Plan of the Dialogus

The Dialogus in the printed edition has three parts, with the second and third parts divided each into two tracts, as follows:

Of the thirty or so manuscripts only one, Fr, contains all these components (and it contains Compendium Errorum between part 2 of the Dialogus and part 3 tract 1). (See "Which witnesses...") Eleven more contain all except Part 3, tract 1 (viz. ArBaCaDiEsNaPbPcToUnVd). There are six manuscripts that contain only part 1; apart from these six, all of the extant manuscripts seem to suppose the above organisation of the whole work. Except for Fr they do not all contain all the parts, but whatever part they do contain is numbered as in the printed edition and has the same preface.

However, the present organisation of the work is apparently not the organisation Ockham had in mind while writing Part 1. Part 1 has a preface stating that Part 2 will be about the teachings of John XXII and Part 3 about the actions of the parties to the controversy. A Part 2 on the doctrines of John XXII was thus in the original plan, but the existing Part 2 does not really belong in the work at all (though it is well-represented in the manuscript tradition, being found in about half the manuscripts). The two tracts of which Part 2 now consists are 'assertive' writings, not in dialogue form. They are not referred to in a specific way in any other part of the Dialogus, neither of them has a preface connecting it with any other part of the work, neither contains any reference to any other part of the Dialogus. They do not deal comprehensively with all of the controversial teachings of John XXII. Perhaps Ockham himself inserted two pamphlets written for other purposes in place of a Part 2 he never wrote, or which he wrote and then lost or scrapped. He seems to have written it, since there are references to it in De imperatorum et pontificum potestate. It seems to have been organised into at least four tracts subdivided into books. See Miethke, Ockhams Weg, p. 88, n. 331. It seems most likely that some early editor, not Ockham, is responsible for the inclusion of the present Part 2 in the Dialogus.

In Part 1 there are a number of forward references to the projected Part 2 (see Jürgen Miethke, Ockhams Weg zur Sozialphilosophie [Berlin, 1969], p. 88, n. 330) from which it seems that it would have included, as part of a comprehensive discussion of John's teachings, discussion of the powers of emperor, pope and clergy - the topics now discussed in Part 3. The references are as follows:

(In these passages the second 'tract' is apparently the second 'part'.)

While he was writing Part 1, then, Ockham envisaged a work with the following structure:

Part 3 as we have it contains matters originally intended for Part 2 and none of the matters originally intended for Part 3. In the prefaces to the two tracts of Part 3 Ockham says that they are preliminary to seven other tracts discussing the actions of the parties (cf. the original plan for Part 3). But none of those tracts was ever written; at least, none has survived.

There has been some discussion about the order in which the two tracts of Part 3 were written. There is some repetition and overlap (for example, there are discussions of the ruler's need for riches in tract 1, book 2, chapter 2, and in tract 2, book 1, chapter 17, and of the need for advisers in tract 1, book 2, chapters 18-19 and in tract 2, book 1, chapter 15); overlap might suggest that tract 2 was written first. Each tract has its own preface, as if they were put into circulation separately. Many manuscripts containing tract 2 do not contain tract 1 (only 3 MSS contain tract 1, whereas these 3 and another 12 contain tract 2), which could be explained by supposing that tract 2 was put into circulation first and that tract 1 did not catch up with every copy.

On the other hand, as was mentioned above, a discussion of the matters treated in tract 1, the rights of the pope and clergy, was planned (though not necessarily as a separate tract) even while he wrote Part 1, and there are cross-references from each of tracts 1 and 2 to the other. See Baudry, Guillaume d'Occam, pp. 212-4. (Baudry's attempt to prove that tract 1 was written first from references in the future tense and from the word conicio is not convincing; these things may simply have been part of the fiction of the dialogue.) The cross-references suggest that both must have been written, or at least planned in detail, before either was put into circulation.

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