I here collect the of materials used for my lecture and reading seminar at Forschungskolloquium Kirchengeschichte, Faculty of Theology, University of Basel, Friday 19 October 2018.


  • 14–16: Lecture: Liars and Riddlers An Unusual Take on Self-Knowledge by William of Hedon.
  • 16–19: Seminar: Reading and discussion of parts of Hedon's text.

Currently this page only contains the excerpt of the Hedon text that we will read for the seminar, but my slides and other material will also be made available here before the lecture. So stay tuned.

Download lecture slides.

Text excerpts for seminar

William of Hedon


In the lecture I situate William of Hedon in the context of philosophical and theological texts around 1250 in Oxford. In particular I will show how his position and working method relates to the practices of the masters of the Faculty of Arts. In the seminar we will pursue this a bit more by looking at some details of his text in comparison with an example of a text by an arts magister.

In the text excerpt Hedon discusses the so-called Liar Paradox, and puts it into connection with problems of how the intellect is able to know itself. His view on is directly contrary to the standard interpretation within the Faculty of Arts, and we will see how he uses the intricate logic of the liar paradox to support this different view.

Warning: The text is not easy to read. The liar paradox is difficult. It is the problem arising from the statement "What I say is false". If the statement is true, it is false, and if it is false, it is true – a true paradox. And reading a discussion of this by a trained logician from the middle ages includes the risk of immediate grey hair. So don't be alarmed if it seems nonsensical to you. We will try to sort it out together.

If you look at the Latin text, please notice that it is a lot longer than the English translation. The translation is only an excerpt. So navigate to the pieces that have been translated by the paragraph numbers.

John Dinsdale, an example from the other side

We will compare the text of Hedon his opponents from the arts faculty. If we have the time, we might want to look at some of the details of such a text. Our example text will be by John Dinsdale, since I have already made a translation of that.

You can find the Latin text (with some introduction) and a translation at https://cimagl.saxo.ku.dk/download/86/86christensen79-131.pdf.

The English translation of the relevant part is on pages 109 to 113. We will focus on pages 110–11.