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Logical Tools of Medieval European Legal Scholarship. The Quaestio and Its Resonance in Indian Philosophy


· Francesco Godano Universtiy of Bologna (Bologna, Italy)


07/26 | 17:30-17:50 UTC+2/CEST


This paper presents the first results of a comparative research in the medieval commentators of legal texts in Italy and South Asia. While apparently far apart, the two traditions show a remarkable degree of similarity with respect to the general scientific vision and the logical and argumentative patterns they employ. The comparison involves Dharmaśāstra commentators of legal texts (6th-12th c.) and Italian commentators of Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis (12th-15th c.). The two groups share a common epistemological view: they both considers the two fundamental authoritative texts (the Justinian books and the Veda) as a perfectly consistent, complete and universally valid body of rules, closely connected with the religious domain. Interpretation is thus conceived as a means of finding the right understanding of the texts. In spite of this formal feature, both traditions operate in a creative way, and have in fact a strong systematic approach, which draws general principles from the authoritative texts in order to generate new rules and adapt to social change. The two lines of scholars also display common logical features in their works. Both make an extensive use of dialectical reasoning, which is conceived as a powerful heuristic tool. Controversial matters are analyzed with a strikingly similar argumentative framework, exhibiting a debate of opposing arguments supporting possible solutions. Interpretive principles and reasoning patterns thereof are often shared. Such similarities - which in turn better illuminate the respective differences - doubtlessly call for further investigation on the scientific development of these two (not so) distant worlds.