Theory and History of Ontology

by Raul Corazzon | e-mail:

FEBRUARY 18th, 2018: THIS SITE WILL BE NO FURTHER UPDATED. PLEASE USE: Theory and History of Ontology

ebook: Ontology | Logic

Download site as a PDF or eBook


  • "History Logic" and "Bibliographia" are my other websites. "Table of Contents" gives the list of the pages, for other indexes see the "Sitemap". "Modern Ontologists" contains a table with links to the pages on the most important philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries who have written on ontology. The "Search" function can be used to find a particular author or subject.


Annotated Bibliography on the Debate about the Subject Matter of First Philosophy


  1. " Metaphysica - Sapientia - Scientia Divina. The Subject and Status of First Philosophy in the Middle Ages." 2005. Quaestio.Yearbook of the History of Metaphysics no. 5.

    Contents: Pasquale Porro: Introduzione. Dalla Metafisica alla metafisica, e ritorno: una storia medievale IX-LI; I. Dalla Tarda Antichità al Medioevo: neoplatonismo, pensiero bizantino e letture prospettiche; Carlo Steel: Theology as First Philosophy. The Neoplatonic concept of metaphysics 3; Theo Kobusch: Epoptie -- Metaphysik des inneren Menschen 25; Olivier Boulnois: La métaphysique au Moyen Âge: onto-théologie ou diversité rebelle? 37; Katerina Ierodiakonou: Metaphysics in the Byzantine tradition: Eustratios of Nicaea on Universals 67; Rosanna Gambino: La metafisica dell' ousia in Massimo il Confessore e Teodoro Studita: analogie e differenze 83; II: L'Alto Medioevo latino; Giulio d'Onofrio: Quando la metafisica non c'era: Vera philosophia nell'Occidente latino 'pre-aristotelico' 103; Christophe Erismann: Une autre aristotélisme? La problématique métaphysique durant le haut Moyen Âge latin. À propos d'Anselme, Monologion 27 145; Andreas Speer: The hidden heritage: Boethian metaphysics and its medieval tradition 163; Francesco Papararella: Dialettica come metodo: struttura e limiti epistemici della filosofia prima eriugeniana 183; Concetto Martello: Sapientia Dei come "filosofia prima" in Berengario di Tours 201; Luisa Valente: "Illa quae transcendent generalissima": elementi per una storia latina dei termini trascendentali (XII secolo) 217; III. Filosofia ebraica e araba; Mauro Zonta: Metaphysics in medieval Hebrew tradition. A short historical sketch 243; Marienza Benedetto: Sapienza e filosofia nel Fons vitae di ibn Gabirol 259; Luciana Pepi: La "scienza divina" nel pensiero di Ja'aqov Anatoli 273; Amos Bertolacci: Ammonius and al-Farabi: the sources of Avicenna's concept of metaphysics 287; Olga Lizzini: Utility and gratuiitousness of metaphysics: Avicenna, Ilahiyyat I, 3 307; Giuseppe Roccaro: Soggetto e statuto della filosofia prima in Averroè 345; Patrizia Spallino: Il dibattito sulla scienza prima tra filosofia e mistica: la corrispondenza tra Nasir al-Din al-Tusi e Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi 363; IV. Filosofia scolastica e tardo-scolastica; Jan A. Aertsen: Metaphysics as a transcendental science 377; Alessandra Beccarisi: Statuto della metafisica e teroria dell'intelletto nelle opere di Alberto il Grande 391; Gabriele Galluzzo: Aquinas' interpretation of Metaphysics Book Beta 413; Leonardo Sileo: Il concetto di sapientia e la Filosofia prima. Le ragioni del dibattito e l'opzione di Bonaventura 429; Fabrizio Amerini: Alessandro di Alessandria su natura e soggetto della metafisica 477; Alessandro Palazzo: la sapientia nel De summo bono di Ulrico di Strasburgo 495; Marialucrezia Leone: Metaphysics, theology and the natural desire to know separate substances in Henry of Ghent 513; Giorgio Pini: Ex defectu intellectualis luminis: Giles of Rome on the role and limits of metaphyiscs 527; Dino Buzzetti: Common natures and metaphysics in John Duns Scotus 543; Marco Forlivesi: Impure ontology. The nature of metaphysics and its object in Francisco Suárez's texts 559; Marienza Benedetto e Lucrezia Iris Martone: La metafisica nel Medioevo: una bibliografia essenziale 587; Varia. Note Cronache Recensioni 605-672; Indice dei nomi: 673-688.

    Edited by Pasquale Porro.

