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A Latin translation? The reception of Avicenna in Albert the Great's ‘De praedicamentis’, «Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale» 28, 2017, pp. 71-104

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A Latin translation? The reception of Avicenna in Albert the Great's ‘De praedicamentis’, «Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale» 28, 2017, pp. 71-104
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  «   Documenti e studi sulla tradizione losoca medievale   » XXVIII (2017)ISSN 1122-5750 — ISBN 978-88-8450-812-6 NICCOLÒ CAMINADA A Latin Translation   ? The Reception of Avicenna in Albert the Great’s  De praedicamentis * S TATUS   QUAESTIONIS The aim of the present paper is to discuss the inuence of Avicenna on Albert the Great’s commentary on Aristotle’s Categories . I shall not inspect in detail the whole of Avicenna’s reception in this work, which is by itself signicative and involves many relevant issues   ; I will focus, instead, on a particular aspect of this reception, namely the role supposedly played by Avicenna’s Categories  (the Maqūlāt   of the  Kitāb al-Šifā ʾ ) in the shaping of Albert’s doctrine and exegesis. As a matter of fact, though a Latin translation of Avicenna’s Maqūlāt   is neither extant nor attested 1 , there has been a scholarly debate on the possibility of its being a source *  Acknowledgements and preliminary remarks . I presented a first draft of this article in Paris, at the Colloque international de doctorants en philosophie arabe (7-8 october 2016)   ; I thank all the participants for their useful observations. I am also grateful to Amos Bertolacci and the two anonymous referees for their attentive reading of this paper, and their precious remarks   ; to Silvia Di Vincenzo, for the codicological advice. In the quotations of Albert’s works, where not explicitly noted, I normally refer to the available volumes of the  Editio Coloniensis  (1951 - in progress)   ; when citing still unedited texts and commentaries I use, instead, A. Borgnet’s edition (1890-99). The references to Avicenna’s Arabic text follow the page numbering of the Cairo edition of the  Kitāb al-Šifā ʾ . For the text of Aristotle’s Categories, I always quote J. L. Ackrill’s English translation (  Aristotle’s Categories and De Interpretatione , Clarendon Press, Oxford 1963). All translations from Arabic are mine. 1   As far as we know, the logical section of Avicenna’s  Kitāb al-Šifā ʾ   has only been partially translated into Latin. The only work which is fully extant in Latin is the rst part, the Madh   ̮ al , a paraphrase of Porphyry’s Isagoge   : translated in Toledo in the third quarter of the XII century, it was known to the Latins simply as  Logica . Besides this, there are only fragmentary traces of further translations   : Dominicus Gundissalinus’  De divisione philosophiae contains a Latin version of chapter II.7 of Avicenna’s  Burhān  (the section corresponding to Aristotle’s  Posterior Analytics ), very likely datable to the same period as the  Logica   ; whereas to a second phase of translations belong the fragments of Avicenna’s Ḫ  i ṭāba  found in Hermannus Alemannus’ Latin translation of Aristotle’s  Rhetoric  . For two recent overviews of Avicenna’s Latin versions see A. B ERTOLACCI ,  A community of translators   : the Latin medieval versions of Avicenna’s Book of the Cure, in C. J. M EWS , J. N. C ROSSLEY  eds., Communities of Learning   : Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe 1100-1500 , Brepols, Turnhout 2011, pp. 37-54   ;  J. J ANSSENS , Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna). The Latin translations of  , in H. L AGERLUND  ed.,  Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy. Between 500 and 1500 , De Gruyter, Berlin 2011, pp. 522-527.  NICCOLÒ   CAMINADA 72 for Albert the Great’s  De praedicamentis . The starting point of this discussion was an article appeared in 1972, by the Italian scholar Mario Grignaschi, entitled  Les traductions latines des ouvrages de la logique arabe et l’abrégé d’Alfarabi 2 . In the rst part of this contribution Grignaschi presented a state-of-the-art, concerning the Arabic works on logic known to the Latins between the XII and XIII century   ; among these, he mentioned the fragment of a Latin translation of al-Fārābī’s compendia  on the discipline of logic, discovered some years earlier by Dominique Salman in the manuscript Bruges 424 3 . He then engaged in a discussion of various issues concerning the composition and transmission of these