Gundissalinus, Dominicus

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Gundissalinus, Dominicus

also known as Domingo Gundisalvo or Gonsález

(fl. Toledo, Spain, second ha1f of the twelfth century)

science translation, philosophy of science.

Gundissalinus’ date of birth is unknown, although conjecture has offered 1110; there is some evidence that he was still alive in 1190. He was archdeacon of Segovia, but his intellectual activity was centered at Toledo, where a flourishing school of translators, under the patronage of such archbishops as Raymond of Toledo, introduced a considerable amount of Arabic and Judaic materials to the Latin West during the twelfth century.

Many of the translations were done with the collaboration of two scholars, one knowledgeable in Arabic, the other in Latin, with a vernacular serving as common ground. The translations attributed to Gundissalinus were probably done in this fashion, although only in the manuscripts of the translation of the De anima of Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) is Gundissalinus’ name specifically linked with that of a cotranslator, Abraham ibn Daūd (Avendauth). In addition to the De aniama, Gundissalinus’ name has been connected with translations of Ibn Sīnā’s Sufficientia and Metaphysics, as well as a portion of his Posterior Analytics, together with the Logic and Metaphysics of al-Ghazzālī; the Fonts vitae of Ibn Gabirol; the De intellectu, the Fontes questionum, the De scientiis, the Liber excitativus ad viam felicitatis, and the De ortu scientiarum of al-Fārābī; the De intellectu of al-Kindī; and the Liber de definitionibus of Issac Israeli.

Gundissalinus was the author of five philosophical works which drew heavily on the Arabic-Judaic matereials of his translations as well as on Latin sources. He was the first to provide the Latin West with an introduction to Arabic-Judaic Neoplatonism and the first to blend this tradition with the Latin Christian Neoplatonism of Boethius and Augustine. His De unitate is such a syncretic work. It is rich in aphorisms which were quoted frequently during the Middle Ages, for example, “Quidquid est ideo est quia unumest,” Gundissalinus’ De anima, likewise a compilation from his translations, is essentially a presentation of Avicennian psychology and ideas from Ibn Gabirol, although it utilizes material from other sources, such as Augustine and the treatise On the Difference Between Soul and Spirit of Qustā ibn Lūqā.

Gundissalinus’ De processione mundi is taken from numerous sources: Ibn Sīnā, Ibn Gabirol, alGhazzālī, al-Fārābī, Boethius, Prophyry, then Epistola de anima of Issac de Stella, possibly the De deo Socratis of Apuleius, and his own De unitate. Its editor, Georg Bülow, considers it a late work. The De processione was used in the thirteenth century by both William of Auvergne (William of Paris) and Thomas Aquinas. Gundissalinus’ De immortalitate animae, again dependent on Arabic materials, is a well-written treatise proving the indestructibility of the soul, using arguments based on the soul’s own nature which were to become standard in the Middle Ages. The De immortalitate was reworked in the thirteenth century by William of Auvergne.

The De divisione philosophiae is a classification of the sciences which served as a source for later classification schemes. It incorporates al-Fārābī’s work on the classification of the sciences (the De ortu scientiarum) and utilizes a wide variety of other sources: classical Latin, Arabic, and Aristotelian. Since it draws on Gerard of Cremona’s translation of the Arabic mathematician al-Nayrīzī, the De divisione was likely written after 1140, since Gerard’s translating activity probably did not begin before that year. The De divisione begins with a prologue followed by a section containing six definitions of philosophy taken from various sources.

The sciences are classified into three major groups: propaedeutic sciences, including grammar, poetics, and rhetoric; logic; and philosophical sciences. The latter are further divided into theoretical and practical sciences. The theoretical sciences are subdivided in turn into physics, mathematics, and theology. Physics contains eight subjects, and mathematics has seven. Following this discussion, Gundissalinus inserts a section from Ibn Sīnā’s Posterior Analytics. Treatment of the practical sciences, which include politics, economics, and ethics, concludes the treatise.

