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    Medieval Philosophy

    Frederick Copleston, S.J.





    New York London Toronto Sydney Auckland CONTENTS

    Chapter Page





    a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

    1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036 II. THE PATRISTIC PERIOD 13

    Christianity and Greek philosophy-Greek Apologists

    IMAGE, DOUBLEDAY, and the portrayal of a deer drinking from (A ristides , St. Justin Martyr, Tatian. Athenagoras,

    Theophilus)-Gnosticism and writers against Gnosticism

    a stream are trademarks of Doubleday, a division of Bantam

    (St. Irenaeus. Hippolytus)-Latin Apologists (Minucius

    Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Felix, Tertullian. Arnobius. Lactantius)-Catechetical

    School of Alexandria (Clement, Origen)-Greek Fathers

    (St. Basil, Eusebius. St. Gregory of Nyssa)-Latin

    Fathers (St. Ambrose)-St. John Damascene-Summary.

    First Image Books edition of Volume II of A History of Philosophy published 1962

    by special arrangement with The Newman Press. III. ST. AUGUSTINE-I

    Life and writings-St. Augustine and Philosophy.

    This Image edition published April 1993 IV. ST. AUGUSTINE-II: KNOWLEDGE 51

    Knowledge with a view to beatitude-Against scepticism

    De Licentia Superiorum Ordinis: Martinus D'Arcy, S.J., Praep. Provo Ang!iae _Experiential knowledge-Nature of sensation-Divine

    ideas-Illumination and Abstraction.

    Nihil Obstat: T. Corbishley, S.J. Censor Deputatus V. ST. AUGUSTINE-III: GOD . 68

    Imprimatur: Joseph, Archiepiscopus BirmiDgamiensis Die 24 Aprilis 1948 Proof of God from eternal truths-Proofs from creatures

    and from universal consent-The various proofs as stages

    in one process-Attributes of God-Exemplarism.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


    Copleston, Frederick Charles. Free creation out of nothing-Matter-Rationes seminales

    A history of philosophy / Frederick Copleston. -Numbers-Soul and body-Immortality-Origin of


    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and indexes .. VII. ST. AUGUSTINE-V: MORAL THEORY 81

    Contents: V. 1. Greece and Rome-v. 2. Augustine to Scotus-v. Happiness and God-Freedom and Obligation-Need of

    3. Middle Ages and early Renaissance. grace-Evil-the two Cities.

    1. Philosophy, Ancient. 2. Philosophy, Medieval. 3. Philosophy, VIII. ST. AUGUSTINE-VI: THE STATE

    Renaissance. I. Title. The State and the City of Babylon not identical-The

    B72.C62 1993 pagan State does not embody true justice-Church

    190-dc20 92-34997 superior to State.


    Volume II copyright 1950 by Frederick Copleston Writings and author-Affirmative way-Negative way

    Neo-Platonic interpretation of Trinity-Ambiguous teach-

    ISBN 0-385-46844-X ing on creation-Problem of evil-Orthodoxy or un~xad


    3 5 798 642


    All Rights Reserved Boethius's transmission of Aristotelian ideas-Natural

    theology-Influence on Middle Ages-Cassiodorus on the

    PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA seven liberal arts and the spirituality of the soul

    Isidore's Etymologies and Senlences. CONTENTS CONTENTS



    Chaplet' Claapler P."


    Charlemagne-Alcuin and the Palatine School-Other Reasons for discussing Islamic philosophy-Origins of

    schools, curriculum, libraries-Rhabanus Maurus. Islamic philosophy-AUarabi - A vicenna-Averroes

    Dante and the Arabian philosophers.



    Life and works.

    The Cabala-Avicebron-Maimonides.


