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Medieval Philosophy

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Vin Ferrer

on 21 January 2014

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Transcript of Medieval Philosophy

Medieval Philosophy
St. Paul
- disparagement of “the wisdom of the world”(specifically, the wisdom sought by Greeks) and his warning against “philosophy and empty deceit”

- St. Paul in which he analyzed their logical as well as rhetorical and grammatical structure, 16 took up the challenge to apply the tools of dialectic to matters of religious doctrine currently in dispute.

The Middle Ages
The Middle Ages, sometimes called “the Dark Ages” was a period between the Classical Period and Modern Era which was when Medieval Philosophy flourished. Many philosophers of this period have sprung from traditional pagan Philosophy and the new, widespread religion of Christianity and their interactions. Not onlythat but also Muslim or Islamic philosophies and philosophies from the West influenced Medieval Philosophy.
E. R. Dodds
- Words, “increasingly to mean the quest for God.” In such a world, it was easy for a person like Justin (d. 163/67), searching among the philosophers for an answer to the riddle of life, to end up a Christian, and ultimately a martyr.

- As an apologist for his faith he continued to wear the philosopher’s distinctive garb and advertised Christianity as philosophy in the fullest sense of the word (Dialogue with Trypho 8 [411] 198b).

The third-century Christian writers and teachers Clement of Alexandria and his pupil, Origen, and their pagan counterparts Plotinus and his disciple, Porphyry, spoke the same philosophical language, drew from the single conceptual reservoir of emergent Neoplatonism, and even traveled in the same circles.
- Contribution was simply to make the Christian variant of this discourse the dominant one, eventually oppressively so, from the fourth century on.
- Persuaded, as he later explained in his Confessions, by Cicero’s “exhortation to philosophy” that he must forsake his life of vanity and promiscuity and devote himself to the internal quest demanded by the love of wisdom, he set out on a path leading by way of knowledge “upwards [away] from earthly delights” to God (Confessions III 4 [59]).
- Augustine himself explored the psychological and theological implications of Neoplatonic theories of emanation in his treatise The Trinity.

had taken three centuries before, which undoubtedly facilitated the reception of Arabic thought in the West when Boethius’s work itself was revived around the end of the eleventh century.

Boethius made a conspicuous start with his intention of commenting on all of Plato and Aristotle.
a Roman of even higher social standing and similarly adviser at the Ostrogothic court, managed a less technically prodigious but perhaps equally influential feat.

His Institutes of Divine and Secular Letters offers a syllabus for Christian education in which the canon of rhetorical and philosophical classics continued to play a major role.

Emperor Justinian
- Commonly assumed to have closed the schools of philosophy in Athens in 529.

- If there actually was such a closure (the argument has been made that pagan philosophers continued to attract students in Athens after Justinian), it should not be thought of as delivering the deathblow to Graeco-Roman philosophical thought.

Antony and Pachomius
They situated the monk’s quest for holiness along the path of the philosopher’s pursuit of wisdom.

Antony’s search for inner peace and indifference to the world through passionate combat with the demons of temptation and despair provided the model for ascetic discipline. It was a mission at once more practical than speculative and more routinizing than developmental.

John Scottus Eriugena (d. c. 877)
Born in Ireland (hence “Eriugena”), he knew Greek and read and translated Pseudo-Dionysius.

John’s access to the Platonizing mystical tradition provided some of the elements for his Periphyseon, a daring speculative vision of “natures” coming from and returning to God.

- Fled from his native city of Mecca to the more welcoming Medina, where he began in earnest his ultimately successful mission of bringing to the whole of the Arabian peninsula what he presented as God’s final revelation to humankind.

Antique philosophy, as exemplified in the Hellenized Jews of Alexandria, Origen, Porphyry, and even the more mystical Proclus and Pseudo-Dionysius, continued to be promoted among a learned stratum at the top of the dominated society.
Sometime resident of the city of the caliphs at Baghdad, is commonly venerated as the father of Arab philosophy, both for his own writings and for the work he encouraged in others.

With al-Kindi, Muslim interest in Greek philosophy displayed a particular fascination with the works of Aristotle.
Ibn Sina (Avicenna, d. 1037)
Produced the most impressive speculative synthesis since the early Neoplatonists.

