Chapter 1. The Parva naturalia

CHAPTER 1. The Parva naturalia


Questiones in Parva naturalia (1309)

(Repert. pp. 96-97; MacClintock, pp. 125-126; Schmugge, p. 131)


Inc. (De sensu) Circa librum De sensu et sensato queritur primo utrum de communibus passionibus anime et corporis possit esse scientia … (De mem.) Circa istum librum primo queritur utrum de futuris possit esse scientia … (De somno) Circa librum De somno et vigilia queritur primo utrum de somno et vigilia possit esse scientia implicando simpliciter de subiecto huius libri… (De long. et brev. vite) Circa librum De causa longitudinis et brevitatis vite queritur primo utrum de longitudine et brevitate vite possit esse scientia … (De iuv. et sen.) Circa librum etc. et primo circa quasdam suppositiones quas supponit Philosophus … (De morte et vita) Circa librum etc. Utrum scientia de morte et vita sit naturalis … (De motu anim.) Circa istum librum qui est de causa motus animalium quero et primo utrum de motibus animalium sit scientia …

Expl. licet sint corpora subtilia multum, ut de se apparet.

Colophon (De sompno, ms. Vat. lat. 6768 f. 145ra): Expliciunt questiones super librum de sompno et vigilia scripte per Iohannem de Ganduno et ad hunc ordinem quem habent reducte anno christi 1309.


The commentary (entirely or parts of it) has been transmitted in at least six manuscripts (for instance Oxford, Bodl. L. Canon, misc. 222 f. 1-126v and Vaticano, Vat. lat. 6768 f. 101-160v), and several early editions: Venezia 1505, 1557, 1570, 1589; a critical edition of De iuventute et senectute, De inspiratione et respiratione and De morte et vita by E.I. Kouri and A.I. Lehtinen is in preparation[1].

For the following, I will use the edition Venice 1557, published by Zimara, where the questions are edited under the misleading name ‘Ioan Gandavensis’[2].


This commentary offers a rather complete treatment of the various subjects discussed by Aristotle in his small treatises on natural philosophy. Moreover, it is followed by questions on the treatise De motu animalium, which is generally not included in the Parva naturalia, but considered as one of the treatises on animals[3]. However, in medieval collections of Aristotle’s treatises called Parva naturalia these are often followed by both the De motu animalium and the De bona fortuna (see below[4]). As Pieter de Leemans explains, quoting among others, Thomas Aquinas, Peter of Auvergne, and John of Jandun, the number and order of the treatises on the Parva naturalia which were commented, varied. Their order is discussed by John in the prologue to his commentary on the Physics (see below[5]).

I will discuss some questions of each treatise, leaving aside for the moment the ones on De motu animalium and those on De bona fortuna, because I suppose that they do not belong to the early course given by John of Jandun.


De sensu et sensato

The first part, with the questions on the De sensu et sensato, contains, in the edition Venice 1557, thirty-five questions[6].

The questions on this treatise have been subject of recent studies (among the Parva naturalia this is the best studied one) by Aurélien Robert[7], Juhana Toivanen[8], and Jean-Baptiste Brenet[9]. The last discusses the topic of fire and the transformation of the elements, as

treated in question 23. He shows that John’s treatment of the subject largely exceeds the terms of the question (“Utrum ignis agat inquantum ignis”)[10].

In a recent article, Aurélien Robert addresses the intricate problem of sense perception[11]. He argues that, comparing John’s short discussion in question 6 of his commentary on De sensu et sensato with his other commentaries, especially the Physics, it becomes clear that John defends an original reading of Aristotle and holds that sense perception is an activity of the soul, not reducible to the reception of a form in the organs.

The topic of a minimal limit of bodies to be sensible, which constitutes a major philosophical issue from Aristotle’s De sensu et sensato onwards, is treated by John in no less than three questions of his commentary, discussed by Aurélien Robert[12]. The questions, bearing on Aristotle’s chapter 6, are: 28. “Utrum qualitates sensibiles sint divisibiles”; 29. « Utrum sit aliquod sensibile in actu quod non possit sentiri »; 30. « Utrum sit possibile in natura aliquod corpus habens aliquam qualitatem primam aut secundam sub ita parva quantitate quod non possit secundum se sentiri ». Whereas in earlier commentators the discussion is mostly limited to one single and short question on the infinite divisibility of sensible qualities, repeating Aristotle’s solution, John’s long and detailed treatment, inspired by Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentary on De sensu et sensato, contains original arguments. It reveals, as Robert points out, his constant obsession with the existence of minima and maxima in all kinds of natural phenomena[13].

Another specific point of sense perception, the problem of simultaneous perception, has been explored by J. Toivanen in a study based on nine authors, among whom John of Jandun[14]. Here, he has also edited the relevant sections of these commentaries. Recently he added amply documented comments on this problem in another study, of which the title formulates the problem: “Perceiving Many Things Simultaneously. Medieval Reception of an Aristotelian Problem”[15]. In the passage concerning John of Jandun, he shows that the latter expressed in his commentary on De sensu an opinion, which is in sharp contrast with what he wrote in his later commentary on De anima. It is not clear yet if John purposely changed his views in the later commentary[16], but this would be an interesting point for further study, because it would bring to light certain developments in John’s doctrine since the very early commentary on the Parva naturalia.

Still more recently, in the special volume of Micrologus on the tradition of the De sensu in the Latin tradition, Aurélien Robert published a study on the diversity of languages as discussed in commentaries on the De sensu[17]. He knows only five commentaries containing such a discussion, among which Jandun’s commentary. John refers to one of the earlier, anonymous commentaries, which argues that the diversity of languages is determined by the region and the climate in which each individual person lives. His solution is rather evasive, but he seems to think that the effect of climate must be limited[18]. In this passage he refers to the second book of the Meteorologica, a work on which he probably did not write a commentary. Similarly, he is reluctant to admit that imagination is influenced by the stars and by environment, a feature which can be found also in his commentary on De celo[19].




The structure and character of the questions


After these doctrinal points of interest, let us now take a general look at the commentary. The first three questions are dealing with the subject of Aristotle’s treatise: can there be a science about common passions of soul and body, are these passions the subject here, and can there be a science about sense and sensible things. They seem rather traditional in form.

In the first question, after four arguments for the negative answer, John decides for the affirmative answer. Then he states that this science is different from the science of the soul:


Dico secundo quod ista scientia est diversa a scientia tradita in libro de Anima, quia scientie que considerant de diversis materialiter et formaliter in parte et si de eodem materialiter, tamen secundum aliam rationem formalem sunt diverse, sicut Arithmetica et Geometria, de diversis materialiter et formaliter, scilicet numero et magnitudine ; et de materia philosophus naturalis, ut est subiectum transmutationis, et philosophus primus, ut est principium substantie sensitive. Sed ille scientie considerant de diversis materialiter et formaliter in parte, sicut de somno et vigilia hic agitur, de quibus non agitur in libro de Anima, et de iuventute et senectute, de quibus non agitur in libro de Anima, et consi/(1rb)deratur hic de aliquibus communibus passionibus anime et corporis, de quibus consideratur in libro de Anima secundum ordinem ad ipsam animam ; hic autem secundum ordinem ad organum corporeum, inquirendo quas dispositiones ille communes passiones requirunt in materia, ut patet in processu librorum.

Sed notandum quod aliqui addunt quod scientie considerantes diversa materialiter et formaliter sunt magis diversa quam que considerant idem secundum diversas rationes. Sed non videbatur quia utreque diverse sunt secundum speciem ; nam ita bene est diversa secundum speciem philosophia prima a naturali, que de eadem considerat, sicut Arithmetica est diversa a Geometria, ita quod materialis alietas obiectorum nihil per se videtur facere ad specificam distinctionem habituum. Sic patet ad quesita.


Follows the refutation of the arguments for the opposite answer; most contain a small objection and its answer (“Sed quomodo […] Dico breviter”; “Sed tu dicis […]”, etc.). At the end, a different opinion is shortly mentioned:


(1va) Aliqui dicunt quod in libro de Anima agitur de communibus passionibus, que trahunt principaliter ortum ab anima, hic autem de illis de quibus principalius est ortus ex parte corporis, ut somnus et vigilia, iuventus et senectus et huiusmodi. Sed illud universaliter non est verum, nam […] et ideo dicatur ut prius dictum est.


Thus, this question clearly explains that a science bearing on the common ‘passions’ of soul and body is possible and how this science is different from the one transmitted in Aristotle’s De anima. The discussion shows no surprises. It is a purely didactic question introducing further treatment of the science of sensation.

One further question concerns Aristotle’s introduction: qu. 4 “Utrum memoria et ira sint in omnibus animalibus”, refering to the ‘attributes’ common to soul and body. In the translation of J.I. Bear, Aristotle’s passage runs like this: “The most important attributes of animals, whether common to all or peculiar to some, are, manifestly, attributes of soul and body in conjunction, e.g. sensation, memory, passion, appetite and desire in general, and, in addition pleasure and pain”[20].  The term ira in John’s question corresponds to the Latin translation of Aristotle’s treatise (in both translations we have)[21]. As Thomas Aquinas[22] explains in his literal commentary on De sensu, after presenting the sensitive part (sense and memory), Aristotle proceeds to the locomotive part or sensitive appetite in animals, divided into two powers (vires), irascibilis and concupiscibilis, as defined in his treatise De anima[23]. Aristotle mentions anger and desire, and adds that these features are almost all found in all kinds of animals. But, says Thomas, memory and anger are not found in them all, but only in perfect animals[24].

This is the point on which John’s question bears: “whether memory and anger exist in all animals”. Here is the main argumentation:


Utrum memoria et ira insint omnibus animalibus.

(arguments for the affirmative answer)

Probatur quod sic de memoria, quia cui inest sensus, inest quod sit per sensum, quia causa posita ponitur effectus ; memoria autem sit ex sensu, proemio Metaphysice[25] et secundo Posteriorum[26].