Farabian opuscula , which he treated as a unitary work (a complete   synthesis of the Aristotelian logical corpus ) 4 . In the second part of the article, Grignaschi moved to other, related considerations   : given the evidence of a partial Latin translation of Fārābī’s compendia , he turned to inspect the numerous quotations of Fārābī and Avicenna in Albert the Great’s commentaries on logic, so as to establish precisely their source (and to see whether they attested the knowledge of works other than Fārābī’s compendia ). Since the doctrinal material provided by Fārābī’s opuscula is too synthetic to explain the variety and richness of Albert’s quotations, he hypothesized that Albert knew translations both of Fārābī’s greater commentaries, and of the logical sections of Avicenna’s  Kitāb al-Šifā ʾ  posterior to the Madh   ̮ al . To support his thesis, Grignaschi provided an examination of some of the quotations of Avicenna and Fārābī in Albert the Great’s commentaries on logic   ; he briey gave an account of their context, and then identied, as their sources, passages of the aforementioned works. This he also did as regards the  De praedicamentis   : he thought — and also tried to demonstrate — that no less than seven quotations of Avicenna in this work drew directly on the Maqūlāt   of the  Kitāb al-Šifā ʾ . 2   M. G RIGNASCHI ,  Les traductions latines des ouvrages de la logique arabe et l’abrégé d’Alfarabii , «   Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge   », 39, 1972, pp. 41-107. 3   D. H. S ALMAN ,  Fragments inédits de la logique d’Alfarabi , «   Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques   », 32, 1948, pp. 222-225. The short fragment, entitled Nota ex logica Alpharabii quaedam  sumpta , is said by N. Rescher (  Al-Fārābī    : an annotated bibliography , University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh 1962, pp. 33-34) to correspond — at least in its beginning — to a section of Fārābī’s work Šarā ʾ iṭ al-yaqīn  ( The conditions of certainty ), based on Aristotle’s  Posterior Analytics . Janssens argues, instead, that it corresponds partially to the epitome of the  De interpretatione , partially to a fragment derived, very likely, from the ‘Great Book on Music’ (  Kitāb al-mūsīqī al-kabīr  ). See  J. J ANSSENS ,    Albert le Grand et sa connaissance des écrits logiques arabes   : une réévaluation du dossier Grignaschi , in  J. B RUMBERG -C HAUMONT  ed.,  L’  Organon  dans la translatio studiorum à l’époque d’Albert le Grand , Brepols, Turnhout 2013, pp. 225-257. 4   Nowadays they are rather considered as separate works   : see U. R UDOLPH ,  Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī  , in U. R UDOLPH , R. W ÜRSCH  eds., Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie   : Philosophie in der islamischen Welt   §7.1, Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2012, p. 413   ; see ibid. , pp. 365-366 for a list of critical editions of Fārābī’s logical works.  THE   RECEPTION   OF   AVICENNA   IN   ALBERT   THE   GREAT ’ S    DE    PRAEDICAMENTIS 73 Grignaschi’s dossier   of quotations was reassessed in 2013 by Jules Janssens, in an essay entitled  Albert le Grand et sa connaissance des écrits logiques arabes   : une réévaluation du dossier Grignaschi . Janssens’ core assumption was more economical than Grignaschi’s conclusion   : it consisted of supposing that the source of these passages might instead be found in Arabic works surely translated into Latin, apparently well-known by Albert, such as the Madh   ̮ al  (Avicenna’s  Logica ), the Metaphysics , the  Physics and the  De anima of the  Kitāb al-Šifā ʾ . For those few cases where Grignaschi’s thesis seems veried, Janssens argued for the likely existence of  florilegia  and fragments of Arabic authors, on which Albert the Great possibly drew 5 . Against this background, I will here reprise in detail the passages of Albert’s  De praedicamentis discussed by Grignaschi and Janssens, thus narrowing the focus of their — more comprehensive — enquiries   ; my aim is not to assess conclusively the issue of the Latin translation of Avicenna’s Maqūlāt  , but only to provide further elements of discussion — and to make some more general suggestions regarding Avicenna’s import in the  De praedicamentis . In paragraphs 1-4 I shall discuss the main quotations at stake, following their order of appearance, and the structure of Albert’s text   ; in paragraph 5 I will briey evaluate one of the Avicennan quotations that Grignaschi did not take into account.A few words of introduction to Albert’s work might be useful. The  