    Nature-God and creation-Knowledge of God by affir The translated works-Transl_tions from Greek and from

    mativeand negative ways; inapplicability of categories Arabic-Effects of translations and opposition to Aris

    to God-How, then, can God be said to have made the totelianism.

    world?-Divine Ideas in the Word-Creatures as partici

    pations and theophanies; creatures are in God-Man's V


    nature-Return of all things to God-Eternal punish-

    ment in light of cosmic return-Interpretation of John THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY

    Scotus's system.


    PART III The University of Paris-Universities closed and privi-

    leged corporations-Curriculum-Religious Orders at

    THE TENTH, ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH CENTURIES Paris-Currents of thought in the thirteenth century.


    Situation following death of Charlemagne-Origin of dis Reasons for treating of William of Auvergne-Cod and

    cussion in texts of Porphyry and Boethius-Importance creatures; essence and existencfr-Creation by God

    of the problem-Exaggerated realism-Roscelin's 'nomi directly and in time-Proofs of God's existence-Hylo

    nalism'-St. Peter Damian's attitude to dialectic morphism-The soul-Knowledge-William of Auvergne

    William of Champeaux-Abelard-Gilbert de la Porr~ a transition-thinker.

    and John of Salisbury-Hugh of St. Victor-St. Thomas


    (a) Robert Grosseteste's life and writings-Doctrine of

    XV. ST. ANSELM OF CANTERBURY 156 light-God and creatures-Doctrine of truth and of illu

    St. Anselm as philosopher-Proofs of God's existence in mination.

    the Monoiocium-The proof of God's existence in the (6) Alexander of Hales's attitude to philosophy-Proofs

    Prosiocium-Idea of truth and other Augustinian elements of God's existence-The divine attributes-Comp08ition

    in St. Anselm's thought. in creatures-Soul, intellect, will-Spirit of Alexander's



    Universalism of Paris, and systematisation of sciences in Life and works-Spirit-Theology and philosophy

    twelfth century-Regionalism, humanism-Platonism of Attitude to Aristotelianism.

    Chartres-Hylomorphism at Chartres-Prima facie pan

    theism-John of Salisbury's political theory. XXVI. ST. BONAVENTURE-II: GoD'S EXISTENCE 250

    Spirit of Bonaventure's proofs of God's existence-

    XVII. THE SCHOOL OF ST. VICTOR 175 Proofs from sensible world-A priari knowledge of God

    Hugh of St. Victor; proofs of God's existence, faith, -The Anselmian argument-Argument from truth.

    mysticism-Richard of St. Victor; proofs of God's exis

    tence-Godfrey of St. Victor and Walter of St. Victor. XXVII. ST. BONAVENTURE-III: RELATION OF CREATURES

    TO GoD 258

    XVIII. DUALISTS AND PANTHEISTS 183 Exemplarism-The divine knowledge-Impossibility of

    creation from eternity-Errors which follow from denial

    Albigensians and Cathari-Amalric of Bene--David of

    of exemplarism and creation-Likeness of creatures to


    God, an&logy-II this world the best possible world? CONTENTS


    Cllapur Pag,


    XXVIII. ST. BONAVENTURE-IV: THE MATERIAL CREATION One substantial form in man-The powers of the soul

    Hylomorphic composition in all creatures-Individuation The interior senses-Free will-The noblest faculty

    -Light-·-Plurahty of forms-Rahones semlnales. Immortality-The active and passive intellects are not

    numerically the same in all men.


    Unity of human soul-Relation of soul to body~Immorxad XXXVIII. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS-VIII: KNOWLEDGE

    talityof the human soul-Fal~lty of ;\verrOlsbc mono 'Theory of knowledge' in St. Thomas-The process of

    psychism-Knowledge of sensible o.bJects an~ of first knowledge; knowledge of the universal and of the parti

    logical principles-Knowledge of spmtual realities-illu cular-The soul's knowledge of itself-The possibility of

    mination-The soul's ascent to God-Bonaventure as metaphysics.

    philosopher of the Christian life.



