Friday, October 24, 2008

Clayton State Philosophy Professor Alexander Hall Writes on Thomas Aquinas (and Other Medieval Philosophers)

Medieval philosophy. It’s not a subject that the average scholar might want to ponder, but for Clayton State University Assistant Professor of Philosophy Dr. Alexander Hall, it’s as simple as Ockham’s Razor.

During the course of the past year, Hall has had published a book, two articles/chapters, and a review on various subjects in medieval philosophy and various 13th and 14th Century philosophers. In addition, he has forthcoming two pieces on Thomas Aquinas, the 13th Century Italian Catholic philosopher and theologian. In fact, Hall’s book, Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus: Natural Theology in the High Middle Ages considers how Aquinas and Scotus, two medieval theologians/philosophers, believed we come to learn about God through a study of the world we live in, on the assumption that, since God created the world, the world should offer some information about the creator, almost in the way a painting reveals something of the artist.

Released worldwide on Apr. 5, 2007 by Continuum International Publishing Group, Hall’s book seeks a middle ground between the philosophy of Aquinas and Scotus in relation to what many scholars believe are opposing answers to the question, “What can we know of God?”

Hall’s forthcoming Aquinas pieces include a translation of the great philosopher’s commentary on the 32nd Psalm.

“There is an ongoing project to translate St. Thomas Aquinas’s commentaries on the book of Psalms,” explains Hall of his Translation: Thomas Aquinas. “Super Psalmo 32.” In The Aquinas Translation Project, edited by Stephen Laughlin.

Hall has also contributed the Aquinas entry to the first ever encyclopedia of medieval philosophy, Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy: Philosophy Between 500 and 1500, which has an editorial board composed of leading scholars in the field.

Hall has written an additional work on Scotus, as well as a chapter, John Buridan: Fourteenth-Century Nominalism and Aristotle’s Categories” which appears in Medieval Commentaries on Aristotle’s “Categories,” edited by Lloyd Newton.

“This piece discusses what Scotus believes is the nature of our knowledge of God,” says Hall of his article, “Confused Univocity?” which appears in Proceedings of the Society of Medieval Logic and Metaphysics 7. “I argue Scotus believes our knowledge of God must be somewhat inaccurate owing to the vast gulf between creator and creation. The title ‘confused univocity’ reflects this. Traditionally Scotus is viewed as offering univocal (or completely correct) concepts of God, yet Scotus himself terms these concepts ‘confused’. Playing on this, I argue against the traditional interpretation.”

Finally, Hall has reviewed Demonstration and Scientific Knowledge in William of Ockham: A Translation of Summa Logicae III-II for “Journal of the History of Philosophy.”

“(It’s) a book that translates Ockham’s treatise on logic, which would be better thought of in contemporary terms as a book about the philosophy of science, i.e., a work that discusses how we arrive at certain knowledge or scientific laws,” says Hall. “The translation is accompanied with a lengthy introduction that provides a history of philosophy of science in the middle ages.”

And Ockham’s Razor? It’s simple… the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible.

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