Augustinus Niphus: Proteus peripateticorum

Augustinus Niphus on Why to study Aristotle at Universities: The Præfatio in libros de anima



Author: Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn
Paper read: Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, Summer 1994
Document created: 2000-05-18
Last update: 2000-05-26
This electronic version originally made available for: Course on Neue Wissenschaften und alte Bücher: Alternativen der Renaissance zu Ziel, Form, Inhalt von Wissenschaft und gelehrtem Unterricht in Summer 2000
Niphus' "Præfatio in libros de anima" translated into German: available at URL: http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/Versiones/NiphusPraefDeAnima.htm
Except some minor corrections to the bibliography no changes were made to the paper as read in Wolfenbüttel in Summer 1994


Content:



Text as it was read:

Augustinus Niphus on Why to study Aristotle at Universities: The Præfatio in libros de anima

Augustinus Niphus, who always displayed a great deal of intellectual mobility, once claimed something stable: Aristotle's omnipresence in institutionalised philosophical education. With some sixty to seventy universities existing at his time, this claim was probably almost as difficult to verify for him then, as it is for us now. But, as contrary information (with some very few excptions) is lacking, and as strict rules for the use of the epiteton "Aristotelian" seem to fail, let's assume, that Niphus has a point. Assuming this some (aristotelian) syllogisms illustrative of this omnipresence become possible and a certain question becomes obvious:

All Renaissance universitarian Philosophy is Institutionalised Philosophy after the Renaissance of the Thirteenth century . [1] Quasi all unversitarian Philosophy after the Renaissance of the Thirteenth century is Aristotelian Philosophy. Thus quasi all Renaissance universitarian Philosophy is Aristotelian Philosophy. Why so?

Almost without an exception all Renaissance Institutionalised philosophy, that was taught in Italian Universities during the Renaissance was integrated into degrees' courses ending with examinations . [2] All universitarian Philosophy, that we know about to have been examined for degrees in the Renaissance was Aristotelian philosophy . [3] Thus almost without an exception all universitarian Renaissance Institutionalised philosophy was Aristotelian philosophy. Is there a reason for this?

All philosophy required from theology students at Italian Renaissance Universities was generally institutionalised Philosophy . [4] All generally institutionalised Philosophy taught then and there was Aristotelian philosophy. Thus all philosophy required from theology students of Italian Renaissance Universities was Aristotelian Philosophy. Why?

All philosophy required from medic students of Italian Renaissance Universities was generally institutionalised Philosophy. All generally institutionalised Philosophy taught then and there was Aristotelian philosophy. Thus all philosophy required from medic students of Italian Renaissance Universities was Aristotelian Philosophy. But why?

All philosophy required from philosophy students of Italian Renaissance Universities was generally institutionalised Philosophy. All generally institutionalised Philosophy taught then and there was Aristotelian philosophy. Thus all philosophy required from philosophy students of Italian Renaissance Universities was Aristotelian Philosophy. But why?

The students' desire to be able to use second hand books? But a good part of those students appear to have been fairly well off financially . [5] Laziness on part of their teachers? But quite a number of those teachers appear to have been workaholics . [6] Mental rigor mortis on the side of the more influential universitarian Dons of the time? Some of them impress us still today by their inventiveness . [7] A desire for academic immobility of all kinds possible on the part of statal authorities? We know about quite a number of statally induced attempts at university renovation . [8] Ignorance of the shortcomings of Aristotelian philosophy? They were well known to the intellectual world since the days of S. Bonaventure, and they never were forgot . [9]

So why this pluricentennial philosophers' faithfulness to The Philosopher? Why the academic official cathedratic semiperennial equation between unversitarian philosophy as it was and Aristotelian Philosophy? Why? Did nobody ever ask the question in those times? Did nobody ever care to give an answer?

As you will already guess: Augustinus Niphus [10] did . [11] Augustinus Niphus of Sessa Aurunca, who published as his first own work an incoherent commentary on Averroes Incoherence of the Incoherence , [12] Augustinus Niphus, who is perhaps the most incoherent of all renaissance philosophers who ever taught Aristotle at university level , [13] Augustinus Niphus who severely attacked Pomponatius' tenacity to find out, what was the truth of, and behind Aristotelian philosophy , [14] Augustinus Niphus the man of a hundred books and of a thousand faces , [15] who taught Aristotle and served the princes , [16] who adapted Machiavelli's Prince without mentioning the author's name [17] and who had a lasting fame for giving names to every opinion anybody ever had on a line of Aristotle's , [18] Augustinus Niphus [19] asked the question and he gave an answer. Both the question and the answer are remarkable.

Both of them, question and answer, are found in the first part of his Præfatio to his Expositio subtilissima necnon et collectanea commentariaque in tres libros Aristotelis de anima : [20] The three editions I checked of Niphus later commentary on de anima contain several prefaces: One of them [21] starts with an epistola dedicatoria called "prefatio" to Cardinal Giulio dei Medici [22] , all three editions then contain a foreword called "Proœmium" where Niphus investigates, whether the material covered in De anima is part of natural philosophy, and which part of natural philosophy it constitutes . [23] The sequence to this "Proœmium" is formed by a further preface, called "Præfatio" This last part of Niphus' pluripartite introduction to his commentary on De anima is in itself bipartite: Its second part is a sort of introductory lesson to a course on De anima, a lesson, which deals in three parts de divisione scientiæ ., [24] its first part however is the text in which - as seen: amid quite a lot of the standard material well to be expected on the introductory pages of a Renaissance commentary on De anima - Niphus poses and answers the above mentioned question . [25] .