Item, memoria et ira sunt anime sensitive potentia, potentia autem semper est in anima sensitiva […]

Item, sicut animal se habet ad virtutem concupiscibilem, sic ad irascibilem, quia […] (2vb)

Item, natura universaliter facit quod melius est, eo quod agit directa ab intelligentia, que est infallibilis cognitionis ; sed melius est habere quam non habere istas virtutes […]

Item, opposita nata sunt fieri circa idem ; patet in primo Topicorum ; concupiscibilis et irascibilis sunt virtutes opposite.

(authority for the negative answer)

Oppositum vult Alexander[27] in commento super illo verbo: fere hec (corr. ex hic) omnia insunt omnibus animalibus.


(preliminary comments or notanda)

Considerandum circa iram, que est quedam passio appetitus, quia appetitus dividitur in naturalem, que est inclinatio consequens formam naturalem et realem, ut grave habet inclinationem ad esse deorsum per suam formam et materia prima per suam naturam inclinatur ad formam, et appetitum animalem, qui est inclinatio consequens formam apprehensam; et ille dividitur in appetitum rationalem et sensitivum. Et isti sic differunt quantum ad propositum, quod rationale fertur in bonum simpliciter ; ratio enim semper dictat ad optima, primo Ethicorum[28]; et per bonum simpliciter appetit aliqua secundum se non delectibilia, ut febricitans propter sanitatem vult potionem amaram. Sensitivus autem appetitus fertur in bonum delectabile secundum sensum et bonum ut nunc, secundum quod huiusmodi vel verum vel apparens quantum ad prosecutionem, licet feratur in malum quantum ad fugam. Et ille appetitus sensitivus distinguitur in concupiscibilem, qui fertur in bonum delectabile sensui secundum quod sic, et irascibilem, qui fertur in bonum arduum (corr. ex arduam) et impeditum, et in ea quibus acquiritur bonum quod est ab aliquo impeditum, scilicet in pugnam et vindictam, que secundum se non sunt delectibilia sed laboriosa.

De memoria sciendum quod differt ab aliis virtutibus sensitivis in hoc quod alie cognoscunt rem presentem vel ut presens, memoria non est nisi preteritorum ut preterita sunt, ita quod […]

Ulterius sciendum quod intellectus et sensus, ut spectet ad propositum, differunt in hoc quod sensus ut sensus non cognoscit nisi presentia vel ut presentia sunt, sed intellectus cognoscit res sub omnibus differentiis temporis et similiter abstrahendo ab omnibus temporibus.

Ex hiis concludo magis descendendo ad propositum quod animalia habentia memoriam habent quandam communicationem seu convenientiam cum intellectivis, cum non solum cognoscant res ut presentes, sed secundum quod preterite, et hoc per quandam similitudinem ad intellectum.

Item concludo ex dictis quod habentia vim irascibilem aliqualiter conveniunt cum habentibus rationem et appetitum rationalem, nam sicut appetitus rationalis inclinat in bonum simpliciter acquirentem et inclinat in aliqua non secundum se delectibilia, sic appetitus irascibilis inclinat in bonum arduum et bonum impeditum, et in ea quibus acquiritur bonum quod est impeditum ab alio, quamvis non sint secundum se delectibilia, ut in pugna et vindicta ; et in hoc excellit concupiscibilem, qui solum inclinat in bonum delectabile secundum sensum.



Tunc dico duo ad questionem. Primo quod non omnia animalia debent habere memoriam. Secundo quod non omnia animalia debent habere vim irascibilem.

Primum probo sic. Quandocunque aliqua genera cognitionum sunt ordinata, sicut magis perfectum et minus perfectum, non omnia illa que sunt generis inferioris in ordine perfectionis, debent communicare cum eis que sunt superioris ordinis, et illa patet in libro De causis[29] ; et patet ex hoc quod […] (3ra)

Item probo aliter. Memoria non debet inesse illis animalibus quibus non est necessaria. Hec est manifesta, quia natura non abundat in superfluis, tertio De anima ; sed […]

Secundum demonstratur sic, assumendo eandem maiorem sicut prius: quia non omnia animalia inferioris ordinis, sed solum suprema pertinent ad aliquam participationem similitudinis eius quod est proprium superiori ; sed per vim irascibilem bruta quodammodo pertingunt ad similitudinem intelligentium et habentium appetitum rationalem, ut patet ex dictis ; ergo non omnia, sed solum superiora perfecte debent habere virtutem irascibilem.

Item, ut prius, animalia non debent secundum naturam habere quod non est eis necessarium ; ira non est necessaria omnibus, quia non impediuntur a suo bono, immo semper quamdiu vivunt, sunt ei coniuncta sufficienter, ut affixa terre, et ideo non oportet quod habeant irascibilem ; et si impediuntur, hoc est raro et in minori parte, et virtutes naturales non debent inesse necessario propter ea que ut in paucioribus accidunt.


(refutation of the preliminary arguments)

Ad primum argumentum dico quod ex sensu non fit memoria ita quod […]

Ad aliud dico quod memoria est potentia anime sensitive, sed non omnis sensitive, sed alicuis, scilicet que est forma animalium perfectorum, que aliqualiter appropinquant ad intellectivam.

Ad aliud, non est simile totaliter, quia irascibilis magis communicat cum rationali quam concupiscibilis, quia […]

Ad aliud, natura facit quod melius est ex possibilibus et quod requirit natura subiecta ; sed non oportet quod omni enti insint omnes bonitates et perfectiones […]

Ad aliud dico quod opposita nata sunt fieri circa idem, vel numero vel specie vel genere; modo sic bene sunt isti appetitus circa idem genere, scilicet animal, sed non oportet quod uni individuo vel uni speciei possunt convenire. Alii dicunt quod iste virtutes non sunt opposite, sed disparate, quare etc.[30]


Thus, memoria and ira do not inhere to all animals, but only to some, as Alexander had pointed out in his commentary. And this is extensively explained and argued by John.

The subject, suggested by the forementioned passage of Aristotle’s treatise, is commonly commented, as we saw above in Thomas’s Sentencia, and the question is traditional, as we can easily see thanks to the catalogue of questions published in the context of the research project “Representation and Reality”[31]. Despite the prolixity of his collection, Geoffrey of Aspall did not include many questions on the ‘passions’; his focus is much more on scientific problems. We find as question 12: “Utrum memoria sit passio coniuncti an anime”[32], and another question (qu. 14) “Utrum desiderium et tristitia sint coniuncti”, but there is no mention of ira. Petrus de Alvernia († 1304), included two separate questions on the topic in his Quaestiones super librum De sensu et sensato (qu. 3 “Utrum memoria insit omnibus viventibus”, and qu. 4 “Utrum ira insit omnibus animalibus”). Radulphus Brito’s question commentary combines them in one question: qu. 3 “Utrum ira et memoria insint omnibus animalibus”[33]. The topic also occurs in several other collections[34] preceding John of Jandun, who, as we saw, followed this tradition. However, all the later collections mentioned in the catalogue omit this subject, including John Buridan’s commentary.

After these introductory questions John discusses thirty-five questions about the senses, but not in a logical order. Instead he follows the topics discussed in Aristotle’s text : a question about gustus et tactus (qu. 5) is followed by two questions concerning auditus (the first in comparison to visus: qu. 6 “Utrum visus plus conferat ad scientiam et prudentiam quam auditus”); the next six are about vision, followed by qu. 14 on odoratus and 15 about tactus, etc. In fact, John follows Aristotle’s treatise and comments on it in the form of questions, as usual.

The form of the questions, as we have seen, is also usual. We find some more personal expressions, but rarely traces of a real discussion. Formulas as “De hoc dicunt aliqui”, “Aliis non placet istud”, “Sed miror de ista ultima ratione”, show us that he had heard or read various treatments of the subject, but even in some passages which seem less ‘redacted’ (for instance qu. 34: “Et de hoc forte erit questio posterius. Et potest dici ad presens quod […]. Vel dicas causam quare non”[35]) the opponent remains hypothetical.

However, sometimes we find an interesting passage reflecting the scholarly context. In question 19 (“Utrum colores medii generentur ex extremis”), in the section where John refutes the arguments for the position opposite to his solution, he lengthily discusses the refutation of the third and last argument:


Ad ultimum solutum est prius dupliciter, primo […]

Quidam de scholaribus meis clare intelligentie iuvenis honorandus dixit mihi post exitum scholarum quod si ab albedine imperfecta incipit motus ad magis perfectum, non est ratione imperfectionis albedinis quod incipiat motus ab ipsa, sed ratione nigredinis admisse, et sic non procedit argumentum quod differant secundum speciem, sed bene nigredo inclusa albedine imperfectiori differ secundum speciem ab albedine perfectiori.

Tunc ego quesivi ab ipso quid ipse diceret si negaretur sibi quod albedini imperfectiori sit coniuncta nigredo, vel imperfectiori caliditati sit coniuncta frigiditas, quia quidam hoc negarent. Et preterea saltem habeo quod albedo minus perfecta secundum illud formale ratione cuius est terminus a quo incipit motus, differt secundum speciem ab albedine perfectiori; et hoc mihi sufficeret si sufficienter demonstraretur quod albedini imperfectiori coniuncta est nigredo, quod est dubium; unde dicebam prius quod quilibet gradus forme arguit alietatem specificam.

Et unus magister, qui apparuit multum malitiosus, arguit quod secundum dicta sequeretur quod unum et idem differret ab aliquo secundum speciem et non differret, quia ponamus quod aliquid transmutetur de imperfectiori caliditate ad perfectissimam, tunc quodlibet illorum mutatorum esse […] Modo ponamus quod […] et sic differret secundum speciem et non differret secundum speciem ab eodem. Et est ratio iudicio meo multum subtilis. Oportet me scribere aliam questionem.


