Simon of Faversham


Here is a translation of question 24 from Simon of Faversham’s book of questions On Sophistical Refutations. The question is whether ‘Caesar is dead’ is true – a favourite topic of modist logicians of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century. For more source material on the same or similar questions, see Radulphus Brito on whether the existence of a dead man implies the existence of a man. More material written by Duns Scotus and an anonymous writer of the same period, to follow. (Links to follow). Is Caesar dead? The problem is that the proper name ‘Caesar’ signifies a man. But a man is by definition something that lives. So how can Caesar, a man, be dead? Much mental energy was expended on this question in this period, this piece is a classic.

Note that Simon of Faversham has been invoked by those who have tried to explain why a work apparently written by Duns Scotus (questions on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione) in the 1290’s, contains so much knowledge of questions such as these, when he was not in Paris until the 1300’s. It has been supposed that Simon was the connection, having taught in Paris in the 1280’s and having brought back modist doctrine and material to Oxford in the 1290’s.

Simon of Faversham

Simon of Faversham was born around 1260 in Faversham, a small port on the North coast of Kent in England. He received his Masters degree at Oxford. However, the presence of his writing in continental manuscripts, and references to him in some manuscripts as ‘Simon Anglicus’ suggest that he taught at Paris in the 1280's. The colophon to his Questions on the Prior Analytics in Ms V speaks of him as ‘magistro Symone Anglico Parisius’. His return to England is suggested by his ordination as a deacon in 1290 he was ordained a deacon by Archbishop Peckham. He received the rectorship of Preston, a village near Faversham, a sinecure suitable for the support of a scholar. He never became a priest, and seems to have spent most of his scholarly life in the Arts faculty, a somewhat uncommon practice for his day, though it was done more frequently in the next century. He became chancellor in January 1304, but served only a short time, dying in 1306.

Apart from the opusculum, Sophisma: A Universal is an Intention, Simon’s work consists entirely of commentaries and questions on Aristotle's logical and psychological works. His questions are similar in content and form to the work of Parisian writers, especially that of Peter of Auvergne, in the 1270's and early 1280's. However, according to Longeway, his work seems unaffected by later Parisian developments of Radulphus Brito's day. He follows Henry of Ghent in adopting the phrase esse in effectu for existence, from Avicenna (On First Philosophy V 1).

(This summary of Simon’s life adapted from Longeway, article in the Companion - see references below).


Negative argument 1 No composite of soul and body is dead, because the existence of a soul in a body is what gives life. But the name 'Caesar' signifies a composite of soul and body. Negative argument 2 Whatever per se is alive, is not dead. But Caesar is alive per se. Positive argument What was alive before and now is not alive, is dead. But Caesar was alive before, and now he is not alive. Determination Simon affirms the question : it is true that Caesar is dead. For three reasons. (i) Death is a destruction of living things only, and Caesar is destroyed, therefore Caesar is dead. (ii) According to Aristotle, when the ‘radical moisture’ in a living thing is destroyed, it dies. But this is what happened to Caesar, therefore Caesar is dead. (iii) Being mortal is having the potential for dying. But Caesar once had this potentiality. Since this potentiality is now brought to actuality, it follows that Caesar is dead. Simon then discusses whether the proposition is ‘per se in the first way’, another common topic in this literature. ‘Per se in the first way’ is when the predicate is part of the essence of the subject. ‘Caesar is dead’ is not per se in this way. However, it is per se in the second way, because what is predicated (death) is an affection necessarily accompanying the subject.

Ad 1. To the first argument, Simon replies that although a composition of soul and body is necessarily living, ‘Caesar’ does not signify such a composite. Ad 2 Simon agrees that what is alive per se is not dead. But he denies that Caesar is alive per se.


c. 1295 Simon of Faversham, Quaestiones novae super libro Elenchorum, q. 24.; Utrum haec sit vera 'Caesar est mortuus'; ed S. Ebbesen & al., in Simon of Faversham, Quaestiones super libro Elenchorum (Studies and Texts, 60), Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1984, 161-4.
John Longeway’s website
Longeway, J., Simon of Faversham Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Longeway, J., ‘Simon of Faversham’, in A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages, ed. Gracia & Noone, Oxford 2006.

