buridan's academic concerns
are strikingly similar to those of modern philosophy and his work sometimes quite directly addresses modern philosophical questions.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 138 x 210 x 24mm | 414g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195176235
  • 9780195176230
  • 1,551,623

Table of contents

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Review quote

It is difficult at the best of times to render texts in the history of philosophy so that they speak to present-day philosophical concerns; even more so when one is working with materials produced in the Middle Ages. But this book achieves it. Klima is as comfortable in the world of contemporary philosophical logic and metaphysics as he is among fourteenth-century practitioners of the logica moderna, with the result that he is able to present Buridanian nominalism to
modern readers in a way that loses very little in translation. The Buridan who emerges in these pages one could easily imagine having as a discussion-partner - and a formidable one at that. * Jack Zupko, author of John Buridan: Portrait of a Fourteenth-Century Arts Master * An admirable book that takes on an immensely difficult subject matter. What is more, it proceeds with the kind of precision and clarity that allows any serious reader the opportunity to learn from it and reach a high level of understanding. * The Heythrop Journal * This is a marvelous book, a 'must read' for anyone interested in understanding the philosophical debates of the later Middle Ages and a useful book for contemporary philosophers who will find in it a sophisticated articulation of a philosophical position well able to provide perspective on a number of contemporary debates. It is exceptionally well-written, clear, and insightful. * Journal of the History of Philosophy *
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About Gyula Klima

Gyula Klima is a Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University.
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