Major, John (1467–1550)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-C022-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 21, 2021, from

Article Summary

John Major was one of the last great logicians of the Middle Ages. Scottish in origin but Parisian by training, he continued the doctrines and the mode of thinking of fourteenth-century masters like John Buridan and William of Ockham. Using a resolutely nominalist approach, he developed a logic centred on the analysis of terms and their properties, and he applied this method of analysis to discourse in physics and theology. Although he came to oppose excessive dependence on logical subtlety in theology and maintained the authority of Holy Scripture, Major’s work was stubbornly independent of the growing influence of humanism in Europe. Later, he would be regarded as representative of the heavily criticized ‘scholastic spirit’, being referred to disparagingly by Rabelais as well as by later historians such as Villoslada (1938), but at the beginning of the sixteenth century, his teaching influenced an entire generation of students in the fields of logic, physics and theology.

    Citing this article:
    Biard, Joel. Major, John (1467–1550), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-C022-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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