Here, we see the master John of Jandun approached by one of his students, after leaving the classroom, and engaging in a discussion about a question raised by this intelligent and honourable young man. Then, apparently, another master shows up and joins the discussion. He “appeared very malicious”, says John, which suggests that he did not know him well[36]. This master develops an argument which is judged “very subtle” by John and he concludes that he will have to write another question. He uses the term scribere, which seems to show that he personally wrote down his questions.

The style of this excursus reflects the attitude of a young master, open for arguments coming from students and colleagues, who did certainly not consider his commentary as the final treatment of this Aristotelian book.


From these short abstracts it clearly appears that this commentary is the result of an introductory course meant for students, even if the doctrinal discussion is often quite original, as we saw above[37]. Sentences “Oportet me scribere aliam questionem” and “Et de hoc forte erit questio posterius”, quoted above, may indicate that John considered his commentary as a provisional treatment of the subject and maybe planned to write another, more definitive one.



De memoria et reminiscentia


The part of the commentary containing the questions on the short treatise De memoria et reminiscentia contains twelve questions (qu. 1 “Utrum de futuris possit esse scientia”[38]). This is an honourable number, for the treatise is generally treated rather rapidly (Peter of Alvernia has sixteen questions, but Radulphus Brito nine, John Buridan only five).

Although this part of the Parva naturalia has been studied less than the foregoing one, an important volume on memory and recollection has been published recently[39]. Here, John of Jandun’s commentary is treated especially in the contribution of Sten Ebbesen[40], who takes it into account among a group of eight commentaries, including anonymous ones, but also the commentaries of John Buridan, Peter of Auvergne and Radulphus Brito. About the question if memory is of a thing in the past (Questiones De Memoria 2), and what is exactly that thing perceived in the past, if it is something like an image or picture (as Aristotle seems to think), John adds a notandum clarifying the concept ‘being of the past’ (“esse preteritum”). This can be understood in two ways: as regards its existence (like a dead man) or as regards some perception (“aliquid preteritum quantum ad apprehensionem aliquam, scilicet quod in preterito habita fuit aliqua apprehensio de ipso”). And he adds that perhaps there can be memory of the past regarding some other activity related to the thing, not only regarding perception, for instance remembering that yesterday he beat up his enemy; but then he saw his enemy and heard and touched him, so remembering always involves a past perception, whether directly or indirectly. However, immediately after this passage he adds “De hoc inquire usque ad fundum”, exhorting himself to investigate this problem more thoroughly. Like we saw before (regarding the commentary on De sensu), this seems to imply that his questions on the Parva Naturalia belong to an early phase in his teaching career.

John’s questions are mostly traditional ones, closely related to Aristotle’s treatise: if there can be knowledge about the future, if memory is only about the past, if memory belongs to the intellect, etc. Only question four: “Utrum intellectus possit intelligere substantiam sine quantitate” may seem surprising. However, this also refers to Aristotle’s exposition:


Quoniam autem et de fantasia prius in his que sunt de anima dictum est et quod intelligere non sit sine fantasmate – accidit enim eadem passio et intellectui que quidem et ipsi descriptioni; ibi que enim nulla utentes quantitate determinata, sed tamen finitam secundum quantitatem describimus; et similiter opinamur, etsi non quantitatem intelligat, ponit ante oculos quantitatem, intelligat autem secundum quod quantitas est; quamvis quantitatum natura sit indefinitas esse, ponit quidem quantitatem finitam, intelligit autem secundum quod quantitas solum est -, propter quam quidem igitur causam non contingit intelligere nichil sine continuo, neque sine tempore que sunt in tempore, <ratio alia>[41].


Let us concentrate on the last questions: qu. 11 “Utrum reminiscentia sit virtus corporalis” and qu. 12 “Utrum memoria sit virtus cognoscitiva”. Qu. 11 corresponds to the last question of Peter of Alvernia (qu. 16): “Utrum reminiscentia sit passio partis intellective vel sensitive”, and to the last question of Radulphus Brito (qu. 9): “Utrum potentia rememorativa sit potentia organica”. However, qu. 12 does not have a parallel in these earlier authors. And that is exactly what John announces:


Questio ultima est, que tamen non fuit facta ab aliis quorum dicta mihi apparuerunt, utrum memoria sit virtus cognoscitiva.


(five arguments for the affirmative answer)

Arguitur primo quod sic, quia sicut imaginativa se habet ad formas sensatas, quarum simulacra reservat in absentia, sic se habet memoria ad proprietates non sensatas, quarum est reservativa ; hec comparatio est satis uniformis ; sed imaginativa cognoscit formas quarum servat imagines in absentia earum, ergo memoria cognoscit in/(32va)tentiones non sensatas.

Item, virtus cuius operatio est cognitio est cognoscitiva, hec est manifesta ; sed operatio virtutis memorative est cognitio, sicut patet per Commentatorem, quia dicit quod rememorativa est cognitio alicuius quod fuit cognitum, postquam eius cognitio fuit abscissa[42], ergo etc.

Item, virtus per quam homo iudicat se vidisse aut audisse aut aliquid intellexisse est cognoscitiva, nam tale iudicium non est nisi a cognoscente virtute ; sed memoria est huiusmodi, ut patet per Aristotelem, qui dicit sic : Semper enim qui secundum memoriam aget sic in anima dicit, quia vidit, aut audivit, aut universaliter sensit[43]; quare etc.

Item, virtus anime sensitive, que est nobilior quibusdam virtutibus cognoscitivis, debet esse cognoscitiva, nunquam enim virtus non cognoscitiva debet esse nobilior virtute cognoscitiva, de eis que pertinent ad eandam substantiam anime ; sed memoria est virtus anime sensitive, nobilior quibusdam cognoscentibus virtutibus ; est enim nobilior quinque sensibus particularibus, ut vult Commentator[44], quia spiritualior est omnibus.

Item, virtus anime que recipit species sine materia est cognoscitiva, ut videtur haberi secundo De anima[45] ; sed memoria est huiusmodi, ut manifestum est per se, ergo etc.


(argument for the negative answer)

Oppositum dicitur communiter, et Avicenna ponit in Sexto Naturalium[46] quod memoria solum habet reservare intentiones et nihil cognoscit ; et hoc probatur quia si cognosceret intentiones non sensatas […] Et confirmatur illa ratio, quia […] Et signum est quod cogitativa sit dignior quam memoria quia aliqui putaverunt quod cogitativa esset intellectus […] sed nullus posuit quod memoria esset intellectus, quare […].


Thus, the affirmative answer, saying that memory is a cognitive faculty, is defended in five arguments, but the opposite, negative answer is said to be common and only Avicenna is alleged in its favour. Follows the solution, in which John first underlines that this is an unusual and difficult question and then proceeds by distinction:



Questio ista est bene difficilis propter inusitationem et inexercitationem circa eam ; nunquam enim eam audivi proponi neque disputari, nec in aliquo scripto vidi, nisi quod aliqui dubitari se dicunt de hoc. Causam tamen dubitationis non exprimunt, quod ego viderim.

Sed ut perveniam ad aliquid illius generis, ad quod ultimo supervenientes solent pervenire, dico quod aliquam virtutem esse cognoscitivam potest intelligi dupliciter: uno modo quia propria eius actio sit cognitio, alio modo quia per aliquid existens in ea receptum vel reservatum est propinquum principium cognitionis. Et quod primo modo virtus dicatur cognoscitiva, scilicet quia sua propria actio est cognitio, manifestum est per se et ab omnibus conceditur, sed quod secundo modo possit rationabiliter dici virtus cognoscitiva, scilicet que per aliquid existens in ea est principium cognitionis persuaderi potest in simili, quia constat quod Aristoteles vocat appetitum virtutem secundum locum motivam, ut patet in tertio De anima[47] et in libro De motibus animalium[48] ; modo, appetitus non videtur virtus secundum locum motiva, eo quia […].

(32vb) Visa rationabilitate distinctionis dico duo : primo quod memoria non est virtus cognoscitiva primo modo, scilicet quod sua actio propria et immediata sit cognoscere aliquid. Secundo dico quod est cognoscitiva secundo modo.

Primum probo sic : in virtutibus organicis non est reservativa alicuius et cognoscitiva eiusdem ; nunc autem memoria reservat intentiones non sensatas et secundum aliquos imagines, ergo non est cogitativa intentionum, neque etiam formarum imaginatarum, et per consequens nihil cognoscit, quia Commentator tertio De anima[49] dicit quod comprehensibilia humana dividuntur in comprehensibilia quorum principium est sensus, et per hoc intelligit formas sensatas, et proprias et communes, et comprehensibilia quorum principium est cognitio, et per hoc intelligit proprietates non sensatas. Maior propositio declaratur, quia virtus reservativa requirit in suo organo per se loquendo dominium aliquod siccitatis directe et per se, et cognoscitiva requirit humiditatem per se et directe. Cuius signum est quod homines bene considerativi et subtiles inveniuntur habere molliciem in suis carnibus, ut habetur ex secundo De anima[50] et in Physionomia[51] ; mollicies autem consequitur humiditatem, ut patet secundo De generatione[52]. Et ideo cum una et eadem virtus non requirat per se humiditatem et siccitatem a dominio in suo organo, videtur quod una virtus non est cognoscitiva alicuius et reservativa eiusdem, vel illius per quod illud cognoscitur ; et sic patet maior. Et minor est manifesta, nam per memoriam intelligimus virtutem conservativam intentionum vel eorum per que intentiones cognoscuntur, scilicet specierum et similitudinum intentionum non sensatarum, sicut forme sensate, ut calor et sonus et huiusmodi non sunt realiter in virtute imaginativa, sed quedam species et simulacra istarum formarum, que imagines vocantur ; sic non credo quod amicitia et inimicitia et huiusmodi proprietates non sensate sint realiter in memoria, sed earum species et similitudines ; quicquid autem sit illud in ea, certum est ipsam esse reservativam alicuius impressi in ea ; ex quibus videtur sequi quod ipsa non est cognoscitiva, sic quod eius actio propria sit cognitio et consideratio. Et posset probabiliter probari per rationem adductam prius, quia aut cognosceret eque spiritualiter, sicut cogitativa, et sic una superflueret, aut magis spiritualiter, et hoc est irrationabile, ut probatum est, quia tunc cogitativa esset minus nobilis quam memoria, quod omnino videtur absurdum propter rationem tactam ibi, aut cognosceret minus spiritualiter et hoc est contra Commentatorem, ut videtur, quia dicit quod memoria est magis spiritualis, et quod ordo formarum in memoria est magis spiritualis ; recipit enim medullam eius quod distinguit a cortice, ut dicit[53].