    Eudaemonism-The vision of God-Good and bad-The

    Life and intellectual activity-Philosophy and theology virtues-The natural law-The eternal law and the

    -God-·Creation-The soul-Reputation and importance foundation of morality in God-Natural virtues recognised

    of St. Albert. by St. Thomas which were not recognised by Aristotle;

    the virtue of religion.


    Life-Works-Mode of exposing St. Thomas's philosophy XL. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS-X: POLITICAL THEORY 412

    --The spirit of St. Thomas's philosophy. St. Thomas and Aristotle-The natural origin of human

    society and government-Human society and political

    XXXII. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS-II: PHILOSOPHY AND authority willed by God-Church and State-Individual

    THEOLOGY 312 and State - Law - Sovereignty - Constitutions - St.

    Distinction betwcpn philosophy and theology-Moral Thomas's political theory an integral part of his total

    necessity of revelation-Incompatibility of fait~ and system.

    science in the same mind concernmg the same obJect Note on St. Thomas's aesthetic theory.

    Natural end and supernatural end-St. Thomas and St.

    Bonaventure-St. Thomas as 'innovator'. XLI. ST. THOMAS AND ARISTOTLE: CONTROVERSIES

    St. Thomas's utilisation of Aristotle-Non-Aristotelian


    elements in Thomism-Latent tensions in the Thomist

    BEING 3~ synthesis-Opposition to Thomist 'novelties'.

    Reasons for starting with corporeal being-Hylomorphism

    -Rejection of rationes semina!es-Rejection of. plurality XLII. LATIN AVERROISM: SIGER OF BRABANT 435

    of substantial forms-RestTictlOn of hylomorphlc compo-

    Tenets of the 'Latin Averroists'-Siger of Brabant-

    sition to corporeal substances-Potentiality and act

    Dante and Siger of Brabant-Opposition to A verroism;

    Essence and existence. condemnations.




    Roger Bacon, life and works-Philosophy of Roger Bacon

    Need of proof-St. Anselm's argument-Possibility of -Matthew of Aquasparta-Peter John Olivi-Roger

    proof-The first three proofs-The fourth proof-The Marston-Richard of Middleton-Raymond Lull.

    proof from finality-The 'third way' fundamental.



    (a) Giles of Rome. Life and works-The independence of

    The negative way-The affirmative way-Analogy- Giles as a thinker-Essence and existence-Form and

    Types of analogy-A difficulty-The di~ine ideas-No matter; soul and body-Political theory.

    real distinction between the divine attributes-God as

    (b) Henry of Ghent. Life and works-Eclecticism, illus

    existence itself.

    trated by doctrines of illumination and innatism-Idea

    XXXVI. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS-VI: CREATION 363 of metaphysics-Essence and existence-Proofs of God's

    existence-General spirit and significance of Henry's

    Creation out of nothing-God alone can create-God philosophy.

    created freely-The motive of creation-Impossibility of

    creation from eternity has not been demollstrated-Could XLV. SCOTus-I 476

    God create an actually infinite multitude?-Divine omni

    potence-The problem of evil. Life-Works-Spirit of Scotus's philosophy. CONTENTS



    The primary object of the human intellect-Why the in

    tellect depends on the phantasm-The soul's inability to MEDIAEVAL PHILOSOPHY

    intuit itself in this life-Intellectual apprehension of the

    individual thing-Is theology a science?-Our knowledge

    is based on sense-experience, and no special illumination


    is required for intellectual activity-Intuitive and

    abstractive knowledge--Induction.



