Potestas Essendi

A Virtual Space for Thoughts on the Middle Ages, by Nicola Polloni


Leave a comment

New Book!

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 07.26.37.png

My new book on Gundissalinus, Domingo Gundisalvo. Una introducción (Editorial Sindéresis, Madrid 2017) has appeared! Even though we should wait another couple of weeks to see it into shelves of Spanish and South-American libraries (but also on Amazon!), you can have a first flavour of it downloading my preface HERE.


Leave a comment

Aristotle in Toledo

A new volume of the series Arabica Veritas has been published, and again is a very good one (Arabica Veritas is such a great series!): ‘Ex Oriente Lux’. Translating Words, Scripts and Styles in the Medieval Mediterranean World, edited by Charles Burnett and Pedro Mantas. The volume collects many interesting contributions by scholars like A. Fidora, U. Cecini, D.N. Hasse, the two prestigious editors… and also an (hopefully) interesting contribution I’ve prepared on the use Gundissalinus makes of the explicit reference to Aristotle in his writings. The title is Aristotle in Toledo: Gundissalinus, the Arabs, and Gerard of Cremona’s Translations, and you can download a copy of the paper HERE. As always, if you have any comments or questions, I’d be more than glad to answer to your emails.

 Screen Shot 2016-11-20 at 10.19.25.png


Leave a comment

Dominicus Gundissalinus’s Biography

downloadFinally, a new article that I was waiting so much to be ready and published! It’s quite a short but very useful contribution to the understanding of the biography of Dominicus Gundissalinus. I tried to summarise and check all the sources and hypotheses regarding Gundissalinus’s life and activity in order to provide a complete, updated, and consistent biographical frame. You can download the article HERE and read it, if you want. The reference is: N. Polloni, “Elementi per una biografia di Dominicus Gundisalvi”, Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et Littèraire du Moyen Âge 82, 7-22.

Abstract – Cette étude présente les principaux témoignages en notre possession, ainsi que les hypothèses émises par les historiens, sur la biographie de Dominique Gundisalvi, traducteur et philosophe actif à Tolède dans la seconde moitié du XII e siècle. La vie de Gundisalvi est reconstruite à partir des sources documentaires et des données glanées dans les ouvrages émanant de l’entourage de Gundisalvi. L’article pointe des détails importants concernant le séjour de Gundisalvi à Ségovie, tout en essayant d’expliquer les raisons de son installation à Tolède en 1162. – This study summarizes the main hypothesis and evidences in our possess regarding the biography of the translator and philosopher Dominicus Gundissalinus, who worked in Toledo during the second half of the 12th century. The main phases of Gundissalinus’life are presented through the exam of documental sources and data drawn from works ascribed to the « Gundissalinus’Circle ». The article clarifies some important aspects of Gundissalinus’stay in Segovia, and tries to answer some questions regarding his transfer to Toledo in 1162. – Questo studio presenta le principali ipotesi e testimonianze in nostro possesso relative alla biografia del traduttore e filosofo Dominicus Gundisalvi, attivo a Toledo nella seconda metà del XII secolo. Le principali fasi della vita di Gundisalvi sono illustrate attraverso l’esame delle fonti documentali e di dati ricavati dalle opere ascritte al « circolo gundissaliniano ». L’articolo precisa inoltre alcune questioni relative alla permanenza di Gundisalvi a Segovia, e cerca di rispondere ad alcuni interrogativi circa il suo trasferimento a Toledo nel 1162.


Leave a comment

Thierry of Chartres and Gundissalinus on Spiritual Substance: The Problem of Hylomorphic Composition

r53l2l14.jpgYou can download HERE my article on Thierry and Gundissalinus regarding the ontological (and theological) problem of hylomorphic composition: N. Polloni, “Thierry of Chartres and Gundissalinus on Spiritual Substance: The Problem of Hylomorphic Composition”, Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale 57 (2015), 35-57.

