Buridan and Autrécourt: A Reappraisal

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  • Introduction: A little over a decade ago, I published a paper that tried to un- ravel the puzzling relationship between John Buridan, the most fa- mous Parisian arts master of the fourteenth century, and Nicholas of Autrecourt, the Paris-based bête noir of late-medieval Aristote- lianism, who achieved his own measure of fame for having had some of his views condemned and his writings publicly burnt in 1347, just seven years after Buridan’s second term as rector of the University1. The problem is that, without ever mentioning him by name, Buridan in several places criticizes views that look very much like the condemned teachings of Nicholas. Was he tacitly providing intellectual grounds for the condemnation, the official articles of which mention only Nicholas’ erroneous teachings? This question is of great interest to historians of medieval philo- sophy since it would show that there was more than just the heavy hand of authority behind the silencing of the master from Lorrai- ne. Modern minds are primed to read such incidents as exercises of political power, of course, in which the freedoms of individual thinkers are trampled in order to preserve some authoritarian regi- me – in this case the Church and to a lesser extent the University of Paris. But scholars of the period know that the story is much more complicated than this.

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    © 2006 Jack Zupko et al. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • Zupko, J. (2006). Buridan and Autrécourt: A Reappraisal. In C. Grellard & S. Caroti (Eds.), Nicolas d’Autrécourt et la Faculté des Arts de Paris (1317-1340) (pp.175-193). Cesena: Stilgraf Editrice.