  2. "The Debates on the Subject of Metaphysics from the Later Middle Ages to the Early Modern Age / I Dibatitili Sull'oggetto Della Metafisica Dal Tardo Medioevo Alla Prima Età Moderna.

    Edited by Marco Forlivesi.". 2010. Medioevo.Rivista di Storia della Filosofia Medievale no. 34.

    Contents: Marco Forlivesi: Presentazione 7; Marco Forlivesi: Approaching the debate on the subject of metaphysics from the later Middle Ages to the early Modern Age: the ancient and medieval antecedents 9; Claus A. Andersen, "Metaphysica secundum ethymon nominis dicitur scientia transcendens". On the etymology of "Metaphysica in the Scotist tradition 61; Antonino Poppi: L'oggetto della metafisica nella Quaestio de subiecto metaphysicae di Giacomino Malafossa (1553) 105; Isabelle Mandrella: Le sujet de la métaphysique et sa relation au conceptus entis transcendentissimi aux 16ème et 17ème siècles 123; Pier Paolo Ruffinengo: L'oggetto della metafisica nella scuola tomista tra tardo medioevo ed età moderna 141; Maria Muccillo: Un dibattito sui libri metafisici di Aristotele fra platonici, aristotelici e telesiani (con qualche complicazione ermetica): Patrizi, Angelucci e Muti sul soggetto della metafisica 221; Riccardo Pozzo: Cornelius Martini sull'oggetto della metafisica 305; Marco Lamanna, "De eo enim Metaphysicus agit logice". un confronto tra Pererius e Goclenius 315; Massimiliano Savini: Una metafisica sotto tutela: gnostologia, noologia e ontologia nel pensiero di Abraham Calov 361; Marco Sgarbi, "Unus, Verus, Bonus et Calovius". L'oggetto della metafisica secondo Abraham Calov 381; Sven K. Knebel: "Metaphysikkritik"? Historisches zur Abgrenzung von Logik und Metaphysik 399;

    Note e Documenti

    Claus A. Andersen: The Quaestio de subiecto metaphysicae by Giacomino Malafossa from Barge (ca 1481-1563). edition of the text 427; Daniel Heider: The unity of Suarez's metaphysics 475;

    Francesco Piro: Lo scolastico che faceva un partito a sé (faisait band à part). Leibniz su Durando di San Porziano e la disputa sui futuri contingenti 597;

    Abstracts 551; Indice dei nomi 545-561.

  3. Althaus, Paul. 1914. Die Prinzipien Der Deutschen Reformierten Dogmatik Im Zeitalter Der Aristotelischen Scholastik. Eine Untersuchung Zur Altprotestantischen Dogmatik. Leipzig: Deichert.

    Reprint: Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1967

  4. Bertolacci, Amos. 2007. "Avicenna and Averroes on the Proof of God' Existence and the Subject-Matter of Metaphysics." Medioevo no. 32:61-98.

  5. Biard, Joël. 2003. "God as First Principle and Metaphysics as a Science." In The Medieval Heritage in Early Modern Metaphysics and Modal Theory, 1400-1700, edited by Friedman, Russell L. and Nielsen, Lauge Olaf, 75-98. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

    In Aristotelian "first philosophy" (prote philosophia), wisdom is defined as 'the search for first causes and first principles.' (1) Thus, first philosophy is defined as the highest, governing science, even before its object has been determined, i.e. before knowing the precise number and the nature of these first principles, whether nature ( phusis), being ( to on), God, or, as Aristotle himself is inclined to think in Metaphysics VII (Z), ousia.

    The very claim that God is first principle -- if such a principle exists -- emerged in the field of philosophy. Before Aristotle, Anaxagoras had already characterized the nous as divine. Further, as we have seen, the question of the nature and existence of a first principle is a crucial one for determining the status of the "highest science" for which Aristotle was looking in the Metaphysics. In a situation like this, a confrontation with the doctrine of the great revealed religions was unavoidable. This began in the period of the Alexandrian commentaries, continued in the Arabo-islamic world, and the Latin Middle Ages inherited this rich and complex tradition. In fact, for a long time, medieval Latin thinkers believed that Aristotle had written a theology, supposedly the continuation of Book XII of the Metaphysics. They thought that this was to be found in the small text derived from Proclus' Elements of Theology and entitled Liber de causis.

    Does the investigation of the natural world allow us to conclude the existence of a first principle? Following natural reason, what might prompt us to call this principle 'God'? In the highest part of philosophy, what functions does God as first principle play? Are we talking about the same God as the God of the Bible, or is this pure homonymy?

