History of Logic from Aristotle to Gödel (www.historyoflogic.com)

by Raul Corazzon | e-mail: rc@ontology.co

Bibliography on Boethius' logical works and Commentaries (Shi-Z)

Contents of this Section

Studies in English

  1. Shiel, James. 1957. "Boethius and Andronicus of Rhodes." Vigiliae Christianae no. 11:179-185.

    "G. Pfligersdorffer has recently described the attitude of the ancient editor, Andronicus of Rhodes, towards the final notes in Aristotle's Categories on opposites, simultaneity, priority, motion and possession-what the medievals called the postpraedicamenta. (1)

    The scholar has based his intricate arguments on a passage of Boethius' commentary on the Categories, and as this passage in the printed editions (2) is syntactically unintelligible he has suggested an emended text of it." (p. 179)


    "On the basis of the passage thus emended (...) the author argues that: (a) Andronicus does not imply that Aristotle was not the real author of the postpraedicamenta but only that Aristotle was not responsible for annexing them to the Categories; ..." (p. 180)


    "I believe that the text of the Boethius passage can be more convincingly presented from a wider survey of the extant manuscripts of the In Categorias." (p. 181)


    "The text I have proposed will still support Pfligersdorffer's argument (a) noted above -- but none of the others." (p. 185

    (1) G. Pfligersdorffer, "Andronikos von Rhodos und die Postpradikamente bei Boethius" (Vigiliae Christianae 7 (1953), 98-115).

    (2) ed. Glareanus, Basel, 1546; reprinted (badly) in Migne PL 64 [263b].

  2. ———. 1958. "Boethius' Commentaries on Aristotle." Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies no. 4:217-244.

    Revised version in: R. Sorabji (ed.), Aristotle Transformed. The Ancient Commentators and Their Influence, London: Duckworth, 1990, pp. 349-372 (Second edition New York: Bloomsbury 2016, pp. 377-402) also reprinted in: Manfred Fuhrmann und Joachim Gruber (Hrsg.), Boethius, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1984 pp. 155-186.

    Citations are from the reprint in Sorabji 2016.

    "It is recognised that Aristotelian logic, which was to become an integral part of medieval scholasticism, was first transmitted to Latin Christianity through the work of Boethius. But the way in which he set about his self-imposed task has never been determined in detail. (1) We know that he promised to translate and comment 'upon every single work of Aristotle I can lay hands on (omne Aristotelis opus quodcumque in manus venerit)'. (2) To form the idea was a silent judgment on the learning of his day; to realise it was more than one man could accomplish; but Boethius accomplished much.


    The genuine texts of Boethius' versions of Aristotle (except that of the Posterior Analytics) have now been identified among the manuscripts and his distinctive method of translation firmly identified.(5) The present article therefore proposes to examine the other extant results of Boethius' promise, the commentaries and treatises. Are they really original or are they too translated from Greek?" (p. 377)


    "The general impression produced by this study is that Boethius in composing his commentaries on the Organon translated Greek notes which he found added to his text of Aristotle. If this is true, it gives us new insight into the way Boethius worked.

    From the beginning it is evident that he considered the works of the Organon, including Porphyry's Isagoge (which Neoplatonic schoolwork put on a par with Aristotle), as a united whole." (p. 398)


    Cicero retired to his Tusculan study, Boethius to his 'study walls adorned with ivory and glass (bibliothecae comptos ebore ac vitro parietes)'. Our study of him as a translator emphasises anew his remarkable role of transmission: through him Aristotelian logic, the equipment of Neoplatonic paganism, is carried into the Christian Church to be eventually part of its armour of faith. (84)" (p. 401)

    (1) M. Cappuyns, 'Boèce', in Dict. d'hist. et geog. eccles. 9, Paris 1939, 367: 'The exact role of Boethius in the transmission of Aristotle's works is hard to disentangle at present.' This statement prompted the present enquiry. Dom Cappuyns' article is the best introduction to the subject. [Now however see the prefaces of Aristoteles Latinus, vols 1-6, and the supporting essays in L. Minio-Paluello, Opuscula: the Latin Aristotle, Amsterdam 1972.]

    (2) in Int. II 79,16 Meiser.

    (5) L. Minio-Paluello, 'The genuine text of Boethius' translation of Aristotle's Categories', in Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies (MRS), 1942, 151-77 (=Opuscula, 1-27) and 'The text of the Categoriae: the Latin tradition' in Class. Quart. 39, 1945, 63-74 (= Opuscula, 28-39).

    (84) This illustrates a seasoned historian's judgment that 'ancient philosophies, rediscovered, are found to possess a disturbing vitality, even in modern times' (Hugh Trevor Roper, Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans, 1987, VII).

  3. ———. 1974. "Boethius and Eudemus." Vivarium no. 12:14-17.

    "In writing his explanation (1) of Porphyry's 'tree' Boethius inevitably encountered a subdivision of 'substance' where Porphyry has divided 'rational animate substance' into'mortal'and 'immortal'.

    An immortal animate could only be a god, and, since 'animate' had already been classed under 'corporeal', this would be a corporeal god as described by the ancients who identified the world and the heavens with Zeus. Boethius does not quarrel with this doctrine. Only by abruptly detaching the reference to the ancients can Pierre Courcelle (2) see in it a Christian reservation voiced by Boethius himself.

    Since similar philosophic reference to the ancient beliefis to be found in Greek (3) I believe that Boethius translated it from Greek. And the Greek he translated from was not the extant commentaryof Ammonius (4) on Porphyry." (p. 14)


    "Now one cannot help noticing that Boethius has a somewhat more complex classification than Ammonius.

    The latter includes no distinction for the two kinds of non-dialectical question. Besides, in place of 'non-dialectical' Ammonius has a more positive term, 'investigative' (pysmatike),which is not translated in Boethius. And whereAmmonius says "according to the ancients" Boethius has the more precise "according to the Peripatetics." All this should make one cautious of asserting that Ammonius is the exact source of Boethius.

    What is more, Eudemus turns out to be the rightman. This is perfectly clear from a passage of Alexander's commentary on the Topics (8) where the Boethian classification is given with an explicit ascriptiono Eudemus. Boethius however does not seem to be translating Eudemus directly, for the Latin scheme is slightly more elaborate, especially as regards substantial definition. And of course it is only part of the larger classification "according to the Peripatetics."

    And so I come back to the general conviction I have written about elsewhere, that Boethius translated his explanations from some Greek book later than Porphyry but anterior to Ammonius, and that in numerous cases one could visualise the exact Greek words he copied from. In the present case, as in that previous gloss on Porphyry's 'tree', a brief marginal scheme in Boethius' uncial Greek manuscript would have given him all the material he needed for his Latin.

    It is rather a pity, then, that this Ammonius text does not work as evidence that Boethius received his education in the school of Ammonius at Alexandria. Nor does any similar text that I have so far been able to examine." (pp. 16-17)

    (1) Boeth., in Isagogen 208.22 Brandt (PL б4.103ab).

    (2) P. Courcelle, La Consolation de Boèce dans la tradition littéraire (1967) 341.

    His suggestion and footnotes are appropriated by С. J. de Vogel, Vivarium 9 (1971) 59.

    (3) Elias, in Isagogen 69.21 Busse.

    As homage to Boethius I have transcribed the Greek into uncial type designed by my friend, Timothy Holloway, of St. John's College,Oxford. This I entrust to the elegant pages of Vivarium: ...in bibliotheca posui.

    (4) cf. Ammonius, in lib de Interp. (20 b 22) 361 Meiser (PL 64.572c).

    (8) Alexand., in Top. (104a 8) 69.13-19,22-23 Wallies. See note 3.

  4. ———. 1982. "A Recent Discovery: Boethius' Notes on the Prior Analytics." Vivarium no. 20:128-141.

    "As a matter of fact all the genuine texts of Boethius' Aristotelian translations are recent discoveries. They were all out of reach thirty years ago and they have come to light only after the long and intricate labour involved in discerning and collecting the manuscrip tmaterial for Aristoteles Latinus. This is an edition, planned for thirty-three volumes, of all the Latin versions of Aristotle surviving from the Middle Ages; each volume of the collection is devoted to a single Aristotelian work, gathering together the various translations of it so far identified. (1) The first six volumes cover the treatises on logic, collectively known to the tradition as the Organon: Categories, De Interpretatione, Prior and Posterior Analytics, Topics and Elenchi, together with Porphyry's Isagoge('Introduction'). In these volumes the pioneer translations done by Boethius have been edited for all of the treatises except the Posterior Analytics, of which the genuine Boethian version is still missing. (2)

    The procedure by which these genuine versions were discovered may prove to be one of the most impressive feats of scholarly achievement in this century. (3)" (p. 128)


    "But the PriorAnalytics is the most interesting in this regard.The copy of this work (b) which was inserted by Thierry of Chartres in his famous volume of the liberal arts was one of the very few which the Aristoteles Latinus editor found to be genuinely Boethian. (9) But he discovered another version (B), also of French provenance, in a manuscript at Florence, (10) and on examination this proved to have so much in common with Thierry's copy that it had to be regarded as a second draft by the same translator.(11) The most noticeable differences between the two drafts, b and B, occur in thefirst sixteen chapters of Book I and in chapters 17-20 of Book II.(12)" (p. 130)

    (1) A brief description of the enterprise was given by me in Medium Aevum, 33 (1964), 61-64; 42 (1973), 147-152.

