Early in the 1240s the university of Paris hired a recent
graduate from Oxford, Roger Bacon by name, to teach the arts and
introduce Aristotle to its curriculum. Along with eight sets of
questions on Aristotle's natural works and the Metaphysics
he claims to have authored another eight books before he returned
to Oxford around 1247. Within the prodigious output of this period
we find a treatise on logic titled Summulae dialectices,
and it is this that is here annotated and presented in
The book is unique in several respects. First, there is the
breadth of its sources. Not only do we find explicit reference to
the usual authors such as Aristotle, Plato, Boethius, Porphyry, and
Priscian, we also find unexpected reference to Augustine, Bernardus
Silvestris, Donatus, Terence, and Themistius, along with mention of
the Muslim philosophers Algazel and Ibn Rushd. Second, it is clear
that Bacon is drawing on or reacting to an extraordinarily wide
variety of medieval sources: Garland the Computist, Hugh of St.
Victor, Master Hugo, Hugutius of Pisa, Isidore of Seville, Nicholas
of Damas, Nicholas of Paris, Richard of Cornwall, Robert Kilwardby,
Robert of Lincoln, and Robert the Englishman. Third, it
unexpectedly presents a full-blown treatment of Aristotle's theory
of demonstration. And finally, Bacon reveals a highly unorthodox
view of the signification of common terms.
Bacon, here, takes his students and us deeper into medieval
sources and controversy than any of his rivals do.