Tunc declaro secundum, scilicet quod memoria est cognoscitiva, sic intelligendo quod existens in ea et reservatum in ea est propinquum principium cognitionis. Et suppono quod cogitativa considerat et cognoscit proprietates non sensatas in absentia sensibilium. Et ulterius suppono quod virtus cogitativa non cognoscit aliquid proprie et directe nisi recipiat ab illo et nisi moveatur aliqualiter ab illo ; ergo si cogitativa debet cognoscere intentiones non sensatas in absentia earum, oportet quod aliquid interius reservatum moveat ipsam cogitativam et immutet, ut possit cognoscere istas proprietates. Illud autem interius reservatum est in ipsa memoria, que reservat intentiones vel species earum sibi impressas. Et sic videtur quod memoria est cognoscitiva hoc modo quod reservatum in ipsa est principium /(33ra) cognitionis. Et posset sic syllogizari : virtus que reservat aliquod quod est motivum cogitative ad cognitionem intentionum, est cognoscitiva illo modo quod aliquid existens in ipsa est principium cognitionis ; hec est evidens, quia constat unicuique quod motivum ad cognitionem est principium cognitionis ; sed memoria reservat aliquid […] ; quare oportet ponere quod memoria est cognoscitiva hoc modo. Et hec videtur esse intentio Commentatoris in De memoria et reminiscentia[54], ubi dicit quod imaginativa in reminiscendo presentat intentiones et imaginativa presentat descriptiones et distinctiva componit ipsas adinvicem ; et hanc presentationem non intelligo aliter nisi quod intentiones in memoria reservate movent principaliter cogitativam ad considerationem earum et cognitionem ; aliter enim non componeret eas cum aliquo nisi cognosceret eas.

Sed aliquis dubitaret, quia sicut forme sensate habent ad virtutem cognoscitivam ipsarum, sic etiam se debent habere proprietates non sensate ; sed forme sensate cognoscuntur a duplici genere virtutum […] Dico hic quod non est simile omnino, quia […]

Et est intelligendum quod sicut pono de memoria sit cognoscitiva, quia reservatum est in ea principium cognitionis et quod non sic sit cognoscitiva, quod actio sua sit cognitio, sic ponerem de imaginativa respectu formarum sensibilium, quarum reservat imagines, et pari ratione.


Finally, as usual, John gives his refutation of the arguments for the opposite position, the five arguments given at the beginning:


(refutation of the opposite arguments)

Ex his ad rationes. Ad primum potest dici quod imaginativa non est cognoscitiva sic quod actio sit cognoscere, sed sic quia reservat aliquid motivum cogitative ad considerationem formarum sensatarum in absentia earum, et hoc modo consimili pono de memoria.

Ad aliam concedo maiorem, sed ad minorem dico quod […] Vel potest dici quod […]

Ad aliud cum dicitur “virtus per quam homo etc.” concedo per quam homo complete facit istam compositionem; et cum dicis quod per memoriam homo dicit se vidisse etc., dico quod cum aliquis iudicat se vidisse aliquam rem vel audivisse, ibi est considerare tria, scilicet […] Modo dico quod […]

(33rb) Ad aliud potest dici quod bene probat quod sit aliquo modo cognoscitiva, sed non probat quod sit cognoscitiva quia […] Sed adhuc remanet dubium, quod Commentator[55] dicit memoriam esse magis spiritualem quam tres alie, et sic est nobilior quam cogitativa; et potest dici quod magis est spiritualis quantum ad primam immutationem, quia scilicet sensus communis immutat imaginationem et imaginativa cogitativam et cogitativa memoriam, et semper virtus immutata habet aliquid spiritualius quam immutans ; sed quantum ad secundam immutationem cogitative non est magis spiritualis ipsa memoria, scilicet cum illud quod est reservatum in ipsa memoria immutat cogitativam ad cognitionem intentionis reservate; et posset videri in simili, quia imaginativa in prima immutatione cum immutatur a sensu communi est spiritualior, et magis est spiritualiter in ea forma sensata quam in sensu communi; sed cum imaginativa immutat sensum communem, sicut est in somno, tunc magis est spiritualiter forma in sensu communi quam imaginativa, quia in imaginativa habet rationem obiecti respectu sensus communis; sic est in proposito, quare etc. Vel potest dici quod quia spiritualis, non sequitur quod sit cognoscitive, sed bene sequitur quod non repugnat ei quod sit cognoscitiva ratione, qua spiritualis est, quia tunc omni virtuti spiritualiter accipienti repugnaret; sed repugnant ei ratione qua talis, scilicet reservativa organica.

Similiter ad aliud cum dicis quod virtus susceptiva etc., dico quod virtuti anime que est susceptiva specierum sine materia non repugnat quod sit cognoscitiva ratione qua est sic susceptiva specierum sine materia absolute, sed ratione que est reservativa in organo; ratione cuius existit dominium siccitatis, quod non compatitur secum idoneitatem considerationis et cognitionis.

Et quod dixi de memoria in comparatione ad cogitativam in homine, quod reservat motivum cogitative, similiter est intelligendum in brutis quod memoria reservat motivum estimative, que proportionatur cogitative in homine, etc.


To resume shortly, the question is not a traditional one, as John announces from the start: he did not hear or read it elsewhere. At the beginning of his determination, he repeats this: he has “never heard it proposed or disputed nor seen in any writing, except that some say they have doubts about this”, and for this reason the question is really difficult because of its unusual character and the inexercitatio (not being exercised) about it. This implies that previous discussions of questions help to ‘exercise’ scholars (or make them familiar with the subject) before treating them themselves. This is of course evident, but, as far as I know, rarely expressed by a master.

Then he begins his determination saying that “to arrive at something of the kind at which those who come afterwards use to arrive”, he distinguishes two ways of interpreting the basic terms of the question. The explication of basic terms and the distinction of concepts are usual techniques in disputed questions.

The organisation of the question is also usual : five arguments are given for the affirmative answer : memory is a cognitive power, it has knowledge of (not perceptible) intentions; they are followed by one argument for the opposite answer, which is common and is illustrated here by a passage from Avicenna. The determination is introduced by a distinction, as we saw above: a power being cognitive can be understood in two ways. On the basis of this distinction John gives his answer: “Having seen that the distinction is rational (so, valuable), I say two things: first, that memory is not cognitive in the first way; second, that it is cognitive in the second way”. Both points are developed by argumentation, both using authorities (Aristotle, Averroes) and logical arguments. A doubtful point (“Sed aliquis dubitaret”) is evoked and explained, and is followed by a notandum (“Et est intelligendum”). Finally, as usual, the opposite arguments are refuted. In a final note John explains that what he has said about memory in comparison to the cogitative power in man, must be understood in a similar way in animals, whose estimative power corresponds to the cogitative power in humans.

It is interesting to note that during his argumentation John insists on the similar and dissimilar aspects between the human cognitive functions and those of animals, which seems to confirm his debt to Averroes[56].

This unprecedented question about one of the interior faculties offers the occasion for a thorough discussion about the distinction between the corporeal faculties and the intellect, which has abstract knowledge. Memory does not have knowledge by its proper and immediate action, but only because something in it is a propinquum principium of knowledge.

As for the circumstances of the redaction and the public addressed in this question, it was probably, like the rest of the commentary, part of John’s regular teaching in the schoolroom. There is one expression which could suggest that the students played an active role in the discussion: at the end of the refutation, John says “Similiter ad aliud cum dicis quod” (“when you say that”). Does this mean that one of the students had proposed this argument? It is possible, but the rest of the questions show clearly that John made a redaction of the whole commentary after the discussions in the classroom. This is also evident from the colophon at the end of the next part of the commentary, on the De somno (see below).




De somno et vigilia


This Aristotelian treatise has been more largely commented than the one on memory and reminiscence, as the forementioned catalogue, listing for instance commentaries by Geoffrey of Aspall (39 questions), Siger of Brabant (attributed; 36 questions), Simon of Faversham and several anonymous authors, clearly shows[57]. Apparently, the phenomenon of sleep and dreams interested many scholars.

The part of John’s commentary containing the questions on De somno et vigilia contains twenty-four questions. This is close to the number of Radulphus Brito’s commentary (22 questions). Afterwards, like we saw before for the other treatises, the interest seems to wane rapidly (Buridan has only 10 questions, John Versor only 6).

As we saw above, at the end of the commentary in the manuscript Vat. lat. 6768 we find the following colophon: “Expliciunt questiones super librum de sompno et vigilia scripte per Iohannem de Ganduno et ad hunc ordinem quem habent reducte anno christi 1309”. This not only gives the date, but also indicates that this is the definitive order in which John wants his questions to be published (“organized in the order they have here”).

Three questions mention the sensus communis (qu. 8 Utrum somnus sit passio sensus communis; qu. 9 Utrum sensus communis sit in corde; qu. 19 Utrum somnium sit passio sensus communis). The relation to the common sense had also been treated by Geoffrey of Aspall, the commentary attributed to Siger of Brabant, and Radulphus Brito[58]. Because of earlier research on this subject, I will take these questions as examples of the commentary.

