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The Problem of a Plurality of Eternal Beings in Robert Grosseteste

The Problem of a Plurality of Eternal Beings in Robert Grosseteste

Lewis, Neil (Georgetown University)

Medieval Philosophy and Theology 7 (1998)

Abstract

The topic of this essay is what I name “Christian dualism,” the idea that God the Creator and creatures comprise an exhaustive and mutually exclusive classification of the contents of reality. I am concerned with one of the most penetrating discussions of this issue to be found in the early thirteenth century, Robert Grosseteste’s treatment of challenges to Christian dualism.

No orthodox thinker, of course, doubted the truth of Christian dualism; however, from the mid-twelfth century we find a realization that ostensibly plausible arguments could be mounted against it, arguments drawn in part from the area we should describe as philosophical logic, and in particular from reflections on the doctrine of the enuntiabile. Grosseteste himself discussed this issue in two works, each probably written at Oxford in the late 1220s.

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