See the Preliminary comment to Part 1, Book 6, chapters 1-15.
The following sources have been universally collated for the reconstruction of 1 Dial. 7.65-73:
Tradition A: Bb An Fi
Tradition B: Vg
Tradition D: Di
Tradition E: Vc We
The "reliability rate" of the witnesses in this
segment roughly parallels what was noticed elsewhere in Books 6 and 7. The best
sources for our critical text are We and An (both
at an 81% level of variant convergence), followed by Bb (79%),
Fi (78%), Vg (77%), Ly /the Trechsel edition/ (69%), and Vc (68%). The
reason for the somewhat lower reliability percentages in all collated
manuscripts of the final chapters of Part 1 is due to a noticeable augmentation
of idiosyncratic errors and homoioteleuton omissions.
As expected, Di, representing
tradition D, is clearly removed from the common text
of ABE with a 38% variants convergence index, even though a closer link
is observable here between traditions D and E than had been
the case in 1 Dial. 6.36-50. The value of the
These final chapters of Part 1 of Dialogus seem to present, comparatively speaking, a much more abbreviated set of commentaries than readers of earlier portions had been accustomed to. Ockham was quite conscious of this, as his obiter dicta reveal [ch. 66 lines 1-3; ch. 69 lines 1-4; ch. 72 lines 1-4; ch. 73 lines 60-67. Cf. already ch. 51 lines 1-2]. It is, however, not entirely certain that the specific verbalization of this acceleration to the finish was involved in the first draft composition of his original text. There are two curious passages which may offer us a clue as to Ockham's creative approach in concatenating materials for his master work. The critical text version of the chapter 66 reference to Book Four [lines 112-113] is as follows: "Qualiter autem convinci valeant de pertinacia, ex hiis que tractata sunt supra, libro quarto, debet posse patere//And the manner whereby they may be convicted of pertinacity should be clear from the points we treated earlier in Book Four". No less than seven manuscripts of traditions A, B, and C [Bb An Fi Na Vg Va Sa] have "tractanda" instead of "tractata" [one source of We may also have had this: We opts for "tradita" rather than "tractata"] , intimating that at that moment in the process of composition Book Four may not yet have been written. It is of course arguable that this is simply a scribal error. But the second curious passage cannot be dismissed as easily. In chapter 70 the Master outlines four reasons, dealing with perceptions of the papal status, which would explain the potential support a heretic pope might garner in society. And then the Student comments [lines 115-117] as follows: "Prime due estimationes false michi videntur. De quarta autem tractatum est prius. Ideo dic secundum istos in quo tertia estimatio a veritate recedit. //The first two convictions appear to me to be false, while the fourth has been dealt with earlier. State therefore in what way, according to these thinkers, the third conviction deviates from the truth". The second conviction mentioned here is stated at lines 104-105 : "Quidam putant quod papa contra fidem errare non potest//Some believe that the pope cannot err against the faith". The fourth conviction "dealt with earlier" is the notion that "some think that although we may consider that some things done by the pope are bad and done badly, nevertheless no Christian is allowed to question or to judge the pope, to rebuke him, or to pass legal sentence against him." [cf. lines 109-112 for the critical text] Now this conviction was indeed discussed at length in various contexts of Book Six, beginning with its chapter 1. But there seems no inkling on the Student's part that the thorough examination of papal infaillibility in Book Five is a referable (or even planned) context. The comment at chapter 70 lines 115-117 is found in all manuscripts of all traditions. It is most tempting to suppose that what we have here is an uncorrected first jot text of the Dialogus, which neither Ockham nor any subsequent editor bothered to rephrase. We know that a good deal of William's perspective had almost certainly been formulated in earlier polemic works (1328-1331) which have not survived [cf. George Knysh, "Ockham's first political treatise ? The Impugnatio constitutionum papae Iohannis [April/May 1328]", Franciscan Studies 58 (2000), pp. 237-260], and the possibility that he utilized portions of this in structuring the text of the Dialogus must be kept in mind. The passages I have mentioned suggest that Ockham may have employed a technique involving an initial shorter statement of relevant propositions, some but not all of which he later proceeded to develop at greater length. Thus, an early version of much of Books Six and Seven would have been written prior to the current text of Books Four and Five (perhaps even of that of Books One to Five). If this hypothesis is correct, it would mean that the abbreviated nature of the later chapters of Book Seven are not the result of accelerated composition, but of the retention of undeveloped initial statements, except for some obiter dicta. In any event, this textual archaeology does not significantly affect the substantive development of Ockham's doctrine, since there is every likelihood that the extant layers of the final segment of Book 7 (except for very minor editorial adjustments) were scripted during the course of the year 1332.
For some comments on the context of 1 Dial. 7.65-73, see Fragments of Ockham Hermeneutics, pp. 115-117.
Revised February 2008