John of Jandun’s question 8: “Utrum somnus sit passio sensus communis”, begins like this:


Arguitur quod non, quia si esset passio sensus communis, tunc sensus communis et suum organum immobilitarentur in somno, quia somnus est immobilitatio; sed illud est impossibile, quia organum sensitivi primi est cor et illud semper movetur motu systoles et diastoles, ut patet in tertio De anima; et si quiesceret, statim animal moreretur.

Item, somnus est passio illius a quo calor et spiritus retrahuntur […]

Item, illius est passio somnus quod primo immobilitatur, quia passio debet assignari primo, ut patet primo Posteriorum[59]; nunc autem sensus communis non primo immobilitatur in somno; primo perfectus.

Item, si somnus esset passio sensus communis, esset per illum modum […]

(36va) Item, somnus non est passio eius quod operatur in somno, quia illud debet immobilitari quod somno premitur […]

Oppositum vult Aristoteles in litera et Commentator in suo tractatu[60].


After these preliminary arguments, the discussion begins, as usual, with some precisions or “suppositions” (“De questione est intelligendum”). The first one is that in sleep all the exterior senses are immobilised. The second remark contains interesting information about the common sense and the reason of its denomination:


Ulterius capio ex tertio De anima[61] et libro De sensu[62] quod principaliter (lege princeps inter ?) quinque sensus particulares est virtus sensitiva, ad quam terminantur omnes sensationes seu immutationes facte in particularibus sensibus et ad cuius organum colligantur et copulantur alia organa sensuum; et ab organo eius influuntur spiritus ad organa aliorum sensuum particularium, ad eorum operationes necessario requisiti; et propter hoc dicitur sensus communis, scilicet communitate immutationis et influentie, non predicationis essentialis.


Thus, the common sense is named ‘common’ because of the common character of the changes and influences it induces in the particular (exterior) senses, of which it receives and combines the sensations and changes[63].

These remarks having introduced the solution, John now formulates his determinatio:


His visis dico quod somnus est passio sensus communis, quia somnus est passio illius quo immobilitato omnes sensus particulares immobilitantur et non econverso; hoc patet ex prima suppositione; sed sensu communi immobilitato immobilitantur omnes sensus particulares, quia ab ipso est influentia virtutis omnibus aliis sensibus et non econverso.

Item, passio que inest pluribus et non uni per alterum, est in eis per aliquam causam communem, quia aliter non esset proportio passionis ad subiectum; sed somnus est quedam passio communis sensibus particularibus et non inest uni ipsorum per alterum, ut manifestum est; ergo oportet quod insit eis per aliquam unam causam communem, cuius passio insit; sed non invenitur alia causa per quam insit illa immobilitatio omnibus sensibus particularibus et cui primo insit nisi sensus communis, ut patet consideranti; quare etc. Et confirmatur illa ratio quia […] et hoc non potest stare, quia […] Sed illud non stat, quia […] hoc autem est inconveniens, quia […] (36vb) […] ergo relinquitur quod sit passio primi sensitivi sive sensus communis.

Sed ego dubitavi sic: manifestum est quod somnus est impotentia sentiendi sensibilia exteriora causata a reciprocatione et conventu caloris et sensuum ab exterioribus ad interiora per evaporationem infrigidatam; illi ergo primo competit somnus cuius est passio, in quo reciprocatio caloris et sensuum causat primo impotentiam sentiendi; sed reciprocatio sensuum propter evaporationem infrigidatam et descendentem primo causat impotentiam sentiendi in sensibus particularibus et ex consequenti in sensu communi, inquantum ad ipsum non pervenit immediate, sed mediantibus sensibus particularibus. Et confirmatur quia somnus et vigilia debent esse passiones cuiusdam primo cum sint opposita privative; nunc autem vigilia videtur primo esse passio sensuum particularium, quia vigilia est idem quod sensatio exteriorum sensibilium; modo, sensus particulares prius sentient sensibilia exteriora quam sensus communis, cum sensus particulares prius immutentur quam communis et sunt virtutes cognoscitive; ergo eis primo inest vigilia et per consequens somnus. Ad primum potest dici quod somnus non est quecunque impotentia sentiendi sensibilia, sed impotentia perfecta et completa secundum quod possibile est esse completionem et perfectionem in privationibus; modo, quamvis conventus sensuum et reciprocatio cause<n>t impotentiam sentiendi sensibilia exteriora primo in sensibus particularibus, tamen illa impotentia non est perfecta, sed imperfecta; sed illa est perfecta que est in sensu communi et illa que posterius accidit ipsis sensibus particularibus ex privatione influxus a sensu communi ad ipsos similiter. Ad aliud concedo quod sensus particulares prius immutantur quam sensus communis et prius cognoscuntur sensibilia exteriora; sed illa cognitio est incompleta et imperfecta respectu eius que est per sensum communem et sensus communis est perfecta sensatio sensibilium exteriorum; et illa est vigilia proprie loquendo, et sic vigilia primo inest sensui communi.


(refutation of the arguments for the opposite position)

Ad rationes principales.

Ad primam dico quod sensitivum primum immobilitatur quantum ad virtutem animalem, scilicet quantum ad sensum commune in habitudine ad sensus exteriores, sed non immobilitatur quantum ad virtutem motivam secundum locum, que movet ipsum secundum systolen et diastolen, et sic procedit ex malo intellectu.

Ad aliud dico quod non oportet somnum esse passionem illius a quo retrahuntur spiritus, sed illius ad quod retrahuntur […].

Ad aliud dico quod somnus est passio illius quod primo immobilitatur causalitate et natura; modo, quamvis primo appareat immobilitatio et ligatio partium exteriorum, tamen […].

Ad aliud dico breviter quod sensitivum primum in dormiendo non influit exterioribus organis spiritus sensibiles, qui requiruntur ad sensationem, sed bene influit spiritus naturales [… (37ra) …].

Ad aliud dico quod in somno sensus communis non operatur circa sensibilia exteriora nec ab eis immutatur mediantibus sensibus particularibus, sed bene immutatur a simulacris sensibilium interius reservatis, et sic sentit immutatus ab eis; et illa sensatio sensus communis quam facit cum immutata est ab imaginibus interius reservatis est illa quam Commentator in principio sui tractatus[64] vocat spiritualem, scilicet obiectum immutans sensum communem, <et> est quid spirituale, scilicet imago rei interius reservata; et sensum communem sic sentientem vocat sensum in potentia, quia per se non immutatur actu a rebus exterioribus moventibus sensus particulares, sed solum est in potentia respectu talis immutationis, licet a rerum simulacris interius conservatis actualiter immutentur.


The form of the question is usual, except for the fact that after the determination John adds a doubt himself instead of saying “But one may doubt” or something equivalent. Anyway, he gives two arguments which question his solution, the second concentrating on vigil/wake, and then refutes them. So, this small discussion in fact enforces his solution. Finally, the arguments for the opposite position are duly refuted.

There is no trace of real discussion with the students, nor of any discussion with contemporary masters, a fact that probably reflects the lessening interest for these small treatises, also shown by the diminishing number of commentaries, as we saw above.

This question does not teach us much about the common sense either. However, the next question touches on a subject which is only indirectly related to the treatise on sleep, but is an old and much discussed problem concerning the common sense: is it situated in the heart or in the brain. Different theories existed since a long time. I refer to the discussion elsewhere on this website[65]. John clearly opts for the Aristotelian doctrine: the common sense is in the heart:


(37ra) Oppositum dicit hic Aristoteles et in multis aliis locis, scilicet in De morte et vita[66] et in De causis motus animalium[67].

Dimissis opinionibus aliorum dico breviter quod sensus communis est in corde, quia […]


Discarding other opinions, he explains his position and says that the common sense is principaliter in the heart, but:


Sed est intelligendum quod ipsius sensus communis duplex est organum, unum est principale, cuius ipse sensus communis est actus, et est illud ad quod omnes immutationes sensuum particularium terminantur; et illud est cor, nam ad ipsum cor copulantur et tendunt organa omnia sensuum particularium, quedam mediante cerebro, quedam non mediante cerebro, ut Aristoteles dicit in De morte et vita[68]. Et illud est valde rationabile, nam sicut ab una anime substantia fluunt omnes vires sensitive et alie, sic ab una corporis parte derivantur et oriuntur quodammodo omnes alie particule corporis et ad eam copulantur secundum quod est possibile; et illa pars non est nisi cor. Aliud est organum sensus communis minus principale, quod pro tanto dicitur organum, non quia sensus communis sit actus eius sicut est actus quidam ipsius cordis, sed quia est quedam pars animalis qua mediante pervenit immutatio ad sensum communem, que immutatio est necessaria ad sensationem sensibilium aliquorum a sensu communi; et illud organum est anterior pars cerebri, mediante qua sensationes facte a sensibilibus trium (lege exteriorum) sensuum perveniunt ad sensum communem. Et sic forte intellexerunt illi qui posuerunt organum sensus communis esse anteriorem partem cerebri; sicut enim dicitur quod oculus est organum visus, ut Commentator dicit in libro De sensu[69], quod non sic est intelligendum quod visus sit in oculo et in extremitate pupille, sicut Aristoteles dicit in libro De sensu[70], sed pro tanto dicitur instrumentum, quia est pars corporis deserviens visioni deferendo species visibilium ad ipsum sensum, sic dicitur organum capiendo organum pro medio deferente; similiter potest dici in proposito. Vel secundum aliquos pars anterior cerebri dicitur organum sensus communis, quia per frigiditatem illius partis ipsum cerebrum commensurat et obtemperat calorem cordis ad opera sensus communis et ad generationem spirituum deservientium sensui communi, et sic similiter in aliis virtutibus intrinsecis; et ad hanc intentionem potest intelligi dictum unum Commentatoris in De somno et vigilia[71], ubi dicit sic: Dicamus ergo quod manifestum est quod sensus est in corde et quod cerebrum est unum instrumentum comprehendens hanc actionem secundum temperantiam existentem in eo, hoc est pro tanto cerebrum dicitur instrumentum deserviens operationi sensus communis, quia temperat frigiditate sua caliditatem cordis ad sensibiles spiritus generandos.


