Robert Kilwardby’s Commentary on the Prior Analytics

The Prior Analytics commentary of Robert Kilwardby (d.1279), the most important medieval commentary on Aristotle’s syllogistic, exists in at least 17 manuscripts. Its contents were transmitted, thanks to Albert the Great’s appropriation of them, in Albert’s widely disseminated Logical Treatises. It was published in 1516, attributed to Giles of Rome. It has not received a modern edition or translation. Research into Kilwardby’s logic by LAGERLUND 2000, THOM 2003, and THOM 2007 lays the foundations for future work. To build on that foundation, we need a critical edition of the Analytics Commentary, which will include an historical introduction and extensive philosophical notes. THOM 2007 describes the known manuscripts. It is possible that one or two more may be found by strategic searching in European libraries. THOM 2007 edits and translates selected passages, comprising extracts from 227 of Kilwardby’s dubia (of which there are 532 in all, and these form about half of the commentary). So, while a significant start has been made on the edition, a great deal remains to be done.
The historical questions that are most pressing concern the influences on Kilwardby, and the impact of his work on later logicians. LAGERLUND 2000 conjectured plausibly that there are Arabic influences on Kilwardby’s work, but their precise source and their manner of transmission remain open questions. EBBESEN showed that Kilwardby’s work had a decisive influence on Albert the Great, and it is known that through Albert’s work Kilwardby’s ideas survived as late as Arnold de Tungris (1470-1540); but the extent of Kilwardby’s historical influence has not been systematically studied. Research also needs to be done on the false attribution of his work to Giles of Rome.
THOM 2007 analyzes Kilwardby’s logical theories in relation to 33 of the 73 chapters. Many parts of Kilwardby’s commentary remain to be analyzed. While THOM 2007 analyzes the axiomatic structure of Kilwardby’s syllogistic, further work is needed on its full formalization. (The reasons for this lie in the peculiar formation-rules that are implicit in Kilwardby’s logic of necessity-syllogisms, and the unstated assumptions in his logic of ‘natural’ contingencies.) But beyond the syllogistic, THOM 2007 did not study the wealth of material on non-syllogistic matters in the Prior Analytics and Kilwardby’s commentary. This material includes his remarks on ‘natural’ or ‘essential’ implication – a topic that has a direct bearing on modern relevance logics. MARTIN has published on this, but research is still at an early stage. Broader philosophical questions arise in relation to Kilwardby’s logic because that logic is not ‘pure’ but is pervaded by Platonic/Aristotelian philosophy and Augustinian theology. THOM 2007 analyzes some of this broader philosophical context; but much remains to be done, particularly in relation to Augustinian influences.

Sten EBBESEN, “Albert (the Great?)’s companion to the Organon”, Miscellanea Mediaevalia 14 (1981) 89-103.
Henrik LAGERLUND, Modal Syllogistics in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill 2000)
Christopher J. MARTIN, “Aristotle and the logic of consequences: the development of the theory of inference in the early thirteenth century”, in Ludwig Honnefelder, Rega Wood, and Aris. Mechtild Dreyet, Marc-Aeilko Aris (eds.), Albertus Magnus und die Anfänge der Aristoteles-Rezeption im lateinischen Mittelalter (Münster: Aschendorff n.d.) 523-553.
Paul THOM, Medieval Modal Systems: problems and concepts (Aldershot: Ashgate 2001)
Paul THOM, Logic and Ontology in the Syllogistic of Robert Kilwardby (Leiden: Brill 2007)

A critical edition of the commentary by Paul Thom and John Scott is forthcoming

Kilwardby's Prologue to the commentary

Book I Chapter 3 Part 1

Book I Chapter 3 Part 2

Book I Chapter 8

Book I Chapter 10

Book I Chapters 11-12

Book I Chapter 13

Book I Chapter 16

Book I Chapter 14

Book II Chapter 4