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Why were these prohibitions issued? In part it was out of a genuine concern for the purity of the faith. Aristotelianism was thought, and rightly so, to be theologically suspect.

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On the other hand, it cannot be denied that some of the basis for the prohibitions was simply a resistance to new ideas. By their very nature, universities brought together masters and students from all over Europe and put them in close proximity. Already in the twelfth century, and certainly by the early-thirteenth, it is futile even to attempt anything like a sequential narrative of the history of medieval philosophy. Instead, the remainder of this article will mention only a few of the major figures and describe some of the main topics that were discussed throughout the medieval period.

For a more complete picture, readers should consult any of the general histories in the Bibliography below, and for details on individual authors and topics the Related Entries in this Encyclopedia, listed below. Although there is certainly ample justification for giving special emphasis to these authors, it would be misleading if one thought one could get even a fair overall picture from them alone.

Nevertheless, the list is instructive and illustrates several things. First of all, not one of these three or four authors was French. All but Ockham spent at least part of their careers at the University of Paris. This illustrates both the preeminence of the University of Paris in the thirteenth century and the increasing internationalization of education in the later Middle Ages in general. But it also illustrates another odd fact: There are certainly notable exceptions to this perhaps contentious observation see for example the entries on Peter Auriol , John Buridan , Godfrey of Fontaines , Nicholas of Autrecourt , Peter John Olivi , Philip the Chancellor , and William of Auvergne , but with the arguable exception of Buridan, surely none of them is of the stature of the four mentioned above.

As a result, Aquinas enjoyed a far greater authority in the late-nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century than perhaps he ever did in the Middle Ages. To some extent, Bonaventure likewise came to be regarded as representing typically Franciscan views see the entry on Saint Bonaventure , and later on Scotus was highly respected and often favored among the Franciscans see the entry on John Duns Scotus.

Ockham is a special case. He was a controversial figure, mainly because of political disputes with the Pope that embroiled his later life see the entry on William of Ockham. Nevertheless, as one of their own, the Franciscans have always been interested in him and in his writings. The upshot of all this is that major late medieval philosophers, like Buridan, who did not belong to a religious order have often suffered from neglect in standard histories of medieval philosophy, at least until fairly recently.

Another neglected secular master was Henry of Ghent, a very important late-thirteenth century figure who has turned out to be crucial for understanding much of Duns Scotus, but whose views have only in the last few decades begun to be seriously studied see the entry on Henry of Ghent. For that matter, even many important and influential late medieval philosophers who did belong to religious orders are still virtually unknown or at least woefully understudied today, despite the labors of generations of scholars.

Their works have never been printed and exist only in handwritten manuscripts, written in a devilishly obscure system of abbreviation it takes special training to decode. It is probably safe to say that for no other period in the history of European philosophy does so much basic groundwork remain to be done.

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Medieval philosophy included all the main areas we think of as part of philosophy today. Nevertheless, certain topics stand out as worthy of special mention. To begin with, it is only a slight exaggeration to say that medieval philosophy invented the philosophy of religion. To be sure, ancient pagan philosophers sometimes talked about the nature of the gods. But a whole host of traditional problems in the philosophy of religion first took on in the Middle Ages the forms in which we still often discuss them today:.

As for logic, the great historian of logic I. From the time of Abelard through at least the middle of the fourteenth century, if not later, the peculiarly medieval contributions to logic were developed and cultivated to a very high degree. For logical developments in the Middle Ages, see the articles insolubles , literary forms of medieval philosophy , medieval theories of categories , medieval semiotics , medieval theories of analogy , medieval theories of demonstration , medieval theories of modality , medieval theories of Obligationes , medieval theories: In metaphysics, the Middle Ages has a well deserved reputation for philosophical excellence.

The problem of universals, for example, was one of the topics that were discussed at this time with a level of precision and rigor it would be hard to find matched before or since. But it was by no means the only such question. For some of the main topics in metaphysics on which medieval philosophers sharpened their wits, see the articles binarium famosissimum , existence , medieval mereology , the medieval problem of universals , medieval theories of causality , medieval theories of haecceity , and medieval theories of relations.

In natural philosophy and philosophy of science, medieval philosophy was of course very strongly—but not exclusively—influenced by Aristotle.