His text has much of the form of a quæstio. Niphus declares initially to try to do without the usual introductions to commentaries on Aristotle (amidst which the mentioned quæstio is placed ), [26] and he declares to investigate instead into the question "why among all the peoples, and since several centuries, there is the habit, that in places of training in philosophy the books of Aristotle are read?" ;, [27] a question, which according to Niphus never has been asked before, and a fact, which according to him has never before been called into doubt . [28]

Niphus continues with a list of arguments apparently apt to explain, that indeed there is no reason to ask the question and to call into doubt the general use of The Philosopher as The Guide in philosophy : [29] Acquisition of knowledge and science [30] being difficult a good guide is indispensable , [31] and choosing a good guide is important . [32]

This somewhat authoritarian argumentation however obviously is not quite sufficient to justify Aristotle's position in philosophical education: Thus Niphus argues: There were quite a number of valiant ancients logicans besides Aristotle, though at least one of them, Protagroas, used his dialectic skills for dubious ends . [33] One of these authors however, Zenon of Elea, was that excellent, that it is evident, that Aristotle did not surpass all others in dialectics . [34]

The same holds true for rhetoric, where quite a number of outstanding ancients are known , [35] so that is far from evident, why exactly Aristotle's books on rhethorics are used as classroom textbooks . [36]

Taking into account the existence and excellence of poets like Homeros, Pindar, Hesiod, Linos, Orpheus, Vergil, Horace and Catullus , [37] it is surprising, that it is Aristotle, who is used as the basis for the teaching of poetry . [38]

Aristotle cannot be declared to be without rival even in the field of natural philosophy, where Anaxagoras is praised by the Stagirite himself , [39] where Empedocles was followed by Epicurus and Lucretius , [40] and where the praise of Democritus as the best of all was sung by nobody less that exactly - Aristotle . [41] Democritus, who - like Aristotle, one might feel inclined to add, though Niphus does not do so - was proficient in many a discipline , [42] Democritus, who received money [43] and extraordinary honours from his country on account of his philosophy , [44] who was so popular, that Plato was dissuaded from burning his works by an argument taken from their omnipresence . [45]

And Aristotle was not the most excellent amongst all in moral philosophy either, as this position, ("teste Platone)", is held by Socrates . [46] Besides, if Aristotle were indeed the one to chose as a guide in moral philosophy: why then the common use of legal texts of all kinds instead of the books of the Stagirite ? [47]

Obviously neither in mathematics Aristotle is the best of authors, as, though he did write quite a lot on this subject, not his works, but those of Euclid, Ptolomaios and others are read . [48]

Nor is Aristotle's mastership in metaphysics unquestioned . [49]

The situation is worse still, when we talk about the field of vera Theologia: Here for many reasons Plato seems preferable to the Stagirite , [50] especially as Aristotle's empiricist approach to philosophy, and his insistence on demonstrability disables him to recognise the truths of christian revelation . [51]

As well in natural as in practical philosophy many teachings of Aristotle are contrary to christian faith . [52] Several instances are listed, that seem to indicate the moral incompetence of Aristotle's personal behaviour, and thus his ineptitude as a guide . [53]

The whole list of this arguments apparently indicates, that in all fields that Aristotle wrote about there are other authors, whose works are with considerable probability superior to those of Aristotle himself. As Aristotle does seemingly not recommend himself as an example to imitate by his behaviour either, there apparently is little reason, to retain Aristotle as The Philosopher: so why not change to others?

Before giving his answer to this question, Niphus tries to clarify his own position, and, especially, the problem he is dealing with. First he states, that neither does he think himself competent to decide on the relative superiority of the philosophers hitherto mentioned, as this would require his own superiority in respect to all of them , [54] nor does he hold this to be his office here, as the point in question is not, who is the greatest of all philosophers, but why amongst all peoples the works of Aristotle hold an institutionalised position . [55]

And, according to Niphus, there are good reasons, that this is so: Aristotle presented the different branches of knowledge in an elaborate order, which is an achievement not to be found in Plato . [56] Besides, when dealing with a certain subject, Aristotle always proceeds in an orderly way, advancing from that, which is better known to us, to that, which is less known to us, while Plato sometimes takes his start from things little familiar to us . [57] Invention and resolution are combined by Aristotle, as when dealing with a certain matter he starts by a critical investigation of the principles of this matter as treated by his predecessors, while Plato provides us with neither invention nor resolution, argumentans semper ex datis . [58] Contrary to Plato Aristotle always gives just the necessary informations on the subjects in question . [59] Contrary as well to Plato Aristotle uses a type of presentation apt for demonstrative sciences . [60] And, contrary as well to what is to be found in Plato, Aristotle's writings are consistent . [61] And: "Septimo quia in eius dictis cum summa verborum luce summam brevitatem coniunxit quod in Platone &: aliis Philosophis per rarum est." ; [62]

The above mentioned arguments against Aristotle, Niphus tells us, are without force: Some may have been, in some fields, superior to Aristotle as far as the contents of their doctrines is concerned, but nobody was superior to Aristotle, when it comes to didactic excellence . [63] And it is well possible for somebody, to be superior to somebody else in didactic quality and in the methodology (or "metascience") of a certain subject without being superior to him as far as the real "contents" of that subject is concerned:

Contra vero ea quæ Aristotelem in opproprium obiecta sunt, facile dicemus, si primo dixerimus aliquem posse esse maiorem in doctrina atque in his quæ traduntur, qui in arte tradendi, &: in præceptis artis erit minor . [64]