    (2) AL I. I-V. 3 ed. L. Minio-Paluello, Bruges-Paris, 1961-1969; AL VI. 1-3 ed. B. G. Dod, Bruges-Paris, 1975.

    (3) Many of the basic studies relating to the work of identification are collected in: L. Minio-Paluello, Opuscula: the Latin Aristotle, Amsterdam, 1972.

    (10) AL Codices (and Supplementum) n. n.236 1412 (Firenze, Bibi. Naz. Centr. J. 6.34) (Nn).

    (11) AL III, p. XI.

    (12) AL III, p. XI-XVI.

  5. ———. 1987. "The Greek Copy of Porphyrios' Isagoge used by Boethius." In Aristoteles. Werk und Wirkung. Paul Moraux zum 65 Geburtstag gewidmet - Band 2: Kommentierung, Uberlieferung, Nachleben, edited by Wiesner, Jürgen, 312-340. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "In this paper I wish to ask what type of Greek book Boethius possessed for his study of the Isagoge. He certainly did use a Greek book of some kind because although he based his first commentary (c) (1) on the Latin version or paraphrase already made by Marius Victorinus, for his editio secunda (C) he made his own translation (p) of Porphyry’s work, which is a concise introduction to five basic Aristotelian terms: Genus, Species, Difference, Property, and Accident.

    Boethius’ first commentary, c, opens with an experiment in the dialogue style that had been familiar to Latin authors from Cicero to Macrobius and Augustine. That such Platonizing dialogue might employ fictional elements is admitted by Macrobius (Sat. I 1), and it has been noticed that Augustine felt less than happy in using this Platonic mode. The characters here are Boethius himself and a possibly fictional Fabius whose total knowledge of the Isagoge seems to be confined to the Latin version made by Victorinus. Boethius at the outset (c 4,6) gives Fabius a Ciceronian promise (cf. Cic.Top. 1) of deeper instruction that he could have gathered from Victorinus alone. Boethius also admits that he will be transmitting this information from others, from the introductorii commentarii of learned masters, and he seems in fact to be actually consulting some such work (c 4,4: super eisdem rebus meditantem). A question may occur to the modern reader over these sources of his instruction. How is Boethius, so often praised for his originality of thought, in fact adapting or translating some earlier commentary, when he here undertakes in the best dialogue manner to convert otium into intellectual negotium? A Latin source for his work would seem unlikely, for it appears from Cassiodorus (Inst. 2,3,18) that Victorinus had made only the Latin translation and not a commentary as well.

    The extant Greek commentaries on the Isagoge have a special character because of the work's position at the beginning of the Organon, and therefore at the beginning of all Neoplatonic school-work in philosophy. They begin with lengthy sets of prolegomena, first on philosophy in general and then on the Isagoge itself. The general set adheres to a standard school order of topics for lectures (πράξεις): definitions of philosophy both theoretical and practical, and the subdivisions of these; then a further list of preliminaries (κεφάλαια, προλεγόμενα, προτεχνολογούμενα) which must be followed before beginning the study of any philosophic work.(2) The prolegomena proper to the Isagoge then apply these considerations, one by one, to the book itself." (pp. 312-313)

    (1) For brevity of reference I employ these sigla, based on the usage of the Aristoteles Latinus (AL):

    Π Porphyrii Isagoge, ed. Busse, CAG IV 1 (1887)

    p Isagoge Porphyrii: translatio Boethii, ed. Minio-Paluello, AL I (1966) c Boethii in Isagogen, editio prima, ed. Brandt, CSEL 48 (1906)

    C Boethii in Isagogen, editio secunda, ed. Brandt, ibid.


  6. Solmsen, Friedrich. 1944. "Boethius and the History of the Organon." American Journal of Philology no. 65:69-74.

    Reprinted in F. Solmsen, Kleine Schriften II, Hildesheim: Olms, 1967, pp. 38-43 and in: Manfred Fuhrmann und Joachim Gruber (Hrsg.), Boethius, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1984, pp. 127-132.

    "Boethius had set himself the task of bringing into Latin the entire body of Plato's and Aristotle's writings. (1) What he actually accomplished, the translation of Aristotle's logical treatises, was a small part of this huge enterprise. There is, besides, his translation of Porphyry's Eisagoge.

    The chronological order of these translations (and of the commentaries which accompany them) has been determined with reasonable certainty by two scholars, Samuel Brandt and Arthur P. McKinlay who, though differing in their method and criteria, have yet arrived at fundamentally identical results. (2) The sequence appears to have been as follows: Porphyry's Eisagoge, Aristotle's Categories, Peri Hermeneias, Analytica Priora, Posteriora, Topica, Sophistici Elenchi. It could not remain unnoticed that this sequence is identical with the order in which the original works are integrated in the standard collection of Aristotle's logical works commonly known as the Organon; in fact, Brandt (3) points out that Boethius simply followed the order which he found established in his Greek original. This suggestion is, as we shall see, perfectly correct; but a student of Aristotle will be aware that the existence of the Organon (or of any fixed order of these writings) by A. D. 500 has never been proved. (4) Shall we then say that the studies of Brandt and McKinlay have supplied the terminus ante quem for its existence which the students of Aristotle's own works have failed to find?

    In a sense this is true, but if we wish to have the complete picture a few more facts must be taken into account.

    Byzantine manuscripts of Aristotle's logic, which are very numerous, invariably have the writings in the "orthodox" order, given above. Just as invariably they include Porphyry's Eisagoge as the first item, i. e. preceding the Categories. (5) To most scholars these facts would indicate that there were one or more late ancient editions in which the works were thus arranged. I do not know whether anyone would be inclined to think of a Byzantine scholar as responsible for the arrangement, but if anyone did he would certainly find it very difficult to maintain this view against the witness of Boethius; for it is precisely here that Boethius' testimony becomes important." (pp. 69-70)

    (1) In librum peri hermeneias Comment., Secunda editio, II, 3, p. 79, 16 Meiser.

    (2) S. Brandt, Philol., LXII (1903), pp. 141-54, 234-79; A. P. McKinlay, H. S. C. P., XVIII (1907), pp. 123-56. See also E. K. Rand, Jahrbücher f. class. Philol., Supplem. XXVI (1901), pp. 428 ff.

    (3) Loc. cit., p. 260. Aristotle (A. Pr. A4, 25 b 26) had made it clear that the Analytica Posteriora was to be considered a sequel to the Priora. Apart from this, he has nothing to do with the order sanctioned in the Organon. On the term organon and its application to Aristotle's logica, see e. g. Karl Prantl, Geschichte der Logik im Abendland (Leipzig, 1855), I, p. 532 (especially notes 4 and 5); see also W. Christ and W. Schmid, Griechische Literaturgeschichte (6th ed., Muenchen, 1920), I, p. 729, n. 3.

    (4) W. D. Ross, Aristotle (3rd ed., London, 1937), p. 20, n. 6, suggests that the term "Organon" was in the sixth century applied to the collection of Aristotle's logical works.

  7. Sorabji, Richard. 1998. "Boethius, Ammonius and their different Greek backgrounds." In Ammonius on Aristotle On Interpretation 9 with Boethius on Aristotle On Interpretation 9, edited by Blank, David and Kretzmann, Norman, 16-23. London: Duckworth.

    "Ammonius, c. 435/445–517/526 AD, was taught by Proclus in Athens, took the Chair of the Neoplatonist school in Alexandria and had all the greatest sixth-century Neoplatonists as his pupils. His commentary on Chapter 9 of Aristotle’s de Interpretatione is a treatise on ancient arguments for determinism. By determinism I mean the view that whatever happens has been inevitable or necessary all along. The famous Sea Battle argument for determinism, reported and attacked by Aristotle, was commonly presented in a new form in the Middle Ages(1) in terms of definite truth and definite falsity. Ammonius’ was not the first such exposition, but it is the earliest detailed one to survive. It was almost immediately followed by the Latin exposition of Boethius, which uses the same idea, drawing independently on an overlapping set of Greek sources.(2) Boethius influenced the medieval Latin tradition, while the medieval Arabic was influenced by Boethius’ sources and by Ammonius possibly through the derivative commentary of Stephanus.(3)" (p. 16)

    (1) 1. N. Rescher, in Studies in the History of Arabic Logic, Pittsburgh 1963, ch. 5, and in ‘Truth and Necessity in Temporal Perspective’, in R. Gale (ed.), The Philosophy of Time: a Collection of Essays, London 1968.