    Being and its transcendental attributes-The univocal 1. IN this second volume of my history of philosophy I had

    concept of being-The formal objective distinction

    originally hoped to give an account of the development of philo

    Essence and existence-Universals-Hylomorphism

    Rationes semi1lQles rejected, plurality of forms retained sophy throughout the whole period of the Middle Ages, under


    standing by mediaeval philosophy the philosophic thought and

    XLVIII. ScoTUs-IV: NATURAL THEOLOGY 518 systems which were elaborated between the Carolingian renaissance

    Metaphysics and God-Knowledge of God from creatures in the last part of the eighth century A.D, (John Scotus Eriugena,

    -Proof of God's existence-Simplicity and intelligence

    the first outstanding mediaeval philosopher was born about 810)

    of God-God's infinity-The Anselmian argument

    Divine attributes which cannot be philosophically and the end of the fourteenth century. Reflection has convinced

    demonstrated-The distinction between the divine attn

    me, however, of the advisability of devoting two volumes to

    butes-The divine ideas-The divine will-Creation.

    mediaeval philosophy. As my first volume1 ended with an account

    XLIX. ScOTUS-V: THE SoUL 535 of neo-Platonism and contained no treatment of the philosophic

    The specific form of man-Union of soul and body-Will

    ideas to be found in the early Christian writers, I considered it

    and intellect-Soul's immortality not strictly demon

    strated. desirable to say something of these ideas in the present volume.

    It is true that men like St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine

    L. ScoTus-VI: ETHICS 545

    belonged to the period of the Roman Empire, that their philo

    Morality of human acts-Indifferent acts-The moral

    law and the will of God-Political authority. sophic affiliations were with Platonism, understood in the widest

    sense, and that they cannot be termed mediaevals; but the fact

    remains that they were Christian thinkers and exercised a great


    influence on the Middle Ages. One could hardly understand St.

    Theology and philosophy-'Christian philosophy'-The

    Thomist synthesis-Various ways of regarding and inter Anselm or St. Bonaventure without knowing something of St.

    preting mediaeval philosophy.

    Augustine, nor could one understand the thought of John Scotus

    Eriugena without knowing something of the thought of St. Gregory

    APPENDICES of Nyssa and of the Pseudo-Dionysius. There is scarcely any need,

    1. HONORIFIC TITLES APPLIED IN THE MIDDLE AGES then, to apologise for beginning a history of mediaeval philosophy

    TO PHILOSOPHERS TREATED OF IN THIS VOLUME 567 with a consideration of thinkers who belong, so far as chronology

    II. A SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY 568 is concerned, to the period of the Roman Empire.

    The present volume, then, begins with the early Christian period


    and carries the history of mediaeval philosophy up to the end of

    INDEX OF SUBJECTS 598 the thirteenth century, including Duns Scotus (about 1265-1308).

    In my third volume I propose to treat of the philosophy of the

    fourteenth century, laying special emphasis on Ockhamism. In

    1 A History of Philosophy, Vol. I, Greece and Rome, London, 1946.


    that volume I shall also include a treatment of the philosophies of commonly regarded, one factor which was partly responsible for

    the Renaissance, of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and of the attitude adopted towards mediaeval thinkers was doubtless

    the 'Silver Age' of Scholastic thought, even though Francis Suarez the language used concerning Scholasticism by men like Francis

    did not die until the year 1617, twenty-one years after the birth Bacon and Rene Descartes. Just as Aristotelians are prone to

    of Descartes. This arrangement may appear to be an arbitrary evaluate Platonism in terms of Aristotle's criticism, so admirers of

    one, and to some extent it is. But it is extremely doubtful if it is the movement apparently initiated by Bacon and Descartes were

    possible to make any hard and fast dividing line between mediaeval prone to look on mediaeval philosophy through their eyes, unaware

    and modern philosophy, and a good case could be made out for of the fact that much of what Francis Bacon, for instance, has to

    including Descartes with the later Scholastics, contrary to tradi say against the Scholastics could not legitimately be applied to the

    tion as this would be. I do not propose, however, to adopt this great figures of-mediaeval thought, however applicable it may have

    course, and if I include in the next volume, the third, some philo been to later and 'decadent' Scholastics, who worshipped the letter

    sophers who might seem to belong properly to the 'modern period', at the expense 'of the spirit. Looking on mediaeval philosophy

    my reason is largely one of convenience, to clear the decks, so that from the very start in this light historians could perhaps scarcely

    in the fourth volume I may develop in a systematic manner the be expected to seek a closer and first-hand acquaintance with it:

    interconnection between the leading philosophical systems from they condemned it unseen and unheard, without knowledge either

