chapter  IV
18 Pages

Representation in Scholastic Epistemology

WithMartin Tweedale

A doctrine very widely, though not universally, held by philosophers within the Aristotelian tradition is that the intellect is immaterial. The view that the intellect was material was associated in both the Arabic and Latin Middle Ages with Alexander of Aphrodisias and it was widely and seriously discussed. Some medieval writers, most famously Ibn Gabirol, held that purely spiritual beings like angels were material and almost everyone held that objects occupied space and had the other properties we now associate with physical objects by virtue of their forms. Noam Chomsky has commented in response to queries about whether his psycholinguistics entailed dualism that when we came to understand something sufficiently well we would call it physical and the history of science provides some support for his view. The forces and even the particles of contemporary microphysics would likely not have been regarded as matter by the architects of the mechanical philosophy.