Quaestio 24 Utrum haec sit vera 'Caesar est mortuus' Question 24 Whether 'Caesar is dead' is true
Quaeritur adhuc circa fallaciam secundum quid et simpliciter. Et quia dictum est quod non sequitur 'homo mortuus; ergo homo,' quia 'mortuum' est determinatio distrahens a ratione hominis, ideo quaeritur utrum 'mortuum' possit vere praedicari de aliquo supposito hominis. Et hoc est quaerere utrum haec sit vera: 'Caesar est mortuus'. We enquire further about the fallacy of ‘qualified, and unqualified’. And because it was said that 'a dead man, therefore a man' does not follow, because 'dead' is a determination that is alien [distrahens] to the nature of man, for that reason it is asked whether 'dead' could be truly predicated of some suppositum of ‘man’. And this is to ask whether 'Caesar is dead' is true.
Et arguitur quod non: And it is argued that it is not.
1. Quia nullum compositum ex anima et corpore est mortuum, quia anima existens in corpore dat esse vivum. Et ideo omne illud quod habet animam in corpore est vivum. 'Caesar' autem significat compositum ex anima et corpore. Ideo &c. [Responsum] 1. For no composite of soul and body is dead, because the soul existing in a body gives a living thing being. And for that reason all that which has a soul in a body is alive. But 'Caesar' signifies a composite of soul and body. Therefore &c.
2. Item, illud quod per se est vivum non est mortuum. Sed Caesar est vivus per se; quia secundum quod dicit Commentator v Metaphysicae haec est per se 'Chilus vivit;' et eadem ratione ista 'Caesar vivit.' Ergo &c. [Responsum] Likewise, that which per se is alive is not dead. But Caesar is alive per se, because according to what the Commentator says (5 Metaphysics [N1]), 'Callias lives' is per se, and for the same reason 'Caesar lives'. Therefore &c.
Oppositum arguitur: On the opposite [side] it is argued:
Quod prius vivebat et modo non vivit, est mortuum. Sed Caesar prius vivebat et modo non vivit. Ergo &c. What was alive before and now is not alive, is dead. But Caesar was alive before, and now he is not alive. Therefore &c.
Illud quod facit difficultatem in hac quaestione est hoc quod 'Caesar' videtur significare compositum ex anima et corpore, et tali non videtur competere 'esse mortuum.' Dicendum tamen quod Caesare corrupto ista est vera 'Caesar est mortuus.' Et hoc patet ex tribus. What makes the difficulty in this question is that 'Caesar' seems to signify a composite of soul and body, and to such a thing 'being dead' does not seem to belong. Yet it is to be said that with Caesar destroyed, 'Caesar is dead' is true. And this is clear from three points.
Primo sic: mors enim est corruptio non quorumcumque, sed viventium. Mors enim est privatio vitae. Et ideo in viventibus illud quod est corruptum, cum prius esset et nunc non est, ipsum est mortuum. Nunc autem Caesar per hypothesim corruptus est, cum tamen prius esset. Ergo Caesar est mortuus. Quod autem Caesar sit corruptus, patet. Illud enim quod totaliter mutatum est ab esse in non esse, illud corruptum est; sicut patet per Philosophum vi Physicorum. Sed Caesar qui fuit et non est, per sui corruptionem totaliter mutatus est ex esse in non esse. Sicut enim per sui generationem totaliter mutatus erat a non esse in esse, ita per sui corruptionem totaliter est mutatus ab esse in non esse. Caesar ergo per sui corruptionem est totaliter corruptus. Sed in viventibus illud quod est totaliter corruptum, illud est mortuum. Sed Caesar est huiusmodi. Ergo &c. (i) The first thus: for death is a not destruction of any things whatever, but of living [things]. For death is a privation of life. And for that reason that which is destroyed, since it existed [esset] before, and now does not exist, is itself dead. But now Caesar by hypothesis is destroyed, even though he existed before. Therefore Caesar is dead. But that Caesar is destroyed, is clear. For that which is totally changed from being into non being, that thing is destroyed, just as is clear from the philosopher (6 Physics [N2]). But Caesar who existed, and does not exist, is through his corruption totally changed from being into non being. For just as by his generation he was totally changed from non being into being, so through his corruption he is totally changed from being into non being. Therefore Caesar, through his corruption is totally destroyed. But among living things that which is totally destroyed is dead. But Caesar is such. Therefore &c.