    Francis Bacon in England and Descartes in France up to and of the rich variety of mediaeval thought or of its profundity: to

    including Kant. Nevertheless, whatever method of division be them it was all of a piece,an arid playing with words and a slavish

    adopted, one has to remember that the compartments into which dependence on theologians. Moreover, insufficiently critical, they

    one divides the history of philosophic thought are not watertight, failed to realise the fact that, if mediaeval philosophers were in

    that transitions are gradual, not abrupt, that there is overlapping fluenced by an external factor, theology, modern philosophers

    and interconnection, that succeeding systems are not cut off from were also influenced by external factors, even if by other external

    one a.nother with a hatchet. factors than theology. It would have seemed to most of these

    2. There was a time when mediaeval philosophy was considered historians a nonsensical 'proposition were one to suggest to them

    as unworthy of serious study, when it was taken for granted that that Duns Scotus, for example, had a claim to be considered as

    the philosophy of the Middle Ages was so subservient to theology a great British philosopher, at least as great as John Locke, while

    that it was practically indistinguishable therefrom and that, in so in their praise of the acumen of David Hume they were unaware

    far as it was distinguishable, it amounted to little more than a that certain thinkers of the late Middle Ages had already

    barren logic-chopping and word-play. In other words, it was taken anticipated a great deal of the criticism which used to be con

    for granted that European philosophy contained two main periods, sidered the peculiar contribution to philosophy of the eminent

    the ancient peri~d, which to all intents and purposes meant the Scotsman.

    philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and the modern period, when I shall cite one example, the treatment accorded to mediaeval

    the speculative reason once more began to enjoy freedom after the philosophy and philosophers by a man who was himself a great

    dark night of the Middle Ages when ecclesiastical authority reigned philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. It is an interesting

    supreme and the human reason, chained by heavy fetters, was example, since Hegel's dialectical idea of the history of philosophy

    compelled to confine itself to the useless and fanciful study of obviously demanded that mediaeval philosophy should be por

    theology, until a thinker like Descartes at length broke the chains trayed as making an essential contribution to the development of

    and gave reason its freedom. In the ancient period and the modern philosophic thought, while Hegel personally was no mere vulgar

    period philosophy may be considered a free man, whereas in the antagonist of mediaeval philosophy. Now, Hegel does indeed

    mediaeval period it was a slave. admit that mediaeval philosophy performed one useful function,

    Apart from the fact that mediaeval philosophy naturally shared that of expressing in philosophic terms the 'absolute content' of

    in the disesteem with which the Middle Ages in general were Christianity, but he insists that it is only formalistic repetition INTRODUCTION


    of the content of faith, in which God is represented as something

    In adducing the instance of Hegel I am not, of course, concerned

    'external', and if one remembers that for Hegel faith is the mode

    to blame the philosopher: I am rather trying to throw into relief

    of religious consciousness and is definitely inferior to the philo

    the great change that has taken place in our knowledge of mediaeval

    sophic or speculative standpoint, the standpoint of pure reason, it

    philosophy through the work of modem scholars sinc~ about 1880.

