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Digitale Edition von Walter Burleys zwei frühen Kommentaren zur „Physik“ des Aristoteles


Commentaries on the Physics and the manuscript tradition

Walter Burley wrote three commentaries on the Physics. In his last commentary, the Expositio in libros octo De physico auditu (C), he explains Aristotle’s text section by section and adds so-called quaestiones, in which he discusses specific questions arising from the text.

This commentary was written at two distinct periods: books I–VI were written in the years 1324–1327 and books VII–VIII in 1334–1337.

This third commentary contains Burley’s sharp criticism of Ockham’s ‘antirealistic’ position. It has been preserved in approximately thirty (complete or incomplete) manuscripts and was printed eleven times between 1476 and 1609. One of the prints was reprinted in 1972.

The two early commentaries, however, were never printed or critically edited (except for editions of small parts). The first one, the Expositio et quaestiones omnium librorum Physicorum (A), consists of an explanation of all eight books of the Physics with quaestiones. The second one, the Quaestiones super libros Physicorum (B), is a commentary consisting of quaestiones only. Both commentaries probably originated during Burley’s time in Oxford (before 1310).

A comprehensive comparison of the commentaries remains to be done. Previous attempts based on comparisons of lists of questions and text samples show that Burley reused his material. The quaestiones from commentaries A and B show a lot of similarity: for books I–IV Burley rearranged and reworked the questions and added or deleted material, for the later books he hardly made any changes. For commentary C Burley used material from the previous commentaries and added new material, for books III–V and VII he also used Ockham’s questions commentary on the Physics.

Commentary A has survived in the following manuscripts:

  • Cambridge, Gonville & Caius College, cod. 448/409, pp. 172–543. (G)
  • Cambridge, St. John’s College, cod. D.25 (Old classmark: 100), ff. 76r–85v (J) (Fragment of book V).

Commentary B has survived in the manuscripts:

  • Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, cod. F. V. 12, ff. 108r–171v (U) (Books I–IV).
  • Cambridge, Gonville & Caius College, cod. 512/543, ff. 109r–126v, 220r–234v (O) (Books I and V–VII)