“Explaining the various grades and modes of distinction is as difficult as knowing the essence of things.” Francisco Suárez opens his elaborate disputation on distinctions with this quite discouraging remark ( Disputationes Metaphysicae VII, Opera omnia 25, ed. C. Berton, Paris 1861, 250). It seems impossible to understand what exactly distinctions are, how many there are and how they are interrelated. But why is the problem of distinction one of the most puzzling issues in metaphysics? To answer this question one needs to return to the first generation of Scotists in the early fourteenth century. They worked out a systematic theory of distinctions, trying to show that one cannot reasonably talk about different types of things unless one spells out what “different” means in various contexts. Peter Thomae (1280-1340), a Catalan philosopher and theologian who taught at the Franciscan studium in Barcelona, is one of the most important authors who contributed to the theory of distinctions. Thanks to the dynamic research group “Latin into Hebrew,” based in Barcelona and supported by the European Research Council, Peter Thomae’s small but substantial treatise on distinctions is now for the first time available in a critical edition. A Catalan and an
Vivarium – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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