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Ockham and Political Discourse in the Late Middle Ages


Part of Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series

  • Date Published: August 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521143981

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About the Authors
  • The English Franciscan William of Ockham (c.1285–1347) was one of the most influential philosophers and theologians in late medieval Europe. Fresh scholarship has shown his profound impact on logic, metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of language in the late Middle Ages and beyond. Following a dispute between the papacy and his Order, Ockham abandoned his academic career and devoted himself to anti-papal polemics. Scholars have produced divergent and often contradictory interpretations of Ockham as a political thinker: a destructive critic of the medieval Church, a medieval Catholic traditionalist, the Franciscan ideologue, and a constitutional liberal. This 2007 book offers a fresh reappraisal of Ockham's political thought by approaching his anti-papal writings as a series of polemical responses. His aggressive and persistent attack on the papacy emerges in this study as an attempt to rescue the ethical foundations of the Christian society from the political influences of heretical popes.

    • A comprehensive reappraisal of the political thought of one of the greatest medieval philosophers and theologians
    • Employs a 'contextualist' approach and highlights Ockham's 'republican' contribution to political and social thought
    • Aimed at readers in medieval and intellectual history, as well as political science and medieval philosophy
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: '… Ockham and Political Discourse in the Late Middle Ages is without doubt a very carefully prepared work, reflecting scrupulousness and precision in its research methods.' Leonardo Marchettoni, Iura Gentium: Rivista di filosofia del diritto internazionale e della politica globale

    Review of the hardback: 'Shogimen's careful readings and precise contextualization bring to the fore a full picture of an Ockham who has been only dimly viewed in the past. Serious scholars of medieval thought owe him a large debt of gratitude for writing a volume that will be read and debated for decades to come.' The Review of Politics

    Review of the hardback: 'Shogimen's work has likely begun a new chapter in the scholarship of Ockham's political writings by introducing more expressly theological elements into the mixture and this book will certainly deserve a place next to the analyses of McGrade, Kilcullen, Miethke and Tierney in the library of any student of Ockham.' Medievalia et Humanistica

    Review of the hardback: '… the overall interpretation of Ockham's political thought is challenging, all the more since Shogimen focuses on what interested his subject most, ecclesiastical affairs, rather than temporal regimes. Ockham, as he is presented here, was a theologian trying to re-establish what he saw as the right order of the church, a political theologian and not a political theorist in our terms.' Speculum

    '… an important and illuminating exploration of the theological and moral purpose behind Ockham's political writings.' Heythrop Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521143981
    • length: 322 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of abbreviations
    1. The poverty controversy
    2. A general theory of heresy
    3. The problem of papal heresy
    4. Papal plenitudo potestatis
    5. Petrine primacy
    6. The defence of human freedom

  • Author

    Takashi Shogimen, University of Otago, New Zealand

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