Abstract: In this contribution I examine the problem of spiritual composition in Thierry of Chartres and Gundissalinus. While the former is quite reticent in admitting a spiritual hylomorphism, the latter develops Thierry’s outcomes through the results of al-Ghazali’s and Ibn Daud’s treatment of spiritual substances. The resulting ontology affirms that also spiritual creatures are composed of matter and form: an unacceptable perspective for the three sources used by Gundissalinus.

Keywords: Dominicus Gundissalinus, Thierry of Chartres, Toledo, Abraham Ibn Daud, Al-Ghazali, Hylomorphism, Solomon Ibn Gabirol.


Leave a comment

S. Pessin, Ibn Gabirol’s Theology of Desire (Review)

Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 09.22.00.pngYou can download HERE my review of Sarah Pessin’s Ibn Gabirol’s Theology of Desire. Matter and Method in Jewish Medieval Neoplatonism (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2013 ISBN: 9781107032217), published on Theology and Sexuality 21/2 (2015), 163-165.

The book Ibn Gabirols Theology of Desire: Matter and Method in Jewish Medieval Neoplatonism” (Cambridge 2013) offers some important reflections by Sarah Pessin regarding the text and the philosophical contents of Solomon Ibn Gabirols Font of Life. The study provides an in-depth analysis of Ibn Gabirols metaphysics and a new interpretation of his theology.

The fundamental problem that Pessin deals with is the absence of the original Arabic text by Gabirol: the only sources of Gabirols Font of Life are a twelfth-century Latin translation and a thirteenth-century Hebrew epitome. To these two texts one can add a few Arabic excerpts of the Gabirolian work, which constitute the core of Pessins reading of Gabirols metaphysics. The common interpretation of the philosophical features presented in the Font of Life, based on the Latin translation, incurs some fundamental problems of coherence, especially regarding his position concerning divine will and his ontology, based on universal hylomorphism. Pessin aims to clarify those problematic aspects, showing how this supposed inconsistency is to be ascribed to the Latin translatorsmisinterpretation and Aristotelizationof Gabirols thought and text, which in themselves are strongly tied to Greek and Arabic Neoplatonism.

Pessins argument is based on the textual comparison of the Latin text with the Arabic fragments of the original work. Pessin demonstrates that the Latin term voluntas is an approximate translation of the Arabic al-irada, whose meaning is both willand desire.” Gundissalinustranslation of al-irada as voluntas implies an overinterpretation, due to the significance of this term for the Augustinian philosophical tradition. This semantic slippage is seen as the origin of the medieval discussion of Ibn Gabirols doctrine of divine will, and it is accompanied by a further crucial misunderstanding: that of the Gabirolian concept of matter. Pessins analysis shows how the original text by Gabirol uses two terms in reference to matter: the Arabic al-hayula and al-unsur. Especially regarding the latter, Pessin underlines the Latin translators Aristotelization of the text, translating al-unsur al-awwal as materia prima, while the proper meaning would be grounding element.This second overinterpretation leads Latin philosophers to read Gabirols ontology as a universal hylomorphism. […]

download the full article

 


Leave a comment

M. J. Soto Bruna, C. Alonso Del Real, De unitate et uno de Dominicus Gundissalinus (Review)

9788431329426

My review of Soto Bruna and Alonso Del Real new critical edition of Gundissalinus’ De unitate et uno can be found HERE (cf. Anuario filosófico 49/2 (2016), 484-486).

El De unitate et uno de Gundisalvo es un tratado muy sintético, de temática eminentemente ontológica. Se trata de una obra escrita muy probablemente a principios de la carrera filosófica de Gundisalvo, por la brevedad de la discusión allí expuesta y por el uso masivo que el filósofo hace del Fons vitae de Solomon Ibn Gabirol, obra traducida al latín por el mismo Gundisalvo y cuya recepción va acompañada, en la especulación gundisalviana, de una progresiva problematización debida a la siguiente aceptación de la perspectiva metafísica de Avicena.

