Journal of the History of Philosophy: Vol. 53, No. 1, January 2015

The Review of Metaphysics, March 2015 | Go to article overview

Journal of the History of Philosophy: Vol. 53, No. 1, January 2015


A Small Discovery: Avicenna's Theory of Minima Naturalia, JON MCGINNIS

There has been a long-held misconception among historians of philosophy and science that apart from brief comments in Aristotle and Averroes, the theory of minima naturalia had to await Latin Schoolmen for its full articulation. Recently scholars have shown that far from sporadic comments on minima naturalia, Averroes in fact had a fully developed and well-integrated theory of them. This paper complements these scholars' important work by considering Avicenna's place in the history and development of the doctrine of the minima naturalia. There is no study to date that mentions Avicenna in connection with this doctrine, despite the fact that he dedicated an entire chapter to it in his Physics. Yet Avicenna's account is at least as developed as, and even better integrated than, Averroes's presentation. The present study situates Avicenna's position within the more general history of atomism, and introduces Avicenna's "new argument" for natural minima. The argument is important not only for its novelty but also because it shows how Avicenna integrated Aristotle's account of minima naturalia into a theory of mixture as well.

Authorization and Political Authority in Hohhes, MICHAEL J. GREEN

In Hobbes's social contract, the subjects authorize the sovereign's actions. This is generally taken to mean that they extend their rights to the sovereign. However, authorization can also be used to establish mere ownership of the sovereign's actions, without extending rights. This novel interpretation of authorization is used to explain why the social contract is internally consistent. It is also used to explain why authorization was important for Hobbes. One reason is that it gave sovereigns immunity from claims made by their subjects. Another reason is that it enabled sovereigns to escape the constraints put on them by the maxim that the king can do no wrong.

Leibniz on Perceptual Distinctness, Activity, and Sensation, LARRY M. JORGENSEN

Leibniz explains both activity and sensation in terms of the relative distinctness of perception. This paper argues that the systematic connection between activity and sensation is illuminated by Leibniz's use of distinctness in analyzing each. Leibnizian sensation involves two levels of activity: on one level, the relative forcefulness of an expression enables certain expressions to stand out against the perceptual field, but in addition to this there is an activity of the mind that enables sensory experience. This connection of mental activity and perceptual distinctness enables us better to appreciate the fundamental role perceptual distinctness plays in Leibniz's theory of sensation.

Two Kinds of Unity in the Critique of Pure Reason, COLIN MCLEAR

This paper argues that Kant's distinction between the cognitive roles of sensibility and understanding raises a question concerning the conditions necessary for objective representation. It distinguishes two opposing interpretive positions, namely Intellectualism and Sensibilism. …

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