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John Buridan$
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Gyula Klima

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176223.001.0001

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The Various Kinds of Concepts and the Idea of a Mental Language

The Various Kinds of Concepts and the Idea of a Mental Language

John Buridan

Gyula Klima (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Common representational content allows the Buridanian classification of human concepts discussed in the fourth chapter, which provides the first thoroughgoing, systematic survey of Buridan’s conception of a mental language. The chapter discusses the divisions of concepts into syncategorematic and categorematic, simple and complex, absolute and connotative, and singular and common concepts. Besides presenting these classifications, the chapter provides a detailed discussion of the idea of conceptual complexity as semantic compositionality, its role in Buridan’s nominalist program of “ontological reduction,” and his precarious positioning of his account of the distinction between the representational contents of universal and singular concepts “somewhere between” those of Ockham and Aquinas. The discussion relates the emerging issues to contemporary concerns in the philosophy of mind and language, such as the possibility of forming genuinely singular concepts and simple substantial concepts that would allow some terms of our language to function as rigid designators; the differences between consciousness and mental content; and the problem of universal representation without real universals.

Keywords:   syncategorematic concepts, categorematic concepts, simple concepts, complex concepts, absolute concepts, connotative concepts, singular concepts, common concepts, ontological reduction, rigid designators, universals, mental content

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