    (2) Ammonius’ sources are described by David Blank in the introduction to his translation in this series of Ammonius, in Int. 1-8. For Boethius’ use of Alexander, Porphyry, and Syrianus see the index nominum in Meiser’s edition of Boethius’ two commentaries on Int. For Ammonius’ use of these and of Iamblichus and Proclus as well, see the index nominum in Busse’s CAG edition of Ammonius’ commentary on Int. Ammonius declares himself particularly indebted to Proclus, 1,6-11; cf. 181,30-1, Boethius to Porphyry, 2nd comm. on Int. 7,5-6; cf. 219,17.

    Robert Sharples has found an attack on definite truth as incompatible with contingency as early as Alexander Quaestio 1.4, pp. 12-13, translated London and Ithaca N.Y. 1992, p. 35, n. 81, which updates his ‘An Ancient Dialogue on Possibility: Alexander of Aphrodisias Quaestio 1.4’, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 64, 1982, 23-38. For the comment on this in Norman Kretzmann’s 1987 paper at p. 67, corrected in the reprint below, see Chapter 2. [Ammonius on Aristotle On Interpretation 9 with Boethius on Aristotle On Interpretation 9]

    3. Stephanus is suggested by F.W. Zimmermann, Al-Farabi’s Commentary and Short Treatise on Aristotle’s de Interpretatione, Oxford 1981, LXXX-XCVIII, at XCIV. William Charlton’s translation of Stephanus will be appearing shortly in this series.

  8. Speca, Anthony. 2001. Hypothetical Syllogistic and Stoic Logic. Leiden: Brill.

    Contents: Acknowledgments VII; Abstract IX; Preface XI-XIII; 1. The Aristotelian Background 1; 2. The Greek Commentators on Aristotle 35; 3. Boethius: On Hypothetical Syllogisms 67; 4. Boethius: On Cicero's Topics 101; References 135; General index 139; Index locorum 141.

    Abstract: "Aristotle recorded his intention to discuss hypothetical syllogistic fully (An. pr. 50a39), but no such treatment by him has been available since at least a.d. 200, if even it ever existed. The contributions of his successor Theophrastus have also perished, as have those of his followers of the subsequent few centuries. At the same time, almost all of the surviving sources, especially the Greek commentators and Boethius, did not report hypothetical syllogistic accurately. Rather, they conflated it with Stoic logic, which it resembles in some respects, but from which it is significantly different. Modern scholars, who have not appreciated the nature or extent of this conflation, have unintentionally perpetuated the problem. As a result, the original form of hypothetical syllogistic has been misunderstood, and part of the influence of Stoic logic in late antiquity has remained unclear.

    This book is an account of the conflation of hypothetical syllogistic and Stoic logic. The first chapter is a study of Aristotle’s remarks on hypothetical syllogistic, which suggest that it was not a sentential logic such as the Stoics would develop. The second chapter details the conflation as it appears in the Greek commentaries on Aristotle, which consists principally in a confusion between the original Peripatetic division of hypothetical statements and syllogisms, whose criteria are semantic, and the Stoic division of complex propositions and inference schemata, whose criteria are syntactic. The third and fourth chapters focus on Boethius’s On hypothetical syllogisms and On Cicero’s Topics, in which even further conflation demonstrates that hypothetical syllogistic and Stoic logic had completely ceased to retain their distinct natures by the end of antiquity."

  9. Stump, Eleonore. 1974. "Boethius "Works on the Topics"." Vivarium no. 12:77-93.

    "The De topicis differentiis appears to be the mature product of an axcellent mind. It shows the same acumen, subtlety, and care as Boethius's other logical treatises; and it seems to build on the training and insight Boethius manifested in his earlier treatises. (1) It is a complete study of the discipline for finding arguments, both dialectical and rhetorical. Boethius works his diverse material, from different traditions and from different disciplines, into one coherent and elegant system unequaled, as far as I know, in any of the material that has come down to us from antiquityand the early middle ages. (2)


    But a thesis which runs counter to the common-sense view has been published; James Shiel in his article Boethius' Commentaries on Aristotle (4) has argued that Boethius's works on logic are not original compositions but are rather his translations of Greek Neo-Platonic scholia on Aristotle's Organon. His thesis seems to be gaining currency; two eminent scholars in the field, Minio-Paluello (5) and De Rijk, (6) accept or support it. In this article,after considering very briefly some treatment of Shiel's thesis in the literature, I want to discuss the thesis in detail as it applies to Boethius's work on the Topics. My main concern is to examine and discuss Shiel's evidence for his counter-intuitive theory; if it does not stand up under scrutiny, we are free to return to the common-sense view and to take Boethius's works on the Topics, at least, to be just what they appear to be -- his original compositions." (pp. 77-78)

    (1) The De top. diff. is one of the last works Boethius produced. See L. M.De Rijk, On the Chronology of Boethius' Works on Logic II, Vivarium 2 (1964), 153-154 and 157-161.

    (2) See the Introduction and Chapters I-III in my unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Boethius's De topicis differentiis, Cornell University, 1975 [now published: Ithaca: Cornell University, 1978].

    (4) Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies 4 (1958), 217-244.

    (5) Cf. L. Minio-Paluello, Les traductions et les commentaires aristotéliciens de Boèce in: Studia Patristica II, fifth series, V. 9; 1957; pp.358-365.

    (6) Cf. L. M. De Rijk, On the Chronology of Boethius' Works on Logic I and II, Vivarium 2 (1964), 1-49, 125-162.

  10. ———. 1978. "Dialectic and Boethius’s De topicis differentiis." In Boethius’s De topicis differentiis, edited by Stump, Eleonore, 179-204. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Contents: Abbreviations 11; Introduction 13; Part One. De topicis differentiis; Book I 29; Book II 43; Book III 63; Book IV 79; Notes to the Translation; Book I 97; Book II 110; Book III 128; Book IV 141; Part Two. Dialectic in Ancient and Medieval Logic Dialectic and Aristotle's Topics 159; Dialectic and Boethius's De topicis differentiis 179; Between Aristotle and Boethius 205; Peter of Spain on the Topics 215; Differentia and the Porphyrian Tree 237; Differentia 248; Bibliography 263; Indexes 275-287.

    "This book is a philosophical study of Boethius's treatise De topicis differentiis. It includes the first English translation of this historically and philosophically important text, as well as copious notes designed to make the text accessible to philosophers and scholars interested in the medieval period. Detailed philosophical analyses of the text and of important technical concepts, such as the concept of the predicables, are worked out in the chapters of Part II. Chapters on Aristotle's Topics and the treatise on dialectic in Peter of Spain's Tractatus explain the work of these philosophers on the Topics and explore the relationship of their views to those of Boethius. My principal aim is to make Boethius's treatise available and comprehensible to scholars for whom the technical Latin vocabulary and unfamiliar subject matter have made it inaccessible." (From the Preface)

  11. ———. 1981. "Boethius’ Theory of Topics and its Place in Early Scholastic Logic." In Congresso Internazionale di Studi Boeziani (Pavia, 5-8 ottobre 1980): Atti, edited by Obertello, Luca, 249-262. Roma: Editrice Herder.

    "Boethius’s De topicis differentiis is a philosophically interesting and historically influential work having to do with the art of Topics (or loci), a branch of philosophy which antiquity bequeathed to the Middle Ages but which philosophers of the scholastic period transformed almost past recognition. In this article, I want to explain briefly Boethius’s theory of Topics and then discuss in some detail that of Abelard, which seems superficially quite similar to Boethius’s but is in fact very different from it. As a result, I hope to make clearer both Boethius’s theory of Topics itself and the significant role played by Boethian Topics in the history of twelfth-century logic." (p. 249)

  12. ———. 1981. "Boethius and Peter of Spain on the Topics." In Boethius and the Liberal Arts: A Collection of Essays, edited by Masi, Michael, 35-50. Bern: Peter Lang.

    "Boethius’s influence on later medieval philosophy is, of course, enormous, and his treatment of the Topics is no exception to that general rule. Later medieval philosophers had a strong interest in dialectic. The whole technique of the disputatio, for example, and the consequent literature on obligationes have their ultimate origin in dialectic; and the study of the Topics was considered a regular part of logic and treated in a section of its own in elementary logic texts. For a long time, Boethius was the most important, and sometimes the sole source for the study of the Topics, and his work remained an important indirect source even when it was superseded by later treatments of the subject. For example, three of the best known thirteenth-century logicians, William of Sherwood, Peter of Spain, and Lambert of Auxerre, all have a chapter on Topics in their introductory logic texts; and all three reproduce the Boethian list of Topics and the major Boethian categorizations or divisions of the Topics.