From this the arguments against the use of the works of Aristotle on rhetoric, poetics and dialectic can be refuted - though, as far as dialectic is concerned, Niphus declares to believe in the superiority of Aristotle in all aspects of this field . [65]

Also in relation to natural philosophy no such defence of Aristotle from his didactic superiority appears to be necessary . [66]

Moral philosophy can be taught in two ways: either by giving orders about what is to be done and what is not to be done, and in this way it was and is taught by laws, legislators and jurists, "qui philosophi fuerunt, sine ratione tamen." ;, [67] or it can be taught by argumentations and conclusions, and this is the philosophers' way to teach moral philosophy , [68] a way in which Aristotle surpassed all others - admitted, that he didn't excel all others in the "legal" way of teaching moral philosophy "quia in eo non se exercuit." ; [69] The only reason, that Euclid's and Ptolomy's books on mathematics are read instead of those by Aristotle is the unavailability of the latters . [70]

As concerns the qualities of Aristotle as a metaphysic, the many good authorities in favour of the Stagirite outweigh by far what has been said against him in this respect . [71]

And even when it comes to theology Aristotle's position is not quite as unfavourable, as one might presume: As for a philosopher writing on theology from rationes naturalibus, St. Thomas preferred him to all others ; [72] though out of several reasons Plato's theology divinitus tradita may have been best amongst all philosophers' theology, there is no reason, to blame Aristotle for erring against christian piety, as Aristotle did not talk autore deo, but luce naturæ illustratus, a way of talking in which he erred far less than other authors . [73] The attacks on Aristotle's doctrines on virtues are rather invalid for various reasons . [74] And the same holds true for the attacks on Aristotle's personal behaviour, as has been shown already by Simplikios . [75]

Thus there are valiant reasons for the use of Aristotle for universitarian training in philosophy, while there are no such reasons for any change in this long-lived and ubiquitous tradition: "iure ergo factum est, ut libri eius, &: eius doctrina per omnes scholas legantur." ; [76]

Though I have been able here only, to give some sort of an abstract of Niphus' treatment of the question, why institutionalised philosophy should remain what it was in Niphus' time: Aristotelian philosophy, I hope, that the material presented may be sufficient to have a look at what is present in Niphus' text - and what is not . [77]

What is present is first of all an awareness, that Aristotle and his commentators are not the only philosophers ever to exist, and that the reasons for the philosophical Aristotelian monoculture thus merit investigation. For Niphus Aristotle's philosophy is just one out of many ancient philosophies: Aristotle for some may be The Philosopher, but to Niphus Aristotelian philosophy is not Philosophy; Aristotle goes not unrivalled in many a field ; [78] on many a subject he wrote without little or even no personal practic competence.

But when it comes to aptness in a didactic context, when it comes to the question, which philosopher should be taught at schools and universities, the question to be answered is not whether this philosopher is right or wrong in his doctrines on a certain subject, but whether he presented them in a way suitable for didactic purposes. Niphus thus separates a "doctrinal" part of philosophy from a "metadoctrinal" one, and declares only this second one to be of any significance, when it comes to the question which philosopher to use to teach philosophy to beginners . [79] This metadoctrinal part apparently has different aspects, · one being concerned with the rules, according to which to investigate in a certain field , [80] · one with the method of presentation of the material of a certain subject to a reader viz. student, · and one with questions of style, such as verbosity versus concinctness. The use of Aristotle for universitarian education in philosophy is justified only on grounds of the aptness of his works for textbook use.

Niphus' discussion of aspects of aptness for textbook use does not cover all such aspects one might come to think about:

the advantages of such basic uniformity, the presence of which played quite a part in Niphus' personal career, are absent amongst Niphus' arguments in favour of the uniform presence of Aristotle.

That Niphus' main intrest was not the strive for consistency of his writings, and thus the endeavour for the presentation of one truth in all his many texts not one of his main considerations, is well known . [83] It well fits with this negligence for coherence, that the truth or falseness of Aristotle's doctrines is not acepted by Niphus as one of the points on which to base a decision in favour or disfavour of this author, that truth is mentioned in only two of the many contexts Niphus passes in his quæstio: once when it comes to the truth of christian doctrine (which is not the philosophers' truth) and once, when it is said, that Aristotle attacked his teacher, because he preferred truth to Plato (where "truth" can be regarded as synonymous to "own opinion"). § And: the consistency of Aristotle's texts, the coherence of his opinions is considered by Niphus at the outmost as a didactic quality, but more probably, - as its praise is grouped with the acclamation of Aristotle's ornatus and concinctness - as a mere stylistic asset.

Augustinus Niphus, disengaged with truth, disinterested even in coherence of his own thought: · does the text investigated into here present us with a non-philospher's defence of the universitarian use of an incompetend philospher's texts?

Personally I hold Niphus - whatever he might have been in whosesoever categories - to be a far to fascinating author to be concerned about his philosopherness, but, nevertheless: the text here discussed, Niphus' introduction to institutionalised philosophy, to the philosophy of the scholæ warns about the untruth of the doctrines of this philosophy; Niphus thus warns the pupils against giving credence to what their teachers will teach them; Niphus thus teaches to distrust the curricularian truths, and thus teaches the necessity of own thinking, and thus teaches: philosophy.



