Roger Bacon’s De signis, a missing part of Opus Maius III, and the “knowledge of languages”

Main Article Content

Irène Rosier Catach

Abstract

Roger Bacon’s De signis is a major contribution to the history of semantics. However, we know from the author's summary given in the Opus tertium that it has come down to us in an incomplete form. It belongs to the third part of Bacon’s Opus maius, devoted to the “knowledge of languages”. The three sections of the summary in the Opus tertium enable us to understand its organization. The first section presents various arguments in favor of knowledge of languages. The major part of the second section of the summary is related to the “power of words”, which was originally present in the section on mathematics and magic (Opus maius IV). The third section is not present is the edition of Opus maius III: it was devoted to the study of signs and signification, which corresponds to the De signis, and circulated independently, and to its application to theology, a section that has not been found. Just as the late Compendium studii theologiae, the De signis offers an original treatment of semantic and linguistic questions which are fully embedded in the sophisticated debates that took place in the faculties of arts in Paris and Oxford during the second half of the 13th century. Bacon’s linguistic analysis can be equally relevant for the study of the Bible and theology.

Article Details

Section
ARTICLES

References

Primary sources

al-Farabi, De ortu scientiarum, Über den Ursprung der Wissenschaften, edited by C. Baeumker (Münster: Aschendorff, 1916).
al-Farabi, De scientiis, Version of Dominicus Gundissalinus, edited by M. Alonso Alonso, Domingo Gundisalvo, De scientiis (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1954).
al-Farabi, De scientiis, Version of Dominicus Gundissalinus, edited by J. H. Schneider, De scientiis, secundum versionem Dominici Gundisalvi. Über die Wissenschaften. Die Version des Dominicus Gundissalinus, Lateinisch-deutsch. Übersetzt und eingeleitet von J. H. Schneider (Freiburg: i.Br., Herder, 2006) [Herders Bibliothek der Philosophie des Mittelalters I.9].
al-Farabi, De scientiis, Version of Gerard of Cremona, edited by A. González Palencia, Catalogo de las ciencias (Madrid: Universidad de Madrid, 1932).
al-Farabi, De scientiis, Version of Gerard of Cremona, edited by F. Schupp, Über die Wissenschaften (De scientiis) nach der lateinischen Übersetzung Gerhards von Cremona. Lateinisch-deutsch. Übersetzt, mit einer Einleitung und Anmerkungen herausgegeben von Franz Schupp (Hamburg: Meiner, 2005) [Philosophische Bibliothek 568].
Augustine, De doctrina christiana, edited by J. Martin (Turnhout, Brepols, 1972) [CCSL 32]
Dominicus Gundissalinus, De divisione philosophiae, edited by L. Baur (Münster: Aschendorff, 1903) [BGPhMA 4.2-3].
Dominicus Gundissalinus, De divisione philosophiae. Über Die Einteilung Der Philosophie. Lateinisch-deutsch. Herausgegeben, übersetzt, eingeleitet und mit Anmerkungen versehen von A. Fidora und D. Werner (Freiburg: i.Br., Herder, 2007) [Herders Bibliothek der Philosophie des Mittelalters I.11].
Pierre Lombard, Sententiae in quatuor libros distinctae, 3 vols, edited by I. C. Brady (Grottaferrata: Editiones Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1971-1981).
Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae, edited by H. Keil (Leipzig: Teubner, 1855).
(Pseudo)-Robert Kilwardby, Super Priscianum maiorem, edited by K. M. Fredborg, N. J. Green-Pedersen, L. Nielsen and J. Pinborg, “The commentary on ‘Priscianus Maior’ ascribed to Robert Kilwardby”, Cahiers de l’Institut du Moyen Age Grec et Latin 15 (1975): 1-146.