De  praedicamentis , composed — according to C. Steel and S. Donati, the authors of the recent critical edition — in 1252 6 , is a part of Albert’s exhaustive plan of commentaries on the Aristotelian corpus   ; unlike many commentaries on the Categories  written in that period, it does not have the form of a commentary  per quaestiones , but that of a paraphrase of Aristotle’s text (such as other ‘Aristotelian’ works by Albert) 7 . The continuous exegesis of Aristotle’s words is interrupted, at times, by independent sections and digressions, essentially devoted to the discussion of doubts concerning the text (though they may, sometimes, develop srcinal reexions of Albert on Aristotle’s doctrine). As a matter of fact, though Albert’s srcinality in logic has been questioned by scholars, his work on the Categories presents indeed many aspects of interest 8 . 5    J ANSSENS ,  Albert le Grand et sa connaissance  cit., pp. 256-257. 6   A LB .,  De praed., Prolegomena , p. V. For a review of the editio coloniensis of the  De praedicamentis , see N. C AMINADA , Review of    :    Alberti Magni Opera omnia , t. I, p. IB   :  De praedicamentis, «   Studi medievali   » terza serie, 58/1, 2017, pp. 416-420. 7   For an overview of the main commentaries on the Categories  written in the 13th century, see R. A NDREWS , Question Commentaries on the Categories in the thirteenth Century , «   Medioevo   », 26, 2001, pp. 265-326   ; a recent focus on the first half of the century is provided by H. H ANSEN ,  John Pagus on  Aristotle’s Categories.  A Study and Edition of the Rationes super Praedicamenta Aristotelis, Leuven University Press, Leuven 2012 ( Introductory study, pp. 40-49). 8   For a general evaluation of Albert’s contributions to logic see S . E BBESEN ,  Albert (the Great    ?)’s companion to the Organon, in A . Z IMMERMANN  ed.,  Albert der Grosse. Seine Zeit, sein Werk, seine Wirkung , «   Miscellanea Medievalia   »,   14, De Gruyter, Berlin - New York 1981, pp. 89-103 (reprint in S. E BBESEN ,  NICCOLÒ   CAMINADA 74 On the Latin side, the major sources of the  De praedicamentis  are presumably Boethius and a contemporary of Albert, Robert Kilwardby, the author of a book of Notulae  on Aristotle’s Categories , from which Albert took many of the dubitabilia  discussed in the aporetic sections 9 . As to the Greek sources, Albert was probably unable to consult directly any late ancient commentary on the Categories   ; if we trust the chronology proposed by the editors, Simplicius’ commentary was translated into Latin later (by William of Moerbeke, in 1266) 10 . As concerns the Arabic sources, the authors quoted by Albert are al-Fārābī, Avicenna, al-Ġazālī, Averroes and ‘Mescalach’ (the astronomer Mašā ʾ allāh) 11   ; he seems not to have known (or, at least, used) Averroes’ middle commentary on the Categories , since all the quotations of Averroes in the  De praedicamentis  rather refer to physical or metaphysical discussions 12 . As regards Avicenna, the works to which Albert refers by name in the  De  praedicamentis  are the  Physics  ( Samā ʿ  ṭabī  ʿ ī  ) of the Šifā ʾ  (mentioned in Latin as Sufficientia ), of which Albert probably knew only the rst two books and the beginning of the third 13   ; the  Liber sextus de naturalibus  (Avicenna’s  De anima ,  Kitāb Topics in Latin Philosophy from the 12th-14th centuries. Collected essays of Sten Ebbesen , vol. 2, Furnham/Surrey – Burlington 2008, pp. 95-108). For recent, specific contributions on Albert’s commentary see B . T REMBLAY ,  Albertus Magnus   : On the Subject of Aristotle’s Categories , in L. P. N EWTON  ed., Medieval Commentaries on Aristotle’s Categories, Brill, Leiden - Boston 2008, pp. 73-97   ; I D .,  Albertus Magnus on the Problem of the Division of the Categories , «   Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale   », 27, 2016, pp. 303-345. 9   Kilwardby’s Notulae are available on-line in A. Conti’s provisional transcription (URL   : http :// www-static.cc. univaq .it / diri / lettere / docenti / conti /Allegati/Kilwardby _praedicamenta.pdf  ). Kilwardby’s influence on Albert was analysed in detail by C. Steel (  Albert’s use of Kilwardby’s Notulae  in his paraphrase of the Categories, in Via Alberti. Texte-Quellen-Interpretationen , Aschendorff, Münster 2009, pp. 481-507). 10   For the date and the attribution of Simplicius’ Latin translation, see Simplicius. Commentaire  sur les Catégories d’Aristote, traduction de Guillaume de Moerbeke , ed. A. P ATTIN , in collaboration with W. S TUYVEN , Publications universitaires de Louvain, L ouvain - Paris 1971-1975  ( vol. I, pp. XI - XXIII ). 