23 Mar 2023 - 25 Mar 2023All dayAlison Richard Building

Description

Convenors

  • Suf Amichay (University of Cambridge)

Speakers

  • Suf Amichay (University of Cambridge)
  • Khaled El-Rouayheb (Harvard)
  • Charles Manekin (Maryland University)
  • John Marenbon (University of Cambridge)
  • Mohammad Saleh Zarepour (University of Manchester)
  • Tony Street (University of Cambridge)
  • Riccardo Strobino (Tufts)

Summary

In the middle ages, science relied on logic rather than on mathematics. Medieval thinkers inherited a scientific method that had strict criteria for achieving certitude. In that system, invented by Aristotle, true knowledge can only be built on eternal, universal premises. The system, created by pagan philosophers in antiquity, relied on the theory of the eternity of the world: that the universe as we know it existed always without a beginning in time. Despite some notable exceptions, few medieval thinkers could commit to the idea that the world was eternal; this stood in contradiction with the articles of faith of all three Abrahamic religions, which teach that the world was created by God and that nothing but God is eternal. The medieval problems of time in logic, and the relation of time to truth, are representative of a larger clash between science and religion, and indeed are some of the most immediate consequences of this collision. Some examples of interesting discussions on this theme: philosophers such as Anselm of Canterbury believed that truth must itself be eternal, which prompted the problem of having an entity co-eternal with God. In the 13th century, Robert Kilwardby, the archbishop of Oxford, forbade the use of proper names (referring to humans, who are of temporal existence) in logic: since true proposition must be eternally true, true propositions about proper names perpetuate the existence of the person referred to. Islamicate philosophers following Avicenna developed complex theories of modal logic to avoid identifying the necessary with the eternal.

The topic of the conference is intentionally open to different methodological interpretations. Among the invited speakers there are scholars dealing with theology, natural philosophy, logic and social history. Our conference also aims to bring together scholars of Hebrew, Arabic and Latin medieval philosophy.

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