Ockham on Habits

  • Magali Roques
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 7)


This paper is dedicated to William of Ockham’s theory of habit, which he considers to be a disposition of a power of the soul. I will argue that Ockham’s view on the relation between a habit and its manifestation sheds new light on his well-known thesis that sensible and intelligible species are not needed to account for cognition. The identity conditions of habits are themselves the ground of their intentionality: there is no way to track a habit from an act of a given kind except by stipulating a causal relation between them. In this sense, a study of Ockham’s theory of habit is a step towards our understanding of the relation between similarity and causation in his theory of intentionality. Ockham’s theory of habit accommodates intentional phenomena that, contrary to the scholarly consensus, are not ipso facto semantic phenomena.


Habits William of Ockham Cognition Intentionality Metaphysics of the soul 


Primary Literature

  1. Henry of Ghent. 1518 [1961]. Quodlibeta Magistri Henrici Goethals a Gandavo. 2 vols. [Paris]: Jodocus Badius. Reprint Louvain: Bibliothèque S.J.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 1994. Summa (Quaestiones Ordinariarae), art. XXXV–XL, ed. Gordon A. Wilson. Opera Omnia 28. Leuven: Leuven University Press.35.4 (Opera, 28: 37.7677).Google Scholar
  3. John Duns Scotus. 1959. Ordinatio: Liber primus, a distinctione undecima ad vigesimam quintam, ed. Carolus Balić et al. Opera Omnia 5. Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis. (= Vat. 5).Google Scholar
  4. Thomas Aquinas. 1888–1906. Summa theologiae, ed. Commissio Leonina. 9 vols. Sancti Thomae de Aquino Opera Omnia iussu Leonis XIII P.M. edita 4–12: Rome: Ex Typographia Polyglotta S. C. de Propaganda Fide. (= Leonina 4–12).Google Scholar
  5. ———. 1970–1976. Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, ed. Commissio Leonina. 3 vols. Sancti Thomae de Aquino Opera Omnia iussu Leonis XIII P.M. edita 22: Rome: Ad Sanctae Sabinae. (= Leonina 22).Google Scholar
  6. William of Ockham. 1967–1988. Guillelmi de Ockham Opera philosophica et theologica ad fidem codicum manuscriptorum edita cura Instituti Franciscani St. Bonaventurae, ed. Gedeon Gàl et al. St. Bonaventure: Franciscan Institute. (= OPh, OTh).Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Adams, Marilyn. 1987. William Ockham. Vol. 2. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 2002. Ockham on the soul: Elusive proof, dialectical persuasions. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 75: 43–77.Google Scholar
  3. Adams, Marilyn, and Allan B. Wolter. 1993. Memory and intuition: A focal debate in fourteenth century cognitive psychology. Franciscan Studies 53: 189–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adams, Marilyn, and Cecilia Trifogli. 2012. Whose thought is it? The soul and the subject of action in some thirteenth and fourteenth century Aristotelians. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85: 624–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biard, Joël. 1989. Logique et théorie du signe au XIVe siècle. Paris: Vrin.Google Scholar
  6. Block, Ned. 1989. Can the mind change the world? In Meaning and Method: Essays in Honor of Hilary Putnam, ed. George S. Boolos, 137–170. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brower-Toland, Susan. 2007. Ockham on judgment, concepts, and the problem of intentionality. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37: 67–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Choi, Sugho, and Michael Fara. 2012. Dispositions. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta. Accessed 19 Mar 2016.
  9. Cross, Richard. 1998. The Physics of Duns Scotus: The Scientific Context of a Theological Vision. Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ———. 2014. Duns Scotus’s Theory of Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Drummond, Ian. 2016. John Duns Scotus on the role of the moral virtues. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  12. Fuchs, Oswald. 1952. The Psychology of Habit According to William Ockham. St. Bonaventure: Franciscan Institute.Google Scholar
  13. Goddu, Andre. 1984. The Physics of William of Ockham. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  14. Hirvonen, Vesa. 2004. Passions in William Ockham’s Philosophical Psychology. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holopainen, Taina. 1991. William Ockham’s Theory of the Foundations of Ethics. Luther-Agricola Society: Helsinki.Google Scholar
  16. Kent, Bonnie. 2002. Habits and virtues. In The Ethics of Aquinas, ed. Stephen J. Pope, 116–130. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  17. King, Peter. 2008. The inner Cathedral: Mental architecture in high scholasticism. Vivarium 46: 253–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Normore, Calvin. 2010. Primitive intentionality and reduced intentionality: Ockham’s legacy. Quaestio 10: 255–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Panaccio, Claude. 2004. Ockham on Concepts. Hampshire: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  20. Pasnau, Robert. 1997. Theories of Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2002. Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature: A Philosophical Study of Summa theologiae Ia, 75–89. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 2007. The mind-soul problem. In Mind, Cognition and Representation: The Tradition of Commentaries on Aristotle’s De anima, ed. Paul Bakker and J.M.M.H. Thijssen, 3–20. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  23. Perler, Dominik. 2010. Ockham über die Seele und ihre Teile. Recherches de théologie et philosophie médiévales 77: 329–366.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2015. Faculties in Medieval Philosophy. In The Faculties: A History, ed. Dominik Perler, 97–139.Google Scholar
  25. Roques, Magali. 2017. Logique de la découverte et rationalité des conduites pré-scientifiques: Induction et uniformité de la nature d’après Jean Buridan. In Hommage à Joël Biard, ed. Christophe Grellard, 253–270. Paris: Vrin.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2019. Causal determinism in fourteenth-century natural philosophy. In Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science, ed. R. Garau, and P. Omodeo. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Spruit, Leen. 1994. Species intelligibilis: From perception to knowledge. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  28. Stump, Eleonore. 1999. The mechanisms of cognition: Ockham on mediating species. In The Cambridge companion to William of Ockham, ed. Paul Spade, 168–203. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tachau, Katherine. 1988. Vision and Certitude in the Age of Ockham: Optics, Epistemology, and the Foundations of Semantics, 1250–1345. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Magali Roques
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Philosophisches SeminarUniversität HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes (UMR 8584)Villejuif CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations