Exploring Twelfth-Century Philosophy: Alberic of Paris and his School
The project provides the first large-scale investigation of the writings stemming from the milieu around the twelfth-century logician Alberic of Paris.
Twelfth-century Paris was the epicentre of one of the most remarkable and formative periods in intellectual history. Facilitated by a marked rise in commerce and urbanization, there was from the late-eleventh century onwards a veritable boom of scientific studies and higher education, which around the year 1200 culminated in the formation of the University of Paris. This boom has come to be known as the twelfth-century renaissance and marks, in the words of Stephen Ferruolo, the “birth (‘naissance’) of the unified, distinct, and enduring culture of Western Europe.”
At the forefront of the boom were a number of philosophers who offered courses in the liberal arts (artes liberales), the forerunner of present-day humanities. Students flocked to Paris from all over Europe to attend lectures, and the masters in turn competed keenly to win scholarly fame and attract students. Particularly in the first half of the century there were a number of famous scholars who on the basis of ancient authors, such as Aristotle, Boethius and Porphyry, developed highly sophisticated positions on a number of perennial philosophical problems in the areas of logic, philosophy of language and metaphysics. Alberic of Paris was one of these philosophers. He is today, like many of them, little but a name.
Well-known, by contrast, is his older contemporary Peter Abelard (1079–1142), commonly hailed as one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages and one of the finest logicians of all time. And yet, we know from the Englishman John of Salisbury, who studied logic in Paris in the 1130s, that Alberic was Abelard's most formidable rival at the time and strongly opposed the metaphysical position which more than any has earned Abelard his fame: nominalism.
While no texts explicitly ascribed to Alberic have survived, a number of logical treatises and philosophical commentaries that stem from his school and report his views have been preserved in various medieval Latin manuscripts. By investigating these writings, the project aims to identify, analyze and synthesize the core philosophical positions of Alberic and his school and to assess the role of this school of thought in the wider context of twelfth-century philosophy.
Andrew Arlig (Associate professor, CUNY Brooklyn College)
Irene Binini (Marie Curie Global Fellow, University of Parma / University of Toronto)
Jeffrey E. Brower (Professor, Purdue University)
Margaret Cameron (Professor, University of Melbourne)
Laurent Cesalli (Professor, University of Geneva)
Sten Ebbesen (Emeritus professor, University of Copenhagen)
Anne Grondeux (Director of research, CNRS)
Yukio Iwakuma (Emeritus professor, Fukui Prefectural University)
Peter King (Professor, University of Toronto)
John Marenbon (Professor, University of Cambridge)
Chris Martin (Professor, University of Auckland)
Irène Rosier-Catach (Emerita director of research, CNRS/EPHE)
Caterina Tarlazzi (Rita Levi Montalcini Fellow, Ca’ Foscari / University of Notre Dame)