The early Middle Ages

See, for example, the articles medieval theories of causality and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Particularly from the fourteenth century on, the increasing use of mathematical reasoning in natural philosophy would eventually pave the way for the rise of early modern science later on. Important figures in this development include William Heytesbury and William of Ockham. Medieval epistemology was not, with some noteworthy exceptions, particularly worried over the problem of skepticism, over whether we have genuine knowledge see the entry on medieval skepticism.

The tendency was to take it for granted that we do, and instead to ask about how this comes about: For some of the important topics discussed in the area of medieval epistemology, see the entries divine illumination , medieval theories of demonstration, and mental representation in medieval philosophy. For details on some important developments in medieval ethics, see the entries on medieval theories of conscience , medieval theories of practical reason , and the natural law tradition in ethics.

The above lists of topics and important figures should be regarded as only representative; they are far from exhaustive. This bibliography includes only items cited in the body of the article, plus general resources relevant to the study of medieval philosophy. More specialized bibliographies relevant to particular topics and individuals may be found in other articles in this Encyclopedia.

See the list of Related Entries below. The changes made for the update published in March were contributed by Thomas Williams. The Main Ingredients of Medieval Philosophy 3. The Availability of Greek Texts 4. The Twelfth Century and the Rise of Universities 5.

Medieval philosophy

The Thirteenth Century and Later 7. The Middle Ages begin, we are told, with the death of Theodosius in , or with the settlement of Germanic tribes in the Roman Empire, or with the sack of Rome in , or with the fall of the Western Roman Empire usually dated C. It ends … with the fall of Constantinople, or with the invention of printing, or with the discovery of America, or with the beginning of the Italian wars , or with the Lutheran Reformation , or with the election of Charles V The Availability of Greek Texts While the influence of classical pagan philosophy was crucial for the development of medieval philosophy, it is likewise crucial that until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries almost all the original Greek texts were lost to the Latin West, so that they exerted their influence only indirectly.

As for Plato, for a long time much of his influence was felt mainly through the writings of Augustine. For more than a millennium after his death, Augustine was an authority who simply had to be accommodated. He shaped medieval thought as no one else did. Moreover, his influence did not end with the Middle Ages. His force was and is still felt not just in philosophy but also in theology, popular religion, and political thought, for example in the theory of the just war. He came up with the lofty goal to translate Plato and Aristotle into Latin, write commentaries on the whole of that material, and then write another work to show that Plato and Aristotle essentially said the same thing: If the more powerful favor of divinity grants it to me, this is [my] firm purpose: Although those people were very great talents whose labor and study translated into the Latin tongue much of what we are now treating, nevertheless they did not bring it into any kind of order or shape or in its arrangement to the level of the [scholarly] disciplines.

Once all this is done, I will not fail to bring the views of Aristotle and Plato together into a kind of harmony and show that they do not, as most people [think], disagree about everything but rather agree on most things, especially in philosophy. But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

But, for whatever reason, new translations soon began to appear from: Sicily, which was at this time a melting-pot of Latins, Greeks, Jews, and Muslims. Euclid and Ptolemy were translated there, as well as other mathematical and medical works. Nevertheless, political tensions between the West and Constantinople at this time guaranteed that such contact was not widespread see the entry on Byzantine philosophy.

An extremely important school of translators emerged at Toledo, under the direction of Archbishop Raymond d. They included, among others: Ibn Gabirol in Latin, Avicebron, Avencebrol, etc. It presents a systematic neo-Platonic view of the cosmos. In addition to these translations, Gundissalinus was also the author of some original philosophical works of his own. Gerard of Cremona d. Gerard began work at Toledo in Hugh was also a theologian and theorist of mysticism.

Richard, like Hugh, was a theorist of mysticism. Unlike Hugh, Richard was much more favorably disposed toward the new use of dialectic or logic in theology. He is said to have written a treatise of his own on logic but it does not appear to have survived. The Thirteenth Century and Later By their very nature, universities brought together masters and students from all over Europe and put them in close proximity. Some Main Topics in Medieval Philosophy Medieval philosophy included all the main areas we think of as part of philosophy today.

But a whole host of traditional problems in the philosophy of religion first took on in the Middle Ages the forms in which we still often discuss them today: The problem of the compatibility of the divine attributes. The problem of evil. Ancient philosophy had speculated on evil, but the particularly pressing form the problem takes on in Christianity, where an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God freely created absolutely everything besides himself, first emerged in the Middle Ages.