    For the sake of putting Boethius’s work on the Topics into medieval perspective and of understanding the changes and developments in the Topics, it is useful to consider the treatments of the Topics among some of these later medieval philosophers. In particular, it is worthwhile examining the discussion of the Topics in Peter of Spain’s Tractatus, (9) which was the most widely used textbook of logic on the Continent from the late thirteenth to the end id the fifteenth century (10). Its discussion of the Topics is very similar to discussions found in several of the scholastics contemporary with or earlier than Peter. Besides being a representative and influential treatment of the Topics, Peter’s discussion is heavily dependent (directly or, more likely, indirectly) (11) on Boethius’s account. The chapter on dialectic in the Tractatus is like De top. diff. in organization. It begins with a series of definitions and then lists the Topics with a description and example of each. The definitions and the listing are those in De top. diff., and in some places Peter’s words are equivalent to a quotation from Boethius. (12) Consequently, comparison of Boethius and Peter is not difficult. Some of the recent literature has suggested that Peter’s work on the Topics is simply a slightly varied compilation drawn from Boethius’s De top. diff. Otto Bird, for example, who has published a number of very useful articles on the medieval Topics, says that Peter’s discussion of the Topics "is little more than a summary of the first half of BDT [De top. diff.],"13 and that "Peter of Spain made a précis of it [De top. diff] (primarily of the second book) and provided additional Maxims in the fifth tract of his Summulae [Tractatus]." (14) But such a view shows a mistaken understanding of both Peter and Boethius. In what follows here, I will examine Peter’s discussion of the Topics in considerable detail in order to exhibit with some accuracy a method for using Topics that, despite its apparent similarity to Boethius’s method, is in fact very different from it; by doing so, I hope to show what Peter’s method comes to and as a result to clarify the nature of the Boethian art of Topics." (pp. 37-38)

    (9) Ed. L. M. De Rijk (Assen, 1972).

    (10) Ibid., pp. XCV-C.

    (11) Cf., Tractatus, p. XCIII, n. 5.

    (12) Cf., for example, Peter, Tractatus, p. 55.17 and Boethius, De top. diff., 1180C4-5, Peter p. 55.23 and Boethius 1183A9-10, and Peter p. 56.16-18 and Boethius 1184B13-C1.

    (13) "The Tradition of the Logical Topics: Aristotle to Ockham", Journal of the History of Ideas, 23 (1962), p. 313.

    (14) "The Formalizing of the Topics in Mediaeval Logic", Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, 1 (1960), 140. Jan Pinborg echoes Bird’s view of Peter. Cf. "Topik und Syllogistik im Mittelalter", in Sapienter Ordinare: Festgabe für Erich Kleineidam, ed. F. Hoffmann, L. Scheffczyk, and K. Feiereis (Leipzig, 1969), p. 164; and Logik und Semantik im Mittelalter (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt, 1972), p. 75. De Rijk, ed., Tractatus, p. XCIII seems to agree at least in part with Bird’s view: "This tract [chap. V of Tractatus] is not a compilation from Aristotle’s Topica but from Boethius' De topicis differentiis I and II, with some additions from Aristotle’s Topics.“ He argues in note 5 on the same page that Peter’s treatment is not taken directly from Boethius: rather, he says, it is "useful to point to the treatment of the loci in the Logica Cum sit nostra, pp. 438-445 or to that in the somewhat older work, Dialectica Monacensis, pp. 528-555." De Rijk’s point is very likely right, but what can be inferred from the claim in the text and the note is that Peter’s work on Topics amounts to an indirect compilation from Boethius’s De top. diff.

  13. ———. 1987. "Boethius’s In Ciceronis Topica and Stoic Logic." In Studies in Medieval Philosophy, edited by Wippel, John F., 1-22. Washington: Catholic University of America.

    "But perhaps the most interesting unexplored section in In Ciceronis Topica is Boethius's presentation of Stoic logic, and that is the part I want to concentrate on in this paper. Rather than dwell on the main theme of In Ciceronis Topica, the art of discovery and its instruments, the Topics, I want to focus instead on just that small part of Boethius's commentary in which he relates the Topics to Stoic dialectic or logic and reveals his understanding of that part of Stoicism. We are beginning to understand the ancient art of discovering arguments, and it has garnered increasing attention among contemporary scholars. But as far as I know, Michael Frede(30) is alone among recent historians of philosophy in considering Boethius's contribution to our understanding of Stoic logic; and even he gives only a brief discussion of a small part of the relevant Boethian text. So in what follows I will concentrate on just the fifth book of In Ciceronis Topica, in which Boethius discusses the so-called undemonstrated modes or argument forms of the Stoics. I need to make plain here that my area of interest and expertise is Boethius and not the Stoics; but I think that in In Ciceronis Topica Boethius sheds some light on a vexing problem which has troubled students of Stoic logic for some time." (pp. 6-7)

    (30) Michael Frede, Die stoische Logik (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1974), pp. 148-53, 160-62.

  14. ———. 1988. "Topics: Their Development and Absorption into the Consequences." In The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, edited by Kretzmann, Norman, Kenny, Anthony and Pinborg, Jan, 273-299. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "According to Boethius, who is dependent on both the Greek and Latin traditions,(8) two different sorts of things are Topics: a Topic is both a maximal proposition and the Differentia(9) of a maximal proposition. On Boethius' view, a maximal proposition is a self-evidently true, universal generalisation, such as 'Things whose definitions are different are themselves also different.' Boethian Topics of this sort probably have as their ancestors the Aristotelian Topics that are principles. Their official function, on Boethius' account, is to aid in the discovery of arguments; but in practice Boethius tends to use them to confirm arguments.(10) Differentiae are theoretically the differentiae dividing the genus maximal proposition into its subaltern genera and species, and in that capacity they do serve to classify maximal propositions into groups. Some maximal propositions have to do with definition, for example, and others with genus; so from definition and from genus are Differentiae. Much more important, however, is the role Differentiae play in Boethius·s method for the discovery of dialectical arguments. For the most part, Boethius thinks of dialectical arguments as having categorical rather than conditional conclusions, and he conceives of the discovery of an argument as the discovery of a middle term capable of linking the two terms of the desired conclusion. Boethian Differentiae are, for the most part, the genera of such middle terms. To find an argument, using Boethius' method, one first chooses an appropriate Differentia (criteria for appropriateness are left to the arguer's intuition). The genus of middle terms, determined by the Differentia chosen, and the two terms of the desired conclusion then indicate the specific middle term of the argument and so indicate a dialectical argument supporting the conclusion. In Book II of De topicis differentiis, Boethius gives what he claims is an exhaustive list of Differentiae, taken from Themistius. These Themistian Differentiae or some subset of them constitute the core of most scholastic discussion of the Topics (except, of course, for scholastic commentaries on Aristotle's Topics)." (pp. 274-275)

    (8) For a summary of the controversy over Boethius' sources, sec Stump 1974.

    (9)) I am capitalising 'Diff'rentia' here to distinguish this technical usc of the word from its more ordinary use designating one of the predicables.

    (10) a detailed analysis of oethius' usc and understanding of opics, see Stump 1978, especially pp. 179-204.


    Stump, Eleonore (1974). 'Boethius's Works on the Topics', Vivarium 12:77-93.

    _____ (1978). Boethiu's De topicis differentiis. Translated, with notes and essays on the text; Cornell University.

  15. ———. 1989. Dialectic and Its Place in the Development of Medieval Logic. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Contents: Acknowledgments IX; Introduction 1; 1. Dialectic and Aristotle's Topics 11; 2. Dialectic and Boethius's De topicis differentiis 31; 3. Between Aristotle and Boethius 57; 4. Topics and Hypothetical Syllogisms in Garlandus Compotista 67; 5. Abelard on the Topics 89; 6. Logic in the Early Twelfth Century 111; 7. Terminist Logicians on the Topics 135; 8. Consequences and the Decline of Aristotelianism in Formal Logic 157; 9. William of Sherwood's Treatise on Obligations 177; 10. Walter Burley on Obligations 195; 11. Roger Swyneshed's Theory of Obligations 215; 12. Topics, Consequences, and Obligations in Ockham's Summa logicae 251; Index 271-274.

