Boethius’s "De topicis differentiis" by Eleanore Stump

By Eleanore Stump

"Students of Boethius and of medieval good judgment will . . . take advantage of Stump's paintings in this tough treatise. Her translation, . . . the 1st into English . . . and the interpretative essays, e.g., on dialectic and Aristotle's themes, Peter of Spain, and the Porphyrian Tree, are beneficial and informative."―Library magazine

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Quaeque currentibus), for we will present questions, arguments, maximal and principal propositions, Topics and their Differentiae individually by an 40 example. Book II / 49 1186D 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 All Topics, that is, Differentiae of maximal propositions, must be drawn from the terms in the question, namely, the subject and the predicate, or be taken from without, or be sit­ uated as intermediates between the [previous] two. Of Topics drawn from the terms about which there is doubt in the question, there are two kinds (duplex .

Here is an argument from efficient cause. For example, if someone wants to show that justice is natural, he might say: 15 the society of men is natural; the society of men produced jus­ tice; therefore, justice is natural. The question has to do with accident. The maximal proposition: those things whose ef­ ficient causes are natural are themselves also natural. The Topic: from efficient causes; for the cause of anything effects the 20 thing it causes. Again, if someone argues that the Moors do not have weapons, /1189D/ he will say they do not use weapons because they lack iron.

Since these things were thoroughly explained above, we ought next, it seems, to exam­ ine the argument. An argument is a reason producing belief regarding some­ thing which is in doubt. It must always be more known than the question; for if things which are not known are proved by things which are known and an argument proves something which is in doubt, then what is adduced to provide belief for the question must be more known than the question. Of all arguments, some are readily believable (probabilia) and necessary, some readily believable and not necessary, some necessary but not readily believable, and some neither readily believable nor necessary.

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