Item, hoc patet per Philosophum in De iuventute et senectute dicentem quod 'vita in viventibus stat per calidum et humidum; et ideo, humido radicali corrupto et corde infrigidato, necesse est animal mori' – haec sunt verba Philosophi. In quocumque ergo vivente est corruptio humidi radicalis et infrigidatio cordis, ibi contingit mors. Sed omnia ista contingebant Caesari in eius corruptione. Ideo &c. Likewise, this is clear according to the Philosopher (On Youth and Old Age [N3]) saying that 'life in the living depends on [stat per] heat and the moist, and for that reason, with the radical moisture destroyed [humido radicali corrupto], and with the heart made cold, an animal will necessarily die'. These are the words of the Philosopher. Therefore in whatsoever living thing there is corruption of the radical moisture [humidi radicalis] and a coldening of the heart, there death happens. But all these happened to Caesar in his corruption. For that reason &c.
Item, hoc tertio declaratur sic: de Caesare quandoque erat verum dicere quod est mortalis. 'Mortalis' autem dicit potentiam ad moriendum. Ergo Caesar quandoque erat in potentia ad moriendum. Cum igitur omnis potentia debeat reduci ad actum, oportet quod ista potentia reducatur ad actum. Si igitur verum erat dicere quandoque quod est mortalis, verum erit dicere modo, vel erit post verum dicere, quod est mortuus. Ad propositum autem non refert quid illorum dicatur, quoniam ad minus habeo quod haec quandoque est vera 'Caesar est mortuus.' Likewise, the third is made clear thus: it was at one time true to say of Caesar that he is mortal. But 'mortal' expresses a potentiality for dying. Therefore Caesar at one time has a potentiality for dying. Accordingly, since every potentiality ought to be brought to actuality, it must be that this potentiality is brought to actuality. Accordingly, if it was true at one time to say that he is mortal, it will be true to say now, or will be afterwards true to say, that he is dead. But in respect of what is put forward it does not matter which of those things is said, since I hold that at least sometimes 'Caesar is dead' is true.
Sed dubitatio est utrum ista propositio sit vera per se. Dicendum quod aliqua propositio est vera per se primo modo, aliqua secundo modo. Dico quod illa non est per se primo modo: quia ista propositio dicitur per se primo modo in qua praedicatum cadit in ratione dicente quid est eius quod significatur per subiectum. Nunc autem 'esse vivum' et 'mortuum' et talia non cadunt in ratione dicente quid est eius quod significatur per 'Caesarem'. Et ideo ipsa non est per se primo modo. Caesare tamen corrupto, ista 'Caesar est mortuus' est per se secundo modo. Et ratio huius est quia illa propositio est per se secundo modo in qua illud quod praedicatur est passio aliqua necessario concomitans subiectum. Sed Caesare corrupto, mortuum est quaedam passio necessario concomitans ipsum. Corruptibile enim et incorruptibile hiis quibus insunt, necessario insunt. Et ideo esse mortuum de Caesare corrupto praedicatur per se secundo modo. Ista igitur propositio est vera, et est vera secundo modo. But there is a doubt whether that proposition is true per se. It is to be said that some proposition are true through themselves in the first way, some in a second way. I say that this proposition is not per se in the first way, because a proposition is called per se in the first way in which the predicate falls [with]in a nature expressing what-it-is [N4] of what is signified by the subject. But now 'to be alive' and 'dead' and suchlike do not fall in the nature expressing what-it-is of what is signified by 'Caesar'. And for that reason that proposition is not 'per se' in the first way [N5]. Yet with Caesar destroyed, 'Caesar is dead' is per se in the second way. And the reason is because that proposition is per se in the second way, in which what is predicated is some affection necessarily accompanying the subject. But with Caesar destroyed, death is a certain affection necessarily accompanying him. For corruptible and incorruptible are necessarily in the things in which they are. And for that reason death of the destroyed Caesar is predicated per se in the second way. Accordingly this proposition is true, and is true in the second way.