    "Since 1975 my work in medieval logic has concentrated on dialectic. I have tried to trace scholastic treatments of dialectic to discussions of it in the work of Aristotle, the Greek commentators on Aristotle, and the Latin rhetorical tradition. But I have been especially interested in Boethius, whose discussions of dialectic were among the most important influences on scholastic treatments of that subject. Accounts of dialectic based ultimately on Boethius's views continued to play a fundamental role in philosophy through the fourteenth century. The earliest scholastic logician whose work we know, Garlandus Computista, devoted a great deal of attention to Boethian dialectic, and I have tried to follow the development of scholastic dialectic from Garlandus through various twelfth-century logicians (including Abelard) and the thirteenth-century terminists into the fourteenth century in the work of William Ockham." (p. 1)

  16. Suto, Taki. 2009. "Logic and Grammar in Boethius: A Logical Analysis of the Parts of Speech." In The Word in Medieval Logic, Theology and Psychology. Acts of the XIIIth International Colloquium of the Société Internationale pour l'Étude de la Philosophie Médiévale, Kyoto, 27 September - 1 October 2005, edited by Shimizu, Tetsuro and Burnett, Charles, 65-80. Turnhout: Brepols.

    "There is no doubt that Boethius places Aristotle’s Peri hermeneias and his commentaries in the field of logic. In chapter 1 (16a8-9) of the work, Aristotle famously reserves some matters for his work on the soul, considering them beyond the scope of the subject in discussion. In commenting on this reservation, Boethius claims that “it is one thing to dispute principally on thoughts (intellectibus) of the soul, but another to take them for disputation so far as they can pertain to logical knowledge,” (1) thus holding the topic in discussion as that of logic.

    On the other hand, Boethius’ discussions in the commentaries rely heavily upon the noun (nomen) and the verb (verbum), which we usually take as grammatical distinctions." (p. 65)


    "Although using the terminology employed by grammarians, Boethius sometimes contrasts his view with theirs. He claims that grammarians regard “garalus” (which is a not a real Latin word) as a noun but philosopher do not. (10) He also claims that a grammarian counts eight parts of speech, i.e., noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, participle, conjunction, preposition and interjection, but that a philosopher counts only two, that is, noun and verb. (11) Calling the holder of the view contrasted to that of a philosopher simply “a grammarian” (grammaticus), (12) Boethius never actually names any grammarians in his discussions. (13)

    In this paper, by considering the question of how Boethius distinguishes logic from grammar, I will analyse the nature of Boethius’ investigation of logic in his commentaries. (14) Specifically, I will look at his division of the parts of speech and his notion of conjunction. The result of the examination will show that Ackrill’s criticism of Aristotle does not apply to Boethius." (p. 67)

    (1) “Etenim aliud est principaliter de intellectibus animae disputare, aliud tantum sibi ad disputationem sumere, quantum ad logicae possit pertinere peritiam.” Boethius (A.M.T. Severinus), In Peri hermeneias, Prima editio, ed. C. Meiser in Anicii Manlii Severini Boetii Commentarii in Librum Aristotelis Peri Hermeneias, Leipzig 1877, 41.11-14. Hereafter In PH I refers to the first commentary and In PH II to the second commentary.

    (10) Boethius, In PH II, ed. Meiser, 32.17-22.

    (11) Boethius, De syll. cat., in PL 64, 796C-D; Introd. syll. cat., in PL 64, 766A-B (note 39).

    (12) Note that a “grammarian” was a scholar engaged in the study broader than grammar in modern sense (including poetry especially): “Primus in eo qui scribendi legendique adeptus erit facultatem, grammatici est locus. Nec refert de Graeco an de Latino loquar, quanquam Graecum esse priorem placet: utrique eadem via est. Haec igitur professio, cum brevissime in duas partes dividatur, recte loquendi scientiam et poetarum enarrationem, plus habet in recessu quam fronte promittit.” (Qunitilianus, Institutiones oratoriae I c. 4 [1-2] in The Orator's Education, ed. and trs. D. Russell, Cambridge MA 2001. See also the appendixes of R. Kaster, Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity, Berkeley, 1988.

    (13) We can find the names of Aristarchus and Donatus in Boethius’ writings (Aristarchus: Boethius, In Categorias Aristotelis = In Cat., in PL 64, 171D, 182C, 189C, 260A; Donatus: In Cat., 257D). Boethius mentions their names as examples of a grammarian and says nothing about their grammatical theories.

    (14) There are only a few secondary writings on this topic: J. C. Magee, “Truth, Discourse and Mind in Boethius”, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 1986, chapter 2 and S. Ebbesen “Boethius on the Metaphysics of Words”, in A. Galonnier ed. Boèce ou la chaîne des savoirs, 2003, 257-75.

  17. ———. 2011. Boethius on Mind, Grammar and Logic: A Study of Boethius' Commentaries on Peri Hermeneias. Leiden: Brill.

    Contents: Acknowledgements XI; Note to the Reader XV; Chart 1: Contents of Boethius’ Two Commentaries on Peri hermeneias XVII; Chart 2: Chronology of Boethius’ Works XIX; Chart 3: Chronology of Major Thinkers and Writers XXI; Chart 4: Relationships among Ancient Commentators XXIII;

    Introduction 1; Part One. Boethius on Words and Minds. I. The Significatum of Spoken Words 17; II. Words as ‘Notae’ 43; III. Three Types of Speech 77; Part Two. Boethius on Logic and Grammar. IV. Nouns, Verbs, and Conjunctions 117; V. The Varieties of Speech 151; VI. The Verb 'To Be' 187; VII. General Conclusions 223; Bibliography 237; Index of Ancient and Medieval Texts 269; Index of Names (Ancient and Medieval Authors) and Subjects 285; Index of Modern Authors (Selective) 294-296.

    "This work aims to be a study of his commentaries on Aristotle’s Peri hermeneias (De interpretatione). For my discussion of these commentaries, I use Carl Meiser’s edition, which is the only critical edition currently available. Deviations from the critical edition are recorded in the footnotes of the quotations.

    Boethius wrote two commentaries on Peri hermeneias. In Meiser’s edition, the first commentary is only 195 pages while the second commentary is 502 pages, more than double the length of the first. Writing two commentaries on the same work was not unusual for him. He also wrote two commentaries on Porphyry’s Isagoge, but the first commentary is three-fifths the length of the second commentary.(3) The striking difference in length between the two commentaries on Peri hermeneias reflects his careful planning of the role of each commentary: the first one to present basic lines of Aristotle’s thought, the second one to provide much more detailed explanations.(4) In the second commentary, he often introduces past discussions of Greek commentators and notions that he does not mention in the first commentary. The fact that he purposely wrote two commentaries should be seriously taken into account in considering the apparent inconsistencies and contradictions between them.

    This work is primarily devoted to the second commentary. I include the first commentary principally in the following two cases: First, I point out where his explanation significantly differs from that of the second commentary. His account in the second commentary can be mostly regarded as a development of the first, but the first commentary sometimes has explanations incompatible with those in the second commentary.(5) Boethius seems to make contradictory statements rather deliberately, intending to present simple interpretations in the first commentary, knowing that they are not the best.(6) Second, I refer to the first commentary when it illuminates or enhances his explanations in the latter.

    I sometimes look at Boethius’ other works, mainly logical ones, in relation to the main questions surrounding the second commentary.

    Where the texts contribute to our understanding, I discuss them in the relevant sections. Otherwise, I refer to them in the footnotes. For my interpretations of the commentaries, I have relied very little on his treatises on theology, liberal arts, and his renowned masterpiece, The Consolation of Philosophy. It is important to consider why the same individual wrote all these works in different disciplines. I would not deny that these independent treatises could illuminate his logical works. In fact, I believe they do, and I will argue so in the concluding chapter.

    I find, however, that these independent treatises have many differences from his logical works. For an accurate interpretation of his logical works we should be very careful in relying on these treatises.(7)" (pp. 1-2)

    (3) In Brandt’s edition of Boethius’ commentaries on Isagoge, the second commentary is 214 pages while the first commentary is 130 pages. Boethius does not allude to a second commentary in the first.

    (4) In PH1 31.6-32.3; In PH2 186.2-9; 250.20-251.4; 294.5-8. For the dates of composition of these commentaries, see Chart 2, p. XIX.

    (5) His distinction between simple and composite propositions, which I discuss in Chapter 5, is an example of this.

    (6) Sten Ebbesen (The Aristotelian Commentator (2009): 49) points this out with textual evidence: In PH1 132.3 sqq. and In PH2 276.8 sqq.

    (7) Scholars have pointed out this danger. Antony Lloyd (The Anatomy of Neoplatonism (1990): 2, n.2) cautions against cross-referencing Boethius’ different works. Ebbesen says, “one should be cautious in assuming consistency between the doctrines of the Aristotle commentaries and that of Consolation of Philosophy” ("Review of J. Magee’s Boethius on Signification and Mind.” Vivarium 29, 1991, p. 153). Vincent Spade (Boethius against Universals: Arguments in the Second Commentary on Porphyry, 1996) criticizes Peter King’s use of Boethius’ De trinitate for understanding his second commentary on Isagoge.