Ibn Sina’s thought easily bears comparison with that of Kant or Hegel in modern times.

Ibn Sina’s Book of Healing can be considered a vast commentary on all of Aristotle.

- a Jew born and educated in C´ ordoba but active for many years as a physician in Cairo, pointed the way with his Guide for the Perplexed, written, like Gabirol’s work, in Arabic.
Ibn Rushd (Averroes)
- A contemporary C´ ordovan physician and lawyer who ended his days in Marrakesh in 1198, Muslim scholarship produced a monumental series of commentaries on Aristotle’s writings that provided a focus for some of the most important philosophical debates of the following centuries.

- took the commentary form to its height.

- Although he did not escape criticism (Aquinas, with rare bitterness, called him “the Depraver” of Aristotle, not “the Commentator”), his glosses on the Aristotelian corpus dominated the field for hundreds of years, in the Latin West most of all.
In the homeland of the monastic learning of Bede and the magnificent Benedictine abbeys of the central Middle Ages, philosophy reawakened.

Roscelin, and Anselm of Aosta, who was Lanfranc’s successor as prior at Bec and eventually also as the second Norman archbishop of Canterbury.

- The most famous of these among philosophers, the Proslogion, sets forth what can be read as a reason-based proof of God. It provided the historical foundation for what later became known as the “ontological argument.”
- The Proslogion was originally entitled “Faith Seeking Understanding.”
- Anselm can sound more like a late thirteenth-century university master than like the rhetorically molded Augustine.
- Anselm’s Proslogion and Monologion leading the way and Bonaventure’s Mind’s Road to God continuing the tradition for high scholasticism of the thirteenth century.

Peter Abelard
- Whose brilliance outshone all contemporaries and pointed toward the first significant advances in logical theory since the late Antique Stoics

- With Abelard in the early twelfth century the methodical study of religious belief took flight.

- Abelard’s Ethics presents an intentions-based explication of moral accountability that commands respect to this day on its philosophical merits.

Adelard of Bath
- An Englishman who led the drive toward new methods of inquiry about externalities, insisted that God had endowed humankind with reason just so that we could ferret out the rules under which the created world operated.
Adelard from England and Gerard of Cremona from Italy
- Who steeped themselves in Jewish and Muslim learning and began to translate texts into Latin: firstly the speculative riches from this part of the world and eventually works from the classical Greek and Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean.
Bernard of Clairvaux
- He managed the condem nation of some of Abelard’s doctrines in 1140 at the ecclesiastical of Sens, the second to be called against the great logician become theologian.
Pope Innocent III
- Presided over an assembly of officials from all over Latin Christendom.

- The result was an authorized
statement of the faith that all Christians were required to accept, and a call for personal confession to a priest and reception of the Eucharist at least once each year by all believers.

R. I. Moore
- “formation of a persecuting society” in western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a view increasingly adopted in recent scholarship on the late medieval and early modern periods.
- By the twelfth century the focus had narrowed even more sharply on Aristotle than before, and the interpretative sophistication applied to his works by Spanish intellectuals had taken a qualitative step beyond all earlier treatments.

- In late twelfth- and thirteenth-century academics familiarized themselves intimately with the rest of the Organon and then with Aristotle’s contributions to the natural sciences, followed by his metaphysics almost simultaneously with his ethics, and lastly his politics.

- In the thirteenth, the secular guide to truth par excellence was Aristotle, “the Philosopher.”

John of Salisbury
- A paragon of twelfth-century erudition, had pointed to this treatise around 1160 as crucial for comprehending “the art of demonstration, which is the most demanding of all forms of reasoning.”
Robert Grosseteste
- master of theology at Oxford and subsequently bishop of Lincoln.

- Scholars in all disciplines sought to construe their work as scientific.

Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas
Duns Scotus, to the “secular” – that is, still clerical but neither mendicant nor monastic – masters Henry of Ghent and Godfrey of Fontaines. Professional religious thinkers like these, all trained extensively in arts faculties and expert in logic, regarded what they, too, called philosophy – reasoning applied to evidence naturally obtained – as distinctively different from understanding based on truths supernaturally revealed by God. Yet they considered the former sort of thinking to be an important concomitant of the latter.
Siger of Brabant and Boethius of Dacia
- most notably the arts masters

- The ideal of a philosophical way of life carried on independently of religious institutions reappeared in theWest for the first time since the days when pagan philosophers competed with “philosophized” Christians.