Roger Bacon, Compendium studii philosophiae, edited by J. S. Brewer, Fr. Rogeri Bacon Opera quaedam hactenus inedita (London: Longman and Roberts, 1859). vol. I, 393-519.
Roger Bacon, Compendium studii philosophiae, edition and translation by T. S. Maloney (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2018).
Roger Bacon, Compendium studii Philosophiae, German translation by Nikolaus Egel, Kompendium für das Studium der Philosophie. Übersetzt, mit einer Einleitung und Anmerkungen herausgegeben von N. Egel (Hamburg: Meiner, 2015).
Roger Bacon, Compendium studii theologiae, edition and translation by T. S. Maloney (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1988).
Roger Bacon, De signis, edited by K. M. Fredborg, L. Nielsen and J. Pinborg, “An Unedited Part of Roger Bacon’s Opus Maius: De signis”, Traditio 34 (1978): 75-136.
Roger Bacon, Epistola ad Clementem IV, edited by F. A. Gasquet, “An Unpublished Fragment of a Work by Roger Bacon”, The English Historical Review 12/47 (1897): 494-517.
Roger Bacon, Epistola de secretis operibus artis et naturae et de nullitate magiae, edited by J. S. Brewer Opera quaedam hactenus inedita, vol. I, Appendix I, 523-551 (London: Longman and Roberts, 1859).
Roger Bacon, Grammatica graeca, edited by E. Nolan and S. A. Hirsch, The Greek Grammar of Roger Bacon and a Fragment of his Hebrew Grammar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902).
Roger Bacon, Moralis philosophia, edited by E. Massa, Baconis operis maioris pars septima seu Moralis Philosophia (Turici: In aedibus Thesauri Mundi, 1953).
Roger Bacon, Opus maius, edited by J. H. Bridges (London, Edinburgh and Oxford: Williams & Norgate, 1897-1900), 3 vols. [vol. 1 = part. I-IV, vol. 2 = part. V-VII, vol. 3 = revised edition of parts I-III].
Roger Bacon, Opus maius, Die Neubegründung der Wissenschaft, übersetzt von Nikolaus Egel und Katherina Molnar. Mit einer Einleitung und Anmerkungen herausgegeben von N. Egel (Hamburg: Meiner, 2017).
Roger Bacon, Opus minus, edited by J. S. Brewer, Fr. Rogeri Bacon Opera quaedam hactenus inedita (London: Longman and Roberts, 1859), vol. I, 313-389.
Roger Bacon, Opus tertium (fragment), edited by A. G. Little, Part of the Opus tertium of Roger Bacon (Aberdeen: University Press, 1912).
Roger Bacon, Opus tertium (fragment), edited by P. Duhem, Un fragment inédit de l’Opus tertium de Roger Bacon, précédé d’une étude sur ce fragment (Quaracch: Ex typographia Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1909).
Roger Bacon, Opus tertium, edited by J. S. Brewer, Fr. Rogeri Bacon Opera quaedam hactenus inedita, vol. I, 3-310 (London: Longman and Roberts, 1859).
Roger Bacon, Opus tertium, edited by N. Egel, Roger Bacon. Opus tertium. Edition und Übersetzung mit einer Einleitung und Anmerkungen (Hamburg: Meiner, 2020).
Roger Bacon, Quaestiones supra libros Primae philosophiae Aristotelis, edited by R. Steele and F. Delorme (Oxford: Oxford Clarendon Press, 1930) [OHI 10].
Roger Bacon, Secretum secretorum, edited by R. Steele (Oxford: Oxford Clarendon Press, 1920) [Opera hactenus inedita 5].

Secondary sources

Alessio, Franco, Mito e Scienza in Ruggero Bacone (Milano: Casa Editrice Ceschina, 1957).

D’Alverny, Marie-Thérèse and Hudry, Françoise, “Al-Kindi: De radiis”, Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Age 68/41 (1974): 139-260.

Anheim, Etienne, Grévin, Benoit and Morard, Martin, “Exégèse judéo-chrétienne, magie et linguistique : un recueil de ‘notes’ inédites attribuées à Roger Bacon”, Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Age 68 (2001): 95-154.