  18. ———. 2015. "From Analysis of Words to Metaphysical Appreciation of the World: the Platonism of Boethius." Quaestio. Journal of the History of Metaphysics no. 15:321-332.

    "Anicius Manlius Seuerinus Boethius has been regarded one of the major sources of Platonism in the Middle Ages(1). Many scholars have argued that Boethius was deeply influenced by Platonism, mentioning such Platonists as Apuleius, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus and Ammonius. However, recent studies on Boethius have shown that Boethius was not influenced by those Platonists to the extent that some past studies had claimed(2). Furthermore, reading Boethius’ Aristotelian commentaries casts a different light on his relationship with the Platonists and reveals his understanding of Aristotle’s works, which is generally quite accurate.

    That said, I am not going to claim that Boethius is not a Platonist at all.

    Indeed, he is. Rather, I’d like to discuss in what ways and to what extent this Aristotelian commentator is a Platonist. To begin, I will look at different attitudes toward Plato in Boethius’ works, first in his Consolation of Philosophy and then in his Aristotelian commentaries." (p. 321)

    (1) Gersh 1986 devoted one chapter to Boethius in his classical studies of Latin Platonism.

    (2) Magee 2010 and Suto 2012.


    Gersh 1986 = S. Gersh, Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism. The Latin Tradition, vol. 2, Notre Dame University Press, Notre Dame 1986.

    Magee 2010 = J. Magee, Boethius, in L. Gerson (ed.), The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2010, vol. 2, pp. 788-812.

    Suto 2012 = T. Suto, Boethius on Mind, Grammar and Logic: A Study of Boethius’ Commentaries on Peri hermeneias, E.J. Brill, Leiden 2012.

  19. Sweeney, Eileen C. 2006. Logic, Theology, and Poetry in Boethius, Abelard, and Alan of Lille: Words in the Absence of Things. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Contents: Abbreviations IX Acknowledgments ; Introduction: Words in the Absence of Things 1; 1. Boethius: Translation, Transfer, and Transport 7; 2. Abelard: A Twelfth-Century Hermeneutics of Suspicion 63; 3. Alan of Lille: Language and its Peregrinations to and from Divine Unity 127; Conclusion: Language and the Ascensus Mentis ad Deum 177; Notes 185; Bibliography 213; Index 230-236.


    "While Augustine is the source of what has aptly been called “the semiological consciousness of the Christian West,” Boethius is the source of its technical vocabulary and academic form. (9) For the twelfth century as a whole, Boethius’s logical commentaries and theological tractates are the standard works of reference and provide the technical vocabulary for new work. As we shall see, Abelard and Alan take up not just Boethius’s vocabulary but his questions and issues in their accounts of language and theology. Moreover, they take up not just the logical and theological parts of Boethius’s project but also the questions and themes of the Consolation in their poetry.

    Boethius’s project was to translate, comment on, and transfer the language of philosophy into theology, to incorporate secular disciplines and texts into his own philosophical/theological vision. Boethius’s imaginative world is one populated largely by other texts, and is notably different from Augustine’s appropriation of secular texts in the more positive and autonomous place given to Aristotelian logic and pagan literature. The voices of these texts speak themselves in the work of Boethius." (p. 2)


    (9) Eugene Vance, “Saint Augustine: Language as Temporality,” in Mervelous Signals: Poetics and Sign Theory in the Middle Ages (Lincoln: University 0f Nebraska Press, 1986), p. 34.

    Chapter 1.

    "Although I do not pretend to have found the definitive solution to I he problem of interpreting Boethius, following the theme of language through the main parts of the corpus has yielded a stronger sense of the unity, autonomy, and originality of Boethius. One way to express it is in visual terms, terms suggested, I will show below, by the Consolation itself. (7) My contention is that Boethius’s innovation is the construction in some detail of multiple and correct, though limited, perspectives from which human understanding can view itself and the nature of reality. As we will see, the method of the Boethian project is linguistic: different perspectives are constructed by developing different vocabularies and different senses of the same terms. Then, the perspectives are arranged hierarchically, the lower encompassed by the higher.

    The themes to which Boethius returns again and again in the logical commentaries are the distinction between the order of words and things and the conventionality of language. From this fundamental distinction between what is the case and what we say, it is only a short step to the elaboration and amelioration of this gap in terms of multiple senses of terms, multiple disciplines with distinct methods and terminologies, and even multiple ontologies which either describe the same reality in different terms and/or are true descriptions of different strata of reality. The conviction that motivates a good portion of the tractates is the view that disagreement and contradiction can be mediated by the creation of or the distinction between different vocabularies. And while it is true that the Consolation attempts to hierarchize the different perspectives on Boethius’s fate, it still gives voice to those “lower” perspectives through the voice of Boethius, the prisoner.

    Boethius’s own use of language mirrors this multiplicity of meanings, methods, and rhetorics. He goes from close, careful translation, paraphrase, and commentary designed to provide an introduction to the greenest of beginners, to the terse, esoteric, and technical language of the tractates, to the complex interweaving of poetic and philosophical language and allusions in the Consolation.

    Boethius surely had important models for such multileveled and synthetic views in his Neoplatonic masters and contemporaries, who would have seen his stated plan to translate, comment on, and show the agreement between Plato and Aristotle as an understandable if bold undertaking. Boethius’s vision differs from theirs both in being Christian and in being worked out in almost exclusively textual terms — in the mediation of texts in the translation and commentary, in the self-conscious production of new textual forms, and in the development of new vocabularies. Boethius both creates his own vocabulary in his translations and transfers it from its “proper” and original location to theological topics where it is radically reworked in the theological tractates. The same project continues in the Consolation's attempt to ascend from the prisoner’s worldly perspective to that of Lady Philosophy by means of the language and arguments of different philosophical schools.

    I will trace the construction of this peculiarly Boethian textuality in Boethius’s Isagoge and Peri hermeneias commentaries, theological tractates and Consolation. In all these texts, Boethius’s most common methods are, first, the division or distinction, and second, the construction and relating of different perspectives. Following Boethius’s own pedagogical plan, then, I begin with the logic commentaries." (pp. 7-8, notes omitted)

  20. Thomas, Ivo. 1951. "Boethius’ locus a repugnantibus." Methodos no. 3:303-307.

  21. Thomsen Thörnquist, Christina. 2017. "Bridging the Beginner's Gap: Apuleius, Boethius, and Porphyry on the Categorical Syllogism." In The Aristotelian Tradition: Aristotle’s Works on Logic and Metaphysics and Their Reception in the Middle Ages, edited by Bydén, Börje and Thomsen Thörnquist, Christina, 228-248. Turnhout: Brepols.

    "Between Boethius in the early sixth century and Abelard at the beginning the twelfth, Aristotle’s Prior Analytics was lost to the Latin West and its content was known solely through indirect and fragmentary sources. Boethius’ De syllogismo categorico held a key position in this initial stage of the medieval reception of the Prior Analytics,(1) but other Latin sources were also known, such as Apuleius’s Peri hermeneias. The great number of striking similarities between Boethius’s De syllogismo categorico and Apuleius’s Peri hermeneias, taken together with their chronological interrelation, have often led scholars to believe that the former draws on the latter. This article will propose a different explanation and discuss its implications for previous theories on the possible sources and overall aim of Apuleius’s work." (p. 228)

    (1) For an overview of the influence of Boethius’s De syllogismo categorico on medieval scholasticism, see Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist, Anicii Manlii Severini Boethii De syllogismo categorico: Critical Edition with Introduction, Translation, Notes, and Indexes (Gothenburg, 2008), xli-li.

  22. Torrijos-Castrillejo, David. 2020. "Divine foreknowledge and providence in the commentaries of Boethius and Aquinas on the De interpretatione 9 by Aristotle." Biblica et Patristica Thoruniensia no. 13:151-173.

    Abstract: "Boethius represents one of the most important milestones in Christian reflection about fate and providence, especially considering that he takes into account Proclus’ contributions to these questions. For this reason, The Consolation of philosophy

    is considered a crucial work for the development of this topic. However, Boethius also exposes his ideas in his commentary on the book that constitutes one of the oldest and most relevant texts on the problem of future contingents, namely Aristotle’s De interpretatione.

