Publication Date



Quidditas, Medieval studies


Medieval studies today may be precisely characterized by quidditas. The Aristotelian term quidditas became central to the development of medieval scholastic inquiry in the West when, in 1066 Anselm of Canterbury wrote the Monologion. This eleventh-century foray into the revival of Aristotelian thought is also seen in Porphyry’s third-century translations of Aristotle and in Boethius’ sixth-century concern with universals elaborated in his commentaries on universals and categories. For Anselm and the developing model of medieval scholastic thought, the Monologion and its immediate successor, the Proslogian, assert a double discourse of the difference between quidditas and haeccitas, or what Jacques Derrida would later call the who and the what of being. Together, Anselm’s texts introduced questions of quidditas (essence, thingness, or whatness) and haeccitas (thisness), to the medieval revival and burgeoning tradition of scholasticism.