El objeto específico del tratado es la unidad como constituyente ontológico y metafísico fundamental, uno de los temas más característicos de la tradición especulativa neoplatónica. Desde un punto de vista más estrictamente analítico, la principal tarea que Gundisalvo se pone en esta obra es el análisis de la diferencia ontológica entre Creador y creatura: el primero, como causa absoluta del ser de las creaturas, es caracterizado por una verdadera Unidad, o sea un ser completo y perfecto que subsiste en si como causa incausada de todo ser. Al otro lado encontramos al ser de las creaturas: un ser unitario, «uno» en cuanto derivado por la Unidad primera y, con esto, caracterizado por un estatuto ontológico diferente del de su causa metafísica, por la degradación que se encuentra en el efecto de la causa y que es implícita en cada causación eficiente.

Desde esta perspectiva, el nexo entre unidad y ser es palmario. El leitmotiv del tratado, que afirma que todo lo que es, es en cuanto es uno, precisa esta relación entre unidad metafísica y subsistencia ontológica respeto tanto del examen de la composición del ser causado, cuanto a la descripción de la progresión cosmogónica, temas que encontraran un más detallado y complejo desarrollo en el De processione mundi gundisalviano y que, en el De unitate et uno, derivan directa y exclusivamente del Fons vitae gabiroliano. Este nexo ontológico entre unidad y ser muestra como el fundamento doctrinal del De unitate reside en la causalidad absoluta del Uno, en un sentido metafísico, ontológico, teológico y existencial, por lo cual cada creatura no solo es contingente en sí misma, o sea en su ser, sino su dependencia ontológica se vuelve teológica y, desde este punto de vista, existencial, en cuanto la Unidad absoluta es Dios, la causa verdadera de la existencia de todo ser en cuanto causa creativa y cúspide de la cadena causal que, de causa en efecto, transmite la voluntad divina en cada momento de la historia de la creación.

La importancia de los temas tratados por Gundisalvo (condensados, hay que repetirlo, en una obra muy breve, densa y compleja como es el De unitate et uno) son analizados detalladamente por María Jesús Soto Bruna en la introducción a la nueva edición crítica que ha preparado Concepción Alonso Del Real. Soto Bruna aborda los varios razonamientos gundisalvianos examinándolos en relación tanto al tratado cuanto a la entera producción del filósofo toledano. Las diferentes cuestiones que Gundisalvo analiza en el De unitate encuentran así un examen muy puntual, donde las referencias a las demás obras del filósofo, a sus fuentes, y a la amplia Wirkungsgeschichte que el De unitate tuvo como obra pseudo-epigráfica de Boecio, resultan no solo importantes sino fundamentales para entender la perspectiva de la reflexión gundisalviana. Paralelamente, la nueva edición crítica ofrecida en este libro resulta de gran interés. Alonso Del Real revisa y amplia los testigos manuscritos en que se basaba la edición de Correns («Die dem Boethius fälschlich zugeschriebene Abhandlung des Dominicus Gundisalvi De unitate», BGPTM, 1/1 1891, pp. 3-11), ofreciendo un texto que sobrepasa la edición del filólogo alemán.

En este sentido, el libro De unitate et uno de Dominicus Gundissalinus se presenta como una aportación fundamental para el estudio y la comprensión del pensamiento de Domingo Gundisalvo, así como para entender la relevancia – desgraciadamente, a menudo infravalorada – que el filósofo toledano tuvo en la historia del pensamiento europeo. Siguiendo las ediciones de los gundisalvianos De anima y De processione mundi presentadas en los últimos años, el trabajo de Soto Bruna y Alonso Del Real sobre el De unitate constituye una contribución excepcional al estudio de Gundisalvo y a nuestra comprensión de aquel laboratorio cultural que fue Toledo en el siglo doce.