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Footnotes:



[1] The Renaissance that revived at least three Aristotles: Aristotle the metaphysician, Aristotle the philosopher of Nature and Aristotle the Philosopher of Politics.
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[2] This might eventually prove to be an exaggeration, but I had a rather thorough look at the Ferrara and especially Padua universities of the time, at both of which non-Aristotelian, non-Scholastic philosophies had their place, but I did not come across any indication, that anybody was ever asked about those philosophies in his exams, nor that anybody ever was expected to be able to answer about them in his exams (for further information see Kuhn (1994) and the literature indicated there.
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[3] See preceding footnote.
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[4] This is true for theology as well as for medicine and philosophy according to the material I know from Ferrara and Padua (see note 3); there appears to be no evidence, that things were different in other Italian universities of this time.
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[5] In the sixteenth century it was calculated, that a student at Padua needed at least 100 fl. per year, whereas there were university professors at the same time teaching at Padua, who were expected to survive on a mere 20 fl. per year (for the money university teachers were paid see Kuhn [1996], especially chapter 2.3 and the 1628 Rotulus edited in the appendix there; for the students' financial requirement see Tagliaferri [1975], p. 30*).
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[6] Thus e.g. Gustave Naudé (1667), p. 102s writes on Cesare Cremonini: "nusquam cessat, nimisquam jacet, nimisquam resti- / tit, nimisquam dormitat, sed ubique properans sequacem, obtemperantemque lectorem monet, ducit, rapit, suadet, persuadet <...>".
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[7] e.g.: Wallace (1997).
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[8] For a short overview of the example of Venice reformations and projects of reformations of Padua university see De Berhardin (1983) and other the other papers on the university of Padua in Vol.s III and IV of Storia della cultura Veneta. Soppelsa (1983) is a most fascinating and most learned study of the subject.
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[9] See e.g. Kuhn (1988) p. 205sqq.
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[10] Niphus' Biography from: Charles Lohr (1988), p. 282: "Niphus (Nifo), (Eutychus) Augustinus, Suessanus 1469/70 Sessa Aurunca - 1538 Jan. 18. Sessa Aurunca. Early studies, Naples; studied philosophy under Nicolettus Vernias (q.v.) in the University, Padua; c. 1492 doctor artium, there; 1492 extraordinary professor of philosophy, secundo loco, there; 1492 completed his De intellectu (revised ed. Venice 1503) and In Averrois De animæ beatitudine (ed. Venice 1508), there; 1495 ordinary professor of philosophy secundo loco as concurrent of P. Pomponatius (q.v.), there; 1496-1499 ordinary professor of philosophy primo loco, succeeeding Pomponatius, there; 1495-96 edited Aristotelis opera ... cum Averrois commentariis (Venice [GKW 2340]); 1497 published his In librum Destructio destructionum Averrois commentarii (begun 1494) and his De sensu agente (finished 1495) (Venice [GKW 2340]); c. 1500-1510 appears to have been professor of philosophy and medicine, Naple and Salerno; by 1503 had learned Greek; 1503 published revised edition of his De intellectu together with his De demonibus (Venice); 1504-1505 physician to Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba (El Gran Capitán), Naples; 1504 completed his De primi motoris infinitate (ed. s.l. [1504]), his De diebus criticis (ed. Venice 1504), an his De nostrarum calamitatum causis (Ed. Venice 1505), Sessa; 1505 published his Averrois de mixtione defensio (Venice); 1510-1513 professor in the university, Naples; 1510-1511 composed his De figuris stellarum helionoricis libri II (ed. Naples 1526); 1513 published his Ad Apotelesmata Ptolomæi eruditiones (Naples); from 1514 ordinary professor in the university, Rome; 1518 began his commentary In libros Aphorismorum Hippocratis (MS: Roma, BLancisiana 158); 1518 published as a reply to Pomponatius' Tractatus de immortalitate animæ (Bologna 1516) his own De immortalitate animæ libellus (Venice); 1519-1522 ordinary professor of philosophy primo loco in the university, Pisa; 1519 published his De falsa diluvii prognosticatione (Bologna); 1520 published his Dialectica ludicra (Florence); 1520 named Count Palatine by Leo X; 1521 published his Epitomata rhetorica ludicra (Venice) and his Libellus de his quæ ad optimus principibus agenda sunt (Florence); 1522-1531 ordinary professor of philosophy in the university, Salerno; 1523 published a free adaptation of Machiavelli's Principe (which had circulated in MS as early as 1515) under the title, De regnandi peritia ad Carolum V (Naples); 1526 published his Libellus de rege et tyranno (Naples) and his De armorum literarumque comparatione, De inimicitarum lucro, Apologia Socratis et Aristotelis (Naples); 1528 finished his De arte medendi (MS: Roma, BLancisiana 221; ed Naples 1551); 1531 published his De pulchro liber and De amore liber (Rome) and his De auguriis libri II (Bologna); 1531-1532 professor of philosophy and medicine in the university, Naples; from 1532 again professor of philosophy in the university, Salerno; 1535 published his Opuscula (Venice)."

Lohr, op. cit., 283-287, lists 30 Commentaries on Aristotle (most of them printed during Niphus' life-time) which are to be added to the works already mentioned in his biography.
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[11] A caveat appears to be appropriate here: This paper deals with Niphus' statements on why it might be apt to read, i.e. to teach and study the works of Aristotle in the "scholæ", i.e. as a part of a university course. It gives Niphus' explanations as to why it appears to be suitable, that the Aristotle is the main "scholastic" (in the above used meaning of the term) philosopher, why Aristotle everywhere is accepted as the Philosopher of the schools.