    In the first part of this paper I sketch the thirteenth and fourteenth century debate concerning the object of metaphysics, which raised the question of whether God, insofar as he is first principle, is the object of this science. Then I investigate how the first principle can be apprehended and conceived as an integral part of a discipline that proceeds according to human reason. I consequently touch on how the question of the knowability of the first principle serves simultaneously to assign the limits of metaphysics and to determine fully the extent of its validity. Finally I show that Early Modern metaphysics, specifically René Descartes, while completely abandoning the peripatetic conception of knowledge prevalent in the Middle Ages, nevertheless retains certain aspects of the medieval tradition through the use that Descartes made of a philosophical conception of God that provided a foundation for the order of nature and guaranteed our knowledge.

    (1) Metaphysics A, 1, 981 b 27-28: "All men suppose what is called wisdom to deal with the first causes and the principles of things".

  6. ———. 2005. "La Métaphysique Au Moyen Âge." In Y a-T-Il Une Histoire De La Métaphysique?, edited by Zarka, Yves Charles and Pinchard, Bruno, 99-117. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

  7. Boulnois, Olivier. 1999. Être Et Représentation, Une Généalogie De La Métaphysique Moderne À L'époque De Duns Scot, Xiiie-Xive Siècle. Paris: Press universitaires de France.

  8. ———. 2003. " Abstractio Metaphysica. Le Séparable Et Le Séparé, De Porphyre À Henri De Gand." In Die Logik Des Transzendentalen. Festschrift Für Jan A. Aertsen Zum 65 Geburstag, edited by Pickavé, Martin, 37-59. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  9. Conze, Eberhard. 1928. Der Begriff Der Metaphysik Bei Franciscus Suarez. Leipzig: Felix Meiner.

  10. Coujou, Jean-Paul. 1999. Suárez Et La Refondation De La Métaphysique Comme Ontologie. Étude Et Traduction De L'index Détaillé De La Métaphysique D'aristote De F. Suárez. Louvain-Paris: Éditions Peeters.

  11. Couloubaritsis, Lambros. 1986. "La Métaphysique Désaccordée. Les Premières Discussions Dans La Compagnie De Jésus." Études Philosophiques:3-27.

  12. ———. 1990. "La Métaphysique S'identifie-T-Elle À L'ontologie?" In Herméneutique Et Ontologie. Mélanges En Hommage À Pierre Aubenque, edited by Brague, Rémi and Courtine, Jean-François, 297-322. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

  13. Courtine, Jean-François. 1979. "Le Projet Suarézien De La Métaphysique. Pour Une Étude De La Thèse Suarézienne Du Néant." Archives de Philosophie no. 42:253-274.

    "The ultimate aim of the present study is the determination of the sense of the being as "objectity" in Suárez's Disputationes Metaphysicae. However the question is not directly approached, but by bringing to light a non-thematic thesis upon nothingness. The Disputationes in their ontological intention itself and through their architectonic point out in direction of a metaphysics of the yet undeterminated object ( aliquid-nihil), metaphysics that will find its full development through the German Schulmetaphysik until Kant."

  14. ———. 1985. "Ontologie Ou Métaphysique? Pour L'histoire Du Mot "Ontologia"." Giornale di Metafisica no. 7:3-24.

  15. ———. 1988. "Suárez Et La Tradition Aristotelicienne De La Métaphysique." In Aristotelianismus Und Renaissance. In Memoriam Charles B. Schmitt, edited by Kessler, Eckhard, Lohr, Charles H. and Sparn, Walter, 101-126. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

  16. ———. 1990. Suárez Et Le Système De La Métaphysique. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

    Italian translation by Costantino Esposito: Il sistema della metafisica. Tradizione aristotelica e svolta suareziana - Milano, Vita e Pensiero, 1999.

  17. ———. 1999. "Métaphysique Et Ontothéologie." In La Métaphysique. Son Histoire, Sa Critique, Ses Enjeux, edited by Narbonne, Jean-Marc and Langlois, Luc, 137-157. Paris: Vrin.

  18. ———. 2003. Les Catégories De L'être. Études De Philosophie Ancienne Et Médiévale. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

  19. ———. 2005. Inventio Analogiae. Métaphysique Et Ontothéologie. Paris: Vrin.

  20. École, Jean. 2001. "Une Étape De L'histoire De La Métaphysique: L'apparition De L'ontologie Comme Discipline Séparée." In Autour De La Philosophie Wolffienne. Textes De Hans Werner Arndt, Sonia Carboncini-Gavanelli Et Jean École, edited by École, Jean, 95-116. Hildesheim: Georg Olms.