    is clear that in his eyes mediaeval philosophy can be philosophy

    Whereas one can easily understand and pardon the nusrepresenta

    only in name. Accordingly he declares that Scholastic philosophy

    tions of which a man like Hegel was unconsciously guilty, one

    is really theology. By this Hegel does not mean that God is not

    would have little patience with similar misrepresentations to-day,

    the object of philosophy as well as of theology: he means that

    after the work of scholars like Baeumker, Ehrle, Grabmann, De

    mediaeval philosophy considered the same object as is considered

    Wulf, Pelster, Geyer, Mandonnet, Pelzer, etc. After the light that

    by philosophy proper but that it treated that object according to

    has been thrown on mediaeval philosophy by the publication of

    the categories of theology instead of substituting for the external

    texts and the critical editing of already published works, after the

    connections of theology (for example, the relation of the world to

    splendid volumes brought out by the Franciscan Fathers of

    God as external effect to free creative Cause) the systematic,

    Quaracchi, after the publications .of so m~y ~um~ers of the

    scientific, rational and necessary categories and connections of

    Beitrdge series, after the producbon of histones like that of

    philosophy. Mediaeval philosophy was thus philosophy according

    Maurice De Wulf, after the lucid studies of Etienne Gilson, after

    to content, but theology according to form, and in Hegel's eyes,

    the patient work done by the Mediaeval Academy of America, it

    the history of mediaeval philosophy is a monotonous one, in which

    should no longer be possible to think that mediaeval philosophers

    men have tried in vain to discern any distinct stages of real

    were 'all of apiece', that mediaeval philosophy lacked richness

    progress and development of thought.

    and variety, that mediaeval thinkers were uniformly men of low

    In so far as Hegel's VIew of mediaeval philosophy is dependent

    stature and of mean attainments. Moreover, writers like Gilson

    on his own particular system, on his view of the relation of religion

    have helped us to realise the continuity between mediaeval and

    to philosophy, of faith to reason, of immediacy to mediacy, I can

    modem philosophy. Gilson has shown how Cartesianism was more

    not discuss it in this volume; but I wish to point out how Hegel's

    dependent on mediaeval thought than was formerly supposed. A

    treatment of mediaeval philosophy is accompanied by a very real

    good deal still remains to be done in the way of edition and inter

    ignorance of the course of its history. It would be possible no

    pretation of texts (one needs only to mention William of Ockham's

    doubt for an Hegelian to have a real knowledge of the develop

    Commentary on the Sentences), but it has now become possible to

    ment of mediaeval philosophy and yet to adopt, precisely because

    see the currents and development, the pattern and texture, the

    he was an Hegelian, Hegel's general standpoint in regard to it; but

    high lights and low lights of mediaeval philosophy with a synoptic

    there can be no shadow of doubt, even allowing for the fact that


    the philosopher did not himself edit and publish his lectures on the

    3. But even if mediaeval philosophy was in fact richer and more

    history of philosophy, that Hegel did not possess the real know

    varied than has been sometimes supposed, is it not true to say

    ledge in question. How could one, for instance, attribute a real

    that it stood in such a close relation to theology that it is practi

    knowledge of mediaeval philosophy to a writer who includes Roger

    cally indistinguishable therefrom? Is it not, for example, a fact

    Bacon under the heading 'Mystics' and simply remarks 'Roger

    that the great majority of mediaeval philosophers were priests and

    Bacon treated more especially of physics, but remained without

    theologians, pursuing philosophic studies in the spirit of a

    influence. He invented gunpowder, mirrors, telescopes, and died

    theologian or even an apologist?

    in I297'? The fact of the matter is that Hegel relied on authors

    In the first place it is necessary to point out that the relation of

    like Tennemann and Brucker for his information concerning

    theology to philosophy was itself an important theme of mediaeval

    mediaeval philosophy. whereas the first valuable studies on

    thought and that different thinkers adopted different attitudes in

    mediaeval philosophy do not antedate the middle of the nineteenth

    regard to this question. Starting with the endeavour to understand


    the data of revelation, so far as this is possible to human reason, 6 INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION 7

    early mediaevals, in accordanct with the maxim Credo, ut intelli whereas St. Bonaventure maintained that this very incomplete

    gam, applied rational dialectic to the mysteries of faith in an ness or inadequacy has the character of a· falsification, so that,

    attempt to understand them. In this way they laid the founda though a true natural philosophy would be possible without the

    tions of Scholastic theology, since the application of reason to light of faith, a true metaphysic would not be possible. If a

    theological data, in the sense of the data of revelation, is and philosopher, thought St. Bonaventure, proves by reason and

    remains theology: it does not become philosophy. Some thinkers maintains the unity of God, without at the same time knowing

    indeed, in their enthusiastic desire to penetrate mysteries by that God is Three Persons in One Nature, he is attributing to God

    reason to the utmost degree possible, appear at first sight to be a unity which is not the divine Unity.

