Medieval logic: "supposition"?

Hi. I’ve been trying to study medieval logic lately, and I know that for these guys linguistics is a real big deal.

Could someone familiar with scholastic logic explanation to me clearly what “supposition” is? Then, could you explain to me “simple” and “personal” supposition (material supposition is easy it seems)?


Simple supposition occurs when a term is used to refer to (supposit for) an intention of the soul (a concept).

Personal supposition occurs when a term is used to refer to (supposit for) the thing (“outside” the soul) which it signifies.

Okay. So is personal supposition a species of simple supposition?

Sorry. I now realize that personal supposition is not a species of simple supposition.

However, there is something else I’m starting to think. Are you familiar with the various divisions of personal supposition? Because this is what I’m seeming to get:

Can’t all simple supposition be reduced to a form of personal supposition? For instance, “man is mortal” (simple) can be reduced to “all men are mortal” (personal, confused, distributive). Is this correct?

I’m far from an expert on this, and I suspect that the answer to your question depends on whose theory you are referring to (I assume you are looking at Ockham?), but “man is mortal” is already a case of personal supposition. ‘Man’ signifies and refers to/supposits for each man, each of which is outside the soul. It doesn’t refer to the concept ‘man’ (which is *not *mortal).

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