  21. Eschweiler, Karl. 1928. "Die Philosophie Der Spanischen Spätscholastik Auf Den Deutschen Universitäten Des Siebzehnten Jahrhunderts." In Gesammelte Aufsätze Zur Kulturgeschichte Spaniens. Vol. I, 1, edited by Finke, Heinrich, 251-325. Münster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung.

  22. Folger-Fonfara, Sabine. 2005. "Franziskus Von Marchia: Die Erste Unterscheidung Einer Allgemeinen Und Einer Besonderen Metaphysik." Documenti e Studi sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale no. 16:461-514.

    Appendix von Russell L. Friedman: Franciscus de Marchia - In libros Metaphysicarum, Proemium pp. 502-514.

  23. ———. 2008. Das 'Super'-Transzendentale Und Die Spaltung Der Metaphysik. Der Entwurf Des Franziskus Von Marchia. Leiden: Brill.

    "The history of modern metaphysics is essentially marked by its splitting up into a metaphysica generalis and a metaphysica specialis, a well-known distinction especially within Christian Wolff's systematic conception of metaphysics. This study investigates the actual origins of this significant development, which can be already found at the beginning of the 14th century. On the basis of a fundamentally revised doctrine of transcendentals the Franciscan theologian Francis of Marchia (~1290-1344) introduces for the first time a dissociation of the primum cognitum of the human intellect from the subject of metaphysics, according to which metaphysics is no longer one science in the sense of a scientia transcendens, as most of his predecessors claimed in the 13th century, but rather twofold: ontology and theology."

  24. Forlivesi, Marco. 2006. "Impure Ontology. The Nature of Metaphysics and Its Object in Francisco Suarez's Texts." Quaestio.Yearbook of the History of Metaphysics no. 5:559-686.

  25. ———. 2009. "Approaching the Debate on the Subject of Metaphysics from the Later Middle Ages to the Early Modern Age: The Ancient and Medieval Antecedents." Medioevo.Rivista di Storia della Filosofia Medievale no. 34:9-59.

  26. Goris, Wouter. 2004. The Scattered Field. History of Metaphysics in the Postmetaphysical Era. Leuven: Peeters.

    Inaugural Address at the Free University of Amsterdam (January 16, 2004).

    "Concluding remarks. We have to come to a close. The study of the history of metaphysics has been addressed from the perspective of the postmetaphysical era. We shied from reproducing the claims to self-evidence that the various metaphysical projects convey and, seeking for safer, more objective ground, rather investigated into the structures that underlie this self-evidence and induce its very production. This line of questioning brought us to consider a connection which is characteristic of the foundation of metaphysics in the Middle Ages, the one between the first object of thought and the subiectum of first philosophy. Without reducing the speculation on the first object of thought to the modern concept of subjectivity - both parties would resist their insertion in such a history of continuity -, the medieval discussion on the first object of thought proved to have an important feature in common with the later philosophy of subjectivity, insofar as an investigation into the horizon of knowledge settles the possibility of a homogeneous field and, therewith, of metaphysics. Yet these same structures which establish the homogeneous field of metaphysics are, in the 14th century, involved in its dispersion. This event, the dispersion of metaphysics at the beginning of the 14th century, was verified by four examples and clarified by the image of the scattered field: the collision of the homogeneous field of metaphysics with the object of knowledge made it disperse in a scattered field. Still, because of its foundation in an established distribution of subjectivity, the medieval dispersion of metaphysics remained entirely unproblematic. Only the explicit turn to the subject for the unfurling of the homogeneous field of metaphysics after the Middle Ages allowed a refreshed dispersion of subjectivity to damage the confidence in metaphysics and herald the postmetaphysical era.

    Perhaps the question arises whether, in this way, metaphysics itself has indeed become impossible. Is it not rather a certain episode of its history that has come to a close, an episode in which this foundational scheme of subjectivity grew to full stature and then faded away? But it would be quite ahistorical to think that one could escape from this development and once more try, free now from the rise and fall of subjectivity, to establish a homogeneous field of metaphysics. This reality of which we are not the most creative part, is constituted, on a theoretical level, by structures of which we cannot dispose, structures that, historically determined, are imposed upon us and do not allow us - thus the diagnostics of our postmetaphysical era - to describe reality, like metaphysics intends to do, in terms of a homogeneous field.