Non autem intelligo quod ista sit vera per se 'Caesar &c', ita quod idem Caesar numero, qui prius erat vivus, modo sit mortuus, habens eandem naturam quam habuit prius. Quia secundum Commentatorem II De Anima et in De substantia orbis generatio et corruptio sunt tales transmutationes quibus si transmutetur aliquid, nec manet idem secundum nomen, nec secundum rationem. Et propter hoc, si Caesar prius generatus est, et postea corruptus, et per corruptionem mortuus, manifestum est quod non habet idem nomen, nec eandem definitionem, quam prius habuit. Et propter hoc non possumus dicere quod idem Caesar numero, qui prius erat vivus, quod iste idem modo sit mortuus, habens eandem rationem quam prius habuit. But I do not understand that 'Caesar &c' is true per se, in such a way that the same Caesar in number, who was alive before, now is dead, having the same nature which he had before. Because, according to the Commentator (II de Anima [N6] and in De Substantia Orbis [N7], generation and corruption are such transmutations in which if something is transmutated, it neither remains the same by name, nor by nature. And on account of this, if Caesar was generated before, and was destroyed afterwards, and through corruption is dead, it is manifest that he does not have the same name, nor the same definition, which he had before. And on account of this we cannot say that the same Caesar in number, who was alive before, that this same [person] now is dead, having the same logical nature that he had before.
Quomodo ergo verificabitur ista 'Caesar est mortuus'? In what way, therefore, will 'Caesar is dead' be verified?
Dico quod pro tanto quia eadem materia Caesaris numero, quae prius erat sub forma vivi, modo est sub forma non vivi; et eadem materia quae prius fuit sub forma Caesaris modo est sub forma non Caesaris. Unde, corrupto Caesare, non manet forma eius, sed solum materia. Et ideo ratione materiae quae manet, debet verificari ista 'Caesar est mortuus', quia illud quod prius erat subiectum vivi modo est subiectum non vivi. Dico tunc quod ista est vera 'Caesar est mortuus'. I say that insofar as the same material of Caesar in number, which was before under the form of the living, now is under the form of the non living; and the same materal which was before under the form of Caesar is now under the form of non Caesar. Wherefore, with Caesar destroyed, the form of him does not remain, but only the material. And therefore, by reason of the material which remains, the [proposition] ‘Caesar is dead’ ought to be verified, because that which was previously the subject of the living is now the subject of the non living. Then I say that 'Caesar is dead' is true.
Ad rationes in oppositum: To the opposing arguments [rationes].
1. Ad primam. Cum arguitur 'Compositum ex anima et corpore &c.,' concedo. Et ad minorem: nego eam: quia positum est quod Caesar corruptus est, et per consequens forma vivi separata est. Haec enim est corruptio rei. 1. To the first. When it is argued 'a composition of soul and body', I allow. And to the minor [premiss] I deny it, for it was supposed that Caesar is destroyed, and by consequence the form of the living is separated. For this is the corruption of the thing.
Sed forte aliquis deduceret rationem aliter: 'De eo quod significat compositum ex anima et corpore non praedicatur 'mortuum'. Sed Caesar significat compositum ex anima et corpore; vox enim non cadit a suo significato propter corruptionem rei. Ergo &c.' But perhaps someone might lead us to a reasoning [that is] otherwise: of what signifies a composite of soul and body, 'dead' is not predicated. But 'Caesar' signifies a composite of body and soul, for an utterance does not fall from its its significate on account of the corruption of the thing [it signifies]. Therefore &c.