However prominent and important a philosopher Niphus was and is, however interesting his views might have been, however telling these views are for an early sixteenth century university teacher's attitude towards the texts he taught, however good these views reflect the merit, Aristotle's texts had to those then teaching and studying them: This here paper does not deal with the reasons why Aristotle indeed did have the ubiquitous and semiperennial position as the one and only basic author for universitarian philosophy-training: At the best part of those reasons can be studied from a philosopher's text as is the one investigated into here.

Investigations into other fields probably could prove to be of greater prospect: Enquiries into the reasons for what reasons and how changes in official universitarian philosophy curricula took place: From the little we know about the reasons behind the Melanchthonian reform to change the teaching of philosophy at Lutheran universities we know about political and theological inspirations for this reform, but of no philosophical ones (a valuable and inspiring study of this is Sachiko Kusukawa (1995) the Jesuit defence of Aristotle well into the eighteenth century seems to be a logical result of their defence of the Arsitotelian St. Thomas, on whom their theology depended (a good example for this is Erber [1731] ; Paduan Philosophy remained officially faithfully Aristotelian until 1770 (see Poppi (1981) 14s. and Archivio dello Stato, Venezia, Rifformatori dello Studio di Padova 429, N° 4., as well as Kuhn [1996] chapter 4) but already the successors of the great Cesare Cremonini on his chair (Giovanni Cottunio and Claudio Berigardo [see Archivio dello Stato, Venezia, Rifformatori dello Studio di Padova 1, f. 433r and 444r]; near to nothing is known on Cremonini's direct successor, Tomaso Ziliolo [his appointment is documented in Archivio dello Stato, Venezia, Rifformatori dello Studio di Padova 1, f. 407r]) began to amalgamate Aristotelian and non-Aristotelian traits in their philosophy (see Kuhn, 1996; Paduan Aristotelianism began relativelely early to lose its impact on universitarian medicine (see Kuhn [as above] on Hofmann [1615] f. A2r. Thesis 1); in 1729 Paduan teaching on Meteorology and Astronomy lost its institutional link with Aristotelianism without affecting the rests of natural philosophy , which remained aristotelian [see the document on astronomy and meteorology from 1731 in Archivio dello Stato, Venezia, Rifformatori dello Studio di Padova 438 : "Questa materia così variata per le quistioni si può render nuova"]; the alliance between Ramist philosophy and Calvinist theology in Northern Universities seems to have been not completely independend of Ramus' personal choice of creed; Wundt's (1945) statements on the persistance of Aristotelian philosophy at the protstant Königsberg university might merit closer investigations; the importance of the suppression of the catholic monastaries, congregations and orders in Austria and Germany at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century for the changes of direction of the teaching of philosophy in formerly catholic regions demand - to my knowledge - still to be thoroughly studied; philosophical reasons for the choice to institutionalise the teaching of a special philosophy might be as rare, as those for the choice to change from one institutionalised philosophy to another.
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[12] see Kuhn (1994)
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[13] Niphus' inconsistencies were noted already in the 16th century (see Mahoney [1970], p. 388). In our century too they were observed by quiet a number of scholars, who occupied themselves with Niphus' texts: see e.g. Mahoney (1979), p. 388sn6; Nardi (1958), pp. 101s 159, and espec.. 451; Gilson (1961), p. 241; Keßler (1988), p. 496s. Nicholas Jardine (1988), p. 689 states: "a caveat is in order: though Nifo is a shrewd and schlolarly interpreter, it is hard to detect a systematic body of philosophical doctrine in his eclectic and often eccentric pronouncements."
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[14] Gilson (1961) is still a valuable introduction to the so-called 'Pomponazzi-affair' and Niphus' role in it. A valuable abstract is to be found in Keßler (1988).
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[15] For a bibliography of Niphus' writings see Lohr (1988), and Mahoney (1974). For Niphus' thousand faces see the contents of his writings; cf. note 13 above.
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[16] For Niphus' teaching carer see note 11 above; for his connections to princely courts see Thorndike (1941), p. 72s.
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[17] Niphus' texts and theories on Politics would well merit a study of their own. His adaptation of the Principe is available in a reprint with commentary: Niphus (1987); the commentary however sees in Niphus' adaptation less intellectual vigour, than I mean to perceive there.