    This transition from the era of the philosophy of subjectivity to the post- metaphysical era was symbolized by the succession of those both catchwords `subjectivity' and 'structure'. Structural reflection on subjectivity reveals its constitutive vigor to be embedded in or even derived, not to say borrowed from more fundamental structures in the ordering of knowing, structures that propose and indeed define both the subject-positions to be occupied and the object-domains of metaphysics allegedly constituted by mutually irreducible instances of subjectivity.

    Turning things round, a conclusion is reached to which we - rather on the sly, as must be admitted - were tacitly leading all this time. For if, by accepting the perspective of the postmetaphysical era and receiving the self-evidence of metaphysical projects not as something given, but as constituted by analyzable structures, we reached insight into tendencies of dispersion in the history of metaphysics, then, finally, also the self-evidence to which the postmetaphysical era appeals reveals itself to be produced and analyzable as to its constitutive structures -- with this analysis, thus we may conclude, we have made a beginning here." pp. 63-64

  27. Honnefelder, Ludger. 1979. Ens Inquantum Ens. Der Begriff Des Seienden Als Solchen Als Gegenstand Der Metaphysik Nach Der Lehre Des Johannes Duns Scotus. Münster: Aschendorff.

  28. ———. 1990. Scientia Transcendens. Die Formale Bestimmumg Der Seiendheit Und Realitat in Der Metaphysik Des Mitt Elalters Und Der Neuzeit (Duns Scotus - Suarez - Wolff - Kant - Peirce). Hamburg: Meiner.

  29. ———. 1999. "Reconsidering the Tradition of Metaphysics: The Medieval Example (Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Ockham)." In The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. Volume 2 Metaphysics, edited by Rockmore, Tom, 1-13. Bowling Green: Philosophy Documentation Center.

  30. ———. 2001. "Raison Et Métaphysique: Les Trois Étapes De La Constitution De Son Objet Chez Duns Scotus Et Kant." Philosophie no. 70:30-50.

    "Soulevant la question de la garantie de la possibilité de la métaphysique par une critique de la raison, l'Auteur examine le rôle de Duns Scot et de Kant dans le passage historique de la métaphysique comme science du transcendant à la métaphysique comme science du transcendantal. Honnefelder mesure la pertinence de l'étant infini comme objet de la métaphysique, et en établit le sens à partir d'une explication modale."

  31. ———. 2002. La Métaphysique Comme Science Transcendentale Entre Le Moyen Âge Et Les Temps Modernes. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

    Ouvrage traduit par Isabelle Mandrella, revu par Olivier Boulnois, Jean Gretsch et Philippe Capelle pour la publication.

  32. ———. 2003. "Metaphysics as a Discipline: From the "Transcendental Philosophy of the Ancients" to "Kant's Notion of Transcendental Philosophy"." In The Medieval Heritage in Early Modern Metaphysics and Modal Theory, 1400-1700, edited by Friedman, Russell L. and Nielsen, Lauge Olaf, 53-74. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

    "In the following, we will investigate metaphysics' status as a scientific discipline, through an examination of the medieval sources of the approach that most profoundly transformed modern metaphysics, i.e. Kantian transcendental philosophy. Starting with Kant's direct sources we will trace the discussion back to the ideas of John Duns Scotus (§ 1) and of Francisco Suarez (§ 2), in order to demonstrate with regard to its most important features just how Kant received (§ 3) and transformed (§ 4) these ideas."

  33. Kusukawa, Sachiko. 1995. The Transformation of Natural Philosophy. The Case of Philip Melanchton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    See Chapter I. The way of Schoolmen pp. 7-26

  34. Leinsle, Ulrich Gottfried. 1985. Das Ding Und Die Methode. Methodische Konstitution Und Gegenstand Der Frühen Protestantischen Metaphysik. Augsburg: MaroVerlag.

    I. Teil: Darstellung; I: Teil: Anmerkungen und Register.

  35. Lewalter, Ernst. 1935. Spanisch-Jesuitische Und Deutsch-Lutherische Metaphysik Des 17. Jahrhunderts. Ein Beitrag Zur Geschichte Der Iberisch-Deutschen Kulturbeziehungen Und Zur Vorgeschichte Des Deutschen Idealismus. Hamburg: Ibero-Amerikanisches.

    Reprint: Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1967

  36. Libera, Alain de. 1997. "Structure Du Corpus Scolaire De La Métaphysique Dans La Première Moitié Du Xiiie Siècle." In L'enseignement De La Philosophie Au Xiii Siècle. Autour Du "Guide De L'étudiant" Du Ms. Ripoll 109. Actes Du Colloque International, edited by Lafleur, Claude and Carrier, Joanne, 61-88. Turnhout: Brepols.

