Medieval Philosophy and Theology

The Logic of Growth: Twelfth-Century Nominalists and the Development of Theories of the Incarnation

a1 University of Auckland, New Zealand


Among the various testimonia assembled by Iwakuma and Ebbesen to the twelfth-century school of philosophers known as the Nominales, 1 four record their commitment to the apparently outrageous thesis that nothing grows. My aim in this essay is to explore the reasons the Nominale s had for maintaining this thesis and to investigate the role that the theory which supported it played in the development of late twelfth- and early thirteenth-century debates over the character of the hypostatic union. My investigation concerns onl y one aspect of twelfth-century Nominalism 2 but once this part of their system is understood, we will be better able to characterise the whole and the way in which the views of the Nominales conflicted with those of their opponents. S o long as the testimonia remain few and rather slight such a reconstruction offers our only hope for finding the Nominales and their influence where their name has not been recorded.


1 Iwakuma Yukio and Sten Ebbesen, “Logico -Theological Schools from the Secon d Half of the 12th Century: A List of Sources,” Vivarium XXX (1992):173–210.

2 Since this group were apparently the first ever to be called ‘nominalists’ I think that we may justifiably capitalize the name of the theory to indicate that we are referring to their version of it.