The problem of the compatibility of divine foreknowledge with human free will. Many medieval authors appealed to human free will in their response to the problem of evil, so that it was especially important to find some way to reconcile our free will with divine foreknowledge see the entry on medieval theories of future contingents. Bibliography This bibliography includes only items cited in the body of the article, plus general resources relevant to the study of medieval philosophy. Gersh, Stephen, , Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism: Volume 23 , Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.

Basic Concepts , Chichester: Kretzmann, Norman, et al. Volume 2 , Oxford: Marenbon, John, , Medieval Philosophy: An Historical and Philosophical Introduction , London: Pasnau, Robert, and Christina van Dyke eds. Quasten, Johannes, —86, Patrology 4 volumes , Volumes 1—3, Utrecht: Speculum, and Westminster, Md.: Our happiness never enters into the picture. That there is indeed a god, Augustine proved in fine Platonic fashion: Begin with the fact that we are capable of achieving mathematical knowledge, and remember that, as Plato demonstrated, this awareness transcends the sensory realm of appearances entirely.

Our knowledge of eternal mathematical truths thus establishes the immateriality and immortality of our own rational souls. So far, the argument is straight out of Plato's Phaedo. Augustine further argued that the eternal existence of numbers and of the mathematical relations that obtain among them requires some additional metaphysical support. There must be some even greater being that is the eternal source of the reality of these things, and that, of course, must be god.

Thus, Augustine endorses a Plotinian concept of god as the central core from which all of reality emanates. But notice that if the truths of mathematics depend for their reality upon the creative activity of the deity, it follows that god could change them merely by willing them to be different. We can still balance our checkbooks with confidence because, of course, god invariably wills eternally. But in principle, Augustine held that even necessary truths are actually contingent upon the exercise of the divine will.

This emphasis on the infinite power of god's will raises a significant question about our own capacity to will and to act freely. If, as Augustine supposed, god has infinite power and knowledge of every sort, then god can cause me to act in particular ways simply by willing that I do so, and in every case god knows in advance in what way I will act, long before I even contemplate doing so. From this, it would seem naturally to follow that I have no will of my own, cannot act of my own volition, and therefore should not be held morally responsible for what I do. Surely marionettes are not to be held accountable for the deeds they perform with so many strings attached.

Augustine's answer to this predicament lies in his analysis of time. A god who is eternal must stand wholly outside the realm of time as we know it, and since god is infinitely more real than we are, it follows that time itself does not exist at the level of the infinitely real.

Medieval Philosophy

The passage of time, the directionality of knowledge, and all temporal relations are therefore nothing more than features of our limited minds. And it is within these limitations, Augustine supposed, that we feel free, act on our volitions, and are responsible for what we do. God's foreknowledge, grounded outside the temporal order, has no bearing on the temporal nature of our moral responsibility. Once again, a true understanding of the divine plan behind creation resolves every apparent conflict. European culture developed only very slowly after the collapse of the Roman Empire in Theological controversies and narrow-minded defenses of traditional doctrine and practice were the sole pre-occupations of educated clergy.

Anthony Kenny and Bryan Magee on Medieval Philosophy

During these "Dark Ages," concern with the necessities of life and anti-intellectual sentiment in the church did little to encourage philosophical speculation. Although many nameless individuals worked to preserve the written tradition of what had gone before, there were few genuine high points in our philosophical history for a few hundred years.

A Short History of Greek Philosophy. Homer and Classical Philology. George William Joseph Stock. Stoic Six Pack 4. Christianity And Greek Philosophy: The Horrors and Absurdities of Religion. The Complete Collection of St. An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library: Stoic Six Pack 9. Oration on the Dignity of Man. Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola. The Ethics of the Greek Philosophers: The Philosophy of Spinoza. The Consolation of Philosophy. The Tripod of Truth: The Political Ideas of St.

Philosophy for Everyman from Socrates to Sartre. Alexandria And Her Schools. The Basis of Early Christian Theism. Discourses Books 1 and 2. The Masterworks of Western Philosophy.


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Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy. The Philosophy of Giambatistta Vico. The Essays of Montaigne. Discourse on Voluntary Servitude.