Leave a comment

Gundissalinus’s Application of al-Fārābi’s Metaphysical Programme. A Case of Epistemological Transfer

homepageImage_en_US.jpg

You can download HERE my article «Gundissalinus’s Application of al-Fārābi’s Metaphysical Programme. A Case of Epistemological Transfer», Mediterranea. International Journal on the Transfer of Knowledge, 1 (2016), 69-106.

This study deals with Dominicus Gundissalinus’s discussion on metaphysics as philosophical discipline. Gundissalinus’s translation and re-elaboration of al-Fārābī’s Iḥṣā’ al-ʿulūm furnish him, in the De scientiis, a specific and detailed procedure for metaphysical analysis articulated in two different stages, an ascending and a descending one. This very same procedure is presented by Gundissalinus also in his De divisione philosophiae, where the increased number of sources –in particular, Avicenna– does not prevent Gundissalinus to quote the entire passage on the methods of metaphysical science from the Iḥṣā’ al-ʿulūm, with some slight changes in his Latin translation. The analytical procedure herein proposed becomes an effective ‘metaphysical programme’ with regards to Gundissalinus’s onto-cosmological writing, the De processione mundi. The comparative analysis of this treatise with the procedure received by al-Fārābī shows Gundissalinus’s effort to follow and apply this metaphysical programme to his own reflection, in a whole different context from al-Fārābī’s and presenting doctrines quite opposed to the theoretical ground on which al-Fārābī’s epistemology is based, like ibn Gabirol’s universal hylomorphism. Nevertheless, thanks to the application of the ‘metaphysical programme’, one can effectively claim that Gundissalinus’s metaphysics is, at least in the author’s intentions, a well-defined metaphysical system. In appendix to this article the three Latin versions of al-Fārābī’s discussion on metaphysics are reported, e.g., Gundissalinus’s quotations in De scientiis and De divisione philosophiae, and Gerard of Cremona’s translation in his De scientiis.


Leave a comment

Natura vero assimilatur quaternario: numerologia e neoplatonismo nel ‘De Processione Mundi’ di Dominicus Gundissalinus

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-09-02-39

You can download HERE the pdf of my chapter «Natura vero assimilatur quaternario: numerologia e neoplatonismo nel ‘De Processione Mundi’ di Dominicus Gundissalinus», in J. L. Fuertes Herrenos – Á. Poncela González (eds.), De Natura. La naturaleza en la Edad Media, vol. 2, Húmus, Ribeirão 2015, pp. 679-688.


Leave a comment

Gundissalinus on Necessary Being. Textual and Doctrinal Alterations in the Exposition of Avicenna’s Metaphysica

arabic_sciences-and-philosophyYou can download HERE my article on Gundissalinus’s ‘alteration strategy’ in his quotations of Avicenna’s Liber de philosophia prima: N. Polloni, “Gundissalinus on Necessary Being. Textual and Doctrinal Alterations in the Exposition of Avicenna’s Metaphysica“, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 26/1 (2016), pp. 129-160.

This article examines the textual alteration strategy carried out by Dominicus Gundissalinus in his original works. One of the most striking examples of this approach can be detected in the large quotation of Ibn Sīnā’s Metaphysica I, 6–7 in Gundissalinus’ cosmological treatise De processione mundi, in which the Spanish philosopher variously modifies the text he translated a few years before. After a short presentation of Gundissalinus’ double role as translator and philosopher, the study moves on to the analysis of Ibn Sīnā’s doctrine of necessary and possible being, and the five demonstrations of the unrelated uniqueness of necessary being offered by Ibn Sīnā. These arguments are directly quoted by Gundissalinus: nevertheless, the author modifies the text in many passages, here examined through the analysis of some representative excerpts. The results of this enquiry suggest that Gundissalinus is following an effective alteration strategy, envisaging at least two main purposes: the clarification of Ibn Sīnā’s line of reasoning, and the doctrinal assimilation of Metaphysica’s theories in his original philosophical system. In appendix to this article the whole text of the two versions of Metaphysica I, 6–7 is presented.