Thus, John defends Aristotle and Averroes in saying that the organ of the common sense is in the heart, but he adheres to the theory that the organ is double: the principal one is the heart, but the foremost part of the brain, as less principal organ, also plays a role as a kind of instrument assuring the transmission of the exterior senses to the common sense or the cooling down of the heat of the heart for the generation of the sensible ‘spirits’. And those who take the brain for the main organ, incorrectly interpreted the transmitting organ for the main organ, like when one takes the eye for the main organ of vision.

The refutation of the preliminary arguments for the opposite position shows no surprise except for the fact that John accuses Galen of an error: this famous philosopher and physician says that the origin of the animal spirit is in the brain (“erravit Galenus dicens principium spiritus animalis esse in cerebro”)[72]. He explains again that the principal origin is in the heart because there is the origin of vital heat, but that for the generation of the animal spirit the heat of the heart is mitigated (“commensuratur”) by the cold of the brain.

The second part of John’s questions concerns the small Aristotelian treatise On Dreams (De somnio), which follows immediately the treatise De somno et vigilia. In John’s commentary the two treatises are combined into one (the title De somnio is not mentioned separately), but eight of the twenty-four questions are consecrated to dreams. In one of them (qu. 19) the common sense is also a prominent factor: whether dream, like sleep, is a passion of the common sense.

It is the first of the eight questions concerning dreams, just as Aristotle starts his treatise examining the question to which part of the soul the dream appears, if it is an affection of the intellective part or of the sensitive part. The organisation of the answer is somewhat different from the usual device. Some say, says John, that it is the common opinion that dream is a passion of the common sense, because dream and sleep are passions of the same faculty. And this does not please others, because dream is an apparition of the phantasia, as Aristotle says in the text. Another argument is given for the last opinion and “they confirm this with the authority of the Commentator”. “And therefore these (philosophers) say three things about the question”. After these three arguments (of those who deny that dream is a passion of the common sense) John comments: “And these (philosophers) seem to be defective, because […]”; he adds a dubium and then gives another comment: “And perhaps it would be better to proceed by distinction, that in dream there are two things to consider”, namely the apparent sensation, and then dream comes from the common sense, and secondly the passion of the imaginative virtue. In the discussion John quotes Averroes and Albertus Magnus; and finally, he concludes:


Et ad illam intentionem intelligo Aristotelem, ubi diffinit somnium, quod somnium est phantasma quod fit a motu simulacrorum in dormiendo, scilicet phantastica, et apparens sensatio, ad quam movet simulacrum intellectus in phantasia inexistentis in simpliciter dormiente (41rb).


John then refutes the arguments for the contrary position, explains again the intention of Averroes (“et quod illa etiam sit intentio Commentatoris patet intuenti diligenter verba prius posita”), and shows that the arguments of the “other opinion” have been solved. Finally, he adds:


De illis autem compositionibus et divisionibus que in somno contingent, bene forte quod (transposition into Latin of the French “peut-être bien que” ?) fiunt a cogitativa vel estimative; hoc accidit somnio, nec sunt essentialiter somnia, sed magis apparens sensatio, ut predictum est (41va).


Thus, the ‘compositions’ and ‘divisions’ that occur in dreams come perhaps from the cogitative or estimative sense, and this is accidental to dreams, but they are not essential to them. This question is another example of the way in which John sticks to the interpretation of Aristotle and his Commentator, defending them against all other opinions.

In another question (qu. 23) John treats the subject of divination and prophecy in dreams[73]. He follows the consensus about the causality of heavenly bodies, based on Aristotle’s treatise De somno et vigilia, which John explains and then combines with elements extracted from the Meteora. He then explains that according to the intention of Aristotle, Averroes, and Albertus Magnus the configuration of the stars has a double causality, partly based on a modification of the light, which produces a change in the body of the sleeping person. Thus, he concludes, a perfect astronomer can easily interpret dreams by identifying the configuration of the stars at the time of the dream and comparing the simulacres with the disposition of the celestial body and the bodily complexion of the dreamer.


On the whole, although the commentary certainly contains interesting material, as we saw above, it does not seem to reveal many original views. As in the case of the forementioned commentaries on the Parva naturalia, we can conclude that it probably is the result of classroom teaching, without much discussion with the students during the lectures.



Questiones super libro De causa longitudinis et brevitatis vite, De iuventute et senectute, De morte et vita


The remaining treatises of the Parva naturalia (De causa longitudinis et brevitatis vite, De iuventute et senectute, De morte et vita) have all been exposed by John in the form of questions, like the preceding ones. They are not included in the catalogue of Ebbesen, Thörnqvist and Decaix. Thus, the comparison with other commentaries is much more complicated. In the following, I will just list John’s questions as they have been printed in Zimara’s edition.


For De causa longitudinis et brevitatis vite the list of questions as given by Zimara is the following :


  1. Utrum de brevitate et longitudine vite possit esse scientia.
  2. Utrum ad Naturalem spectet determinare de causis longitudinis et brevitatis vite.
  3. Utrum de istis possit esse scientia distincta a libro de anima.
  4. Utrum unum et idem sit causa longitudinis et brevitatis vite.
  5. Utrum sit idem esse sanum secundum naturam et esse longe vite.
  6. Utrum ad Naturalem pertineat determinare de sanitate et egritudine.
  7. Utrum scientie sit aliqua corruptio.
  8. Utrum scientia corrumpatur corruptione subiecti sui.
  9. Utrum potentia vegetativa sit corruptibilis.
  10. Utrum sit aliquis locus ubi illud quod est corruptibile fiat incorruptibile.
  11. Utrum ignis in sphera sua possit corrumpi.
  12. Utrum plante sint longioris vite quam animalia.
  13. Utrum calidum et humidum sint causa longitudinis vite.
  14. Utrum vivum in toto tempore vite per continuam susceptionem alimenti possit manere idem numero.
  15. Utrum homines habitantes in regionibus calidis sint longioris vite.
  16. Utrum in parte animalis decisi sit anima.


Thus, John explains in sixteen questions the salient points of this short treatise. In several questions, he discusses the relation between two different disciplines on this particular subject: natural philosophy in relation to the science of the soul, and in relation to medicine.

Let us note that after these sixteen questions, in the same edition of Zimara, a short supplementary question follows, about an apparent contradiction in Aristotle’s treatise:


Posset etiam queri de hoc quod dicit Philosophus, quod humidum est causa vite, quod mulieres sunt magis humide quam viri, et tamen sunt brevioris vite quam viri, ergo etc.

Istud solvitur per Philosophum; dicit enim quod humidum quod est causa longe vite, est humidum pingue et unctuosum, humidum autem quod est in mulieribus est humidum magis aqueum, et non ita pingue nec unctuosum sicut in viris; quare non valet (53ra).


This question-and-answer, related to qu. 13, about warmth and humidity being the cause of a longer life, clearly is a later addition, by the editor Zimara[74], who copied it from a marginal note in one of the manuscripts.


For De iuventute et senectute the questions are the following:


  1. Utrum secundum eandem partem secundum quam animal est animal secundum eandem vivat.
  2. Utrum illa pars secundum quam animal vivit sit medium superioris et inferioris.
  3. Utrum primum sensitivum sit in corde.
  4. Utrum omnes partes animalis et totum animal habeant calorem naturalem.
  5. Utrum in animalibus habentibus pulmonem refrigeratio fiat per aerem.
  6. Utrum in habentibus cor, cor primo formetur.
  7. Utrum calidum habeat corrumpere humidum.
  8. Utrum refrigeratio calidi habeat esse per frigidum.
  9. Utrum qualitates mixtorum causentur ex qualitatibus elementorum.
  10. Utrum qualitates naturales et accidentales sint eiusdem rationis.
  11. Utrum qualitates loci sint contrarie qualitatibus locati.


For the Questiones super libro de Morte et vita:


  1. Utrum scientia de morte et vita sit naturalis.
  2. Utrum qualitates corporum locatorum maxime salventur in locis eorum naturalibus.
  3. Utrum anima sit in qualibet parte corporis.
  4. Utrum omne corruptibile de necessitate corrumpatur.
  5. Utrum mors et vita attendantur ex parte animae vel corporis.
  6. Utrum calidum sit principium vite.
  7. Utrum aliquid mixtum possit esse frigidissimum.
  8. Utrum caliditas naturalis et accidentalis sit eadem.
  9. Urrum calidum sit causa motus pulsus.
  10. Utrum substantia anime sit corpus.
  11. Utrum atomi sint corpora.
  12. Utrum atomi sint corpora naturalia.
  13. Utrum indivisibilia sint ponenda principia aliorum corporum.
  14. Utrum sanguis sit nutrimentum in animalibus.
  15. Utrum oporteat aliquod elementum dominium habere in mixto.
  16. Utrum qualitates mixtorum sint causate ex miscibilibus.
  17. Utrum sit aliqua mors naturalis.
  18. Utrum in morte naturali sit tristitia.



This is the end of the treatises called Parva naturalia. Follow in the edition the questions on two other treatises: the De bona fortuna and the De motu animalium. Both were usual elements in the collections of the Parva naturalia, as we find them in medieval manuscripts and in early editions[75]. However, I will treat them later on, respectively in Chapter 8 and 9.