    Although St. Thomas refers to Boethius many times in his systematic works and even devotes two commentaries to two of his theological opuscules, it is of special interest that both authors composed a commentary on the above mentioned work by

    Aristotle. The commentary of Saint Thomas does not interpret the whole book, but it does study the pages about future contingents in dialogue with Boethius. We will study such texts in our presentation. They constitute one of the greatest contributions

    of Aquinas to the problem of necessity and contingency and therefore to the vexata quaestio of divine intervention in the world and particularly in human free will. Not only Augustin but also Aristotle (read by Boethius) and Nemesius of Emesa will be

    decisive in Aquinas’ perception of this matter."

  23. Tweedale, Martin. 1976. Abailard on Universals. Amsterdam: North-Holland.

    Chapter II: Boethius on Porphyry pp. 53-88. 1. orphyry’s Doctrine: a.The Five Predicables; b. The Quidditative-Denominative Distinction; 2. Boethius’ Statement of the Problem; (a) Interpreting Porphyry;, (b) Universal Can be Neither Single Nor Many; (c) But a Universal Must Be Something; (d) Alexander’s Solution; (e) Uiversals Are “Likenesses”; 3. he Problem Restated.

    "The previous chapter was an informal discussion of the origins and significance of the problem of universals in Plato and Aristotle. We now skip nine hundred years to discuss a passage in a commentary by Boethius (c. 480-524) on a work entitled Isagoge written two centuries earlier by the neo-Platonist philosopher Porphyry. During those eight centuries after Aristotle there was certainly a great deal of thought given by many men to the topic of universals, but we safely ignore this ill explored region of the history of philosophy since what the early scholastics knew of it was pretty much limited to what could be dredged from Boethius, and for the most part from this single passage that we are about to study. And since we are now dealing directly with what Peter Abailard and his contemporaries considered not just a statement, but the statement of the problem of universals, we shall have to be much more precise in our analysis." (p. 53)

    "I must warn the reader from the start that what we are about to examine is a confused, vague and disorderly piece of philosophical writing. Since it was in Abailard’s day the only detailed discussion of universals bequeathed to the scholastics by antiquity, we shall be driven to the conclusion that the scholastics of that time had on this topic received no clear instructions at all from the classical authorities they so revered. Probably this was all to the good. Here was an area where the sharp minds of the twelfth century were almost totally unfettered by the tradition and could explore many different approaches.

    But Boethius’ text is far from worthless. It sets forth a terminology that was sufficiently vague to allow for use by almost any conceivable theory, but yet sufficiently meaningful to facilitate communication and argument. Furthermore, it related the rather battered remains of some ancient ideas on the topic, and these were still potent enough to excite intelligent people to construct their own theories around them.

    A second warning is necessary. It is not at all clear that Boethius himself believes that what he is saying here has any more than provisional validity. At the very end he tells us that he has set forth the solution he gives not because he agrees with it but because it was Aristotle’s and, after all, the reader is, presumably, preparing himself for the study of Aristotle’s Categories. It is well known that Boethius himself was a Platonist, and thus it is not entirely surprising that his account of the Aristotelian view here is not very coherent and opens more questions than it answers. Perhaps Boethius himself intended it that way. With all this in mind let us examine the text in detail.

    (a) Interpreting Porphyry

    The passage from Porphyry that Boethius has translated from the Greek and is about to comment on runs as follows:

    On the subject of genera and species I shall at present decline to say whether they subsist or are given in mere bare ideas, and whether as subsistents they are corporeal or incorporeal, and whether they are separate from sensible items or given in sensible items. For topics of this sort are very deep and demand a long inquiry.

    Mox de generibus et speciebus illud quidem, sive subsistant, sive in soils nudis intellectibus posita sint, sive subsistentia corporalia sint an incorporalia, et utrum separata a sensibilibus posita: et circa haec consistentia dicere recusabo. Altis-simum enim negotium est hujusmodi, majoris egens inquisitionis.(11)" (pp. 63-64)

    (11) Migne, Pat. Lat., voL 64 82 A-B.

  24. Wang, Qi. 2014. Boethius and the Importance of Basic Logic and Mathematics for Philosophy, Leiden University.

    Unpublished Ph.D. thesis availbale at Leiden University.

    "My dissertation has three main parts. The first part (Chapter II) focuses on Boethius’ elementary disciplines, logic and mathematics. I will give a short introduction to these two disciplines and their roles in Boethius’ whole knowledge; then I will point out applications of each one to the other. The second and third parts (Chapter III and Chapter IV) trace applications of mathematics and basic logic in Boethius’ theological treatises and in the Consolatio Philosophiae respectively. Before the three main chapters, the background of Boethius will be introduced first. In this chapter, I will give a description of the curriculum before Boethius and an introduction toBoethius’ curriculum on mathematics, logic, theology, and his Consolatio Philosophiae." (p. 3)

Études en Français

  1. de Libera, Alain. 1999. L'art des généralités. Théories de l'abstraction. Paris: Aubier.

    Chapitre II: Boèce, pp. 159-280.

    "Médiateur quasi exclusif des doctrines porphyriennes, Boèce a également déterminé en profondeur l'interprétation du questionnaire de Porphyre : c'est donc lui qui, jusqu'au XIIe siècle, a aussi fourni aux Latini de quoi entendre et argumenter le « problème des universaux » enté par les commentateurs néoplatoniciens du VIe siècle sur le formulaire de Porphyre. Ce rôle massif, bien reconnu par l'historiographie, en dissimule cependant un autre, qui est demeuré inaperçu. On peut le résumer d'une phrase, dont les pages qui suivent apporteront la démonstration : dans son interprétation même de Porphyre, Boèce a assuré la pérennité, voire l'articulation même, de ce que nous avons appelé l'« épistémé alexandrinienne ».

    C'est par Boèce, en effet, que les doctrines d'Alexandre, et plus encore ses concepts et ses théorèmes les plus fondamentaux, ont été connus, sans toujours être reconnus, par les Latins. Dans le naufrage global des sources littéraires de l'Antiquité tardive, qui impose à l'historien l'idée fausse d'une rupture entre le monde antique et le monde médiéval, l'oeuvre de Boèce est comme une Arche où survivent - pour la plupart anonymes - les théories, les débats, mais aussi les réseaux de concepts et d'arguments, tissés au long des siècles à partir des écrits d'Alexandre d'Aphrodise. Pour comprendre la pensée philosophique latine jusqu'à son accomplissement dans la figure préscolastique, gréco-latine, du savoir, qui se déploie au XIIe siècle chez Pierre Abéïard, le passage par Boèce est donc obligé. C'est par lui que, à leur insu, les médiévaux ont communiqué avec Alexandre, ses interprètes et ses critiques. L'Aetas boethiana a donc été aussi l'« époque » ou l'« ère » philosophique d'Alexandre, l'« âge » de l'Alexandre de Boèce (comme on dit le Socrate de Platon) : l'Alexandre des Quaestiones. À partir du XIIIe siècle, le Moyen Âge en connaîtra un autre : celui d'un Alexandre commentateur des écrits naturels d'Aristote et théoricien de l'intellect - l'Alexandre d'Averroès, l'Alexandre arabo-latin (7). C'est au premier que nous nous intéresserons ici." (pp. 161-162)

    (7) Sur cet autre visage d'Alexandre, le lecteur pourra consulter les notes que nous avons rédigées pour Averroès. L'Intelligence et la pensée. Grand commentaire du De anima, III. Trad., introd., bibliogr.,

    chronologie, notes et index, Paris (GF, 974), GF-Flammarion, 1998.

  2. Hadot, Pierre. 1959. "Un fragment du commentaire perdu de Boèce sur les Catégories d'Aristote dans le codex Bernensis 363." Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge no. 26:11-27.

    Repris dans P. Hadot, Plotin, Porphyre. Études néoplatoniciennes, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1999, pp. 383-410 et dans P. Hadot, Études de Patristique et d'histoire des concepts, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2010, pp. 323-343.

    "En 1863, dans ses Rhetores Latini Minores(1), K. Halm publiait une suite d'excerpta contenue dans le Bernensis 363 (seconde moitié du IXe siècle), sous le titre, qu'il adopta dans son édition : Ars rhelorica Clodiani de statibus. Comme il le signalait dans sa préface(2), cette suite d'excerpta comprenait d'abord un emprunt à un ouvrage de stalibus, puis un extrait plus long emprunté à un commentaire sur les Catégories d'Aristote, enfin quelques lignes se rapportant au γνῶθι σαυτόν.