Gundissalinus’ classification transcends the conventional subject matter of the trivium and the quadrivium. He includes a section on medicine as a branch of physics, and the seven subjects subsumed under mathematics include discussions of sicentiae de aspectibus, de ponderibus, and de ingeniis, in addition to the four subjects of the quadrivium. The De divisione was directly used by Robert Kilwardby in his own treatise on classification, and its influence is further revelated in the works of Michael Scot, Vincent of Beauvais, and Thierry of Chartres.


I. Original Works. Editions of Gundissalinus’ writings include M. Menéndez y Pelayo, Historia de los heterodoxos espanoles, I (Madrid, 1880), 691–711, text of De processione mundi; Paul Correns, “Die dem Boethius fälschlich zugeschrieben Abhandlung des Dominicus Gundisalvi De unitate,” in Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, 1 no. 1 (1891), 1–11; Georg Bülow, “Des Dominicus Gundissalinus Schrift von der Unsterblichkeit der Seele,” ibid., 2 no. 3 (1897), 1–38; Ludwig Baur, “Dominicus Gundissalinus De divisione philosophiae, “ibid., 4 nos. 2–3 (1903), 1–142; Georg Bülow, “Des Dominicus Gundissalines Schrift von dem Hervorgange der Welt (De Processione mundi,” ibid., 24, no. 3 (1925), 1–54; and J. T Muckle, “The Treatise De anima of Dominicus Gunidissalinus,” in Mediaeval Studies, 2 (1940), 23–103.

II. Secondary Literature. On Gundissalinus or his work, See M.T.D’Alverny, “Avendauth?” in Homenaje a Millás-Vallicrosa, I (Barcelona, 1954), 19–43, esp. the arts. by P. Alonso listed in ftn. 14, pp. 24–25, including “Las Fuentes literarias de Domingo Gundisalvo,” in Alandalus, 11 (1947), 209–211; C. Bäumker, “Les écrits philosophiques de Dominicus Gundissalinus,” in Revue thomiste, 5 (1897), 723–745; and “Dominicus Gundissalinus als philosophischer Schriftsteller,” in Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, 25, nos, 1–2 (1927), 255–275; D.A. Callus, “Gundissalinus’ De anima and the Problem of Substantial Form,” in New Scholasticism, 13 (1939), 338–355; A.H. Chroust, “The Definition of Philosophy in the De divisione philosophiae of Dominicus Gundissalinus,” ibid., 25 (1951), 253–281; P Duhem, Le système du monde, II (Paris, 1958), 177–181; E. Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the middle Ages (New York, 1955), pp. 235–239, 652–653; Nicholas M. Haring, “Thierry of Chartres and Dominicus Gundissalinus,” in Mediaevel Studies, 26 (1964), 271–286; R. W. Hunt, “The Introductions to the Artes in the Twelfth Century,” in Studia Mediaevalia in Honor of R.J. Martin (Bruges, 1948), pp. 85–112; L. Löwenthal, pseudo-Aristoteles über die Seele. Eine psychologische Schrift des II. Jahrhunderts und ihre Beziehung zu Saloma ibn Gabirol (Avicebron) (Berlin, 1891), pp. 77–113; J. Teicher, “Gundissalino e l’Agostonismo avicennizante,” in Rivista di filosofia neoscholastica (May 1934), pp. 252–258; and L. Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, II (New York, 1923), 78–82.

More general works are A. Jourdain, Recherches critiques Sur-l’âge et l’origine des traductions d’Aristote (Paris, 1819), pp. 107–119; Artur Schneider, “Die abenländis.che Spekulation des zwölften Jahrhunderts in ihrem Verältnis zur aristotelischen und disch-arabischen Philosophie,” in Beiträge Zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelaters, 17 pt 4 (1915), 39–72; M. Steinschneider, Die europäitschen Ùersetzungen aus dem arabischen bis Mitte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Graz, 1956), pp. 40–50, 260–261; and R. de Vaux Notes et texts sur l’avicennisme latin aux confins des Xiie et xiiie siècles (Paris. 1934), pp. 141–142.

Claudia Kren