The view of substance defended by William Ockham and John Buridan in the fourteenth century differs radically from the traditional Aristotelian or Thomistic view of substance. Their metaphysical position of substance not only influences the development of natural philosophy, it also changes the preconditions for cognition and epistemology. In this talk I examine the implications of this view on Buridan’s epistemology and particularly on the compatibility of his view of substance with his claim that we have simple (absolute) substance concepts. I conclude that his metaphysics undermines this claim, but I also offer a suggestion for a possible solution to this problem.

Henrik Lagerlund was previously Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He works on the history of philosophy; primarily on Medieval and Renaissance philosophy, but he has also written on Aristotle and Leibniz. He is at the moment writing a history of skepticism for Routledge. Another interest is the philosophy of food (see Philosophy in the Contemporary World: The Philosophy of Food).