Ad maiorem dico quod de eo quod significat compositum ex anima et corpore non praedicatur mortuum, nisi illud compositum sit essentialiter transmutatum. Et quando aliquid praedicatur de altero, certum est quod non praedicatur de eo ratione vocis, sed ratione rei. Et ideo secundum quod res transmutatur et variatur, secundum hoc diversa praedicata de ea verificantur. Et tu dicis 'Caesare corrupto &c.,' – concedo quod significet compositum ex anima et corpore. Tamen illud est essentialiter transmutatum. Et ideo mortuum praedicatur de eo. To the major, I say that concerning what signifies a composite of soul and body, 'dead' is not predicated unless that composite is essentially transmutated. And when something is predicated of another, it is certain that it is not predicated of it by reason of the utterance, but by reason of the thing. And for that reason, according as the thing is transmutated and varied, accordingly diverse predicates are true of it. And you say 'with Caesar destroyed &c'. I concede that it may signify a composite of soul and body. Nonetheless, that [composite] is essentially transmutated. And for that reason 'dead' is predicated of it.
2. Ad aliam rationem. Cum arguitur 'Quod est per se vivum &c.,' concedo. Et ad minorem: nego eam. Et ad probationem: cum {dicitur} 'Commentator dicit &c.': sicut patet per Philosophum I Perihermaneias 'orationes sunt verae quem ad modum ad res'. Unde de rebus transmutabilibus est oratio habens veritatem transmutabilem, de intransmutabilibus intransmutabilem, unde illud quod est verum de Caesare ipso existente, non oportet esse verum de ipso non existente. Unde Chilo vivente, haec est vera 'Chilus vivit'. Vivum enim est quaedam passio consequens unionem animae cum corpore, et ideo quamdiu manet, vivum praedicatur de eo; et cum transmutatus fuerit, et ista unio corrumpatur, esse mortuum praedicatur de eo. Et hoc est rationabile quod sicut per sui generationem praedicabatur de eo esse vivum, quod sic per sui corruptionem praedicetur de eo esse mortuum. Et ideo, sicut haec est vera 'Caesar est vivus' ipso vivente, similiter et haec 'Caesar est mortuus' ipso non existente. Unde pro tanto dixit Commentator quod ista est per se quia esse vivum concomitatur inseparabiliter unionem animae cum corpore; non quia sit vera per se simpliciter. 2. To the other argument. When it is argued 'what is alive per se &c', I allow. And to the minor, I deny it. And to prove this, when it is said 'the Commentator says &c', just as is clear according to the philosopher (I Perihermaneias [N8]), that discourse is true as much as regards the thing'. Wherefore, of transmutable things there is discourse having transmutable truth, of intransmutable things, intransmutable truth, wherefore what is true of Caesar with him existing, does not have to be true of him not existing. Wherefore with Callias living, ' Callias lives' is true. For 'living' is a certain affection following the union of soul with body, and for that reason as long as he remains, 'living' is predicated of it. And when it was transmutated, and that union is destroyed, ‘being dead’ is predicated of it. And this is reasonable, that just as by its generation being alive is predicated of it, so by its destruction being dead is predicated of it. And for that reason, just as 'Caesar is living' is true, with him living, similarly also 'Caesar is dead', with him not existing. Wherefore the Commentator said as much, that [the proposition] is per se because being alive accompanies the union of the soul with the body, [but] not because it is per se without qualification.


[N1] Averr., Metaph. 5. c.23. cf anonymous, 14C [link to follow].
[N2] Cf Arist. Ph 6 c.5 (?)
[N3] Cf Arist., Longaev. c.5 (466a 17-20); Iuv c.4 (469 b17-20)
[N4] quid est literally the ‘what is’ or quiddity or essence of a thing.
[N5] ‘per se in the first mode’ – see the introduction, also Aristotle Metaphysics 5 on per se.
[N6] Place not found.
[N7] Averr., De substantia orbis 1 (fol. 3H).
[N8] Arist., Int c.9 (19a 33).

THE LOGIC MUSEUM Copyright (translation and introduction) (c) E.D.Buckner 2008.