On the question of universals he endeavoured to steer a middle course between the pantheistically inclined realism of Duns Scotus and the extreme nominalism of William of Occam.
NOMINALISM (from Lat.
Under an appearance of much vain subtlety the controversy about universals involved issues of the greatest speculative and practical importance: realism represented a spiritual, nominalism an anti-spiritual, view of the world; while realism was evidently favourable, and nominalism unfavourable, to the teaching of the Church on the dogmas of the Trinity and the Eucharist.
Nominalism was a doctrine of sceptics and suspected heretics, such as Berengar of Tours and Roscellinus.
When nominalism was revived in the 14th century by the English Franciscan, William of Occam, it gave evidence of a new tendency in thought, a distrust of abstractions and an impulse towards direct observation and inductive research, a tendency which had its fulfilment in the scientific movement of the Renaissance.
Though nominalism is properly a medieval theory, the tendency has passed over into modern philosophy: the term "nominalist" is often applied to thinkers of the empirical, sensationalist school, of whom J.
It may be held that they exist merely as conceptions in our minds; this is Nominalism or Conceptualism.
And accordingly it gave rise to the three great doctrines which divided the medieval schools: Realism of the Platonic type, embodied in the formula universalia ante rein; Realism of the Aristotelian type, universalia in re; and Nominalism, including Conceptualism, expressed by the phrase universalia post rem, and also claiming to be based upon the Peripatetic doctrine.
Prantl has professed to find the headstream of Nominalism also in Scotus Erigena; but beyond the fact that he discusses at considerable length the categories of thought and their mutual relations, occasionally using the term voces to express his meaning, Prantl appears to adduce no reasons for an assertion which directly contradicts Erigena's most fundamental doctrines.
The real germs of Realism and Nominalism are to be found in the 9th century, in scattered commentaries and glosses upon the statements of Porphyry and Boetius.
Taken strictly his words state the position of extreme Nominalism; but even if we were not forbidden to do so by other passages, in which the doctrine of moderate Realism is adopted (under cover of the current distinction between the singular as felt and the pure universal as understood), it would still be unfair to press any passage in the writings of this period.
As Cousin says, " Realism and Nominalism were undoubtedly there in germ, but their true principles with their necessary consequences remained profoundly unknown; their connexion with all the great questions of religion and politics was not even suspected.
C. 1125) was looked upon by later times as the originator of the sententia vocum, that is to say, of Nominalism proper.
But this is precisely an instance of the hypostatization of abstractions in exposing which the chief strength and value of Nominalism lie.
It is not to be supposed that the full scope of his doctrine was present to the mind of Roscellinus; but Nominalism would hardly have made the sensation it did had its assertions been as innocent as Haureau would make them.
Like most innovators, Roscellinus stated his position in bold language, which emphasized his opposition to accepted doctrines; and his words, if not his intentions, involved the extreme Nominalism which, by making universality merely subjective, pulverizes existence into detached particulars.
It was the rith century which gave Nominalism to the world."
William of Champeaux (1070-1121), who is reputed the founder of a definitely formulated Realism, much Y as Roscellinus is regarded as the founder of Nominalism, was instructed by Roscellinus himself in dialectic. Unfortunately none of William's philosophical works have survived, and we depend upon the statements of his opponent Abelard, in the Historia calamitatum mearum, and in certain manuscripts discovered by Cousin.
In this list are included of course all shades of opinion, from extreme Nominalism to extreme Realism.
The doctrine of indifference as it appears in later writers certainly tends, as Prantl points out, towards Nominalism, inasmuch as it gives up the substantiality of the universals.
The concessions to Nominalism which such views embody make them representative of what Haureau calls " the Peripatetic section of the Realistic school."
By these distinctions Abelard hoped to escape the consequences of extreme Nominalism, from which, as a matter of history, his doctrine has been distinguished under the name of Conceptualism, seeing that it lays stress not on the word as such but on the thought which the word is intended to convey.
But he modifies his Nominalism so as to approach, though somewhat vaguely, to the position of Aristotle himself.
The last stage of Scholasticism preceding its dissolution is marked by the revival of Nominalism in a militant form.
But the name with which the Nominalism of the 14th century is historically associated is that of the " Invincible Doctor," William of Occam William of who, (q.v.),, as the, author of a doctrine which came occam to be almost universally accepted, received from his followers the title Venerabilis inceptor.
Moreover, there is no denying that the new Nominalism not only represents the love of reality and the spirit of induction, but also contains in itself the germs of that empiricism and:sensualism so frequentlyassociated with the former tendencies.
Nominalism was at first met by the opposition of the church and the constituted authorities.
In 1339 Occam's treatises were put under a ban by the university of Paris, and in the following year Nominalism was solemnly condemned.
The nature of the resultant concepts belongs to the great controversy between Nominalism, Realism and Conceptualism.
Faith in the infallibility of the scholastic system was thus shaken, and the system itself was destroyed by the revival of philosophic nominalism, which had been discredited in the 11th century by the realism of the great schoolmen.
But nominalism was powerless to inspire theology with new life; on the contrary, its intervention only increased the inextricable tangle of the hairsplitting questions with which theology busied itself, and made their solution more and more impossible.
The latent nominalism of Aristotle only came gradually to be emphasized through the prominence which Christianity gave to the individual life, and, apart from passing notices as in Abelard, first found clear enunciation in the school of Duns Scotus.
The former Realism and Nominalism were lifted into a higher phase by the principle of the universalizing action of intellect - Intellectus in formis agit universalitatem.
This is the true view of the scientific or inductive universal (as opposed to that of nominalism or pure empiricism).
Roscellinus, the famous canon of Compiegne, is mentioned by himself as his teacher; but whether he heard this champion of extreme Nominalism in early youth, when he wandered about from school to school for instruction and exercise, or some years later, after he had already begun to teach for himself, remains uncertain.
He has left on record that it was his aim and hope to reconcile realism and nominalism in the interests of theological peace.
The common account of his philosophical position, that he reintroduced nominalism, which had been in decadence since the days of Roscellinus and Abelard, by teaching that universals were only flatus vocis, is scarcely correct.
The work deals with the current difficulties between nominalism and realism, the relation between the individual and the genus or species.
This extreme of nominalism for which predication is impossible is, however, compromised by two concessions.
His influence on his successors has rather lain in the general stimulus of his enthusiasm for experience, or in the success with which he represents the cause of nominalism and in certain special devices of method handed down till, through Hume or Herschel, they affected the thought of Mill.
Hobbes developed the nominalism which had been the hallmark of revolt against scholastic orthodoxy, and, when he brings this into relation with the analysis and synthesis of scientific A notable formula of Bacon's Novum Organum ii.
Drawing upon Gassendi for his psychological atomism and upon Hobbes for a thoroughgoing nominalism, he reproduces, as the logical conclusion from Locke's premises, the position of Antisthenes.