Berger, Samuel, Quam notitiam linguae hebraicae habuerint Christiani medii aevi temporibus in Gallia (Nancy: Thèse de la Faculté de Lettres de Paris, 1893).

Cesalli, Laurent and Rosier-Catach, Irène, “Signum est in praedicamento relationis. Roger Bacon’s Semantics Revisited in the Light of His Relational Theory of the Sign”, Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 6 (2018): 62-99.

Crowley, Theodore, Roger Bacon. The Problem of the Soul in his Philosophical Commentaries (Louvain: Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, 1950).

Delaurenti, Béatrice, La puissance des mots “virtus verborum”. Débats doctrinaux sur le pouvoir des incantations au Moyen Âge (Paris: Cerf, 2007).

Deusen, Nancy van, “Roger Bacon on Music”, in Roger Bacon and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays, edited by J. Hackett (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997): 223-241.

Ebbesen, Sten, “Roger Bacon and the Fools of His Time”, Cahiers de l’Institut du Moyen âge Grec et Latin 3 (1970): 40-44.

Galonnier, Alain, Le ‘De scientiis Alfarabii’ de Gérard de Crémone. Contribution aux problèmes de l’acculturation au XIIe siècle (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016).

Grévin, Benoit, “Entre magie et sémiotique: Roger Bacon et les caractères chinois”, Recherches de théologie et philosophie médiévales 70/1 (2003): 118-138.

Hackett, Jeremiah, “Roger Bacon (circa 1214/1220-1292)”, in Medieval Philosophers, edited by J. Hackett (Dictionary of Literary Biography, 115) (Detroit and London: Gale, 1992): 90-102.

Hackett, Jeremiah, “Roger Bacon: His Life, Career, and Works”, in Roger Bacon and the Sciences : Commemoratives Essays, edited by J. Hackett (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997): 9-23.

Hackett, Jeremiah, “Roger Bacon on Rhetoric and Poetics”, in Roger Bacon and the Sciences : Commemoratives Essays, edited by J. Hackett (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997): 133-149.

Hackett, Jeremiah, “From Sapientes antiqui at Lincoln to the New Sapientes moderni at Paris c. 1260-1280 : Roger Bacon’s Two Circles of Scholars”, in Robert Grosseteste and the Pursuit of Religious and Scientific Learning in the Middle Ages, edited by J. P. Cunningham and M. Hocknull (Dordrecht: Springer, 2016): 119-142.

Hackett, Jeremiah, “Roger Bacon”, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Summer 2020 Edition, edited by E. N. Zalta, 2020: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/roger-bacon/.

Jeanmart, Gaëlle, “La théorie baconienne du langage est-elle augustinienne ?”, Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 82/3 (1998): 415-430.

Kirchhoff, Raina, Die ‘Syncategoremata’ des Wilhelm von Sherwood : Kommentierung und historische Einordnung (Leiden and Boston: E. J. Brill, 2008).

Lafleur, Claude, Quatre introductions à la philosophie au XIIIe siècle: Textes critiques et étude historique (Montréal and Paris: Institut d’Études Médiévales and Vrin, 1988).

Lewry, Patrick Osmond, “Four Graduation Speeches from Oxford Manuscripts (c. 1270-1310)”, Mediaeval Studies 44 (1982): 138-180.

Lewry, Patrick Osmond, “Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric 1220-1320”, in The History of the University of Oxford. The Early Oxford Schools, edited by J. I. Catto (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), vol. 1, 401-434.

Libera, Alain de, “Roger Bacon et la référence vide. Sur quelques antécédents médiévaux du paradoxe de Meinong”, in Lectionum Varietates: Hommage à Paul Vignaux (1904-1987), edited by J. Jolivet, Z. Kaluza and A. De Libera (Paris: Vrin, 1991): 85-120.

Libera, Alain de, La référence vide: théories de la proposition (Paris: PUF, 2002).

