[6.0.0] Lorenzo Valla Ontology

The humanist Lorenzo Valla (c. 1406–1457) in Repastinatio dialectice et philosophie, disagreed with the structure of Aristotelian categories [1.3.2]:

  • The world consists of things, simply called res.
  • Valla’s list of categories contains substance, quality, and action
  • “At the back of Valla’s mind are the grammatical categories of noun, adjective, and verb; but in many places he points out that we cannot assume that, for instance, an adjective always refer to a quality or a verb to an action (Repastinatio, 1:134–156; 425–442; DD 1:240–80). These three categories are the only ones Valla admits; the other Aristotelian categories of accidents such as place, time, relation and quantity can all be reduced to quality or action. Here, too, grammar plays a leading role in Valla’s thought. From a grammatical point of view, qualities such as being a father, being in the classroom, or being six-feet tall all tell us something about how a particular man is qualified; and there is, consequently, no need to preserve the other Aristotelian categories”.
  • The Soul is a substance with special importance.

The following OntoUML diagram shows the main classes in this model:

CLASSDESCRIPTIONRELATIONS
Thing“His main concern in the first book is to simplify the Aristotelian-scholastic apparatus. For Valla, the world consists of things, simply called res. Things have qualities and do or undergo things (which he refers to as “things”).”
Substance“Hence, there are three basic categories: substance, quality, and action.
At the back of Valla’s mind are the grammatical categories of noun, adjective, and verb; but in many places he points out that we cannot assume that, for instance, an adjective always refer to a quality or a verb to an action (Repastinatio, 1:134–156; 425–442; DD 1:240–80). These three categories are the only ones Valla admits; the other Aristotelian categories of accidents such as place, time, relation and quantity can all be reduced to quality or action. Here, too, grammar plays a leading role in Valla’s thought. From a grammatical point of view, qualities such as being a father, being in the classroom, or being six-feet tall all tell us something about how a particular man is qualified; and there is, consequently, no need to preserve the other Aristotelian categories. […]

He thus thinks that it is ridiculous to imagine prime matter without any form or form without any matter, or to define a line as that which has no width and a point as an indivisible quantity that occupies no space. Valla’s idea is that notions such as divisibility and quantity are properly at home only in the world of ordinary things. For him, there is only the world of bodies [substances] with actual shapes and dimensions [quality]; lines and points are parts of these things, but only, as he seems to suggest, in a derivative sense, in other words, as places or spaces that are filled by the body or parts of that body. If we want to measure or sketch a (part of a) body, we can select two spots on it and measure the length between them by drawing points and lines on paper or in our mind, a process through which these points and lines become visible and divisible parts of our world (Repastinatio, 1:142–147; 2:427–431;  DD 254–64). But it would be wrong to abstract from this diagramming function and infer a world of points and lines with their own particular quantity. They are merely aids for measuring or outlining bodies. In modern parlance, Valla seems to be saying that ontological questions about these entities—do they exist? how do they exist?—amount to category mistakes, equivalent to asking the color of virtue.”
subkind of Thing
Quality“Hence, there are three basic categories: substance, quality, and action. […]”subkind of Thing
Action“Hence, there are three basic categories: substance, quality, and action. […]”subkind of Thing
Soul“The soul as an incorporeal substance is treated by Valla in a separate chapter (
Repastinatio, 1:59–73; 2:408–410; 418–419; 
DD 1:104–29). Rejecting the Aristotelian hylomorphic account, he returns to an Augustinian picture of the soul as a wholly spiritual and immaterial substance made in the image of God, and consisting of memory, intellect, and will. 
subkind of Substance
ParticularA particular thing

Related posts in theory of Universals: [1.2.2][1.3.1][1.3.2][2.5][2.7.3][4.3.1][4.3.2][4.4.1][4.5.2][4.9.8][4.11][4.15.6], [4.18.8]

Sources

First published: 8/9/2022

[5.1] John Italos on Universals

John Italos (c. 1025-1082) elaborated a three-tiered model of universals:

Universals are:

  • Universal In The Particulars;
  • Universal Before Many Particulars;
  • Universal After The Particulars

The following OntoUML diagram shows the main classes in this model:

Italos on universals

 

CLASSDESCRIPTIONRELATIONS
Universal“Italos talks about the same three types of universals in the same order, but a certain detail of his account proves to be important. Italos, too, regards the universals before the many particulars the causes (aitia/prºtourga ) and paradigms (paradeigm ata) of perceptible individuals, which hence cannot be predicated of them, are separable from them (chºrista ), and in God’s mind (para/en tº theº ), perfectly accommodating in this way the requirements of Christian Dogma (p p . 7.15-19 ; 29-32); but, then, he presents the distinction between the universals in the particulars and the universals after the particulars in a different manner.”
UniversalBeforeManyParticularsthe universals before the many particulars (pro tº n pollº n ), which are generally identified with the Platonic Ideas”subkind of Universal; characterizes UniversalBeforeManyParticulars
UniversalInTheParticularsthe universals in the particulars (en tois pollo is), which represent Aristotle’s notion of immanent forms”subkind of the UniversalBeforeMany particulars; characterizes UniversalInTheParticulars
UniversalAfterTheParticularsthe universals after the particulars (epi tois pollo is), which concepts or thoughts.”subkind of UniversalInTheParticulars
IntelligibleOn the other hand, the universal after the particulars are intelligible in a certain way, most probably because they are acquired by our mind by abstraction and they also are perceptible in a certain way, most probably because they are acquired by abstraction of the common characteristics of perceptible individuals.
Later-born; Be-predicated; Inseparable; Acquired-by-mindItalos claims (p . 8.1-14) that both the universals in the particulars and the universals after the particulars differ from the universals before the particulars, because they both are later-born than the perceptible individuals (husterogenª ), can be predicted of them (katªgoroumena), are inseparable from them (achºrista ), and are acquired by our mind by abstraction (k at ’ aph airesin ).
ParticularA particular thingcharacterizes Particular
PerceptiblePerceptible

Related posts in theory of Universals: [1.2.2][1.3.1][1.3.2][2.5][2.7.3][4.3.1][4.3.2][4.4.1][4.5.2][4.9.8][4.11][4.15.6], [4.18.8]

Sources

  • KATERINA IERODIAKONOU John Italos on Universals, 2010

First published: 1/9/2022