  37. ———. 1999. "Genèse Et Structure Des Métaphysiques Médiévales." In La Métaphysique. Son Histoire, Sa Critique, Ses Enjeux, edited by Narbonne, Jean-Marc and Langlois, Luc, 159-81. Paris: Vrin.

  38. Lohr, Charles H. 1988. "Metaphysics." In The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, edited by Schmitt, Charles B. and Skinner, Quentin, 537-638. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Metaphysics as the science of God pp. 538-584; Metaphysics as the science of Being pp. 585-638.

    "The subject-matter of metaphysics has been debated since the time when Aristotle first conceived the idea of the science. He himself speaks of 'the science we are seeking' and describes it differently in different places. In Metaphysics IV 1003a 21-6)) he speaks of a science which studies being as being and contrasts this science with the special sciences, like the mathematical disciplines, which investigate the attributes of a part of being. Two chapters later, IV.3 (1005b2), Aristotle speaks of a science which he calls 'first philosophy' because it grounds the first principles or axioms of the special sciences. But in book VI.1 ( 1026a18-1 9) he distinguishes three types of speculative science, physics, mathematics and 'divine science', so that one must ask how he understood the relationship between the general science of being, first philosophy and divine science. It is clear that divine science studies objects that are separate from matter and not subject to change. But Aristotle seems to have wanted to identify this science both with the investigation of being and with the science of the principles of the sciences, on the ground that divine science concerns itself with the highest principle of being in general and can for this reason preside over the special sciences. At the same time, each of these definitions of metaphysics must be understood in accordance with Aristotle's own idea of what science is. In his conception, scientific knowledge is attained by way of the definition of the essential natures of things and the demonstration of the attributes which necessarily belong to them. Basically, Aristotle understood reality as an ordered structure. Even where his definitions are definitions of events, these are understood not in their variability as a process, but rather as reified. His science of metaphysics deals therefore with all reality according to its fixed essences and their necessary attributes and has consequently a static character, like the ancient society which it reflected.

    In the course of history it was Aristotle's conception of metaphysics as divine science that gave rise to the most difficulties. The encounter of his idea of God as first substance with divergent religious traditions often forced later thinkers to modify the conception of metaphysics as the science of being. In late antiquity those philosophers who came to the defense of the pagan gods tended to interpret metaphysics as the science of intelligible reality, arranged in hierarchical degrees, separate from matter, but mediating between the divine and the material worlds. In Islam the doctrine of God's oneness compelled philosophers and theologians to emphasise the great gulf which separates the necessary being of the creator from the radically contingent being of the created world. Medieval Latin Christianity learnt of both of these approaches through Avicenna and Pseudo-Dionysius. The notions of a necessary first substance and a hierarchy of intelligences readily found a place in the contemplative and ordered society of the Middle Ages. The Christian notion of a God active in himself as triune and active in the world as incarnate as the fundamental articles of a faith thought to be even more certain than scientific knowledge would seem to have demanded a new definition of science and a new definition of the reality which metaphysics studies. But, paradoxically, it was only with the revolutionary social changes that marked the period under consideration in this volume [the Renaissance] -- a period in which the medieval faith was breaking down - that a vision of reality as dynamic process and a new understanding of science emerged.

    This new conception of reality appeared in various guises, as a new mathematics, as the idea of a magical control over nature, as a conflict between Plato and Aristotle, or in connection with the doctrine of God. It was resisted by scholastic authors, who sought for apologetical reasons to maintain Aristotle's static notion of being. But as more and more new sciences -- sciences connected with this new vision of reality and often undreamt of in antiquity -- carne to maturity, even thinkers in the Aristotelian tradition were forced to reopen the question of the definition of metaphysics and its relationship to the individual sciences. Since each of these problems -- the problem of God and the problem of the science of being -- had its own history, I shall treat them separately." pp. 537-538.

  39. ———. 1988. Latin Aristotle Commentaries. Ii. Renaissance Authors. Firenze: Leo S. Olschki.

  40. ———. 1991. "The Sixteenth-Century Transformation of the Aristotelian Division of the Speculative Sciences." In The Shapes of Knowledge from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, edited by Kellery, Donald R. and Popkin, Richard Henry, 49-58. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  41. Marion, Jean-Luc. 1986. "On Descartes' Constitution of Metaphysics." Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal no. 11:21-33.

    Reprinted in: Tom Sorell (ed.), Descartes, Dartmouth: Ashgate, 1999, pp. 57-69

  42. Monahan, Arthur. 1954. "The Subject of Metaphysics for Peter of Auvergne." Mediaeval Studies no. 16:118-130.

  43. Noone, Timothy B. 1992. "Albert the Great on the Subject of Metaphysics and Demonstrating the Existence of God." Medieval Philosophy and Theology no. 2:31-52.