Libera, Alain de and Leone, Gazziero, “Le sophisma ‘Omnis homo de necessitate est animal’ du Parisinus latinus 16135, f. 99rb-103vb”, Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Age 75 (2008): 323-368.

Libera, Alain de and Rosier-Catach, Irène, “The Oxford-Paris Split Revisited”, in Modes, Terms and Propositions. Continental versus British Traditions in Medieval Logic, edited by C. Rode and C. Kann (Louvain: Peeters, 2021).

Maloney, Thomas S., “Is the De doctrina christiana the Source for Bacon’s Semiotics ?”, in Reading and Wisdom: The ‘De doctrina christiana’ of Augustine in the Middle Ages, edited by E. D. English (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995): 126-142.

Mandosio, Jean-Marc, “La place de la logique et ses subdivisions dans l’Énumération des sciences d’al-Fârâbî et chez Dominicus Gundissalinus”, in ‘Ad notitiam ignoti’: L’Organon dans la translatio studiorum à l’époque d’Albert le Grand, edited by J. Brumberg-Chaumont (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013): 285-310.

Massa, Eugenio, Ruggero Bacone. Etica e poetica nella storia dell’Opus maius (Roma: Ed. di Storia e Letteratura, 1955).

Mora-Márquez, Ana-Maria, The 13th-Century Notion of Signification. The Discussions and Their Origin and Development (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2005).

Perler, Dominik, “Roger Bacon”, in Das 13. Jahrhundert, edited by A. Brungs, V. Mudroch and P. Schulthess (Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie, Die Philosophie des Mittelalters, 4) (Basel: Schwabe, 2020): 780-801.

Power, Amanda, Roger Bacon and the Defence of Christendom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Reichl, Karl, Tractatus de Grammatica. Eine fälschlich Robert Grosseteste zugeschriebene spekulativ Grammatik, Edition und Commentar (München: Veröffentlichungen des Grabmann-Institutes 28, 1976).

Rosier-Catach, Irène, La parole comme acte : sur la grammaire et la sémantique au XIIIe siècle (Paris: Vrin, 1994).

Rosier-Catach, Irène, “Henri de Gand, le De Dialectica d’Augustin, et l’imposition des noms divins”, Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 6 (1995): 145-253.

Rosier-Catach, Irène, “Roger Bacon: Grammar”, in Roger Bacon and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays, edited by J. Hackett (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997): 67-102.

Rosier-Catach, Irène, “Roger Bacon, al-Farabi et Augustin. Rhétorique, logique et philosophie morale”, in La rhétorique d’Aristote, traditions et commentaires, de l’Antiquité au XVIIe siècle, edited by G. Dahan and I. Rosier-Catach (Paris: Vrin, 1998): 87-110.

Rosier-Catach, Irène, La parole efficace: signe, rituel, sacré (Paris: Seuil, 2004).

Rosier-Catach, Irène, “Multa vocabula ceciderunt ab usu: les mots, le cercle de vin et le beneplacitum du locuteur”, in Per Enrico Fenzi: Saggi di allievi e amici per i suoi ottant’anni, edited by P. Borsa & al. (Firenze: Le lettere, 2020): 25-41.

Rosier-Catach, Irène, Cesalli, Laurent, Goubier, Frédéric and Libera, Alain de, Roger Bacon, Des signes. Introduction, traduction et commentaire (Paris: Vrin 2022).

Thomson, Rodney M., Catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts of Latin Commentaries on Aristotle in British Libraries, t. 1 (Oxford: Turnhout, Brepols, 2011).

Valente, Luisa, “Talia sunt subiecta qualia praedicata permittunt. Le principe de l’approche contextuelle et sa genèse dans la théologie du XIIe siècle”, in La tradition médiévale des Catégories (XIIe-XVe siècles), edited by J. Biard and I. Rosier-Catach (Louvain: Peeters, 2003): 289-311.

Weill-Parot, Nicolas, Les “images astrologiques” au Moyen Âge et à la Renaissance (Paris: Champion, 2002).