Origen or Augustine
they thought that taking into account the unreasoned dictates of faith or the doctrinal prescriptions of orthodoxy would get in the way.
Albert and Thomas
paid to philosophy as self-contained source of truth, led to renewed fears. Aquinas’s writings themselves were at least indirectly implicated in the denunciations, a situation brought nearer to the surface in like-minded condemnations by archbishops of Canterbury in 1277, 1284, and 1286.
Dominican friars Ulrich of Strassburg, Dietrich of Freiberg, and most famously Meister Eckhart
- Reached back to the Neoplatonic traditions of Pseudo-Dionysius and the pagans Proclus and Plotinus to reinstitute a program of personal mental enlightenment as the way to a near-beatific encounter with God.
William of Ockham (d. 1347/48)
Innocent III
- Convener of the Fourth Lateran Council intervened decisively in such matters on a number of occasions, skillfully managing contests between king and king, as with France against England, or between emperors and imperial electors, as in Germany.

In the 1240s, in a remarkable clash between Pope Innocent IV and the German king and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, the pope called on all Catholic monarchs to join in a crusade against the emperor himself.

Giles of Rome and James of Viterbo
- the Parisian theologians, composed treatises espousing a view of clerical authority throughout society that has been dubbed “hierocratic,” because of the governmental power it ascribes to the priesthood, transcendently to the pope

A Students of Thomas Aquinas drew from his thought and from Aristotle’s Politics a strong interest in a “mixed” constitution as the best form of government, one combining elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.

John Wyclif
- Master of theology at Oxford, brought the counterclaims of realism, never entirely extinguished at any point in the Middle Ages, resoundingly back to center stage.
- Wyclif drew upon traditional attacks on ecclesiastical wealth and worldliness to advocate the virtual disendowment of the church.

Confessions of St. Augustine, the philosophical and spiritual autobiography of the thinker with whom our narrative of medieval philosophy began. Contrary to the image of the Renaissance as anti-Christian, Augustine and other church fathers continued to exert great influence on Petrarca’s followers.

Rene Descartes
- Starts from scratch or, in even the most scientific fields, attempts to provide proof for everything claimed as true.

A number of Christian thinkers came to be especially respected as “doctors” or teachers of the church: in the East, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil, and John Chrysostom; in the West, the four late Roman writers Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great.

Augustine of Ancona
- Acknowledged the possibility of papal heresy, a possibility which, as we have seen, Ockham regarded as actualized in John XXII.

Despite disputes over who counted as a veritable doctor, the presumption of truth increasingly clung to the statements of such thinkers as Thomas Aquinas, for Dominicans, and Bonaventure, for Franciscans.

John Buridan
- Who commented on Aristotle’s natural science and ethics in the fourteenth century, but also theologians.

Albert the Great
- Introduced the West to the whole range of the Philosopher’s thought, and his student Thomas Aquinas at the summit of his career as teacher of sacred doctrine produced detailed expositions of major Aristotelian treatises in logic, metaphysics, and natural and moral philosophy.

Augustine established the pattern with his The Trinity, and Boethius contributed with a cluster of short works highly influential in shaping the terminology of Latin philosophy for the later, scholastic period. The Carolingians produced writings of this sort, spectacularly in the case of Scottus Eriugena, as did scattered figures in Islam and Judaism.
Moses Maimonides
- brilliant Oxford Franciscan

- Ockham is also celebrated – or attacked – for his nominalism, that is, for holding that universals, such as man and red, are names (nomina), not things (res).

- It has been argued that “conceptualism” would be a better label for Ockham’s view, but in any case, neither Ockham nor his position on the problem of universals should be regarded as the whole of the via moderna.

- Who is traditionally given so much credit or blame for nominalism and the via moderna.

- Ockham believed that the Avignonese pope John XXII had fallen into heresy by officially condemning assertions of the absolute poverty of Christ and the apostles that most Franciscans regarded as accepted Christian truth.
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