Comparisons showing effect of policy change

In the earlier version our policy regarding text Ockham quotes from other authors had been to follow the modern edition of the source unless it was clear that the variants found in our witnesses were essential to Ockham's argument or there was some other reason for thinking that they were deliberate. The presumption was that the modern edition should be followed, though this presumption might be defeated.

Ballweg, Ubl and Scott expressed misgivings about this policy, misgivings  I came to share. So Scott and I have produced a new version, with the presumption reversed: the witnesses (at least if they are unanimous) will be followed unless there is a good reason (e.g. that their text is unintelligible or ungrammatical) for following the modern edition instead.

Statement of policy in Introduction to the volume, p. xiii:

Old policy statement:

Ockham may not always have had good texts of the sources he quotes. We have a choice between two possible policies: to try to infer from our witnesses the text that our author had before him, recording differences from the standard modern edition of the source in our apparatus, or to quote from the modern edition, recording the readings of our witnesses in the apparatus. Either policy will give the reader the same information. If some difference from the modern edition of a quoted text seems relevant to the argument, or if it seems to be due to deliberate editing on Ockham’s part (compres­sion or transition, for example), we follow our witnesses rather than the modern edition. However, if there is no special reason for departing from the modern edition we generally follow it, since this saves our text from many confusions and obscurities irrelevant to our author’s argument. We use “S” (for “Source”) as the siglum for the modern edition, which is identi­fied in a nearby note on the quoted passage (or in the list of references, p. xv below). Thus “conatur] S Es Pz: cognatur Ly, conor W” means that the source reads “conatur”, that this is also the reading of Es and Pz, that Ly reads “cog­natur”, and that the other witnesses read “conor”.  (Emphasis added.)

New policy statement:

Where Ockham quotes from some other source (for example, Gratian, or Marsilius), the text as found in our witnesses sometimes differs from the text as found in modern editions of the source. Sometimes the difference seems due to deliberate editing on Ockham’s part (for example, compression, transition, correction of grammar), and sometimes the wording as found in the witnesses is essential to the argument. In all such cases we follow our witnesses against the modern edition of the quoted text, but we record the reading of the modern edition in our apparatus. Sometimes the difference seems accidental; in those cases also we follow the witnesses against the modern edition, if the witnesses are unanimous and their text makes reasonable sense; however, if the difference seems accidental and the text of the witnesses cannot be understood without forcing grammar or sense, we follow the modern edition, reporting the text of the witnesses in our apparatus. In every case both the reading of the witnesses and the reading of the modern edition will be clear from the apparatus; if the apparatus does not mention the source, it can be inferred that it agrees with our text.


The following Word documents compare the text and translation before and after the change of policy. The material crossed out is old, the inserts are new.

Part 2, tract 1
Part 2, tract 2
Part 3, tract 1, book 1
Part 3, tract 1, book 2 (there is no translation, so compares Latin text only)
Part 3, tract 1, book 3
Part 3, tract 1, book 4

I have done similar comparisons between the Latin text of these files and the Latin text of the CTE/PDF files that will be printed, so I am sure that the printed text and the Latin text in these Latin/English files correspond exactly.

John Kilcullen
12 July 2009