A Brief History of Medieval Philosophy I

A Brief History of Medieval Philosophy I

This course will provide an overview of the history of philosophy in the Latin West during the millennium that stretches from the 6th century to the 15th century. This epoch , as everyone knows, is characterized by the decisive influence of Christian faith on the cultural and doctrinal life of the West. We should begin by noting that the Middle Ages, according to some, forms a parenthesis — something like a void — in the history o f philosophy. And in light of this, we should ask:  Can we be both Christians and genuine philosophers? Are faith and philosophy mutually exclusive, or not?

ECTS Credits: 3
Professor: Fr Serge-Thomas Bonino OP



First Lesson: What “Philosophy” in the Middle Ages?

A. Forgetting and Resurrecting Medieval Philosophy

1. The Purgatory of Medieval Philosophy a. Medieval T hought is ‘Scholastic’ Thought b. In Philosophical Terms c. In Strictly Religious Terms

2. The Development of Studies on Medieval Thought in the 19th Cent ury a. The Rationalist School b. Developments among Catholics

B. The Debate over “Christian Philosophy”

1. The Adversari es of Christian Philosophy a. The Rationalists b. The Louvain Neo - Scholastics

2. Christian Philosophy according to Historian Étienne Gilson

3. Christian Philosophy according to Jacques Maritain

4. The Stakes of the Debate: Philosophy and Tradition

C. Current Methods of Research in Medieval Philosophy

1. For Gilson, Medieval Philosophy was Defined by a “Particular Spirit”

2. For Gilson, Metaphysics Holds the Cardinal Place in the History of Medieval Philosophy

3. Gilson Privileged the Study of the “Golden Age” of the Middle Ages

4. Gilson Relied on the Logic of Ideas to Account for Doctrinal Development

Second Lesson: Saint Augustine

A. Saint Augustine’s Journey

1. Against the Manichaeans’ Materialism

2. Against the Manichaeans’ Dualism

3. Against Skepticism

B. Faith and Reason According to Saint Augustine

1. Reason Prepares Faith

2. The Act of Faith is Itself an Act of the Intelligence

C. The Search for God - Truth 1. Where Can We Discover Certain Truths?

2. A “Place” for Absolute Truths

Third Lesson: The Early Middle Ages, from B oethius to John Scottus Eriugena (6 th to 9 th centuries)

A. The “Transmitters”: Boethius and Several Others

1. Boethius

2. Cassiodorus

3. Gregory the Great and Isidore of Seville

B. The Carolingian Renaissance

Fourth Lesson: Faith and Dialectic in the 11 th Century

A Brief History of M A. The Debate Surrounding the Application of Dialectic to Matters of the Faith

1. Plato

2. Saint Augustine

3. The Medievals

4. Berengar of Tours

5. Peter Damian a. The recipients of Peter Damian’s teaching are monks b. Peter Damian does not so much reject secular culture as a certain use of B. Anselm of Canterbury

Fifth Lesson: The 12 th Century

A. The Rise and Development of the Urban Schools

B. The Monastery Schools

Sixth Lesson: The General Conditions of the 13 th Century

A. The University

B. The Mendicant Orders

1 . The Franciscans

2. The Dominicans

C. The Philosophical Invasion

1. Aristotle is Never Totally Absent from Medieval Latin Culture

2. Aristotle Does Not “Return” Alone or in a Pure State