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[18] Still at the beginning of the seventeenth century Cesare Cremonini advocates reading Niphus for the wealth of doxographic information available in his commentaries on Aristotle (Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale marciana, ms. BNM, Lat. cl. VI, cod. 192 [=2838], f. 20v10.)
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[19] Further information on various aspects of Niphus' life, work and thought, and on secondary literature on Niphus see espec. Tuozzi (1903); Thorndike (1941), pp. 71-78; Nardi (1958); Mahonney (1968); Mahonney (1970); Mahonney (1970a); Mahonney (1971); Mahonney (1971a); Mahonney (1974); Mahonney (1976); Lohr (1979); Totok (1980), p. 174s; Kuhn (1994).
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[20] "Expositio Subtilissima Necnon Et Collectanea Commentariaque In Tres Libros Aristotelis De Anima nuperrime accuratissima diligentia recognita: His Demum Omnibus, Pro Studiosis, ad quæque scitu digna invenienda, Locupletissimus Index literarum serie congestus nuper additus est. Quorum Diligens Novissima Castigatio Legenti Patebit" is the full title of the edition of Niphus' commentary on De anima which appeared in 1559 "apud Hieronymum Scotum" ad Venice [specimen used: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München: 2° A. gr. b. 296], the edition I am mainly using in this paper here. The text is contained as well in the following editions: Niphus, Augustinus: super libros de anima. <...> subtilissima collectanea commentariaque in libros Aristotelis de anima: nuper accuratissima diligentia recognita, Venice [Iuntas] 1544 [specimen used: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München: 2° A. gr. b.290] and Niphus, Augustinus: Expositio Subtilissima Colectanea Commentariaque In tres Libros Aristotelis de Anima, Venice [Hieronymus Scotus] 1553 [specimen used: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München: 2° A. gr. b.225]; further editions, that probably also contain the text are found in Lohr (1988), 286a N° 16; the text is however not contained in the 1503 edition of Niphus commentary on De anima (Niphus, Augustinus: Super tres libros de anima, Venedig [typ.: Petrus de Quarengis; studio &: impensis domini Alexandri Colcidonis] [May 10th] 1503: I had the opportunity to see two specimens of this edition: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München: 2° A. gr. b.306 and Rara 1001, Beiband 1; as far as I checked, the two specimens were identical; the informations on the year of the edition and on the printer are found in he collophonium only; information on other libraries owning the 1503 edition is found in Lohr (1988), 286a, N° 15.)
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[21] Niphus (1544), f. †1r.
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[22] Elected Pope (Clemens VII.) November 19th 1523.
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[23] Niphus (1544), f. †††ra-vb (=f. 1ra-1vb of the first foliation of the 1544 edition); Niphus (1553) f. †††ra-vb (=f. 1ra-1vb of the first foliation of the 1553 edition); Niphus (1559) f. **2ra-**3rb.
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[24] Niphus (1544) f. ††† 3rb-†††4vb (f. 3rb-4vb according to the first foliation of the 1544 edition); Niphus (1553), f. f. ††† 3rb-†††4vb (f. 3rb-4vb according to the first foliation of the 1553 edition); Niphus (1559), f. **5ra-**6vb; in all three editions the text of the main commentary on Aristotle's text begins on a new, own quire.
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[25] Niphus (1544), f. †††2ra-†††3rb (f. 2ra-3rb according to the first foliation of the 1544 edition); Niphus (1553), f. f. ††† 2ra-†††3rb (f. 2ra-3rb according to the first foliation of the 1553 edition); Niphus (1559), f. **3va-**5ra. The Incipit is "Omissis ventosis exordiis, sucatisque verbis ...", the Explicit is " ... &: eius doctrina per omnes scholas legantur."; there appears to be no manuscript version of the text (see Lohr, loc. cit., N° 16). As the text is rather short, and as shortness appears to be appreciable for this paper as well,, I shall from here on give references only to the 1559 edition (which according to Lohr, loc. cit., appears to be the most common one in European libraries).
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[26] Niphus (1559), f. **3va: "Omissis ventosis exordiis, sucatisque verbis quæ in librorum interpretandorum principiis fieri solent ...". As mentioned, Niphus is far from depriving his readers completely of the usual stuff of the ventosi exordii and all the 'sweet words' one is accustomed to find in introductions to Aristotelian commentaries, he just refrains from limiting himself to this type of material.
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[27] Niphus (1559), loc. cit.: "cur apud omnes gentes, &: quidem pluribus seculis, observatum est ut in scholis Philosophorum Aristotelis libros legerentur."
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[28] Niphus (1559), loc. cit.,: "Quod [the 1559 edition has "quot", the 1544 and 1553 editions have "quod"] qua ratione factum sit nec quæsitum, nec addubitatum ab aliquo præcessore fuisse inveni unquam".
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[29] Niphus' text as the following general form:

