Book Chapter

Peter Abelard on Mental Perception

Margaret Cameron

Philosophy of Mind in the Early and High Middle Ages: the History of the Philosophy of Mind | Routledge | Published : 2018


Peter Abelard (1079-1142) follows Aristotle’s view that all understandings are in the first place generated on the basis of sense experience. But he also recognizes that we seem to be able to generate understandings of many things of which we have had no previous or current sense experience whatsoever; indeed, for some things sense experience would be altogether impossible. For example, we have thoughts about fictional characters such as chimeras and centaurs. Understandings about the past and future and about incorporeals such as the soul and God present similar problems. Moreover, as an anti-realist about the ontological status of universals, Abelard noted that nonetheless we seem to be ab..

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