By Frederick C Copleston
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Extra resources for A history of philosophy
CHAPTER IV OCKHAM (2) Ockham and the metaphysic of essences-Peter of Spain and the terminist logic-Ockham's logic and theory of universals-Real and rational science-Necessary truths and demonstration. I. AT the end of the last chapter I mentioned Ockham's preoccupation as a theologian with the Christian doctrines of the divine omnipotence and liberty. He thought that these doctrines could not be safeguarded without eliminating the metaphysic of essences which had been introduced into Christian theology and philosophy from Greek sources.
On the contrary, Peter was a conservative in philosophy and was very far from showing any tendency to anticipate Ockham's 'nominalism'. To find the antecedents of the terminist logic in the thirteenth century is not the same thing as attempting to push back the whole Ockhamist philosophy into that century: such an attempt would be futile. The theory of supposition was, however, only one of the features of fourteenth-century logic. I have given it special mention here because of the use made of it by Ockham in his discussion of the problem of universals.
We have seen that for Ockham intuitive knowledge of a thing is caused by that thing and not by any other thing. In other words, intuition, as immediate apprehension of the individual existent, carries its own guarantee. But, as is well known, he maintained that God could cause in us the intuition of a thing which was not really there. '4 Hence among the censured propositions of Ockham's we find one to the effect that 'intuitive knowledge in itself and necessarily is not more concerned with an existent than with a non-existent thing, nor does it regard existence more than non-existence'.