philosophy, medieval

   In some ways the medieval period was the high point for Christian philosophy: the vast majority of (Western) philosophers were Christians and all were theists. There was no professional disciplinary boundary between theology and philosophy, and it was not only permissible, but expected, that philosophers should appeal to the truth of the Christian faith in their work in other areas. Indeed, for many the philosophical impulse was the impulse to understand the faith and defend it. Anselm's phrase 'fides quaerens intellectum' ('faith seeking understanding') sums up the spirit of much medieval philosophy. It is somewhat arbitrary where to begin the epoch of medieval philosophy: Augustine (354-430) and Boethius (c. 480-c. 526) are often used as starting points, but perhaps they are best viewed as belonging to antiquity rather than to the Middle Ages, and it is perhaps best to think of Anselm (1033-1109) as the first great medieval philosopher. The greatest period of medieval philosophy was in the thirteenth century, which saw not only the greatest medieval philosopher, Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-74), but also Bonaventure (c. 1217-74) and, towards the end of the century, Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308).
   The major event to which Christian philosophers in the Middle Ages responded was the rediscovery of Aristotle's works; Aquinas represents the acme of the synthesis of Christianity and Aristotelianism. In the century after him William of Ockham (1285-1349) expounded a more nominalistic version of medieval philosophy (conceptualism). The rest of the fourteenth century saw a gradual decline towards Renaissance philosophy in the fifteenth century. Francisco Su´arez (1548-1617) bears the traditional title of 'the last of the scholastics', though his work occurred during a brief revival of the spirit of medieval philosophy after the Middle Ages proper were over.
   Further reading: Armstrong 1967; Copleston 1952; Kenny 2005; Kenny, Kretzmann, Pinborg and Stump 1982; Marenbon 1987, 1988 and 1998

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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