11   A complete list of Albert’s quotations of Mašā ʾ allāh is found in A. C ORTABARRIA ,  Fuentes árabes de San Alberto Magno   : el astrónomo Mashallah , «   Estudios Filosoficos   », 34, 1985, pp. 400-415. 12   The translation of Averroes’ middle commentary ( Talh   ̮ īṣ ) on Aristotle’s Categories is attributed to Guillelmus de Luna   ; it is extant and edited by R. Hissette, with the collaboration of A. Bertolacci (  Averroes latinus, Commentum medium super librum Praedicamentorum Aristotelis. Translatio Wilhelmo de Luna adscripta , Peeters, Leuven 2010). 13   Whereas books I-III.1 were translated in Toledo by an anonymous author, part of the third book (III. 1-10) was translated later in Burgos by Johannes Gunsalvi and a certain Salomon, between 1275 and 1280 (See B ERTOLACCI ,  A Community of Translators  cit., pp. 39-46). In the  De praedicamentis , Avicenna’s Sufficientia is mentioned twice ( A LB .,  De praed., III.1, p. 50.13   ; III.7, p. 62.54). The first and the second book of this translation are edited ( A VICENNA  L ATINUS ,  Liber primus naturalium. Tractatus  primus de causis et principiis naturalis , ed. by S. V AN  R IET , Peeters - Brill, Louvain-la-Neuve - Leiden 1992   ; A VICENNA  L ATINUS ,  Liber primus naturalium II.  De motu et de consimilibus , edd. S. V AN  R IET , J. J ANSSENS , A. A LLARD , Académie Royale de Belgique, Bruxelles 2006).  THE   RECEPTION   OF   AVICENNA   IN   ALBERT   THE   GREAT ’ S    DE    PRAEDICAMENTIS 75 al-nafs ) 14   ; quite curiously, even his Categories  (  Praedicamenta ), that are recalled only once — in a passage from the third chapter of the rst treatise. From this passage I shall start, now, my discussion. 1.   H OMONYMY   AND   SYNONYMY  De praed .,   I.3 is a chapter devoted to the discussion of homonyms, and other sorts of commonness or dissimilarity of names and denitions 15 . Besides homonyms ( equivoca ), synonyms ( univoca ) and paronyms ( denominativa ), in line with the previous exegetical tradition, Albert mentions here the cases of polyonyms ( multivoca or  synonyma ), namely things bearing the same denition but different names, and heteronyms ( diversivoca ), namely things having different denitions and different names. Since polyonyms and heteronyms, as is known, are not mentioned or discussed by Aristotle, near the end of the chapter Albert precises the reason for their customary treatment in the exegesis of the Categories   : T1   : A LBERT ,  De praed .,   I . 3, p. 10.13-22   :«   Attendendum autem est quod, quamvis multivoca sive synonyma et diversivoca non sint de his, quibus praedicabile ordinatur in linea generis — eo quod synonyma respiciunt unum particulare vel speciale per diversas proprietates, quae sunt in illo multis signicatae nominibus, diversivoca autem, sicut sunt diversa nomina, sic diversis attribuuntur —, tamen, quia et A VICENNA  et A LGAZEL  et  I OHANNES  D AMASCENUS  in suis PRAEDICAMENTIS  ponunt ista, et nos ea hic ponemus, non ad necessitatem scientiae, sed ad doctrinae perfectionem   ». This reference is taken by Grignaschi as a sign of Albert’s knowledge of Avicenna’s Maqūlāt  , since in the section of Maqūlāt   devoted to homonyms   (I.2) Avicenna effectively deals with polyonyms and heteronyms 16 . However, other possible ways to explain this passage have been proposed. For instance, C. Steel 14   Avicenna’s Nafs was translated in Toledo in the XII century by Gundissalinus and Avendeuth. This translation is extant, and edited in two volumes   : A VICENNA   LATINUS ,  Liber de anima  seu sextus de naturalibus  IV-V, ed. by S. V AN  R IET , Peeters - Brill, Louvain-la-Neuve 1968   ; A VICENNA   LATINUS  , Liber de anima seu sextus de naturalibus I-III, ed. S. V AN  R IET , Peeters - Brill, Louvain-la-Neuve 1972. For Albert’s quotation, see A LB .,  De praed .,   I.4, p. 11.20   ; the doctrine quoted there by Albert seems, however, not to be exactly traceable in the  De anima  (see the editors’ note ad loc. ). 15   Namely, Albert’s commentary on the first chapter of the Categories  ( A RIST .,   Cat  .,   1, a1-15). 16   G RIGNASCHI ,  Les traductions latines  cit., pp. 69-70. For Avicenna’s discussion of homonyms and synonyms, and particularly his treatment of multivoca and diversivoca , see Maqūlāt  , I.2 (pp. 9.1 - 17.14, notably pp. 15.16 - 16.3). Avicenna’s reworking of Cat  .,   1 is dealt with by A. B ÄCK ,  Avicenna the Commentator  , in N EWTON  ed., Medieval Commentaries on Aristotle’s Categories cit., pp. 31-71.
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