Individuals as Universals: Audacious Views in Early Twelfth-Century Realism

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Tarlazzi, Caterina 

This article investigates a twelfth-century realist view on universals, the individuum-theory. The individuum-theory is criticised by Peter Abelard and Joscelin of Soissons, and endorsed by ‘Quoniam de generali’ as well as by the unpublished Isagoge commentary found in MS Paris, BnF, lat. 3237, which is taken into account for the first time. The individuum-theory blurs traditional distinctions between nominalism and realism by claiming that the universal is the individual thing itself. Its main strategies for such a claim are presented, namely: putting forward identity “by indifference,” distinguishing status and attentiones, and neutralising opposite predicates. It is argued that these strategies have parallels in Peter Abelard’s own views. The individuum-theory’s paradoxical realism seems to defend universal res after criticisms were advanced against more traditional material essence realism and it seems to have been using some of the nominalists’ tools (particularly Abelardian tools) in its endeavour.


This is the author accepted manuscript. It is currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by Johns Hopkins University Press.

universals, realism, individual, Peter Abelard, Walter of Mortagne, Joscelin of Soissons, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 3237, identity, $\textit{attentio}$, $\textit{status}$
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Journal of the History of Philosophy
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Johns Hopkins University Press
British Academy