  44. Petersen, Peter. 1921. Geschichte Der Aristotelischen Philosophie Im Protestantischen Deutschland. Leipzig: Felix Meiner.

    Reprint: Stuttgart, Friedrich Frommann (Günther Holzboog), 1964.

  45. Pickavé, Martin. 2001. "Heinrich Von Gent Über Das Subjekt Der Metaphysik Als Ersterkanntes." Documenti e Studi sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale no. 12:493-522.

  46. ———. 2004. "Metaphysics as First Science: The Case of Peter Auriol." Documenti e Studi sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale no. 15:487-516.

  47. ———. 2007. Heinrich Von Gent Über Metaphysik Als Erste Wissenschaft. Leiden: Brill.

  48. Poppi, Antonino. 2004. "Ontologia E Scienza Divina Nel Commentario Alle Sentenze Di Francesco Della Marca (1319)." Miscellanea Francescana no. 104:100-120.

  49. Schönberger, Rolf. 1986. Die Transformation Des Klassischen Seinsverständnisses. Studien Zur Vorgeschichte Des Neuzeitlichen Seinsbegriffs Im Mittelalter. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  50. Sparn, Walter. 1976. Wiederkehr Der Metaphysik. Die Ontologische Frage in Der Lutherischen Theologie Des 17. Jahrhunderts. Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag.

  51. Vollrath, Ernst. 1962. "Die Gliederung Der Metaphysik in Eine Metaphysica Generalis Und Eine Metaphysica Specialis." Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung no. 16:258-284.

  52. ———. 1969. Die These Der Metaphysik. Zur Gestalt Der Metaphysik Bei Aristoteles, Kant Und Hegel. Wuppertal: Henn Verlag.

  53. Weber, Emil August. 1907. Die Philosophische Scholastik Des Deutschen Protestantismus Im Zeitalter Der Orthodoxie. Leipzig: Quelle und Meyer.

    Reprint: Glacier National PARK (Montana), Kessinger Publishing, 2009.

  54. Wippel, John F. 1974. "The Title First Philosophy According to Thomas Aquinas and His Different Justifications for the Same." Review of Metaphysics no. 27:585-600.

  55. ———. 1999. "Thomas Aquinas, Siger of Brabant, and Their Use of Avicenna in Clarifying the Subject of Metaphysics." In The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy. Volume 2 Metaphysics, edited by Rockmore, Tom, 15-26. Bowling Green: Philosophy Documentation Center.

  56. Wojcik, Kazimierz. 1993. "Le Sujet De La Métaphysique D'aprés Le Commentaire De Marsile D'inghen Sur La Mètaphysique D'aristote." In Marsilius Von Inghen. Werk Und Wirkung, edited by Wielgus, Stanislaw, 217-226. Lublin: University of Lublin.

  57. Wollgast, Siegfried. 1988. Philosophie in Deutschland Zwischen Reformation Und Aufklärung. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

  58. Wundt, Max. 1939. Die Deutsche Schulmetaphysik Des 17. Jahrhunderts. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).

  59. ———. 1945. Die Deutsche Schulphilosophie Im Zeitalter Der Aufklärung. Tübingen: Mohr.

    Reprint: Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1964.

  60. Zarka, Yves Charles. 2005. "L'exténuation De La Question De L'être Et La Métaphysique Au Début Des Temps Modernes." In Y a-T-Il Une Histoire De La Métaphysique?, edited by Zarka, Yves Charles and Pinchard, Bruno, 129-139. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

  61. Zarka, Yves Charles, and Pinchard, Bruno, eds. 2005. Y-a-T-Il Une Histoire De La Métaphysique? Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

  62. Zimmermann, Albert. 1966. "Allgemeine Metaphysik Und Teilmetaphysik Nach Einen Anonymen Kommentar Zur Aristotelischen Ersten Philosophie Aus Dem 14. Jahrhundert." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie no. 48:190-206.

  63. ———. 1992. "Some Aspects of the Reception of Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics in the Thirteenth Century." In Ad Littteram. Authoritative Texts and Their Medieval Readers, edited by Emery, Jr.Kent and Jordan, Mark D., 217-227. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

  64. ———. 1998. Ontologie Oder Metaphysik? Die Diskussion Über Den Gegenstand Der Metaphysik Im 13. Und 14. Jahrhundert. Texte Und Untersuchungen. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.

    Second updated edition (first edition: Leiden, Brill, 1965).