    rationalists, to be what one might call Hegelians before Hegel. In the second place, St. Thomas was perfectly serious when he

    Yet it is really an anachronism to regard such men as 'rationalists' gave philosophy its 'charter'. To a superficial observer it might

    in the modern sense, since when St. Anselm, for example, or appear that when St. Thomas asserted a clear distinction between

    Richard of St. Victor, attempted to prove the mystery of the dogmatic theology and philosophy, he was merely asserting a

    Blessed Trinity by 'necessary reasons' they had no intention of formalistic distinction, which had no influence on his thought and

    acquiescing in any reduction of the dogma or of impairing the which he did not take seriously in practice; but such a view would

    integrity of divine revelation. (To this subject I shall return in be far from the truth, as can be seen by one example. St. Thomas

    the course of the ·work.) So far they were certainly acting as believed that revelation teaches the creation of the world in time,

    theologians, but such men, who did not make, it is true, any very the world's non-eternity; but he maintained and argued stoutly

    clear delimitation of the spheres of philosophy and theology, cer that the philosopher as such can prove neither that the world

    tainly pursued philosophical themes and developed philosophical was created from eternity nor that it was created in time, although

    arguments. For instance, even if St. Anselm is primarily important he can show that it depends on God as Creator. In holding to

    as one of the founders of Scholastic theology, he also contributed this point of view he was at variance with, for example, St.

    to the growth of Scholastic philosophy, for example, by his Bonaventure, and the fact that he maintained the point of view

    rational proofs of God's existence. It would be inadequate to dub in question shows clearly that he seriously accepted in practice

    Abelard a philosopher and St. Anselm a theologian without quali his theoretical delimitation of the provinces of philosophy and

    fication. In any case in the thirteenth century we find a clear dogmatic theology.

    distinction made by St. Thomas Aquinas between theology, which In the third place, if it were really true to say that mediaeval

    takes as its premisses the data of revelation, and philosophy (in philosophy was no more than theology, we should expect to find

    cluding, of course, what we call 'natural theology'), which is the that thinkers who accepted the same faith would accept the same

    work of the human reason unaided positively by revelation. It is philosophy or that the differences between them would be confined

    true that in the same' century St. Bonaventure was a conscious to differences in the way in which they applied dialectic to the

    and determined upholder of what one might call the integralist, data of revelation. In point of fact, however, this is very far from

    Augustinian view; but, though the Franciscan Doctor may have being the case. St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Duns

    believed that a purely philosophical knowledge of God is vitiated Scotus, Giles of Rome, and, one may pretty safely say, William of

    by its very incompleteness, he was perfectly well aware that there Ockham accepted the same faith, but their philosophical ideas

    are philosophical truths which are ascertainable by reason alone. were by no means the same on all points. Whether or not their

    The difference between him and St. Thomas has been stated thus.l philosophies were equally compatible with the exigencies of

    St. Thomas held that it would be possible, in principle, to excogi theology is, of course, another question (William of Ockharn's


    tate a satisfactory philosophical system, which, in respect of know philosophy could scarcely considered as altogether compatible

    ledge of God for instance, would be incomplete but not false, with these exigencies); but that question is irrelevant to the point

    at issue, since, whether they were all compatible with orthodox

    1 This bald statement, however, though sponsored by M. Gilson. requires a

    certain modification. See pp. 245-9. theology or not, these philosophies existed and were not the same. 8 INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION 9

