Paul Halsall

Introduction to the Medieval World

Class 20: The Age of Faith II: Intellectual Life

Assigned Reading:


I. Introduction Today; The other side of the picture from popular belief. The development of higher education, and associated with it intellectual culture. [Discuss connection] II. The Twelfth-Century Renaissance? Charles Homer Haskins. 1050-on a period of economic growth, political transformation from feudal divisions to feudally strong kingdoms. But intellectual culture also takes off. This is called a renaissance. [Q&A]. Specifically it means going back to the classics of the past, and usually using them in a transformed way. A. The written word Such a renaissance is linked to reading and writing. The culture of Early middle age Europe had been oral. Look at oral poetry, e.g. Beowulf. and Customary Law Now in twelfth century a move to written culture -Lyric and Romance -Law codes B. Italy -Writing never died out in Italy, even as a lay art. -Connection with Rome plus Byzantium, plus towns. -Used for mundane purposes. Notaries etc. Few lay writers. -The intellectual culture was clerical until 14th century. C. Humanism [Q&A] In middle ages and renaissance it means an interest in culture, an appreciation of the worth of humanity, and specifically an a appreciation of the Latin classics. Latin as language of all educated discourse. -Latin Classics - immediately available. -Greek classics - Greek not known. D. Libraries and book production Few libraries Big Libraries in 12th century - at monastic houses might be up to 400 vols. A Copyist might produce slightly less than two average- sized books per year. E. Colin Morris - Discovery of the individual In this period. Idea that the individual counted, not just the family etc. III. Education Human discovery of knowledge depends on intellectual discourse. Non one can do it all by themselves. [N.B., Pascal and maths] A. Monastic Schools - Throughout middle ages. For monks. B. Cathedral Schools - only in major cathedrals C. Medical Schools - University of Salerno - Montpellier Mix of Greek classics and superstition. D. Law Schools - Bologna by 1100 Importance - Organizing complex data System building i.e. research data, organize it, work out a way to interpret. E. Universities 1158 - Fred. Barb. Authenticum Habita Studium generale 1. South Bologna - Governed by a Guild of Students 2. North Paris Cologne/ studium Oxford Governed by a Guilds of masters F. Paris Most important medieval university by far. from mid 12th century - 1200 charter First called a university in 1208/9 1231 - parens scientiarum by Gregory IX G. Life - no buildings - Students around a master - group teaching. H. Curriculum -Old Trivium and Quadrivium falter -Logic dominates. -Law and Theology become important professional subjects. I. Degrees - licenses to teach anywhere. J. These universities lay foundation of modern universities, although of course much has changed. Some modern universities go back directly to that time, however, be aware that for much of the intervening period they were moribund and intellectual life took place elsewhere. However, their ideals of education, and as we shall see free discussion did remain important. IV. Philosophy and Faith Theology and Philosophy. A. Neoplatonism - basic background 1. Plato - 5th and 4th C. BC From search for moral truths had gone to a search of knowledge. This had led him to postulate Ideas/Forms. For Plato the Idea/Form of the Good was very important. 2. Plotinus - 3rd C. AD Revival of transcendence, Had turned Plato into a religion. The Form of the One. God as perfect. 3. St. Augustine Had christianized Plato, e.g.. Ideas exist in the mind of God. Idea of God as perfect, hence simple, hence eternal, etc. Neoplatonic Paradigm. 4. Boethius B. Anselm 1033-1109 - 600 year gap Faith seeking Understanding. Ontological proof for the existence of God. C. Roscelin - Nominalist Great debate over Realism and Nominalism. D. Abelard 1079-1142 and Heloise. Free rational discourse important E. Method - Dialectic Shown by two major books of med. universities Sic et Non - 157 questions by Abelard. No solutions given. Cf. Decretum of Gratian 1140 Cf. Book of Sentences - by Peter Lombard V. Aristotle - transformed all previous discussions A. Available Texts Of Plato - Timeaus and Critias Of Aristotle - logical works B. Greek Philosophy Elsewhere In Byzantium In Muslim Lands - Arab translations In Jewish philosophy - Rambam C. Translation -Not Holy Land -Sicily -Spain - in 1156, Peter the Venerable, Had Koran translated. Other translations. Especially of Scientific works -Byzantium - 1204 - 4th Crusade. William of Moerbecke -In late 12th and especially 13th century Europe had to come to terms with Aristotle. D. Why Aristotle so important He had a truly great mind. Pupil of Plato, but more down to earth [N.B. Raphael.] -Ideas such as no creation. -Nature of God -Nature of ethics. VI. Topics So what did they discuss in these medieval universities and how does Aristotle tie in? Earlier spoke of development in sacramental theology. This was important, but philosophers/theologians often looked elsewhere for main interests. A. Universals - What is a chair? Realist view - image of a chair in mind of God. Aristotelian View - example of a real idea of a chair which is only present in examples. Nominalist position - an entirely arbitrary name we call a collection of different things. Why important? -What is the Church? -What is goodness? B. Existence of God - How to prove existence of God? C. Creation - Is the world eternal? Aristotle said it was. Nihil ex nihil [no knowledge of Big Bang] Problem for Bible. D. Natural Law Basis of ethics Are morals just conventions or did they have a basis. VII. St. Thomas Aquinas 1225-1270 - Greatest medieval thinker A. Background: S. Italy: Story of red hot poker. B. Career: Dominican - pupil of Albert the Great - Paris Wrote 12 pages per day (check. C. Works - Systematization 1. Summa Contra Gentiles 2. Summa Theologiae (60 vols. 3. Method - Gives all objections to a view Go over ST D. Aristotle - The Philosopher E. Teachings 1. Creation - not knowable if it began or not. Does not matter. God is eternal, not sempiternal 2. Theory of Being - Being is good Using Neoplatonic ideas 3. God - Can be proved to exist The Five Ways -First Mover -First Cause -Contingency -Scales -Teleological/design 4. Sacraments: Eucharist and Confession General Theory of sacraments - ex opere operato 5. Morals Natural Law Morals are factual VIII. Later Medieval Thinkers A. Franciscan School - More Mystical Bonaventure John Duns Scotus B. Nominalism William of Ockham C. Scholasticism gets a bad name. IX. Legacy of Intellectual Life of Middle Ages A. Universities B. Reason C. Disputation D. Natural Law - Hooker and Locke - US constitution.

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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