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Jenny Pelletier: Ockham on Social Aggregates

Colloquium lecture by Jenny Pelletier (KU Leuven, Research Foundation Flanders), organized by the Department of the History of Philosophy

Ockham discusses the ontology of aggregates over the course of his writings, from his early commentaries on Aristotle's Physics to his later political works on the relationship between spiritual and temporal power. He addresses three types of aggregates: sciences, artifacts, and what I call “social aggregates” like kingdoms, armies, the Church, and crowds.

Much of his discussion falls in line with a traditional Aristotelian conception of aggregates, especially their loose collective form of unity and the identification of a social or political aggregate like the city with an order obtaining between a multitude of human beings. Ockham's account is of intrinsic interest and consistent with his own broader and parsimonious metaphysical commitments. While the foundational ontology of social aggregates is laid down in his earlier writings, couched within more general treatments of aggregates, we have to turn to the later political writings to understand just how human beings can constitute a social aggregate such as a kingdom and the Church.

In this paper, my principal aim is to examine his account of how a social aggregate is unified, identified, and structured, often but not always by the decision of each and every human being of a given plurality of human beings to be ordered with respect to one another.

When & where?

Wednesday 16 January 2019, 15.15 - 17.00
Faculty of Philosophy, room Omega

Last modified:06 June 2019 12.45 p.m.