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Enckevort, S.R. van

Department of the History of Philosophy

Adam Wodeham and the object of judgement on the ontology of the sic esse

What is the object of judgements such as ‘Socrates is white’ or ‘Man is an animal’? This is a question that many late medieval scholars deal with. There are, generally speaking, two dominant positions in the late medieval debate about the object of judgement. Whereas William Ockham (ca. 1287-1347) , among others, argues that the object of a judgement is a mental sentence, Walter Chatton (ca. 1290-1343) maintains that the object is (an aggregate of) extra-mental individual entities. Adam Wodeham (ca. 1295-1358), however, denies both. Although Wodeham does an excellent job at refuting the two alternatives, his own theory on the object of judgement remains largely implicit. There are, however, several passages in which his own ideas surface. In these passages he defines the object of judgement, among other things, as a ‘being such-and-such’ (sic esse). In this paper I ask what this sic esse is and whether it genuinely exists, i.e. whether it has an ontological status. If so, to what entities does Wodeham commit himself a nd what does this mean for Wodeham’s endorsement of the traditional Aristotelian substance-accident ontology?

In asking these questions, I engage with several current interpretations, which all have different ontological import. First, it is argued that the sic esse is no peculiar entity and thus Wodeham can unproblematically accept the Aristotelian ontology. Since this interpretation has no ontological import at all I call it a ‘minimum interpretation’. Second, it is argued that the sic esse is a sui generis type of entity, which exists over and above substances and accidents. Consequently, Wodeham adds to the Aristotelian substance-accident ontology. Because this interpretation ascribes to Wodeham’s sic esse a genuine ontological status I call it the ‘maximum interpretation’. Third, there is a via media between the minimum and maximum interpretation available, which says the sic esse exists somehow, albeit in a weaker sense than substances and accidents. In this paper I refute both the maximum interpretation and the via media and argue for a minimum approach, which remains largely undeveloped within secondary literature. In the end, I argue that the sic esse can best be understood as a kind of psychological feature rather than some peculiar entity.

Last modified:02 November 2017 1.55 p.m.