« Burial Buridan, Jean Burke, Thomas Martin Aloysius »

Buridan, Jean

BURIDAN, bUr´i-dan or French bü"rî´´dɑ̄´, JEAN (Johannes Buridanus): Medieval French philosopher; b. at Béthune (25 m. n.w. of Douai), 310in the latter part of the thirteenth century; d. after 1358. He was educated at Paris, and was made rector in 1327. The story of his expulsion from the city, like his love affair with a queen of France, seems to be a myth, for it is clear that he occupied a prominent position at Paris between 1348 and 1358. He was the author of the Summula de dialectica, or Compendium logicæ (Paris, 1487), and also wrote on the "Politics," "Ethics," and other Aristotelian writings, but he paid no attention to theology. As an admirer and follower of Occam, be was a consistent nominalist, and hence felt a special interest in ethical and psychological questions, in which he showed the characteristic union of skepticism and dogmatism. He became famous by his thorough research into the problem of the freedom of the will, but his works contain ingenious investigations rather than clear decisions, so that it is doubtful whether he was a determinist or an indeterminist. His psychology allowed no decision of the will without a motivating judgment of the understanding. The famous aphorism of the ass standing between two hay-stacks, and obliged either to starve or to decide deterministically for one or the other, is not found in his writings, and it is uncertain whether either he or his opponents used it, or whether later legend ascribed to him the example already found in Aristotle. His collected works were first edited at Paris by J. Dullardus in 1500, and were frequently reprinted.

R. Schmid.

Bibliography: Sketches of his life and philosophy will be found in the works on the history of philosophy by Ueberweg, Bitter, and Erdmann. Consult also A. Stöckl, Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, ii, 1023–28, 3 vols., Mainz, 1864–66.

« Burial Buridan, Jean Burke, Thomas Martin Aloysius »
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