  1. statement of the question
  2. apparent arguments in favour of the use of Aristotle as a guide in philosophy,
  3. evidence for the position, that Aristotle's doctrines and life apparently do not merit him an as outstanding position amongst philosophers, as he has,
  4. a short intermediary section, in which new precision is sought for the topic of the investigation,
  5. reasons, that make Aristotle's texts suitable for the classroom-use,
  6. the formal conclusion, that the use of Aristotle as the Philosopher in all places of philosophical instruction is quite befitting,
  7. refutations of the arguments of top. 3 in favour of the position, that Aristotle's doctrines and life apparently do not merit him an as outstanding position amongst philosophers, as he has,
  8. the repeated conclusion of the aptness of the position Aristotle's texts hold in all schools.

Quæstiones being considered a rather old-fashioned literary gender amongst nowadays readers, it appears appropriate, to rearrange part of Niphus' material for this here paper according to modern taste.
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[30] Niphus uses "scientiæ"; "scientia" does have little in common with our modern English term "science", but as there is no modern term known to me, which would correspond to the Aristotelian Niphus' "scientia" I shall in the following render (though not translate) "scientia" with "science".
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[31] Niphus, loc. cit. :"iter ad scientias est tum periculosum, tum difficile, quod non facile assequi poterimus, nisi optimo duce assumpto, qui nobis iter facile præbat".
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[32] Niphus, loc. cit. : "Cum enim ducem assumpserimus, qui &: vitam, &: docendi peritiam percaleat, facile qui ipsum imitari enituntur, &: doctrinam, &: clarissimas virtutes percallebit." Niphus continues (loc. cit.), that who chooses Epicure as his guide will end as did Sardanapal, and that who chooses the Stoics as a guide will end as did Seneca.
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[33] Niphus loc. cit. .
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[34] Niphus, loc. cit.: "Hic enim cum suo Achille, omnes exuperavit. Fuere &: alii plurimi, quos recensere non est necesse, sed illud unum accipiamus non videri Aristotelem in dialecticis superare omnes."
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[35] Niphus loc. cit. names Lykurg, Solon, Demosthenes, Sokrates, Demades , Anacharsis and Cicero.
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[36] Niphus (1559), f. **3vas: "fit igitur (ut dubitatione dignum sit) cur apud omnes gentes Rhetorices libri ad Theodeten / leguntur qui Aristotelis sunt."
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[37] Niphus (1559), f. **3vb.
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[38] Niphus, loc. cit. "non ergo benefactum videtur, ut Aristotelis libris, quos in poetica confecit : legerentur, aliorum poetarum libris prætermissis".
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[39] Niphus, loc. cit.
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[40] Niphus, loc. cit.
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[41] Niphus, loc. cit.: "qui teste Aristotele libro de Generatione primo omnibus aliis doctrina &: naturalium rerum experientia præfertur."
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[42] Niphus, loc. cit. reports (without naming his source) from Diogenes Laertios IX, 37 on Demokritus: "Penthalusius dicebatur, id est quinque certaminum, nam naturalia, moralia, mathematica liberalium disciplinarum rationes artiumque omnem peritiam callebat."
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[43] Niphus, loc. cit. "Hic cum magnum Diacosmum legisset, quingentis talentis honoratus est": a misunderstanding of the passage in Diogenes Laertios IX, 39, where we are told, that this work was merely estimated to be worth that some of money, in order to conserve Demokritus' title to be honourably buried in spite of having spent the money inherited from his father.
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[44] Niphus, loc. cit., following Diogenes Laertios IX, 39.
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[45] Niphus, loc. cit., following Diogenes Laertios IX, 40.
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[46] Niphus, loc. cit.: "non enim superavit Socratem qui sine controversia (teste Platone) omnes exuperavit." To use Plato as an authority to prove the excellence of Socrates over Aristotle is sign of a trait of humour rarely to be perceived in the writings of Niphus.
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[47] Niphus, loc. cit.: "Præterea. Si omnes in morali philosophia excelluisset, iurisconsultos, legumlatoresque excelluisset, qui moralem philosophiam in legibus complicarunt, &: sic non iurisconsultorum libri, sed Aristotelis legerentur. Cuius contrarium videmus, quia omnes fere gentes pro disciplina moralium virtutum utuntur legibus, quæ a iurisconsultis : atque legumlatoribus sunt institutæ, &: quidem pro principum voluntate."
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[48] Niphus, loc. cit., using Diogenes Laertios - this time explicitly - as an authority for Aristotle's authorship of books on mathematical subjects.
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[49] Niphus, loc. cit.: "Nec omnes exuperavit in metaphysicis: inter nostros enim iuniores Antonius Andreas Hiberus asserit Aristotelem metaphysicam ignorasse."

