Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Paul of Venice

  • Fabrizio Amerini
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_374


Paul of Venice has been one of the most important logicians and metaphysicians of the Late Middle Ages. His philosophical attitude can be called Realist, since Paul erected a philosophical system in which different forms of medieval Realism have been combined together in an original way. Basically, Paul’s philosophy has been influenced by some relevant realistic thinkers such as John Wyclif and the late fourteenth century Oxonian realists, John Duns Scotus and Walter Burley. From Scotus, Paul inherits his major metaphysical doctrines: the univocity of the concept of being; the real distinction among categories; the extramental foundation of universals; the technical notions of formal distinction, individual differentia, and thisness (haecceitas). Paul’s basic metaphysical intuition – viz. that the extramental world is made up of individual things, which can be construed as a cluster of universal forms, formally distinct from each other – can be traced back to Burley. Upon such metaphysics, Paul grounds his interpretation of Aristotle’s epistemology and psychology, which significantly departs in many points from Averroes’ interpretation. On the other hand, his eclectic and epitomizing attitude toward medieval philosophy leads Paul to be open to other traditions of thought. Thus, Paul refers to Albert of Saxony and other Parisian physicians when he has to explain natural philosophy; Thomas Aquinas plays a crucial role in Paul’s account of Aristotle’s metaphysics; Giles of Rome instead exerts a decisive influence on most of Paul’s Aristotelian Commentaries; finally, Paul does not miss the opportunity of discussing critically, in his handbooks, the logical and philosophical doctrines of many Nominalists of the fourteenth century, from William of Ockham and Gregory of Rimini up to John Buridan and Marsilius of Inghen. This methodological attitude certainly contributes to rendering his works stimulating and historically interesting, although it enormously complicates the interpreter’s attempt to single out Paul’s own position. Perhaps this is the reason why Paul has been wrongly regarded as Nominalist in logic, Thomist in metaphysics, and Averroist in psychology.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabrizio Amerini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly