Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Adam Wodeham

  • Stephen E. LaheyEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1151-5_11-2


Adam Wodeham (d. 1358) is an Oxford Franciscan protégé of Ockham and influential adherent of Ockham’s philosophical approach in the years of Oxford’s “Golden Age” of theology. Wodeham’s most important philosophical innovation was the “complex significable,” akin to the contemporary idea of States of Affairs. He developed this in his epistemological project of ascertaining what we understand when we claim knowledge of things in the world. Ockham had held that the objects of scientific knowledge are mental propositions in which the concept naturally signifies the perceived objects, which led to questions about whether we make judgments about mental propositions or things. Wodeham’s innovation was to argue that we formulate judgments about things in the world when things conform to the way the mind formulates propositions about them. While this does not introduce a new layer of ontological complexity to the extramental world, it does focus attention on the natural method by which we propositionalize what we perceive. Wodeham’s doctrine of complex significables was to be influential in later scholastic epistemological discourse, and it contributed importantly to the logico-semantic approach of Oxford theology. Wodeham was also an important opponent of spatiotemporal atomism, a view that arose within the philosophical speculation about how to mathematize our understanding of the physical world that characterizes the thought of the Mertonian “Calculators.”

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Medieval Philosophy and TheologyBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Classics and Religious StudiesUniversity of NebraskaLincolnUSA