On Measurement and Numbering

Rory Fox

in Time and Eternity in Mid-Thirteenth-Century Thought

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199285754
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603563 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

On Measurement and Numbering

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This chapter examines 13th century views on issues of measurement, particularly temporal measurement. It shows that 13th century thinkers distinguished between a variety of ways in which the word ‘measure’ (mensura) could be used; distinguishing between Platonic senses which were typically used to compare particulars in relation to their ontological perfection, and Aristotelian senses of the word ‘measure’ which were used to give an account of the metric of time. When applying measurement theory, 13th century thinkers would typically distinguish between the intrinsic and extrinsic measure. The intrinsic measure was the ‘subject’ of a particular kind of measure; the perfect standard which was the actual measure used in measuring other particulars of that same kind. When it came to carrying out actual measurements, the extrinsic measure was the ruler or clock, or other type of measure, which was an instance of the perfect standard laid down by the intrinsic measure, and which could then be used in concrete practical situations to carry out actual measurements.

Keywords: time; measurement; numbering; Primum Mobile; metric; privileged clock; 13th century

Chapter.  10142 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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