Andreas Hiberus is another name used for the beate Andreas Hibernon, OFM (1534-1602). For basic information on him see Fusseneger (1957). Out of chronological reasons however Andreas Hibernon appears to be a rather improbable source for the here mentioned attack on Aristotle's competence in metaphysics.
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[50] Niphus (1559), **3vb- **4rb gives a quite extensive report about the reasons for this apparent superiority of Plato. This is the argument against Aristotle, which Niphus handles with greatest emphasis, though he states clearly already at the start of his treatment of this subsection of his text, that neither Aristotle's nor Plato's theology, but only christian theology is true theology. These columns of Niphus's are of considerable interest in themselves, but to deal with them here is beyond the aim and scope of this paper.
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[51] Niphus (1559), f. **4rb: "Accedit etiam quod tradendi genus Platonis &: Aristotelis non idem sit. Aristoteles enim ex sensibilibus . Plato vero ex intelligibilibus procedit . at ea quæ divinitus revelata sunt, licet sensibus non subiaceant, intelligibilia sunt, quo fit, ut Plato illis hærere possit, Aristoteles minime. Aristoteles enim ex suo modo philosophandi christianæ veritati accedere non potest: philosophatur enim ex sensibus, quæ vero nostræ pietatis sunt, supra sensus esse videntur, nec ex instrumento tradendi, præcipium enim &: primum tradendi instrumentum constituit demonstrationem, quæ ex necessaries &: per se partibus constat, sine qua a perito, atque veritatis studioso affirmandum esse arbitratur nihil. Constat autem multa quæ nobis divinitus sunt revelata, demonstratione non posse probari."
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[52] Niphus, loc. cit.: In natural philosophy Niphus lists Aristotle's teachings on the eternity of movement and universe, on the generation of animals and the production of things, in moral philosophy his praise of the medium, which apparently makes a vice out of virginity and the doctrines on virtues, especially magnanimity, and on the treatment of enimies and monstrosities and on abortion.
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[53] Niphus, loc. cit.
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[54] Niphus, loc. cit.: "Ego vero non sum tanti, ut possim differentiam tantorum virorum asserere. qui enim differentiam aliquorum vult assignare in sapientia<,> supponitur utrisque sapientior."
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[55] Niphus (1559) . **4rbs. Cf. etiam somewhat later Niphus (1559) f. **4va: "Patet etiam non esse ad propositum disputare de comparatione cæterorum Philosophorum cum Aristotele. nam sive aliquis fuerit Aristotelis maior (quod non credit Alexander) sive nullus eo maior fuerit, hoc ad quæsitum nihil facit cum quæsitum nostrum non de excessu in doctrina sit, sed de eo quod quærebamus, cur apud ones gentes Aristotelis libris leguntur."
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[56] Niphus (1559) f. **4va. Niphus claims, that Aristotle himself blamed Plato's unordered way of presentation (loc. cit.: "… unde &: primo Posteriorum quasi in Platonem argumentans, iussit non esse de genere unius scientiæ in genus alterius in eodem librum transeundum, dixit enim demonstrationes esse augendas, aut in post assumendo, aut in latus, propterea scientiis ordinem &: distinctionem adiecit.").
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[57] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[58] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[59] Niphus, loc. cit.; Niphus considers this as a propriety of style, as ornatus tradendi: "Quarto propter ornatum tradendi, nam nihil superflui, nihil diminuiti, ut Alexander autumat, continent eius verba."
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[60] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[61] Niphus, loc. cit.: "Sexto propter constantiam in eius dictis. Aristoteles enim semper sibi constat, nec in eius dictis aliqua vera contradictio inventa est, ut Averroes &: Alexander &: alii expositores ostendunt. At Plato sibi inconstans est in compluribus, ut notat Eusebius libro de præparatione evangelica." Note, that this argument from the consistency of Aristotle is posed by Niphus amongst (other?) arguments taken from the stylistic proprieties of Aristotle's writings. I shall deal with this phenomenon in a later paragraph of my text.
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[62] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[63] Niphus, loc. cit.: "Siquis in doctrina […] Aristotelis maior fuerit (quod Alexander negat) in arte docendi nemo Aristotelem antecellit"
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[64] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[65] Niphus (1559) f. **4vas.
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[66] Niphus, loc. cit.: "In naturali Philosophia omnes exuperavit tum in arte, tum in philosophando, ut placet Alexandro."
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[67] Niphus, loc. cit.. Niphus provides us with examples as to how several laws against special criminal offences serve to foster special virtues.
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[68] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[69] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[70] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[71] Niphus, loc. cit. declares his intention, to follow here the better authorities, who preferred Aristotle on metaphysics as well for didactic reasons, as for reasons of contents: "De metaphysica transeat Hiberus cum suo errore, nos autem cum Alexandro Themistio : Simplicio : Averroe volumus errare, qui Aristotelem omnibus metaphysicis præponunt, tum in arte, tum in ipsa scientia."
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[72] Niphus, loc. cit.: "De theologia vero, Thomas noster arbitratur Aristotelem in theologia rationibus naturalibus inventa omnes antecesisse Philosophos."
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[73] Niphus, loc. cit.. Niphus adds, that Plato as well is not free from error against christian piety.
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[74] Niphus (1559), f. **4vbs. Niphus' views on ethics would merit more a book than a chapter or a mere paper of its own. I do not see any possibility to treat them in this paper here.
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[75] Niphus (1559), f. **5ra. Niphus goes into some detail. Amongst the arguments in defence of Aristotle is the traditional defence of his attacks on Plato and Isokrates, stemming from Aristotle's greater predilection for truth, than for certain persons. I shall come back again to this argument soon later.

The argument, that the reason for Aristotle's fame for impiety was his rejection of pagan deities has some attraction too.
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[76] Niphus, loc. cit..
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[77] What completely lacks in this text of the philosopher and medic Augustinus Niphus - and to my continuing personal bewilderment in all texts of the period known to me - is any discussion of the decree, to which Aristotelian philosophy is in act suitable as an introduction to Galenic medicine, which in many an aspect and principle is contrarian to the teachings of Aristotle and his more faithful followers.

However: in difference to other authors, from Niphus point of view, there is no reason, to deal with the differences between (a somewhat stricter) Galenism and (a somewhat stricter) Aristotelianism, as Niphus' reasons to opt for Aristotle as a basis of universitarian teaching of philosophy have nothing to do with Aristotle's doctrines on what subject soever.
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[78] The disproportion in length between the arguments against the supremacy of Aristotle (which are presented in the form of arguments in favour of the valour of other, non-Aristotelian philosophers) and the arguments in favour of the retention of Aristotle as the philosopher of the schools makes Niphus' text one pleading for the legitimateness of alternative, non-Aristotelian philosophies.
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[79] Remember e.g. Niphus' extremely negligent treatment of Aristotle's doctrinal superiority in dialectic and natural philosophy: He, Niphus does not believe, that any of the named ancients is superior to Aristotle in dialectics, he, Niphus, wants to follow Alexander in the opinion, that nobody surpassed the Stagirite's doctrines on natural philosophy: The point to decide on both fields in favour of Aristotle is not his doctrinal, but his metadoctrinal excellence.

This separation between doctrine and metadoctrine, and the great stress on the latter, by the way is the reason, why, according to my view, Niphus has no reason, to include a discussion of the impact of the differences between Aristotle and Galen in his text, as these difference are apparently mainly differences of doctrine and not such of metadoctrine.
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[80] Remarkably little is given by Niphus in ways of judgement of Aristotle's method of investigation: As shown above, his restriction to sensus et demonstratio is presented as inadequate for the recognition of christian theological doctrines; in moral Aristotle proceeds "philosophically" and does this better, than all others - but we do not learn about the reasons of this supremacy.

I am far from certain as to the degree to which the rules of logica utens are considered by Niphus to be doctrinal or metadoctrinal.
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[81] See note 78 above. I have some doubts as to the weight of the implicit reasons of Niphus's given in that note.
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[82] The interactions between the waning of such commonness of European culture with Luther's and Calvin's 'Reformations' and the waning of the common basis of Aristotelian philosophy-teaching at universities remain to be investigated (see note 12 above).
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[83] See note 14 above.
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