    "In the fourteenth century, a new version of the first solution makes its appearance. Unlike its thirteenth century predecessor, this version of the solution is aware of the notion of the formal object uniting the various discourses comprising a science, yet it rejects such a notion. This deconstruction of the problematic surrounding the subject of metaphysics may be seen most clearly in the writings of Ockham and Buridan. With this development, the medieval history of the problematic of the subject of metaphysics may be said to reach its apogee by returning to its origins. The notion of a formal unity in a science, a unity that transcends the merely logical unity of a particular demonstrative syllogism, is once again missing from the discussion.

    In this, the second edition of his classic study, Albert Zimmermann has once again provided scholars with a remarkable collection of otherwise unavailable texts along with penetrating studies on that perennial metaphysical question: what is the subject of metaphysics. As indicated by the title, Zimmermann's treatment of the medieval discussion on the object of metaphysical knowledge ranges over the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, covering authors from the generation of Richard Rufus and Roger Bacon up to John Buridan. The new edition takes account of most of the considerable literature that has appeared since the original publication in 1965. (...)

    Zimmermann's volume divides into two parts. The first presents texts drawn from medieval commentaries on Aristotle's Metaphysics in which the subject of metaphysics is discussed. The second part is subdivided into three chapters: the first sketches out the primary sources for the medieval discussion -- found chiefly in the writings of Aristotle, Avicenna, and Averroes; the second describes the advent of the three basic solutions proposed by medieval authors for the solution to the problem; and the final chapter shows the subsequent development of these three solutions. The study closes with reflections upon the medieval treatment of the problem and what impact the medieval discussion had upon the development of early modern philosophy as well as contemporary European thought.

    Given the ambiguity of Aristotle's various statements on the subject of metaphysics, Avicenna and Averroes attempted to work out systematic accounts of the subject of metaphysics. Applying rigorously the model of scientific knowledge expressed in Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, Avicenna concluded that being as being, understood as common to substance and accident, had to be the subject of metaphysics since God's existence was sought in metaphysics and no science proves the existence of its subject. Agreeing with many of the basic assumptions of Avicenna, Averroes came to the opposite conclusion: metaphysics has as its subject God since the existence of God is already shown in natural philosophy and thus may be assumed for the purposes of metaphysical investigation.

    The medieval philosophers worked out three alternative solutions to the problem presented to them by the texts newly received at the outset of the thirteenth century. The first solution, clearly evidenced in the writings of Roger Bacon, proposed that there are various subjects for the science of metaphysics and thus diffused the disagreement between Avicenna and Averroes. In the case of Bacon, the three subjects are being as being, substance, and God, subjects that are treated successively in the sequence of books in the Aristotelian Metaphysics. As Zimmermann notes, this solution is not only too facile but indicates that its proponents had not developed the notion of a single, formal subject that unites all the features treated within the scope of a science; Bacon is an especially clear case in this regard since he located the unity of metaphysical knowledge in the reducibility of all metaphysical objects to the First Cause and not in any formal unity of the subject matter.

    The second solution Zimmermann finds most fully expressed in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, though he sees adumbrations of it in the commentaries of Albert the Great and Richard Rufus. Unlike the defenders of the first solution, those advancing the second solution are distinctive in having a refined notion of the formal object of the science and positing the unity of the science to be derived from the formal object. According to this solution, being as being or being in general ( ens in communi) is limited to the range of creaturely being, a notion of which we attain through our acquaintance with sensible substances. The existence of God is not presupposed for metaphysical science though some judgment ( separatio) that being is separate in notion and reality from merely sensible things is required. Instead, God relates to metaphysical knowledge as the cause and the principle of the subject of the science or ens commune; hence, God's existence may be known in and through metaphysics, but the names derived from the concept of being that constitutes the object of the science can tell us little about His nature.

    The final solution developed by medieval philosophers was also the one most commonly adopted by them. Positing being as being as the subject in the widest possible sense, these thinkers claimed that God falls under the subject of metaphysics in that sense, albeit they often qualified that claim by stating that the sense of being that applies to God and creature is only analogously the same. One of the earliest adherents of this view was the great Dominican theologian Robert Kilwardby, but the most famous of those subsequently defending the view were Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus. In many ways, as Zimmermann notes (p. 329), Scotus's systematic presentation of this view marked the culmination of its development and led to the form that the medieval discussion would have thereafter, connecting the discussion of the subject of metaphysics to distinctively Scotistic theses such as the univocity of being."

    Timothy Noone, Review of the volume in: The Review of Metaphysics, 54, 2000, pp. 183-185.