Monday 21 April 2008

Rimini as Torturer of Infants (II)

Oreste Delucca's biographical contribution to Gregorio da Rimini filosofo (2003) makes the origins of the nickname Tortor Infantium seem even murkier:

‘Quanto al casato di Gregorio, taluno lo dice appartenere alla famiglia Tortorini, o Tortorucci, o Tortorici; ma non si hanno prove documentarie al riguardo, per cui l'affermazione viene accolta con prudenza, ignorata o addirittura rigettata da molti storici.’ (p. 46)

‘As for Gregory's surname, some say he belongs to the Tortorini, Tortorucci, or Tortorici family; but there is no documentary evidence in this regard, because of which the statement is greeted with caution, ignored, or even rejected by many historians.’

Delucca cites Battaglini (1794), L. Tonini (1880), C. Tonini (1884), and Perini (1929) as being of the former persuasion; earlier we saw Trapp (1980) using yet another variant, 'Tortoricci'.

I'd like to follow up Delucca's references, but the Bodleian – which doesn't even stretch to Gregorio da Rimini filosofo – only has the Perini. The others are all at the Warburg (ENH 360, HNB 174, 175).

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Leff on Future Contingents

Gordon Leff's Gregory of Rimini: Tradition and Innovation in Fourteenth Century Thought (1961) might be expected to shed light on Rimini's nickname Tortor Infantium, but I'm afraid it doesn't.

I was pleased to read of Auriol's position as ‘somewhat anachronistically described by Michalski as 'three-value logic'’; Leff's wariness is echoed by Schabel in Theology at Paris, p. 3. But the following raised an eyebrow:

‘These two postulates [omniscience and bivalence] are the foundation of Gregory's view of the future; and they constitute an uncompromising repudiation of the two leading ideas among many of Gregory's confrères: that God cannot know future contingents necessarily, and that, as the future is itself undetermined, propositions about it are neutral.’ (p. 115)

Auriol is the only example Leff gives of the "many of Gregory's confrères" who think that propositions about future contingents are neither true nor false. Whether or not a Franciscan and an Augustinian can be said to be confrères, who are the others?

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Henninger on Fiorentino on Rimini

Francesco Fiorentino's book Gregorio da Rimini: Contingenza, futuro e scienza nel pensiero tardo-medievale (2004) is riddled with errors.  For example, here is n. 16 on p. 9 of the introduction:

‘C. Normore, Peter Aureoli and his contemporaries on future contingents and the excluded middle, "Synthèse", 96 (1993), pp. 83-92.  Nel 1999 C. Normore è ritornato sul tema secondo una prospettiva più ampia; cf. C. Normore, Contingenti futuri, in La logica nel Medioevo, The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, a cura di N. Kretzmann, A. Kenny, J. Pinborg, Milano 1999.’

An attentive reader working on future contingents will immediately spot three mistakes in this one footnote.  The first two are comparatively insignificant: the title of Normore's article begins with ‘Petrus’ and does not contain the definite article.  The third is more worrying: the CHLMP was published in 1982, so Normore's 1993 article appeared after his CHLMP chapter, but Fiorentino (presumably using a 1999 translation) tells us that in the latter Normore ‘returned to the theme from a wider perspective’.  The worrying thing is that the CHLMP has been the standard handbook of mediaeval philosophy since its appearance over 25 years ago.

Both author and publisher deserve a rap on the knuckles, so I was pleased to discover that Mark Henninger had already reviewed the book in Gregorianum.  Pleased, that is, until I read the review.

Henninger is grateful for ‘certain logical principles he wisely provides in the introduction [actually Chapter 1]: the principle of bivalence, i.e., in whatever statement, either its affirmation or its negation is true; the law of contradictories, i.e., for every affirmative statement there exists its contradictory, and vice versa’.  Unfortunately, both of these are more or less obvious howlers on Fiorentino's part.

If the meaning of ‘bivalence’ in a logical context is not clear enough from the etymology, even a standard dictionary will define it as the existence of only two truth-values, the corresponding principle being that every statement is either true or false.  Worse, Fiorentino goes on (p. 24 n. 23) to cite Łukasiewicz's insistence on distinguishing between the principle of bivalence and the law of excluded middle.  A reader following this up will be astonished, given Fiorentino's formulation, to read on p. 82 of Łukasiewicz, Aristotle's Syllogistic: ‘…the so-called principle of bivalence, which states that every proposition is either true or false, i.e. that it has one and only one of two possible truth-values: truth and falsity.  This principle must not be mixed up with the law of the excluded middle, according to which of two contradictory propositions one must be true.’

As for the law of contradictories, Fiorentino refers only to Aristotle, De int. 9, 18a28-31.  The reader following this up will find a discussion of the truth or falsity of an affirmation and its corresponding negation – not the mere assertion that there is a corresponding negation.  And I think the reader checking in Rimini and Auriol will find that the law of contradictories is that if one part of a contradictory pair is false then the other part is true (Rimini), or vice versa (Auriol).

Henninger's verdict is that ‘Fiorentino provides a well-researched, thorough and balanced investigation of the teaching of Gregory of Rimini … In the introduction, Fiorentino sets the context with a helpful historiography of the problem of future contingents and divine foreknowledge as treated mostly by researchers in the last century, as well as a survey of the literature on Gregory of Rimini. … This is a fine work by a fine scholar.’

Sadly, then, Fiorentino's book still awaits a properly critical review.

Friday 11 April 2008

Rimini as Torturer of Infants

Historians of philosophy like to point out that Gregory of Rimini's views on baptism and salvation earned him the nickname Tortor Infantium, but they are remarkably coy about supporting this with references. The nickname was supposedly derived from Rimini's family name, Tortoricci (Trapp, "Notes on the Tübingen Edition of Gregory of Rimini II", 1980). But when did it first appear in print?

A preliminary search puts an upper bound on the date: 1709, when Leibniz wrote in his Essais de Théodicée (§92): ‘Grégoire de Rimini, général des Augustins, avec peu d'autres, a suivi saint Augustin contre l'opinion reçue des écoles de son temps, et pour cela était appelé le bourreau des enfants, tortor infantum.’

But surely it can't be hard to find something that antedates Leibniz.

Frustra fit per plura (III)

Here's another of Auriol's statements of ontological parsimony:

multitudo ponenda non est nisi ratio evidens necessaria illud probet aliter per pauciora salvari non posse.  Deus enim et natura nihil faciunt frustra’ (S II.14.1.ii)

(Mark Henninger, Relations: Medieval Theories (1989), p. 156 n. 25.)