, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 271-277
Date: 12 Jul 2007

William of Ockham’s The Sum of Logic

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William of Ockham’s Summa Logicae is a classic of analytical metaphysics, using a typical fourteenth century logic treatise to defend a reductionist ontology.

See Ockham (1974) for the full critical edition of the Latin text. Parts I and II, and a small part of Part III (which itself comprises more than half the work), have been translated into English. For details, see Spade (1999), 8.

For Ockham, everything is an individual, and this is to be shown by the correct logical analysis of language, reinterpreting Aristotle’s Categories as a taxonomy of the many ways in which terms can be predicated. The ultimate basis is the attribution of an individual quality to an individual substance. This theory of the signification of terms is then extended to an account of the truth-conditions of propositions and the truth-preservation of arguments, but always with the reduction to individuals as the key. This classic work in the logical analysis of language still contains lively insights for contemp