John’s commentary on the Parva naturalia seems indeed to have been written early in his career as a master[76]. The young master faithfully follows Aristotle’s treatises in the order of the questions and always explains carefully the great philosopher’s words. He is also ready to discuss with his students, even outside the classroom, as the passage concerning the De sensu et sensato quoted above[77] clearly shows. Here, he tells us in a colloquial style : “Someone of my students, a honourable young man of clear intelligence said to me after the end of school that …”; “Then I asked him what he would say if …”; “And one master, who appeared to be very malicious, argued that …”; “And this argument is in my opinion very subtle. I should write another question”. Probably the malicious master joined the discussion between John and his intelligent student, somewhere outside the school; one can picture a group of students and some masters, who had taught different subjects, in other classrooms, during the same hours. And John, who listened carefully, admits that the argumentation of this master will force him to rewrite his question. The fact that he mentions this episode in the written version of his commentary tells us that he was at that time an open minded, young master, and that his commentary was not, to his mind, a definitive one.

It is possible that John decided to begin his teaching of the Parva naturalia precisely because the interest for these small treatises was diminishing, as we saw above, considering it as a kind of exercise before addressing the important treatises, like the Physica and the De anima. However, this would suppose that he was free to decide which part of the curriculum he would treat first[78].

The discussion of the other treatises also reveals personal features, for instance in the last question concerning the De memoria (quoted above[79]), a question which had not been discussed by other masters whose sayings were known to him. At the beginning of the solution he says: “This question is very difficult because of the unusualness and lack of exercise about it; for I never heard it proposed or disputed, nor did I see it in any writing, except that some say that they have doubts about this. But they do not express the cause of their doubt, as far as I have seen” [80]. In fact, the question is not found in Radulphus Brito’s commentary, for instance, nor in the other commentaries mentioned in the catalogue quoted above[81]. The fact that John decided to add it can probably be explained by the fact that he is intrigued by the expression of doubt by other masters. And he tries to produce a correct result: “But in order to arrive at something of the kind to which those who come last (ultimo pervenientes) use to arrive, I say that …”. The question is indeed thoroughly treated and it offers a serious discussion of the distinction between the corporeal faculties and the abstract knowledge of the intellect, one of the fundamental questions in the philosophy of his time. John was clearly an ambitious young master.

It is interesting to compare John’s commentary on the Parva naturalia to the slightly earlier one of Radulphus Brito. Although at first sight the two commentaries are similar in the subject and even the solution of the questions, they differ in several aspects[82]. First, John’s questions often are much longer and elaborate than those of Brito; for instance, for the question “Utrum somnus sit passio sensus communis”, the solution starts with preliminary notes “De questione est intelligendum primo”, etc., and is concluded only after a doubt introduced by “Sed ego dubitavi sic”.

Other differences are the choice of the authorities quoted and the style of the redaction. For the first, I have singled out Brito’s question I, 8 of De somno: “Utrum sensus communis sit in corde”, corresponding to question I, 9 (in the same formulation) in John’s commentary. The authorities quoted by Brito are, apart from Aristotle himself, Avicenna, Algazel, Alexander and Albertus Magnus; John also mentions Avicenna and Algazel, but repeatedly adds Averroes, who is not mentioned at all by Brito[83].

As for the style of the commentaries, John’s questions I, 8 and I, 9 of De somno testify to the personal style typical for this author, while Brito’s questions I, 7 and I, 8 are developed in a strict dialectical manner, mainly by the means of syllogisms, and they are formulated in an impersonal way, even if in question I, 8 he expresses his opinion by approving Albertus’s and Avicenna’s position (“Et si illo modo intellexit Albertus quod sensus communis est in anteriori parte capitis, bene intellexit, et similiter Avicenna”). It is striking that Brito never uses the pronoun ego nor the first person of the singular, which are constantly used by John (“Sed ego dubitavi”, “Omissis opinionibus aliorum dico breviter”, “Nunc accipio quod”, etc.). In short, Brito follows the traditional way of developing arguments, while John writes in a colloquial style and expresses his opinions in a personal way.

We may conclude that this commentary, like the one on the De sensu, was written down by the master, maybe after some discussion in the classroom. This is also the case of the one on De somno et vigilia, although this reveals perhaps less personal treats than the preceding commentaries.

The commentaries on the other treatises of the Parva naturalia (not treated in detail here) remain to be studied in order to certify if they follow the same model.



[1] See already E.I. Kouri and A.I. Lehtinen, Disputed Questions on Aristotle’s « De iuventute et senectute », « De respiratione » and « De morte et vita » by Henricus de Alemannia, in Sic itur ad astra … Festschrift … Paul Kunitzsch, ed. M. Folkerts and R. Lorch, Wiesbaden 2000, pp. 362-375.

[2] Ioan Gandavensis philosophi acutissimi Quaestiones super Parvis Naturalibus, cum Marci Antonii Zimarae De movente et motu … absolutissima quaestione …, Venetiis, apud Hieronymum Scotum MDLVII. However, the table of questions starts with the correct name: “Tabula quaestionum Ioannis de Ianduno super Parvis naturalibus”.

[3] See P. de Leemans, « Medieval Commentaries on Aristotle’s De motu animalium », in Revue de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévale 67 (2000) pp. 316-322 ; id., « Secundum viam naturae et doctrinae. Lire le De motu animalium et les Parva naturalia d’Aristote au Moyen Age », in Les Parva naturalia d’Aristote. Fortune antique et médiévale, eds. Ch. Grellard and P.M. Moret, Paris (Publ. De la Sorbonne) 2010, pp. 197-220.

See also C.J. Ermatinger, « Averroism in Early Fourteenth Century Bologna”, in Mediaeval Studies 16 (1954) p. 55; A. Maier, “Die italienischen Averroisten des Codex Vaticanus latinus 6768”, in Manuscripta 8 (1964) p. 71 and n. 12-14.

[4] See below in this chapter. For De bona fortuna, see ch. 8 ; for De motu animalium, see ch. 9,

[5] Chapter 2 and Appendix I.

[6] See S. Ebbesen, C.T. Thornqvist and V. Decaix, Questions on De sensu et sensato, De memoria and De somno et vigilia. A Catalogue, online publication (part of the research project “Representation and Reality”), 2016.

[7] A. Robert, “John of Jandun on minima sensibilia”, in Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 25 (2014) pp. 365-402; id., “John of Jandun on Sense Perception and Instantaneous Change”, in D. Bennett, J. Toivanen (eds.), Philosophical Problems in Sense Perception. Testing the Limits of Aristotelianism, Springer Nature Switzerland 2020, pp. 193-212 ;  S. Ebbesen, « Alexander of Aphrodisias, Brito and Jandun : Comments on Aurélien Robert’s Paper », ibid., pp. 213-221.

[8] J. Toivanen, « Medieval Commentators on Simultaneous Perception : An Edition of Commentaries on Aristotle’s De sensu et sensato », in CIMAGL 90 (2021) pp. 112-214.

[9] J.-B. Brenet, “Le feu agit-il en tant que feu ? Causalité et synonymie dans les Questiones de sensu et sentato de Jean de Jandun », in Chr. Grellard, P.-M. Morel (eds.), Les « Parva naturalia » d’Aristote. Fortune antique et médiévale, Paris 2010, pp. 163-195.

[10] Cf. Brenet : « Il apparaît immédiatement cependant que son développement ne se conforme pas au caractère plutôt secondaire, seulement instrumental ou intercalaire du lemme. Il déborde en effet la difficulté ciblée de la contrariété comme condition de l’agir et du pâtir des éléments, et s’ouvre sur un problème plus global, au départ assez flou : celui des ‘agents naturels’ ».

[11] See Robert, quoted n. 7.

[12] A. Robert, “John of Jandun on minima sensibilia”, quoted n. 7. Recently, Roberto Zambiasi presented a paper on the same topic at the SIEPM congress in Paris August 2022): “A Radical Conception of Sensible Qualities in Medieval Latin De sensu  commentaries of the Beginning of the 14th Century”.

[13] Robert, op. cit., p. 367.

[14] See above n. 8. The passages concerning Jandun are pp. 132-135, 199-208.

[15] J. Toivanen, “Perceiving Many Things Simultaneously. Medieval Reception of an Aristotelian Problem”, in J. Toivanen and C.T. Thornqvist (ed.), Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition. Volume One: Sense Perception, Leiden 2022, pp. 148-182.

[16] Toivanen, op. cit., pp. 164-165.

[17] A. Robert, “The Diversity of Human Languages and Climate Theory. Philosophy and Medicine in Medieval Commentaries on Aristotle’s De sensu et sensato”, in Micrologus XXXI* Special Issue (2023) pp. 153-190.

[18] See Robert, op. cit., pp. 165-166.

[19] Ibid., p. 167. And see Chapter 3.

[20] The Internet Classics Archive.

[21] In Moerbeke’s translation : « Puta sensus et memoria, et ira et desiderium et omnino appetitus, et cum hiis gaudium et tristicia; et enim hec fere insunt omnibus animalibus ».

[22] Thomas Aquinas, Sentencia libri De sensu et sensato, prologue, ed. Commissio Leonina, Rome/Paris 1985, pp. 7-8.

[23] Arist., De anima III, 9 (432b). See also II, 3 (414b) Si autem sentitivum, et appetitivum est; appetitus quidem enim desiderium et ira et voluptas sunt.

[24] Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., p. 8: “memoria vero et ira in eis totaliter non invenitur, set solum in animalibus perfectis”.

[25] Arist., Metaph. I, 1 (Bekker 980a).

[26] Arist., Anal. Post. II, 2 (Bekker 100a).

[27] Alexander of Aphrodisias, In De sensu, ed. W. Vanhamel and L. Devriese (forthcoming), (ad Bekker, p. 436a8-11) : « Sensus quidem igitur et concupiscentia et delectatio et tristitia communia omnibus, ira autem et memoria plurimorum »; ed. Ch. Thurot, in Notices et Extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale, t. XXV, 13-14. On Alexander’s commentary on De sensu and its tradition, see W. Van Hamel and L. Devriese, « The Latin Manuscript Tradition of Alexander of Aphrodisias’ In De sensu. The direct relation between the manuscripts of Treviso (Bibl. Comm. 377) and Paris (BnF 14714) », forthcoming.