    Halm constata que l'extrait du commentaire sur les Catégories d'Aristote ne correspondait pas au commentaire de Boèce que nous connaissons. Mais il n'émit aucune hypothèse au sujet de l'origine de cet extrait. Or, il semble bien que nous soyons ici en présence d'un fragment de la seconde édition du commentaire de Boèce sur les Catégories(3). En effet, cè commentaire :

    1 ° se rapportant aux deux premières lignes des Catégories d'Aristote,

    2° utilise le commentaire de Porphyre sur ces mêmes Catégories, κατά πεϋσιν καί αποκρισιν qui nous a été conservé,

    3° utilise également le second commentaire {perdu) de Porphyre « à Gédalius », dont on retrouve les traces chez Dexippe et Simplicius,

    4° et enfin, pour différent qu'il soit du commentaire de Boèce que nous connaissons, contient néanmoins beaucoup de particularités de style, propres à Boèce."

    (1) 1) C. Halm, Rhetores Iatini minores, Leipzig, 1863, p.560-592.

    (2) Ibid., p. XIV.

    (3) Sur ce second commentaire, aujourd'hui perdu, cf. plus bas, p. 23-24.

  3. Tremblay, Bruno. 2005. "Boèce, In Cat. : proème et commentaire aux antepraedicamenta." Carmina Philosophiae no. 14:1-56.

    "Le traité des Catégories occupe une place de choix et dans les étudesaristotéliciennes en général à travers les siècles, et dans l’école des commentateurs dits “néoplatoniciens” de la fin de l’Antiquité à laquelle

    Boèce se rattache et pour laquelle le traité constitue un préambule à l’ensemble de la philosophie,(3) et dans l’oeuvre de Boèce lui-même, ne serait-ce que parce que son travail sur les Catégories constitue le premier pan de son projet gigantesque et bien sûr inachevé de traduire et de commenter tout Aristote et Platon.(4)

    Une grande partie de l’intérêt que suscite ce petit ouvrage d’Aristote vient de sa difficulté d’interprétation. À cet égard, la plus importante des questions posées par sa lecture tourne sans doute autour de la détermination du sujet ou du propos de l’ouvrage, sur lequel Aristote donne peu d’indications explicites, ce qui a évidemment causé une grande diversité dans les vues des commentateurs.(5) La question est

    d’autant plus sérieuse que c’est à la lumière de sa réponse qu’on se prononcera sur le caractère logique, métaphysique ou linguistique de l’oeuvre, ainsi que sur le rôle et l’unité réelle ou factice des trois parties

    de l’ouvrage tel que l’édition ancienne nous l’a transmis : antepraedicamenta (chap.1-4), praedicamenta proprement dits (chap.5-9) et postpraedicamenta (chap.10-15).

    Boèce lui-même rend bien compte dans son commentaire du caractère difficile de ce problème, puisque après y avoir répondu en disant que les sons vocaux qui signifient les choses ou les genres des choses, en tant qu’ils les signifient, constituent le sujet des Catégories, il s’empresse d’ajouter que la réponse qu’il a donnée ne vaut que pour les débutants, parce que la vraie solution, qui est de fait beaucoup plus subtile, demandera qu’on y revienne en un autre lieu et exigera la science pythagoricienne et un enseignement parfait (160AB). Quoi qu’il en soit de cette autre solution, peut-être contenue dans un deuxième commentaire, perdu, au traité des Catégories, la formulation du propos mentionnée et de fait l’ensemble du commentaire allaient être pris très au sérieux par les logiciens médiévaux." (pp. 1-2)

    (3) Simplicius, In Aristotelis Categorias Commentarium, éd. C. Kalbfleish, CAG VIII (Berlin: Reimer, 1907), 1, 4-5. À partir de maintenant, je renverrai à cette oeuvre de la façon suivante: Simplicius, In Cat.

    (4) Boèce, Commentarii in librum Aristotelis Peri Hermeneias, editio secunda, éd. K. Meiser (Leipzig: Teubner, 1877-1880), 79, 9-80, 9.

    (5) Simplicius, In Cat., 9, 4-13, 18, nous donne une bonne idée de cette diversité.

Estudos en Español

  1. Bertelloni, Francisco. 2012. "El resultado del conocimiento universal en el segundo comentario de Boecio a la Isagogé de Porfirio." Scripta no. 5:11-34.

    Resumen: "El autor trata tres temas presentes en el segundo comentario de Boecio a la Isagogé de Porfirio. El primero muestra que cuando Boecio argumenta contra el universal ontológico de Porfirio, lo hace en términos cuantitativos; por ello la argumentación de Boecio contra el realismo porfiriano es diferente, por ej., de la argumentación que utiliza Abelardo en su Logica Ingredientibus. Mientras para Boecio lo que es uno no puede ser simultáneamente múltiple a causa de una imposibilidad cuantitativa, para Abelardo la misma imposibilidad resulta de una reducción al absurdo, pues la misma res universalis no puede ser racional en un sujeto e irracional en otro. El segundo tema es la distinción boeciana entre modo de ser y modo de ser conocido

    del universal. El tercer tema es la posibilidad de aferrar el universal boeciano a través de una fórmula apta para tipificar ese universal que, según Boecio, sería deficiente si fuera solo gnoseológico o solo ontológico; esa fórmula debe poder dar cuentas, simultáneamente, de ambas dimensiones del universal, es decir, la dimensión real-ontológica y la intelectual-gnoseológica."

  2. Correia, Manuel. 2007. "Los tratados silogísticos de Boecio: sus fuentes, historia e influencia en la cristiandad latina." Teología y Vida no. 48:131-140.

    Resumen: "En este artículo se describen los contenidos de un tratado sobre lógica aristotélica escrito por Boecio en el VI d. C., llamado por nuestras ediciones modernas De syllogismo categorico (=DSC). A través de sus contenidos, es posible mostrar: (i) la importancia de este tratado en el proceso de transmisión de la lógica de Aristóteles al medioevo latino; (ii) su relación con otro tratado monográfico similar, titulado por la crítica moderna Introductio ad syllogismos categoricos (ISC) y su relación temática con DSC; (iii) las fuentes más probables de ambos tratados; y, finalmente, (iv) su influencia en el medioevo latino. La hipótesis que se defiende en este artículo es que los contenidos lógicos de este tratado, en particular la clasificación de las proposiciones categóricas, contenida en el corazón del DSC, entregan no solo el objeto temático al tratado, sino también coherencia argumentativa y unidad. En especial, el estudio de esta clasificación permite demostrar la unidad de DSC y en particular que el segundo libro de DSC es genuino y no espurio como sostuvieron, no hace mucho, los estudiosos Murari y McKinlay; además, esta misma clasificación permite apreciar su diferencia con ISC, por el hecho de que este último tratado posee una clasificación diferente a la de DSC. La base de la hipótesis propuesta se halla en que la clasificación mencionada es un intento por generar, a partir de los elementos proposicionales, las principales operaciones lógicas definidas por Aristóteles en sus escritos lógicos, asunto que en la revisión de De Rijk (1964) no quedó totalmente establecido."


    De Rijk L. M. (1964): On the Chronology of Boethius’ works on Logic (I and II), en Vivarium, vol. 2, parts 1 & 2, 1964, pp. 1-49 and 122-162.

    McKinlay (1938): “The De syllogismis categoricis and Introductio ad syllogismos categoricos of Boethius”, en Classical and Mediaeval Studies in honor of E. K. Rand, New York 1938, pp. 209-219.

    Murari R. (1905): Dante e Boezio, Bologna 1905.

  3. Ferreira, Paulo. 2021. "Sobre a tese de que a bivalência implica o determinismo causal, do estoicismo ao aristotelismo." Journal of Ancient Philosophy no. 15:173-189.

    Abstract: "According to Simplicius’ commentary on Aristotle’s Categories, the Platonic philosopher Claudius Nicostratus (fl. mid-2nd c. A.D.) challenges Aristotle’s claim in the Categories to the effect that statements about future contingents are neither true nor false. I argue that Nicostratus’ charge traces back to Chrysippus’ argument for causal determinism in Cicero’s De Fato and plays a significant role in motivating Ammonius’ and Boethius’ solution to the problem of future contingents."

  4. Molina Cantó, Eduardo. 2001. "Traducción y comentario en le Medioevo temprano: Boecio y el De interpretatione 14." Onomazein no. 6:149-162.

    Resumen: "La traducción y el comentario al tratado Sobre la interpretación de Aristóteles, llevados a cabo por Boecio, son examinados en este artículo con el fin de discutir una tesis recientemente sostenida, según la cual la tarea de Boecio como comentarista del corpus lógico aristotélico se limitaría a una traducción mecánica de glosas. Frente a esto, aquí se sostiene (1) que al examinar la labor como traductor de Boecio resulta más verosímil seguir adjudicándole la autoría intelectual de los comentarios y (2) que si se atiende al contexto de los comentarios del temprano medioevo, no cabe ir en busca de originalidad en un caso como este, sino de capacidad de asimilar y evaluar las discusiones y observaciones de que podía disponerse, cosa que puede afirmarse convincentemente de Boecio."