On the Purity of the Art of Logic


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The Shorter and the Longer Treatises

Walter Burley; Translated by Paul Vincent Spade

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This is the first complete English translation of On the Purity of the Art of Logic, a handbook of logic written in Latin by English philosopher Walter Burley (c.1275–1344/5). The work circulated in the Middle Ages in two versions, a shorter and a longer one, both translated here by Paul Vincent Spade. The translations are based on the only complete edition of Burley’s treatises, corrected by Spade on the basis of one of the surviving manuscripts. The book also includes an extensive introduction, explanatory notes, a table of corresponding passages between the two versions, a select annotated bibliography, and three indexes.

A contemporary of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, Burley was active at the universities of both Paris and Oxford. He became one of the most important figures in the transformation of medieval logic and semantics that took place in the early fourteenth century. Burley used new tools and techniques of logical and semantical analysis, yet in many cases he used them in defense of traditional views, such as a realist metaphysical theory of “universals. On the Purity of the Art of Logic shows both these sides of Burley—the innovator and the conservative—as well as some of the ways in which his views corresponded or clashed with those of William of Ockham.

Paul Vincent Spade is professor of philosophy and an associate member of the department of history and philosophy of science at Indiana University.

“Paul Spade, one of the most experienced editors and scholars of medieval logical texts, has provided us with a lucid translation of Philotheus Boehner’s edition of Burley’s Latin text. . . . Paul Spade has done a service in making such a significant text available to a much wider audience of students and scholars. On the Purity of the Art of Logic opens a window on an extraordinary age of logical experimentation.”—Hester Goodenough Gelber, Speculum

“This is the first full-length translation of a work by the influential medieval logician Walter Burley. As such, it is an important addition to our knowledge of medieval logic, and will undoubtedly spur further research.”—E.J. Ashworth, The Philosophical Review

ISBN: 9780300082005
Publication Date: December 11, 2000
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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