[28] Arist., Ethica (sec. transl.), 1, 13, p. 394, l. 10 (Bekker 1102b 5-6): “Recte enim et ad optima deprecatur racio.” See also Auctoritates Aristotelis, § 25: “Ratio semper deprecatur ad optima”.

[29] Cf. Liber de causis,  prop. VI, X. ; prop. XXIII ; prop. XXIX-XXX.

[30] In the edition the question is followed by a schematic representation of the subject: Appetitus divided into “Aut naturalis” “Aut animalis”, the last divided into “Aut sensitivum” “Aut rationalis”, the first divided into “Aut concupiscibilis” “Aut irascibilis” (3ra end of the column).

[31] S. Ebbesen, C. Thomson Thörnqvist, V. Decaix, “Questions on De sensu et sensato, De memoria and De somno et vigilia. A Catalogue », see n. 6.

[32] Ibid. p. 4 ; « coniuncti », sc. anime et corporis.

[33] Ibid., p. 9. A comparison between the questions of Radulphus Brito and those of John of Jandun would perhaps reveal interesting features, for instance about their use of Alexander of Aphrodisias’s commentary on De sensu. This remains to be done.

[34] The Anonymus Vaticani 3061, qu. 3 “Utrum ira insit omnibus animalibus”, the Anonymus Parisini 16160, qu. 2 “Utrum ira et memoria insit omnibus animalibus”, and Petrus of Flandria (?), qu. 3 “Utrum ira et memoria sint in omnibus animalibus”.

[35] Ed. Toivanen, op. cit. (n. 6), p. 206.

[36] This also seems an indication that John was at the beginning of his teaching career.

[37] See above and n. 12-13. Aurélien Robert notes (op. cit. n. 7, p. 369) : « As far as I know, no one else in the Middle Ages devoted so much energy as John of Jandun to interpreting Aristotle’s text and its commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias ».

[38] And see S. Ebbesen, C.T. Thornqvist, V. Decaix, op. cit., p. 30.

[39] Memory and Recollection in the Aristotelian Tradition, ed. V. Decaix and C. Thomsen Thörnqvist, Turnhout 2021 (Studia Artistarum 47). See also V. Decaix, « Is Memory a Matter of Complexion ? », cf. BPhM 63 (2021) pp. 512-514, on the physiological basis underlying the cognitive process of memory.

[40] S. Ebbesen, « Why Did Nature Equip Us with Memory ? », in Memory and Recollection (cit. n. 39), pp. 169-183. In this volume, John of Jandun’s commentary is also shortly mentioned by C. Thomsen Thörnqvist, p. 193 n. 27.

[41] Arist., De memoria et reminiscentia 1.

[42] Averroes, Compendia, p. 49.24-26: « Rememoratio igitur est cognitio eius quod fuit cognitum, postquam cognitio eius fuit abscisa. ».

[43] Arist., De memoria et reminiscentia 1.

[44] Cf. Averroes, Compendia, pp. 58, l. 56-p. 59, l. 64: « Et ideo sunt quinque ordines, quorum primus est corporalis magni corticis et est forma sensibilis extra animam. Secundus autem est esse istius forme in sensu communi et est primus ordinum spiritualium. Tertius est esse eius in virtute ymaginativa et est magis spiritualis. Quartus est in virtute distinctiva. Quintus est esse eius in virtute rememorativa et est magis spiritualis: recipit enim medullam eius quod distinguunt tres virtutes a cortice ».

[45] Cf. Arist., De anima 3, 7 (Becker p.109, l. 17 : « quod enim intellectus qui secundum actum sit species sine materia »).

[46] Avicenna, Sextus naturalium, I, 5 , p. 89.53-56: « Deinde est vis memorialis et reminiscibilis; quae est vis ordinata in posteriori concavitate cerebri, retinens quod apprehendit vis aestimationis de intentionibus non sensatis singulorum sensibilium. ».

[47] Arist., De anima 3, 10 [sec. Thomae comm.: lib.: 3, 9, p. 244, col. 1, l. 6] (Bekker : 433a) : « Vtraque ergo hec motiua secundum locum, intellectus et appetitus. »

[48] Arist., De motibus animalium, cap. 6, p. 56, l. 181-187 (Bekker 700b-701a).

[49] Averroes, In De anima 3, comm. 33, p. 476,59-62 : « Et ideo comprehensibilia humana dividuntur in hec duo, scilicet in comprehensibile eo cuius principium est sensus, et comprehensibile cuius principium est cogitatio » (cognitio instead of the Averroean cogitatio).

[50] Arist., De anima 2, 9, [sec. Thomae comm.: lib. 2, 19, p. 147, col.:2, l. 2] (Bekker : 421a) : « Duri enim carne, inepti mente, molles autem carne bene apti ».

[51] Pseudo-Arist., Physiognomonica, 2, par. 9, p. 12, l. 16 (Bekker: 806b) : « ‘De carne’. Caro autem dura quidem et boni habitus naturaliter insensibilem significat, levis autem et bene nata et instabilem, nisi in forti corpore et habenti extremitates fortes hoc accidat ».

[52] Arist., De gener., lib. 2, 2, p. 5, l. 20 (Bekker : 330a) : « Amplius molle quidem humidi; molle enim quod subicitur et non transmutans, quod facit humidum, ideo et non est humidum molle, sed molle humidi; durum autem sicci; durum autem est quod coagulatum, coagulatum autem siccum. »

[53] Averroes, Compendia, pp. 58, l. 61-59, l. 64: « Quintus est esse eius in virtute rememorativa et est magis spiritualis: recipit enim medullam eius quod distinguunt tres virtutes a cortice ».

[54] Averroes, Compendia, pp. 53.69-55.1

[55] Averroes, Compendia, pp. 58.61-59.64.

[56] I wish to thank Paola Bernardini for underlining this feature.

[57] Cf. S. Ebbesen, C.T. Thornqvist and V. Decaix, op. cit., p. 47-48.

[58] See Ebbesen et al.

[59] Cf. Aristoteles, Anal. Post. I, 2 (Bekker 71b19-12). This is a reference ad sensum, as explained to me by Joël Biard.

[60] Aristoteles, De divinatione per somnum, 462 a15-16 (presumably about dreaming being the affection of the sensitive part of the soul qua imaginative [eius quod operatur in somno]); Averroes, Compendia, pp. 96-99.

[61] Arist., De an. III, 1-2 (especially III, 2).

[62] Arist., De sensu et sensato (locus non inventus ; this may be inferred from the treatment of common sense in chapter 7 on simultaneous perception).

[63] For the theory of the sensus communis, see my website Section VI D.

[64] Averroes, Compendia, pp. 76-77.

[65] See this website, Part VI D, 2.

[66] Arist., De morte et vita  (locus non inventus).

[67] Cf. Arist., De motu animalium, 10, p. 65, ll. 322-324 (Bekker: 703a): « Hoc autem ad principium animale habere similiter visum est quemadmodum quod in iuncturis signum, movens et motum, ad immobile. Quoniam autem principium hiis quidem in corde, hiis autem in proportionali, propter hoc et spiritus complantatus hic videtur existens». See also cap. 11, p. 67, l. 363 (Bekker: 703b) : « Cor quidem igitur manifestum propter quam causam: principia enim habet sensuum». In neither cases, though, does Aristotle talk about common sense.

see below ch. 9.

[68] Arist., De morte et vita [transl. Iacobus Veneticus], cap. 3 (Bekker : 469a) : « Propter quid autem hii quidem sensuum manifesto se extendunt ad cor, alii vero sunt in capite, unde et videtur [et] quibusdam sentire animalia propter cerebrum, causa horum in alteris dicta seorsum est».

[69] Averroes, Compendium, op. cit., p. 5.

[70] Arist., De sensu, 2, p. 27, col. 1, linea 11-19, 438b (generic reference to the role of the pupil as receptive to light).

[71] Averroes, Compendium, op. cit., pp. 84-85.

[72] We may note here that John also expresses his criticism of Galen and his way to see the cerebral functions in his commentary on De anima (see below Ch. 4).

[73] Cf. Ch. Grellard, « Le réception médiévale du De somno et vigilia. Approche anthropologique et épistémologique du rêve, d’Albert le Grand à Jean Buridan », in Les Parva naturalia d’Aristote (op. cit. n. 3), pp. 225, 232-237.

[74] Cf. above, n. 2; and MacClintock, p. 126.

[75] See Lacombe, Aristoteles Latinus. Manuscripta, I and II, passim. See for instance the very complete collection of (pseudo-)Aristotelian treatises on natural philosophy in ms Firenze, Bibloteca Laurentiana, Plut. LXXXIV, 3 (Corpus recentius, s. XIII, Lacombe II, n° 1321), which contains all the Parva naturalia (item 6-10, the last being De iuventute, De respiratione, De morte) followed by 11. De bona fortuna, 12. De lineis, 13 De Nilo, 14. De motu, 15. De proprietatibus, etc.

[76] Cf. above.

[77] See above.

[78] The way in which the masters of the arts faculty organised the teaching of the various parts of the curriculum remains to be studied.

[79] See above.

[80] The colloquial expression « quod ego viderim » translates a colloquial French expression.

[81] See n. 6.

[82] For the following comparison I will centre on Brito’s questions I, 7 and I, 8, corresponding to John’s questions I, 8 and I, 9. The edition of Brito’s questions I, 7 and I, 8 has kindly been provided to me by Sten Ebbesen.

[83] An interesting point which remains to be explored is the possible influence of Thomas Aquinas.



Pour fermer la page, cliquez sur l’icône en forme de croix situé en haut à droite.