Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch für Antike und Mittelalter: Band 1. 1996
  • ISSN 1384-6663
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9684
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AbstractThis essay outlines the history of Alexandrism in the Middle Ages, focusing on the reception of Alexander of Aphrodisias in the late-medieval universities. Alexander of Aphrodisias met with severe criticism in the 13th century from William of Auvergne, Albert the Great and Thomas of Aquinas among others, but in the 14th century this attitude changed completely with John Buridan, giving way to a positive and productive adoption of his theories. The centerpiece of the controversy was Alexander's doctrine that the human soul is similar to the animal soul and hence mortal "like the soul of a dog or a donkey." Previously condemned as the absurd thesis of an outsider - wrongly so, because Alexander was perfectly in line with a long peripatetic tradition beginning with Dikaiarch of Messene and Straton of Lampsakos -, this doctrine was now considered philosophically superior to and sounder than the competing theories of Averroes and the Roman Catholic faith. In connection with this doctrine, Buridan stated that some higher species of animals have the ability to think like a man or an ape (sicut homo vel simia) and that an ape can even be said to have some reason. Buridan's interpretation of Alexander was disseminated at the universities of the 14th and 15th centuries by his many followers, including Lawrence of Lindores, Marsilius of Inghen (who defended Alexander against Albert the Great), Nicholas of Amsterdam, Biagio Pelacani of Parma and Benedikt Hesse of Kraków.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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