    The historian can trace the lines of development and divergence fact may possibly tend to obscure the general lines of connection

    in mediaeval philosophy, and, if he can do this, there must clearly and development, but, as I have said, it was not my intention to

    be such a thing as mediaeval philosophy: without existence it provide simply a sketch of mediaeval philosophy, and it is probably

    could not have a history. only through a somewhat detailed treatment of the leading philo

    We shall have to consider different views on the relation between sophical systems that one can bring out the rich variety of

    philosophy and theology in the course of this work, and I do not mediaeval thought. To place in clear relief the main lines of

    want to dwell any more on the matter at present; but it may be connection and development and at the same time to develop at

    as well to admit from the very start that, owing to the common some length the ideas of selected philosophers is certainly not an

    background of the Christian faith, the world presented itself for easy task, and it would be foolish to suppose that my inclusions

    interpretation to the mediaeval thinker more or less in a common and omissions or proportional allotment of space will be acceptable

    light. Whether a thinker held or denied a clear distinction between to everybody: to miss the trees for the wood or the wood for the

    the provinces of theology and philosophy, in either case he looked trees is easy enough, but to see both clearly at the same time is not

    on the world as a Christian and could hardly avoid doing so. In so easy. However, I consider it a task worth attempting, and

    his philosophic arguments he might prescind from Christian revela while I have not hesitated to consider at some length the philo

    tion, but the Christian outlook and faith were none the less there sophies of St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas, Duns Scot us and Ockham,

    at the back of his mind. Yet that does not mean that his philo I have tried to make intelligible the general development of

    sophic arguments were not philosophic arguments or that his mediaeval philosophy from its early struggles, through its splendid

    rational proofs were not rational proofs: one would have to take maturity, to its eventual decline.

    each argument or proof on its own merits or demerits and not If one speaks of a 'decline', it may be objected that one is

    dismiss them as concealed theology on the ground that the writer speaking as philosopher and not as historian. True enough, but

    was a Christian. if one is to discern an intelligible pattern in mediaeval philosophy,

    4. Having argued that there really was such a thing as mediaeval one must have a principle of selection and to that extent at least

    philosoph\' or at any rate that there could be such a thing, even one must be a philosopher. The word 'decline' has indeed a valua

    if the great majority of mediaeval philosophers were Christians and tional colouring and flavour, so that to use such a word may seem

    most of them theologians into the bargain, I want finally to say to constitute an overstepping of the legitimate territory of the

    something about the aim of this book (and of the succeeding historian. Possibly it is, in a sense; but what historian of philosophy

    volume) and the way in which it treats its subject. was or is merely an historian in the narrowest meaning of the term?

    I certainly do not intend to attempt the task of narrating all No Hegelian, no Marxist, no Positivist, no Kantian writes history

    the known opinions of all known mediaeval philosophers. In other without a philosophic viewpoint, and is the Thomist alone to be

    words, the second and third volumes of my history are not condemned for a practice which is really necessary, unless the

    designed to constitute an encyclopaedia of mediaeval philosophy. history of philosophy is to be rendered unintelligible by being

    On the other hand, it is not my intention to give simply a sketch made a mere string of opinions?

    or series of impressions of mediaeval philosophy. I have en By 'decline', then, I mean decline, since I frankly regard

    deavoured to give an intelligible and coherent account of the mediaeval philosophy as falling into three main phases. First

    development of mediaeval philosophy and of the phases through comes the preparatory phase, up to and including the twelfth

    which it passed, omitting many names altogether and choosing century, then comes the period of constructive synthesis, the

    out for consideration those thinkers who are of special importance thirteenth century, and finally, in the fourteenth century, the

    and interest for the content of their thought or who represent and period of destructive criticism, undermining and decline. Yet

    illustrate some particular type of philosophy or stage of develop from another point of view I should not hesitate to admit that the

    ment. To certain of these thinkers I have devoted a considerable last phase was an inevitable phase and, in the long run, may be of

    amount of space, discussing their opinions at some length. This benefit, as stimulating Scholastic philosophers to develop and

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