Medieval Philosophy An overview of this period in philosophy, which generally dates from the Patristic Period to the Mid-Twelfth Century.
Medieval Philosophy According to the site's author, Garth Kemerling, "Nearly all of the medieval thinkers—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim—were pre-occupied with some version of the attempt to synthesis philosophy with religion. Early on, the neoplatonism philosophy of Plotinus seemed to provide the most convenient intellectual support for religious doctrine. But later in the medieval era, thanks especially to the work of the Arabic-language thinkers, Aristotle's metaphysics gained a wider acceptance. In every case, the goal was to provide a respectable philosophical foundation for theological positions. In the process, much of that foundation was effectively absorbed into the theology itself, so that much of what we now regard as Christian doctrine has its origins in Greek philosophy more than in the Biblical tradition."
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) The Catholic Encyclopedia writes, "However, before embracing the Faith, Augustine underwent a three years' struggle during which his mind passed through several distinct phases. At first he turned towards the philosophy of the Academics, with its pessimistic scepticism; then neo-Platonic philosophy inspired him with genuine enthusiasm. At Milan he had scarcely read certain works of Plato and, more especially, of Plotinus, before the hope of finding the truth dawned upon him. Once more he began to dream that he and his friends might lead a life dedicated to the search for it, a life purged of all vulgar aspirations after honours, wealth, or pleasure, and with celibacy for its rule (Confessions VI)."
Boethius (approximately 480-524/525) One of the most influential early medieval philosophers, especially in transferring classical Greek knowledge to medieval Europe. His most famous work, the Consolation of Philosophy, was translated into English by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) A Benedictine monk, teacher, abbot, and the second Norman archbishop of Canterbury. He secured the Westminster Agreement of 1107, guaranteeing partial independence of the church from civil authority. He is most remembered for his attempts to prove the existence of God, especially in his famous Ontological Argument.
Peter Abelard (1079-1142) The preeminent philosopher of the twelfth century, equally famous as a poet and composer. He is best known as the father of nominalism. His love affair with Heloise, also one of the great minds of this century, ended in tragedy. Their love letters are legendary.
Roger Bacon (approximately 1220-1292 English Franciscan philosopher and educational reformer, he was a major proponent of experimental science, and a pioneer in introducing Aristotle into western Europe.
Bonaventure (approximately 1221-1274) Born Giovanni di Fidanze, upon joining the Franciscans, he took the name Bonaventure. He is known for following the teachings of St. Augustine as well as Aristotle, which worked to reconcile opposing theological and philosophical traditions. He was probably poisoned, and was canonised as saint in 1482, and later declared a Doctor of the Church.
John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) Scotus is considered one of the four great philosophers of High Scholasticism, along with Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, and William of Ockham. In opposition to Aquinas and Godfrey of Fontains, he defended a moderate voluntarism in his account of free will, a view influential into the modern age. He was a Scottish Franciscan, and not be be confused with John Scottus Eriugena, who was so despised by his students they allegedly stabbed him to death with their pens.
William of Ockham (Occam, approximately 1280-approximately 1349) English, former Franciscan, philosopher, a major force of change at the end of the Middle Ages. The central theme in his teachings is the principle of simplicity, which has come to be known as 'Ockham's Razor.' This law of parsimony is basically the simplest explanation is usually the right one.
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